Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wicked Camper Adventure to Edinburgh - Part 2

I awoke on the Saturday morning to the sounds of a car driving past the field.

Our apparent out of the way place to set up our tents was in fact on quite a heavily used country road. We were still a way off the beaten track, seeing as there was no one to usher us on right even when we left at 10am, but each time a truck drove past the wind would ripple the tents.

I got out of bed and grabbed the camera to get a bit of scenic footage on a beautiful Scottish morning and noticed that we did indeed have the field to ourselves.

Our set up in the field

Off to the right was another field full of sheep, and further on was a factory billowing smoke into the air. Behind the tents was the road, and over the road was a farm house with an old leaf barren tree. To the left of the house was another field, with several cows and a couple of bulls. Thankfully we didn't end up in that field otherwise one of two things would have happened.
  1. We would have gone cow tipping
  2. The bulls would have gone tent slaying
One by one the rest of the crew slowly got out of bed, except for Sam who rushed out of bed as Tyson and myself started to collapse his tent around him.

We all huddled around the tents and campers while we set up the 7 digital cameras and 1 polaroid camera to get a photo of our first night destination on the road trip. Of course, it took us 5 minutes to get everyone into frame and then it was a mad dash by Tod and myself to get back into the photo...... but I think you'll agree they worked out well.

From here, low on fuel, we headed straight back to the petrol station and filled up before heading to Tesco's to get some breakfast. After 30 minutes of aimlessly walking around the store we had what we needed for breaky and got back to the car.

Now we were faced with another problem, where were we going to have our breakfast? Would we go to the park down the road, back to the field where we slept, head further along to the next town, head back to the brook (yes brook, not stream or river or creek or anything else you can come up with) and have it there.

Decisions decisions decisions.

It was all too hard, so we just opened the back of the wicked campers, took out the tables, chairs, plates and kettle and ate our breakfast in the middle of the Tesco car park.

I won't say that we didn't get any weird looks from the umpteen people that walked past us on the way to do their shopping, but no one suggested that we move on, and most importantly no one suggested "That's not on mate, that's not on!"

Forget Breakfast at Tiffany's, the new craze is Breakfast at Tesco's

After breakfast we piled into the car and headed off via the scenic route on the way up to Edinburgh.

We pulled over part of the way into the journey to soak in the serenity............. ahhhhh, how's the serenity..... bloody beautiful.

When we reached Edinburgh we had DJ Lana in full swing with the ipod and was pumping some crazy tunes through the wicked camper radio. We kind of got carried away with the craziness and pretty soon we decided that the van couldn't stop moving.

Of course, we HAD to stop for traffic lights (just for the benefit of mums and dads and wicked camper staff reading this), but the back seat took liberty in ensuring that once the forward or backward motion stopped that the side to side motion started.

I'm not sure if all of the weird looks and stares we got through the centre of Edinburgh was a result of the vans paint job or of the crazy occupants of both vehicles.

At one stage we drove past a bear, yes a real life bear. They had somehow trained the bear to carry a bucked around the town and ask for donations for a worthy charity. Seriously!!!!! Who wouldn't tip a bear. It's a freaking bear!!!!!

We on the other hand couldn't stop and get out to donate, so we just shouted, tooted and cheered the bear on. About 50 meters up the road we pulled up at the lights and the Essex boys started out left to right movement before...... BANG!

Something had hit the side of the Wicked Camper Van causing Lana shart ever so slightly. The next thing I knew there was a bear leaning through my window with a bucket asking for a donation.

Did I donate?

Did I mention it was a freaking BEAR!!!!!!
The Bear out fund raising

I gave some money and we headed off to find a park and wander up to Edinburgh Castle.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wicked Camper Adventure to Edinburgh - Part 1

Weekend at Edinburgh

So do you like................ stuff?

One thing I definitely like is road trips and this one definitely did not disappoint.

The weekend got off to a mixed start. I managed to land my job at around 3pm and then had to rush off to pack my bags not just for the trip but also so I could move out of the place that I had been staying at.

30 minutes later and I was heading up to Colliers Wood to get on the tube out to Kilburn Park where we were picking up with Wicked Campers.

As I reached the front of the train station the gate was slammed in front of me, and the bellowing announcement that someone had jumped in front of the train came over the loud speakers.

As people poured out of the station there was a mixture of emotions. On one hand there were young children crying to their mothers, grown women crying over the phone to their significant other, while there were others that we're vocally shitty about the fact that this had slowed their progress home on a Friday afternoon.

I jumped in a minibus and headed for Stockwell station where I could still get to my destination. It takes about 10 minutes on the tube, but 25 minutes later we arrived and I was now running late.

Once I got on the tube one of the passengers rang the emergency bell which slowed us for another 10 minutes............ was I even supposed to go on this road trip? Was all this telling me that there was going to be a accident while we were away?

I got to the Wicked Camper offices just after 6 to find the Scoville's sitting on the couch waiting for the 7 other road trippers.

We all turned up in drips and drabs and after payment and paperwork we were ready to hit the road.

There were 9 of us on the road trip, Kita, Lana, Andy, Sam and myself in the Clockwork Orange van and Tod, Tyson, Toni-Louise and Michaela in the Marvin the Martian van.

It took us a little while to get out of London, but with Sam's trusty Tom Tom wedged into the back seat and the Ipod pumping tunes through the radio we had everything we needed to get just about anywhere.

The further we got into the night the easier the drive seemed to get. Both Tod and I nailed coffee's while everyone else nailed the beers, but thanks to some very weak bladders (Andy, I'm not naming any names) we got plenty of opportunities to stop along the way (and maybe "borrow" some salt, pepper, facewipes, milk, sugar and knives and forks).

Although we were able to make it we decided to pull up about 80 miles outside of Edinburgh in a small town. We thought it would be nice to camp in a field in the country before hitting another city.

Oh, and we were also both out of fuel and the station wasn't open until the next morning.

So there we were, 3am with rapidly dropping fuel gauges, pitch black country side and no idea where we were. We drove around a few back road farms until we came across a paddock with the gate open. ahhhhhh, bed for the night.

We unloaded the eskies, chairs, tents and guitars and sat around for a few hours while we soaked up the cold country lifestyle. Tyson and Tod strummed away at the guitars while Andy played solo on the bongo's (see the movie to find out just how solo it was).

One by one we faded off to the cars or the tents for some shut eye, and when we woke up in the morning........... well that's for part 2.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Road Trip Butterflies

As I sit at Squiz.net uk branch I can't help but feel butterflies in my stomach.

Is it nervousness about the interview?


Is it anxiousness about getting out to pick up a lens for my HV20 35mm adapter?

Could be.

But more likely is it's the excitement about heading off on a road trip from London to Edinburgh with 9 other new friends.

Some of the best times of my life have been spent on road trips. In fact, I'd say the top 7 of the top 10 best times we're part of road trips.

I'm always big on not building things up too much, trying not to expect too much from a situation because when you do you're often faced with disappointment.

Well bollocks to that (bollocks? have I been in the UK for that long???). Every single road trip, no matter whether it's 2 hours down the road or 14 days around the east of Australia, every single one has had nothing but the fondness of memories cast back over them.

Of course if the interview goes well and I get the lens for the camera things are going to be even better, but it's hard to top better when you're looking at spending 72 hours with 3 guitars, 10 people, 2 wicked vans and a new country to explore.

by the way, I got the job.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wicked Van to Edinburgh

I've just finished my second shift with the Revolution Bar.

Well actually you can't really call it a shift.

I got in there 40 minutes early for my training shift in a poor effort to try and make up for the fact that I was going to miss my 2nd and 3rd shift this weekend. Not much of an effort, but a token effort none the less.

Why wasn't I going to my shifts? Well that all came about a few days ago.

On the way back from Munich I spent 18 hours on a bus with Lana, Michaela, and Toni-Louise talking about music, food and poo......... and not necessarily in that order.

Every now and then the conversation strayed away from those topics, and one such time we strayed onto the topic of wicked vans. I explained How to get from Brisbane to Melbourne in 14 Days and they seemed to like the idea of road trips....... but who doesn't.

I suggested a trip through Europe in one of the vans and the girls were all over the idea like a fat kid on a smarty. I did some research on the cost for a trip over 40 days and came up with a plan, but travelling through Europe during winter is probably not a good an idea....... kind of like trying to invade Russia at the same time.

So a few days ago, after a fairly big night catching up with the girls on Saturday, the girls decided that a trip to Edinburgh in a wicked van would be a good idea. They booked 2 cars and organised 10 people, all of which could only go this weekend.... which of course meant that if I was going to go I'd have to give up my shifts at the pub.

Thankfully, the pub is an awesome bunch and said no problems to me having this weekend off. Of course it means that I'm going to be working most Friday and Saturday nights for the rest of the year, but I'm sure this weekend will make it all worth it.

Thankfully I've got a weekend to take off to go and see the Cat Empire in early December so that's going to be pretty cool (I might even try to get a filming gig there).

For now though, I'm off to bed to get some rest up for my second interview tomorrow afternoon. Which company? Where abouts? What am I doing? We'll see how the interview goes tomorrow before I answer those questions.

Look out for the "trip to Edinburgh" short clips to see how the trip went, they're sure to be a larf.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Getting into the swing of surfing the London Tube

Things are beginning to look further and further up in terms of me spending a bit more time in London.

I started a job at the Revolution Bars and had my trial on Friday night. Started at 6pm with no clue about any of the cocktails they had on the menu and finished at 3am, still with no idea about any of the cocktails on the list.

Alright, well maybe I knew a few of them after a few hours, but I'm still studying the cheat sheet every time someone orders one. And, they've got over 100 vodka's there, how the hell are you supposed to find the vodka on the back shelf??? I know Smirnoff and, um, Finland?

It was a great night though, and the staff there are very cool. Managed to make a few new friends, even met a girl from Australia who went to school with the girls that I met randomly in a pub during the Oktoberfest.

Speaking of the Oktoberfest, I finally got to catch up with them all again on Saturday afternoon and we sat back at the Oktoberfest bar in Fulham and tried to piece together the blur that was Oktoberfest.

It was great seeing them all again, and as usual I ended up following them back from an Oktoberfest party.... but this time we went to a house warming party.

I walked out the back and caught up with some of the other motely crew, and who else did I bump into but Tommy Ralph!

Tommy is a mate of mine from Darwin, neither of us knew that we were going to be in London, neither of us knew the people having the house warming, yet some how, some way we ended up catching up.

Small world.

Today was another great day. I worked as a freelance cameraman for the "Turn the Tables" lunch for cancer research. The lunch was at the prestigious Savoy Hotel and the room was filled with MP's, OBE's, QC's and one Clive Anderson.

There was a lot of standing around twiddling thumbs, but when it came to the job I managed to keep the stars in frame and in focus.

I'm hoping to pick up a little more freelance videography work, and hoping even more that a backpackers show goes ahead and I can get some freelance work there.

What a life that would be. Traveling, filming, and making money doing it. Can you spell D.R.E.A.M J.O.B?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Surfing during Oktoberfest

Deep sent me a message while I was in Munich and asked if I'd brought my surf boards.

Why on earth would I bring surfboards to Germany, the country doesn't even border the ocean!

Well on my way back to the Oktoberfest campsite I saw a young guy waiting at the bus stop with a surf board. Surely not. Surely there's no surf.

I wandered down to the river next to the campsite, and this is what I found.......

Surfing during Oktoberfest

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Surfing at a cross roads

I've come to a bit of a cross roads.

Actually, that sounds a little bit dramatic doesn't it.

I've come to a point where I've got lots of options on the table to pursue, but I'm not entirely sure which way to go.

Life has become a little stagnant since getting back to London. It seems funny, but it's always the way, that the grass is always greener on the other side.

While I was in Munich in the midst of drunken travel I would have given anything to get back to London for some normality, just resting, nothing on, spending time at home.

Now that I'm here I'm itching to get away again, go and experience the road yet to be travelled, meet the people that we're destined to meet and have some of the best times in my 27 year life.

Unfortunately I also need to fund that trip.

It's a lot easier to travel with too much money and be comfortable then travel with "maybe" enough money and risk running out with no cash at all. Of course, there's always the credit card, and I'm sure that I could hang out for some clinical trials of some new drug to get a bit of coin to continue, but still it's better sometimes to relax knowing that you've got the cash there just in case, even through you're never going to need it.

A problem yes. The crossroads I'm at? No.

I've decided that I'm going to use this time to do a bit of work, but in what?

Do I go back to the familiar territory of Information Management, Records Management, Project Management, or do I branch out a little further and try something new?

On one hand my familiar work pays really well in London, but it takes a week or so to line up interviews and then you're never guaranteed that they're going to turn into jobs.

On the other hand I could, hopefully, walk into most bars in the area and get a job behind the bar. Of course it'll be a bit more fun, loving barmaids the way I do, but not quite as mentally or financially stimulating.

The other option I have is to go in a totally different direction.

Look for work in film or editing, or both.

Although it's not the best paid profession, I think that's the direction that I'm beginning to lean towards.

I somehow came across someone online looking for people to film backpacking around the world for a new show, and the pilot episode is going to be filmed in Mexico City next month.

I've been in touch and, all things going well, I'm going to restart my travels either through Europe or most likely though South America with Rolly and help fund the trek making episodes for the new show.

Who knows, if things work out the way that I'm planning the next time you'll all see me will be on some obscure television program with Rol's hanging out at Machu Pichu...........

That's the thing that I enjoy about travelling the most. It makes it difficult for you to get comfortable in any one spot for any length of time and continually challenges you to find new places, things, people and ways to enjoy life.

Travel is about experience, and experience is about enriching your life.

I love Lamp. I love Travel!

Surf the Dream goes clean shaven

Well it had to happen eventually.

I put the razor down last year in late October and two days ago, nearly a year later, I picked it up again to shave off what will go down as possibly the worse beard ever grown by a man or woman in the history of facial hair.

Seriously, I saw some old women in my travels that could sport a a better beard then I could muster.

I suppose my only saving grace was that I actually took scissors out to trim it every now and then, try and get an even growth that resembled a kept beard as opposed to looking like a middle eastern terrorist. What makes it worse was that I always had a heap of stuff with me. Surf boards, computers, cameras, chargers, external hard drives..... why would a bearded hippy surfer need all these things.... unless he was plotting something.

It's no surprise then that at every stop in America I had AAA printed on the bottom of my ticket.

By the last stop I had to know. I had to ask the security officer as she put on her glove with that familiar rubber latex *snap* that I had grown accustomed to, what did those three a's on the ticket mean.

Of course, it means that you are to be taken aside, searched, swabbed and patted down (which on lonely flights wasn't all bad). BUT, it's totally random.

Random my latex probed arse it's random.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I was never "searched" like that, but I was pulled aside each time "randomly". Think it had anything to do with my appearance? Surely not.

But now it's gone.

From this............

To this...........

It took a good 20 - 30 minutes to trim and shave it off. Like I said I'd trimmed it every now and then, right up until we crossed the border into Mexico in early July. Since then it's grown like weeds in different lengths, with rogue hairs that defy gravity.

It was something to behold.

But for now, I'm back to clean shaven and am looking for work.

I can either go with the easy option of bar work and not earn much money, or wait it out for a good contracting job and earn REAL £'s. I'm hoping to get something in film/video and editing, but that's for the next post.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Colliers Wood

This is the area that I'm staying at the moment. I'm staying with Roland, Cres, Rich and Mel in a three bedroom flat.

Colliers Wood

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Oh, and the less said about the Rugby the better.....

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Oktoberfest Day 3

Well today we were a little bit sore.

On the way home, apparently, I said that we HAD to be back at the same tent by 10am the next day. Jusso argued, so I thought we could push it back and be there at 11am at the latest.

Anyway, we woke up at 10.30am and felt pretty worse for wear. We took a while getting ready and had some breakfast with Larissa and then headed into the city. We didn't go straight into the Oktoberfest today though, instead we walked around and did some sightseeing while Larissa pointed out the famous places of Munich. We saw the English Garten, a beautiful old Church, another garden, an old famous delicatescent, the parliament quarters, the opera house and a few more.
Jusso and I in the church

Munich Gardens

They were pretty amazing and it was good to do something other then drink beer...................for now.

From there we drank beer.

But first we went to a restaurant so I could try the, up until then, fabled pork knuckles. It was pretty awesome except for the, what looks like two scoops of mash potato but was actually rubber.

We went back to the Ofbrah house but it was WAY to packed to get a table. We grabbed our mas and stood back in the isles and looked on at the madness. The next thing we had a group around us and we'd made another bunch of friends. We even met a kiwi bloke called Justin as well.

During the night I was stopped twice so people could get a picture with Jesus, and Jusso got his guns out while carrying 4 beer (not as easy as it sounds).

Get two tickets to the Gun's show

I'm pretty sure this girl is coming to Australia to work for Shenannignas now

Jusso was happy that we were having a quiet night because he doesn't like to fly when he's a bit hung, stupid stupid man. After the adventures that we've had so far you'd think that he would have learned no to jinx himself.

We left the Oktoberfest at close and decided to head to a bar for one before we went home. Hahahahahahaha.

I vaguely remember sitting at the bar ordering Vodka Redbull with a Jamesons on the rocks chaser, and I remember doing it at least twice.

I'm sure we made a rule about not doing that again in Dublin.

No matter, I'm sure we had a good time, if only I had some memory of it. The cab ride home consisted of me giving my phone with the address in it to the cabbie and hoping for the best. When we woke up in the morning, fairly broken, we noticed that on the way home we either stopped off at the shops to get bread, water, and two beers or we robbed someone on the way home. Based on our condition I'd say it was the earlier.

Jusso got away alright though, albeit as hung as a really well hung donkey and Larissa and her boyfriend took me out for "coffee"............. which of course leads us into Oktoberfest for day 4.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oktoberfest Day 2

On Day 2 Jusso and I braved the Oktoberfest on our own with the aim of not getting too drunk....... bwahhhhahahahahaha.

We started off at the Hofbrah House at the Oktoberfest itself with the thought of having one or two and then moving on to another tent.

Jusso and I at the Hofbra House

6 mas later we were amongst the aussies, kiwis and pom's..... still in the Hofbrah House and singing again.

We managed to head out the door around 10.30 but we walked straight across to the we saw the dodgem cars. Now I don't think of myself as a genius (well not all the time), but usually I'm smart enough to find the slot to put the token in so the car would work.

On this occasion................. not smart.

So there I was, sat in the middle of the dodgem cars with no power to the car at all with 10 other very drunk drivers. Luckily they took pity on me and steered clear of me for the 3 minute ride.

Pigs Arse!

It was as if everyone got into a line at one end to build up speed and smash into my car, only for it to happen from the other end a moment later.

Eventually the guy showed me that the slot was in the front end of the car, instead of next to the wheel like Australia.

As I leaned over to put the token in someone hit me causing my forehead to test the solidity of the steering wheel. To make matters worse as I got power and put my foot down the ride ended. SPEEEEEWWWWWWING.

Luckily we had a few tokens, so now it was payback.

I managed to nail a few people that got me, but it was all a hell of a lot of fun. At the end of that ride Jusso came running up to my car only to slip and go sliding past it again. I had an extra token so myself and another aussie decided to spend the rest of the ride driving backwards, which is no easy task after a few beers.

From there, and after a few more Jusso tumbles, we did what we promised we wouldn't do after 6 beers.


And to be precise....... my first ever roller coaster.

Jusso's got some footage of it, but it's pretty much sky, ground, sky ground, me going woooooo, f%$k yeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhh and repeat.

Somehow we weren't sick but I think it disorientated us a fair bit because it took us another 2 hours to get home to a place only 40 minutes away.

I got lost at the tube station trying to find the WC, while Jusso was cursing me for leaving him alone on the platform. We got off at the wrong bus stop and took the wrong road back to Larissa's, but we lucked out because when we called her she was at a friends house only 20 meters away.

The main thing is we got back alright..........

Mates share umbrella......only after lots of beers

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oktoberfest Day 1

Well there's broken and then there's broken.

I thought that after a few big nights in Dublin that I was a broken man and it couldn't get much worse.

I am now a shell of a broken man.

I'd love to say that I have Cory, Rol's, Lambo or Jusso to blame for it, but I've got nudding!!!

I did this all to myself.

Actually I can't be all to blame, where's the fun in that. Jusso got some explaining to do, after all it was his idea to come over to Germany after the reunion...... and if shag's wasn't such a cool pub with such a great bunch of staff I wouldn't have gone to that either.

But of course, without these things I wouldn't have met the wonderful people that now litter the memory chip of my camera. I wouldn't have been able to see my bank account drop so dramatically over a period of just 2 weeks (seriously, it dropped quicker then shares in Peptech).

We met up with my friend Larissa after arriving on the train from Frankfurt and headed off by train to her place. At first we were a bit dubious at how far she lived from the Oktoberfest, but we thought we'd give it a go and if it was too hard we'd hit hotels.

The first night out, Tuesday, Larissa took us to the Hofbrah House (not part of Oktoberfest) and we enjoyed a good feed and a Mas (or as we refer to it, stein). I didn't want to say anything, but after one I actually felt a little bit pissy eyed, but I'm sure that was just residual alcohol from Dublin.

We headed into the Oktoberfest from there with Larissa and she took us to a beer hall to meet some of her friends.

When we arrived at the grounds I was stunned. For those that haven't been, it is something to behold, and for those that have, you know exactly what I mean.

Rollercoasters, Ferris Wheels, Dodgem cars, whole chickens, pork knuckles and silly hats, it had everything. But that was nothing compared to the size of, and contents of the beer halls.

We met her friends, but unfortunately they were sat in a "exclusive" area so Jusso and I hit the tables on our own. After pushing through the mass of crowds we found a table with a few spare seats and parked our asses.

We had two more mas that night but had a great time standing on the chairs and singing our voices off to the live music.

We headed back early that night and got home without too many dramas thanks to Larissa being with us.

The next day Jusso and I braved the Oktoberfest on our own with the aim of not getting too drunk....... bwahhhhahahahahaha.

Escape from Munich

I've managed to get out of munich after 6 days of oktoberfesting and I'm happy to say that I'm safely back in London, albeit a little stupider and only one functioning kidney.

Thank you thank you thank you to Michaela, Toni-Louise and Lana for making the the 18 hour bus ride home a strangely fun experience.

Here's some pictures of what's been happening over the past 2 weeks.

Shag's Reunion
Oktoberfest Day 1 - 4
Oktoberfest Day 5 - 6