Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sat Nav: friend or foe?

To make our adventures a little easier we decided to invest in a Satellite Navigation unit, a Sat Nav. After hours of research, I decided on the Garmin 350, and found a used one on Ebay. (Amazingly the Gamin's are cheaper here even with the conversion - much cheaper, same products!)

It arrived a couple of days before our Poole anniversary trip and Josh used it going to and from work to test it out - no problems.

Well, little did we know the system, which I'm sure was originally configured for US roads, has some quirks when applied to British roads.

To get to the Sandbanks Beach for our RIB ride, we needed to drive down to the tip of the harbour. Imagine the harbour is a clock face, Poole is 3 and Sandbanks Beach is 5. The opening of the harbour is 6 and the land resumes at 7 (small opening, big harbour!). Well, we jumped in the car, typed in the post code and Josh noted it would take 40 minutes. I had looked on a map to see it wasn't very far but I thought maybe the roads are strange.

We set off and we kept taking left turns (moving from 3 to 2 to 1, etc)...and I started to worry. I pulled out a real map and was frantically searching for the names of the towns/streets we were passing. To no avail, I grabbed the Sat Nav and zoomed out on the route to see it was taking us from 3 o'clock, counterclockwise to 7, directing us to get on a ferry and then get to our destination at 5!!! What?! We had it set on fastest route so we were perplexed how that was faster. I could see the one main road we SHOULD have taken to get easily to our destination and it should have only taken us 10 minutes (instead of 40).

In playing with the settings I realised it was set to avoid U-turns, seems normal, but after contemplating the error of its way...we figured it out! Garmin interprets the 3rd exit on a roundabout as a u-turn and thus would not tell us to go the shorter distance trip because we would have had to take a right turn...AKA a 3rd exit in a roundabout. This was confirmed in thinking back, remembering the Garmin had yet to ever tell us to take a 3rd exit AND it avoided the easier route from our apartment to the highway (which would have involved taking a 3rd exit).

In sum, I think the Garmin will be helpful in trekking the UK and Europe but ALWAYS preview the route to ensure it makes sense!

A 2nd Anniversary Adventure

Last year for our first anniversary we decided that we would rather travel than exchange presents for our anniversary. As another condition, we added that we would take turns planning the trip and it would be a surprise for the other person. Last year, Josh planned an exciting weekend. This year it was my turn.

The surprise destination was Poole, England, situated on the world's second largest natural harbour. A quaint town with a lot of pizazz, there was fun to be had. Our room overlooked the harbour and we were located on The Quay (pronounced: key) - the main road running along the harbour where all sorts of stores and restaurants were located. We yet again lucked out with amazing weather and decided to take part in some of the many water activities offered around Poole harbour. We hired a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) to take us on the tour of the harbour the proper way. It was a nice peaceful ride and then heading out to the Old Harry Rocks, the driver let loose and we held on for dear life as we bounced across the wake of a huge ferry! Awesome!

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out on the Sandbanks Beach where there was a windsurfing completion going on. Unfortunately there wasn't any wind so instead we watched speed boats and some water skiing stunts. Who'd think we be chillin' (literally) on the beach in September in England?! It was nice, but a tad cold for our tastes (around 70 degrees F and windy on the beach) to be in swim kit.

Saturday night we got to enjoy a parade put on as part of the Inside Out Festival, an arts festival. It was essentially a night parade exhibiting an underwater fantasy world with some kickin' music. Pretty cool.

To cap off the weekend, I surprised....well, tried to surprise Josh (he opened the mail when I told him not to and found our tickets) with Zorbing. A sport invented in New Zealand, consisting of rolling down a hill in a big bubble!

Sideways Zorbing Video

Up to two people can ride in one Zorb and you can chose from being harnessed in the bubble or just sitting inside with a nice amount of water so you slosh all the way down! I chose the water! You can have take a running jump to jump through this narrow hole in the Zorb to get inside (Josh had to push me in...I didn't take a very good running jump)! Then sitting inside the guy sticks he head in and says ok, I'm gonna zip you up...stand up and start walking down the hill - what walking down the hill?! Yep, he said, you'll fall eventually, but you have to start walking to get going. Josh was rearing to go and we started walking...

I quickly hit the floor and then Josh joined me as we slide and tumbled over each other the entire way down! It was awesome!! Then to get out of the Zorb through that narrow hole the guy said its easier to come out head first so you reach out hands and head first to catch yourself on the ground! All in all, it was great and we'd do it again in a heartbeat! Here we are after changing into dry clothes.

All of the Poole photos

2 years down many more to come...

Kentucky Upsets No. 9 Louisville, 40-34

I just heard the good news! I starting jumping up and down in the flat so I can't even imagine the excitement from those who were there. Our first win over a top 10 team in 30 years, really, are you kidding me...

Wait a second. That's the same score of the upset over Alabama. Nice.

Anyway from what I can find on the web it was an exciting game but I need a full recap. So for all of who were in attendance and those who watched on TV send me an email or post comments with your thoughts on the game.

Go Cats!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rocks in a field

Ok, so they were some rather large rocks. Rocks from Wales, moved by humans around 5000 years ago and somehow stacked in this field without the help of modern machinery. Also interesting, the alignment of the rocks has all to do with the sun and the passing of seasons. Even more interesting, there is a strong magnetic presence at one side of the stones...we eaves dropped on a tour guide taking a bus group through and watched her do a demonstration where these metal rods she was balancing on her fingers would come together or push away depending on how close she got to this one spot....hmmm....

Obviously, I am kidding at saying Stonehenge is just some rocks in a is actually am amazing site, so connected to the movement of the planet and science, nearly impossible to fathom how it was built in its day and completely unknown what it was actually used for. Strangely, it really is just some rocks in a field when considering the are driving through English countryside then off in the distance in one of the many open fields you see some rocks and as you get closer you realise they are the infamous Stonehenge. Its right next to the road and in one of the pictures you can see the country highway through two of the upright stones. Very neat place and a lovely day. We ended our tour by taking a nap in the field at Stonehenge.

Just a few towns over is a place called Avebury. Its a small town that has similar stones standing upright around the town. Also a strange sight, many of these stones are in the middle of sheep or cow pastures and people can just go wondering around through all of this property. Along with the stones making a large (and I mean large) circle around the town, there is also what only can be described as a moat. Its a 20 feet deep ravine running around the town. The Avebury stones are also about 5000 year old and their original purpose unknown. But again, very interesting.

We found some good lighing late in the day and were able to pose with the stones. Can you tell who is who?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

New Addition to the Flat

The cats are in heaven because we bought them a new place to take a nap. It hangs over the radiators in the flat and is in the sun for a good portion of the day. As you can see in the picture Mia has claimed it for the time being. Man I wish I could snooze like that...