Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jub Jamb 100 - Nederlands

Well this will be a rather short post. Maybe. Won’t be as long as the last two (well as I wrote it all in one hit and made that one into two posts). So I left you with us on our way to Amsterdam (the royal we or us is my self and kit), on a bus, having crossed from England to France, having gone through immigration and receiving another stamp in our passports and arriving in mainland Europe. We arrive in Amsterdam early on a Saturday morning. And discovered that amsteradam does infact not open early on a saturdya morning, so after grabbing some breakfast, we boarded the train for a two hour ride to Roermond, for the jamboree in the nederlands. With our arrival in roermond we discovered that our directions to the jamboree site were rather lacking and we had best find out a bit more information, as there was no suttle bus. Well we asked the station staff, no help. We looked for signage, no help. We asked in the pub, and we got the answer we needed. So as we were walking along the road a rather young rover decided to accompany us and proved to be more of a hinderance than a help when we arrived at the jamboree sight. But we got there. So after setting up our tents, we checked in and had a lazy day and a fairly lazy morning, waiting to have our meeting, where we got to choose our roles for the jamboree. Knowing I was going to be working in program again in a few months, I decided to go give subcamp another go. This was a good choice, as the hours are poor, the jobs are wide and viared, but there is a lot more interaction with the kids and the leaders and your own team than what you have if you work on program. Its mearly the nature of the beast. I decided that my home for the jamboree as far as work was concerned, was going to be Subcamp Antartica, why, because they were all named after regions, and that was the closest one to Australia (yep weird logic I know)
For the opening ceremony they moved the entire camp of 14,000 people into town for the ceremony. The city was shut down almost for the few hours whilst the scouts had their party. Unfortuantly there was no location within the town that could hold all the scouts so we were spread across three locations and I think, even though with the live audio cross, it was a bit disappointing. But it was an amzing spectacle and a lot of fun.
If your wondering what I did for my role, I was a general odd jobs guy around the site. I helped with PA systems, works and services, program, information, general mantinace and what ever else was needed to be done. One of the uses they found for me was to present English content in a more natural way than the dutch people in my subcamp felt they could. So this meant that I ended up doing some interesting jobs. Each night they had a meeting of Troop Leaders, and I was used to present the information in English to enable it to be incorpated into the meeting and be done more efficiently instead of having some one in the group translate for them. I was also asked at one stage to assit with the MC duties at the subcamp talent show. This is a difficult job even in English but using a bit of English and a bit of dutch and a lot of body actions I was able to be effective in what I was doing.
On the Saturday of the jamboree, Kit and I decided that we needed to do laundry but the issue is that in roermond, the Laundromat is only open 4 days a week. So here we were, stuck with dirty laundry and no soap. Well when we got back to site, the subcamp team helped us out and we were able to get our laundry done! Hooray for scouting I guess.
Well that same day we were presented with a unique opportunity. When we had first been exploring the site after we arrived, we saw boats being paddled using a single oar, out the back oof the boat. We had no idea what it was but it was very cool. Well one day I was asking Ivo, one of the guys in my subcamp, what Wrikken was, as he was writing it on a notice board on one of the days.  Well he told us and we then knew what it was. He then offerd to teach us how to do it. This was going to be a challgeng on a number of levels as he had never taught it anything othern than dutch and it is not the most easy of activites to learn how to do. Also he rarely teaches two students at once. Well the opportunity presented its self one day and he said that we should go. so that afternoon we went outon the water and got tied up with another boat. Well the process of how it works is a bit hard to explain. And its even hard to explain how it works. But considerd it to be like a fish moving its tail. But that’s about as ti gets as far as description of how it works go. we spent the best part of 2-3 hours out on the water, going through the basics and just getting our motion right. Well it turns out that both of us are quick learners and were able to get forward momentum by the end of the lesson. This is apparently quite and achivment and we went to dinner that night knowing we had manged to learn a new skll and have since been considering what various other vessles we could wrikken.
On an less positive note, I had an allergic reaction to dinner one night. It’s the first time in a while I have had my severe reaction, but it happened. But I dealth with it. The moral of the sotry? If you are going to invite internationals, and say the only compluslory language is English, put the form in English. But that was a bit of a recurring theme. They had invited scouts from around the world to the jamboree. And the scouts had come. But at the opening the English was mearly inceidental and most signage was done in only dutch. Well by the end of the jamboree they had learned that they needed to, whilst no being fully bilingual, included a lot more English, and the closing ceremony included a lot, all be it poor, English. Ironicly by the end of the jamboree we had learnt a fiar bit of dutch and whilst we are still unable to speak it, we are able to understand a large amount of it. My ability to systhaise information from dutch thought did presnt me with a few issues. The biggest of these being that the rest of my subcamp team forgot that I didn’t speak dutch. This was because I just seemed like part of the team and I was able to get some information from what was being said, and I was also doing about 50% of the trnsalation of the slides for the troop staff meeting each night and being assited with the other 50%.
So I had a great time at jub jamb. I ask my self would I go again, and the answer is proably not, but that is just because there is only so many weeks in the year and I would like to go and see and explore other bits of the world, besides just the nederlands.
Well you might be wondering what happens next……… well that comes soon

Great Britan the Second

So as I left you we had arrived at the northern most point of our drive, or close to it. We woke up to the hills around the loch being bathed in cloud, and with us being just below the cloud line. It was majestic and beatuful. As we drove from Loch Locy to Inverness, we passed by loch ness, and stopped at the loch ness discovery centre to see the different statues and the merchandising and corporate idiocy that that goes along with the location that is loch ness, unfortunately. But the location is amazing and Inverness and a few of the other surrounding towns are quite lovely are realy are quite cool.
After spending the day around there we headed south, towards edniburgh & a town called Falkirk. As it was we ended up spending the night parked in a school parking lot in a small Scottish town that was along the way. In the morning we got up and drove to a town called falkirk. There are two reasons to go visit falkirk, one is the antionie wall, the younger sibling to hadrians wall & the falkirk wheel, a circular boat lift, quite a cool feat of modern engineering. We then headed to Edinburgh. Now if you have to choose between Glasgow and Edinburgh, when you are approaching Glasgow take the turn off that says Edinburgh. Its lovely. The Scottish parliament is magnificent, the town is lovely, there history is great, the articutre is cool, there are suvioneers shops and it’s a great place to visit. And its an easy place to vist and get around. I hope to return there one day for the military tattoo but that will probably be when I am a few years older.
That night we got in the car and we drove. By the time I stopped driving that night we had manged to reach Hadrians wall, and found a spot in the parking area for a supermarket to park for the night. After that we jumped in the car and drove up to the National trust & world heritatge controlled sights on hadrians wall. To be honest its cool to see and consider what might have been there and it is realy kinda neet to consider that the romans just decided to build a wall to separate what was therirs and what wasn’t theirs. Well from there we loaded up into the car and drove to a small town called Rippendon, where one of my mates from high school is currently living with his family. We spent the evening enjoying a few beers, a home cooked meal and some of the more simple things in life.
Well this was meant to be my last major day of driving, the final haul, to London. We had decided to spend our final night of our british odessy at gilwell park, London, and then do the “short” drive from gilwell park to London. Well it’s a nice theory. We set out with an idea that we should go and drive some of the A and B roads instead of taking the motor way. Well after a few wrong turns, getting abit lost we manged to find our way across the snakes pass and down to Nottingham. Well as I drove along the motorway I saw a sign pointing to Sherwood Forrest, so we took the turn off and eneded up having lunch that day in Sherwood forrest and I did some archery with a real long bow. Realy kinda cool! Then with a good solid drive down we found gilwell park, found some dinner in the nearby town and then went back to the sight and spent the night. Well after spending the night we explored a bit the following morning and took in some of the history assocated with the sight. I will say that the location of the park is wonderful but is unfortuatnly located near to quite a yuppieish part of London. We had a bit of trouble finding a place for dinner due to who we are.
Well the drive to the hire place for the camper was meant to be easy. Directions from google maps, and an estimate of 45 minutes. Well after 2:30 hrs we made it to the camper place after getting lost, having wrong directions and dealing with London traffic. I will say this, try to avoid driving in London at all costs, its draingin, difficult and stressful. After returning the camper, we made our way to BP House, checked in, went to the discout ticket office, booked tickets to see ave q, went back, freshend up, went to the show, enjoyed it immensely, had trouble finding some where to eat, ended up finding dinner in china town and enjoyed that immensely.
Our final day in the UK we spent at the british museum and just wondering about the town. the british musum is cool and most defiantly worth a vist. But I will also say this. We wanted to go and experience a biritish afternoon tea. Well unless you want to spend £40 per person, don’t bother. But we found a small cafĂ© that did cakes and tea for a few quid so we went there. Once we were done there we headed back to the hostel and picked up our bags and headed to the station, where we boarded the bus. The bus ride out was uneventful.
Well that is it for the british part of this odessey. But now for the highlights, well seeing people, the Scottish highlands and the pure freedom of being able to just park for the night was wonderful.but I have to say Scotland and wales were stand outs. Driving along small country roads. Visiting the little places that are a bit out of the way. I guess my underlying message is to get off the beaten track and don’t just follow the road most traveled through out the United Kingdom, given how similar the langage and the people are to what would be found in other English speaking countires.
Well that’s it for this bit of the trip! Coming soon is the not so long overdue posting about jub jamb and the first part of the main land Europe odessey (I am writing thse notes and stories from my notes made on the road, whilst sitting on the train in germany on my way to venice, which is another odessey in and of its self)

Great Brittan the First

So I am still massively behind on updating you regarding my travels but I will do my best to catch up in the next few days. Train travel means I have time to write and I am mearley dependant on having sufficient power to do the jobs I want to do. I am also going to have to try to do a photo upload at some stage as I am a good few months behind where I should be.
Well when I left you last I was leaving Dublin and headed for London. Well what to say about London. Its big, its busy, its everything Washington dc and NYC want to be, in the one city, its expensive and its kinda cool. But be prepared for everything to cost mega $$$ in London. Food, accomdation and attractions are expensive. But I will say this much, there are still free things to do. So we hit up a copple of very cool free places on our first visit to London. We visited Harrods, BP house, the national gallery the national portrait gallery, the strand, the tower bridge, the globe, the exterior of St Pauls, the changing of the guard, Greenwich observatory and Westminster. Also we just walked around London. That is something I can recommend doing. There is just so much to see in London that just visitng a few places makes the most sense rather than trying to do it all. But just walking around you get a feel for soo much of the history and if you could find a good self guided tour that would be cool.
Well we managed to go stand at the middle of the world (well the 0° mark of the world), saw some of the masterpieces of art in the national art gallery and just experienced what it was. Also be picky on hostels. Some are over croweded and don’t have a lot of facilties. Make sure that there is kitchen facilities and they have all the ammenties that you want or need. Also seeing the globe theater and London bridge are kinda cool. For all the scout nerds out there I recommend atleast seeing BP house if not staying there for at least one night
After our brief stay in London we went out to Waterloo to pick up our campervan, from a company called wicked campers. These guys basicly provide you with the most basic camper van set up you can imagine but it works and the cars run reasonably well. Well without a lot of a plan (except for when we were going to Bolton) and that we wanted to go to Scotland and Wales, we set out upon the road. The first stop that we plotted our course to was Portsmouth. As I hadn’t driven in more than 6 months, and I had to drive out of London during peak hour, it took a bit of settling in and adjusting but I got straight back into it. But unfortuantly for me, the actual act of driving was not as easy as it has been in the past for me. Once we reached Portsmouth, we found a pub that was open and their kitchen was still working (a wotherspoon, the McDonalds of pubs) and got a tip that we could park on the water front over night without any hassle. So that we did.
Day two of our driving odessey of the UK saw us actuly exploring the town of Portsmouth, driving to Bath & Bristol, deciding we didn’t like Bristol and then promptly deiding to drive to wales and a town called Lleanly. Portsmouth is a town worth visiting just for the military and naval history displays. But for free there isn’t a lot, except for a very pretty rose garden (that you have to be there at the right time of year for) and if your there you have to visit the coffe shop at the par 3 golf course, because they have one of the best ranges of cakes I have seen and they are all wonderful! After that we got on the road and started driving from there to Bristol, with the intention of parking in bath and having a look around. Well once it became obvsious I wasn’t going to find parking for less than a small fortune, we decided to just drive around and got a great perspective of the town and took our little camper up into bits of the town that I maybe shouldn’t have piloted her into ;P. then it was onto Bristol. Well we found a spot for dinner, went to look for some where to stay the night and then decided, that given we couldn’t find a spot we liked, we would head over the bridge to wales. Bristol is a bit of a nothing town. Theres a university, its kinda cute and there is a cool bridge but its more of the surrounds that make Bristol special. Also we saw two of the 3 must see spots as we drove out of town. After corssing over, we decided it would be a good time to call susan, and see if she would be happy to see me the following night. Well at that point she suggested that we drive to where she was that night and we would be made welcome and we could go for a drive the following day. Well not being one to miss an opportunity, we drove up past Cardiff, the one nerd stop on the trip I had intended, and staright up to Lleanly.
Well the following day we were greated by a full welsh breakfast, cooked kindly for us by susans friend, including black pudding, musrooms and tomatoes. After a good breakfast we drove up to St Davids, the smallest city in the united kingdom and also the place where the prince of wales gets crowned. Well the town isn’t realy all that exciting but the cathederal there is quite pretty and the views near by are wonderful of the welsh coast. After stopping there for a while we hit up Fishgaurd, and took in more of the coast line and the wonderful country side that is wales. The view from the fishgarud fort is quite lovely and I would recommend heading into that part of the world. After driving back down and enjoying fish and chips for dinner, we decided to head up to porthmaddog the following morning to the Bleighnigh Festinog railway and  then up to Bolton, to my family up there.
The drive up to bleighnigh was fairly straight forward, if not a bit longer than we thought it would be. After finding a spot to park, we enjoyed some lunch and jumped on the train through. The train takes you through some lovely country side and up to a slate mining town. I could spend hours here describing what I saw and the amazing country side we passed through, but I wont. But I will talk about the drive from Porthmadog to Bolton. We discovered after plotting our course, that the road we had een intending to use was closed so we had to make a small detour, well after following the detour de disocverd another orad block. Well to describe Foxy, our camper to you, she had 3 gears and was an old people mover out of japan which the company had shipped over to the united kingdom. Whilst she ran well, sometimes hills and her just didn’t get along. And some of the hills and holes that the road had torwn at me were maybe a little much for her. As it was I manged to get us through that region and the rain and through the welsh hills as we drove through. It was quite stunning. Finaly, 2 hours after I had intended we arrived in Bolton, to a welcoming family and a place to stay the next two days.
After a good nights sleep we headed into Manchester for the day. Now most people say you can skip Manchester as it is a working town. whilst it s a working town it is still quite beautiful and I enjoyed visiting it, visiting the museum and also the cathederal. We headed back out to Bolton to go for dinner with the family to celebrate my aunts 50th birthday.
After saying goodbye the following morning to my family, we got in the car ready for a short drive to Glasgow in Scotland. Well that was the plan any way. After stopping and attempteing to visign part of hadrians wall and roman displays, discovered a mall where the display had been promised, we headed further north to Glasgow. Well once we got to Glasgow we were a bit disappointed. So we at that very moment decided that it was a good time to head further north, so I started driving, and kept dirivng and didn’t stop until we hit Loch Lochy after stoping for dinner along the way in a small Scottish town.  we were treated to one of the most magnificent views of the Scottish high country as we drove through, with the sun being low in the sky but it still being light out. It’s a beautiful region, even without the lights playing the way they were.
Ok so I think I might end this post here but don’t worry I will continue.

Monday, August 16, 2010

i guess an appology is in order


i know i promised regular updates and regular communication and photos. but for some reason this traveeling things means i have limited time to actuly write.

well the travel i have been doing is demanding and now i have some one to talk to on the train, and power is not as easily avialbe whilst i am on the train. but i am still writing as i go along. but i guess a bit of a catch up is in order.

we have been right through the united kingdom, covering it top to bottom in a camper van. being the driver i was rather unable to post daily and an ability to write whilst driving. also i have quite an experssive writign style and i have been writing just i am lackin the completed post status right now!

well from england we went to the jamboree in the nederlands and had two weeks of full immersion in dutch culture.

since then i have been on the road again and if i havnt been walking arround a city, i alomst always have been trying to catch some sleep on a train. also i had writers block at a few stages when i should have used my time to write.

we have so far headed through switzerland, visitng kandersteg, geneva (the WOSM office), up to denmark, through to sweeden, up to norway, then back down to germany, now in france and visitng a few diffrent spots within this lovley country.

i hope to have time to write some more in the next few days and update you fully as to where and what i have done. there is alot on the way for you to be able to read. also a whole heap of photos. well thats enough of me blubbering an appology to the world. i am sitting in a french fast food outlet called quick here in france and charging my computer so i may be able to do some writing tonight on the train (12 hour train ride across france tonight!)

well keep safe

and for the love of god dont do anything i wouldnt