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Short break in Italy this week, then ...

This journal will be getting posts (and pictures) again.

I'm flying to Italy for a 4-night break in Campania (staying in Sorrento, seeing Naples, Herculaneum and Vesuvius).

A week Monday (22nd) is going to be a Lancaster University reunion, for which the university have managed to book a private room in the Palace of Westminster. I'm not sure if I've missed a significance of that venue, but hey, I'm not turning the opportunity down.

Following that is Whitby Goth Weekend.

And following that, I'll be spending a while in Germany up to Wave Gotik Treffen.

This journal is no longer being updated

These days my news gets discussed face-to-face, or on IRC.
This journal is likely to merely contain cut-and-pastes from IRC, if I remember to update it.

Non-travel stuff - IPv6

OFCOM is giving out £530m in grants for superfast broadband (30Mb/s to 90% of the population by 2015), but doesn't have forecasts for IPv6 support. I think they should make IPv6 support a condition for getting the cash.
OFCOM press release
FOI request.

(I need to work out what I'm doing with this blog - making it a regular blog or keeping it travel-only).

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Skopje to Ohrid

In a cybercafe in Skopje bus station, waiting for the bus to Ohrid, so a quick moment to blog.

Seen a lot of architecture, met other tourists from Ireland, France, Germany and America.

Quite a culture shock in terms of the buildings - but not from the people who are friendly. Again forgot how to have the confidence to say "hello" in English to random strangers when that immediately marks me as not local.

More blogging when I get home and type up my handwritten diaries.

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Macedonia

At 4am tomorrow morning, I'll be on my way to Macedonia for a week. Never been there before, and going to do the usual tourist sightseeing. Having budgeted time and money for travel, my original plans changed. So I looked through my travel books, and saw a country with castles, landscapes and interesting architecture. It's outside the EU, but likely to join.

Below is my outline. It'll change, only the flights and first two nights are booked so far.

Thursday (sunny) - stay night in Skopje
Arrive 14:20 at airport
Check bus times to Ohrid

Friday (sunny) - stay night in Skopje
Sightseeing in Skopje

Saturday (rain) - stay night in Ohrid
Sightseeing in Skopje
Bus to Ohrid - 3 hours
Sightseeing in Ohrid

Sunday (light rain) - stay night in Ohrid
Sunday, so don't visit churches
Castles?
Car Samoil's Castle
Decide whether to stay in Ohrid or Bitola on Tuesday night

Monday - night in Ohrid / Bitola
Many museums in Ohrid are closed
Churches and lakes in and around Ohrid

Monday / Tuesday - night in Bitola
Bus to Bitola

Tuesday is a national holiday, not sure if it's happy or a day of mourning

Tuesday / Wednesday - night in Bitola
Architecture tour (3 hours, book at tourist info)

Wednesday / Thursday
Train to Prilep?

Thursday / Friday
Train back to Skopje

Friday
Morning sightseeing in Skopje
Flight at 14:55

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Cousin-newly-in-law

My cousin-newly-in-law, three weekends ago.


An excellent day, both for the couple and for meeting lots of (new) branches of family.

Ely

A local day-trip up the Cambridge train line took me to the beautiful cathedral town of Ely.

As well as the nave, there are guided tours that go up both towers. I recommend it, as long as you are ok with tiny spiral staircases.



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Plans for 2011

Reviving this journal for 2011 travel.

Having finished a long work project (contract), I'm taking a big block of postponed holiday.

My cousin announced his wedding, which obviously I'll be attending. So plans outlined themselves (and with relaxed timing): take the time between end-of-contract and wedding as holiday.

  • Finish work in early July
  • Two months visiting friends that I haven't seen in a while, doing touristy things round the UK, and catching up with everything that I'd put off doing for "when I have time".
  • M'era Luna
  • A month doing touristy things abroad.
  • My cousin's wedding
  • ... and then the Monday after the wedding go hunt for another job.

Plans of course change a bit - in this case sliding back two months. I ended up working another two months (interesting follow-on project). The wedding was excellent, and I haven't done half the UK touristy plans yet.

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M'Era Luna

I was in Germany for the M'Era Luna music festival; with a group coach trip in both directions. It's a camping festival, so we arranged out tents around a central gazebo for sitting and chattering when we needed a rest.

Lots of fun, even on the coach journey out when we were all excited about going there. (The journey back was more for sleeping, still fun chattering about the weekend).

I won't turn into a music-review journal; I was going for the industrial and mittlealter (medieval, think rock with bagpipes) bands, and the performances were mostly good.

The weather forecasts were conflicting, and one was worrying. In the end, the campsite stayed dry, while the nearby town received over an inch of rain.

German
My German vocabulary is slowly growing, partly with general conversation words and partly with words that are used in typical song lyrics, it was good to be able to understand more of the chatter around me and band showmanship. I was speaking it for buying food and drinks,but I still wouldn't be able to have a conversation in it. (The default language tends to be English anyway - unless the other speaker is German or Austrian than it's likely to be the common language).

OTOH, I did get used to German being the standard language for the bands' introductions. Some guidebooks recommend learning and using "hello", "please" and "thanks", even if those are the only words you know. language. I'd assumed this would come across as ruder than sticking to English, because you then immediately have to drop back to English. But somehow I found myself in the opposite position for the closing band's performance; as the only band that didn't say anything in the native tongue they stuck out more than the ones that sounded as if they'd memorised just their opening.

French
My German is obviously not native speech, and shopkeepers will often respond in English. Just occasionally they'll respond in French; and a possible reason finally clicked - as I haven't used English myself, they could eliminate both German and English as likely nationalities.



Ilam and Dovedale

Catching up with images, there's a lot that haven't been posted.

A couple of weeks ago I visited family in Lancashire, and stopped in the Peak District on the way home. Just west of Ilam is the beautiful Dovedale valley; these views are taken at Ilam manor, and a 3 mile walk from the south end of the valley to Milldale, sandwiches and icecream on the river bank, and then returning the same way.

More pictures in the gallery