A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: MelJM2010

Merry Christmas!

snow -1 °C

Firstly, a big apology for not keeping more up to date with this blog. Mark and I have both had massive ups and downs in the last few months, and many hard decisions have had to be made. But were still here in London, both working in jobs we enjoy, and looking forward to a new year of new surprises, adventures and challenges. And what a year it has been!
Well, as many of you know, Mark and I have decided to go our separate ways. It was by no means an easy decision, but we are still best friends, and we still live together for now. We help and support each other over here, London can be a very lonely place and Im so grateful that we still have a very strong friendship.
On my side of things, I have managed to get myself a fantastic job teaching Art and Photography at a very nice school, and I have met some people in creative industries which have excellent contacts for me. I am working on a project with one of my classes that will be shown in The Royal Albert Hall which is fantastic career wise for me, and I have made some great friends in the department. Im also going to be running adult photography classes from the school one night a week starting from January too, so that will be a bit of extra money and great experience. Below are a few photos from school and my work Christmas party.
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Mark is still working for Gallow Glass, he really enjoys it and has made lots of friends there too. He still gets to work in the most amazing places, this week he is working for the massive London Cirque Du Soleil show. He has seen places in London that most people who have lived here their whole lives will never see! He is really looking forward to next March when his friend Heath is coming over, they are going on a bus tour around Europe in April. Here is a photo of Mark in front of the work truck on the first day it snowed - very exciting!
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On that subject, we have been getting heaps of snow! Its exciting but causing chaos in the UK. Both of us have been getting up and looking out the window every morning to a blanket of white - very different to what we are used to! Thermals are an absolute necessity and we have both had to stock up on these. Fortunately they are pretty cheap here.
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Christmas day will be hard without you all, but we have both planned things with friends to try and have a good time and keep busy. Mark has a friend from work who has invited him and another Aussie he works with to have Christmas dinner at his house with his family. I have booked a ticket to go and visit a friend who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, who is also from Newcastle and has no family here. I am a little worried about weather I will actually get there though, as the snow is causing a lot of problems with the trains. If I cant get there, Mark and I will do something together. I am meant to leave on Christmas eve, so fingers crossed.
Well, a big MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our family and friends, we miss you all and think of you all the time. This will probably be the one and only white Christmas we have, so we will try and enjoy it as best we can! Im sure there will be lots of mulled wine involved!
Lots and lots of love, kisses and hugs, we LOVE YOU!!! XOXOOXOXOXXOXOXO

Posted by MelJM2010 10:43 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged snow london edinburgh christmas Comments (0)

Hard couple of months...

Sorry everyone for the long wait between posts, truth be told we have had a very stressful past month! Firstly, our living arrangements were not sorted when returned from holidays in August, and although we temporarily had somewhere for a couple of weeks, we then got told the flat we were moving in to was double the rent we were told in the first place, and for a couple of days we thought we were homeless! One thing about London, the landlords are all dodgy. It doesn't matter if its through a real estate (which this flat was), they still try and scam you! The guy who owned the place we stayed at for the first two weeks we got back took two weeks deposit off us, but when it was time to give it back he claimed we only gave him 1 weeks deposit. So he ripped us off 115 pound, which is about $220. So the flat we are in now is double the price we were expecting to pay, more than we can really afford, but as we found out, trying to find a place in London at the last minute is impossible. So we found a Danish girl, Julie, to share with us, who is really nice. My Mum came over on the 5th of September, which was when we thought we had nowhere to live! So poor Mum has probably aged 20 years since she got here, but she helped us out massively, so Thanks Mum.
So now working is more important than ever, and Mark has been getting plenty of it. I decided to leave my new job, for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I had no flexibility, and the pay was about half of what I get teaching. It was a hard decision, but having limited time here, I decided it would be better to take my chances getting day to day work to be able to take time off whenever I want, as opposed to having 4 weeks holiday a year. When your only here for 2 years, thats not enough time to see Europe! My plan at first was to do lots of weekend trips, but I quickly realised that just wasn't going to cut it. I was working double the hours for half the pay, and I was buggered by the time the weekend came!
Whilst my Mum has been here, we have done a day trip to Bath, Windsor Castle and Stonehenge, and spent 2 days in Paris, which was amazing! I saw the Louvre, and Mont Marte, which have been lifelong dreams for me! I kept having to pinch myself that I was actually strolling the streets of a city I had always wanted to see, since I was little. Mum and I had a great time, and some great memories.
I have finally posted the pics of our adventure in Morocco, Spain and Portugal, I hope you enjoy them!
We are finally settled down now and doing well, after some serious stress! So next post will hopefully be a lot more positive!

Love you all and miss you (homesickness has started to get me a little now!), Take care xoxoxoxoxoxox

Posted by MelJM2010 05:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Long awaited return...

Hi everyone, and welcome to our eagerly anticipated blog post! Very over due I know, but a lot has been happening the past couple of months! For starters, I have a new job, its working with the recruitment agency who were getting me teaching work. They called one day and asked if I was interested in a change and would I like to go in for an interview, so here I am! Its in a beautiful office in the even more beautiful Convent Garden, and it could not be more different from teaching...which is fine with me for a while! We also have been away for the whole of August traveling Morocco, Spain and Portugal, which was amazing. I have included a short story on Marrakesh that I wrote whilst I was over there, stay tuned for the ones I have yet to finish on Madrid and Lisbon. We stayed in Marrakech and Taghazout in Morocco for 11 nights, then Madrid in Spain for a couple of days, off to Lisbon in Portugal for a night, and a week in Peniche, Portugal for the remaining time. I will go into more detail in a future post, but for now I have to get back to work! I just thought I would let you all know if you didnt already we are back in London and back to work, saving for the next adventure!! Love you all, until next time xoxoxooxoxoxoox

Marrakech - Fish out of water

The first thing that hit us when we got off the plane in Morocco was the stifling heat. If you have ever been to Indonesia, or seen an Asian summer, you know what I mean, that heat that gets in your chest and up your nose and makes you feel as if you'll pass out. We had made plans to not look like tourists, to look as confident as possible, as if we had done it all before. Together with the stifling heat, however, the weight of our bags, and our complete ignorance to the way things work in Morocco, we had no chance in hell of looking like anything but scared, confused newcomers with a wad of freshly exchanged Dirham’s. A reasonably non-dodgy guy waiting out the front of the airport offered us a cab to our Riad for 100 Dirham, which we accepted, hopeful that we might get away with not getting completely cleaned out.

The ride into the Old Town Medina confirmed our fish out of water status - Morocco is like no other place we have ever been. Dust and rubbish make up the landscape, and Berbers, Arabian men, and a handful of Women with their heads hung low in midnight Birka's make up the rest. We pass signs for Coca-Cola and mobile phone billboards, casually residing next to crumbling pillars and tired old mules dragging their master’s packs. Along with the heat, our senses are assaulted with the scent of Tagine, mint, olives and sewage. An aggressive mix of the exotic and downright revolting could come some way to explaining what occupied the air. Around one corner we could smell the most amazing, mouth-watering cuisine, and by the next it was corrupted by whatever was lurking in the steaming garbage piles that lined the cobblestone alleys.

We stopped outside the Old Town Medina as the cab driver called over an old man holding longingly onto his cart. They have a short, sharp exchange and the cab driver turns to us, motioning to put our bags in the man’s cart. Mark protests at first, realizing this is just more money we will have to hand over. I cut him off and let the man take our bags - we had absolutely no clue of how to get to the Riad, and now even more so seeing the chaos of the Medina we were about to face. So after paying the cab driver the agreed fee, we nervously followed the old man, who seemed to be rambling on to no-one and about nothing in particular. He leads us through a multi-colour maze of spices, kaftans, handicrafts, and faces that told stories of a weathered existence, a sight that had me in awe from the moment I left the security of the airport.

Once we arrived at the Riad, the old man demanded payment, to which we handed him 20 Dirham, and enthusiastically thanked him for his help. Our custom was lost on the man however, as he looked at our payment in disgust and began a tirade of abuse in Arabic, which was completely lost on us. The Riad owner tried to keep the peace, urging the man to leave quietly as he continued to shake the note around in his hand as if we had given him a soiled rag. We had no more to give him, and as we had not yet got our head around the currency conversion, we started to panic, wondering just how little we had handed over. Eventually the man left with the urging of the Riad staff, but not without giving us one last piece of his mind by throwing the 20 Diram back in our faces. For a 5-minute walk to show us where we were staying, apparently $5 was a major insult. This was to be our first lesson; you never get something for nothing in the hustling streets of Morocco.

The Old Town Medina in Marrakech is a living, breathing contradiction. Alongside the largest Mosque in the city, we watch men who look as if they have endured more than 200 years and teenagers flanked in bling and American Basketball singlet’s. Children are dressed in the rejects of Western culture, cheap tourist hats from places they will never see, and adorning forgotten Disney characters proudly on their chests. Women are covered in Burka's, their heavily made up eyes watching the strange tourists wander in the chaos, or they are rich holiday makers themselves, on short release from their luxury resorts, out to top up on tacky designer shades and bags.

Everyone is a target in Marrakech, and no individual is spared the promise of prosperity from a Snake Charmer, Monkey Handler, or Orange Juice vendor. The sheer number of weird and wonderful novelties on display is enough to make anyone exhausted, and Mark and I were quietly relieved when we found a restaurant with a roof terrace to sit and watch the action from a safe distance. I ordered my first authentic Moroccan couscous, and I was not disappointed. After hours on end of traveling here, with the comfort of a mild breeze and food in our bellies, we finally felt as if we had arrived.

Posted by MelJM2010 23:35 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

BARCELONA!!!

sunny 27 °C

Well, we have finally had our first taste of Euro travel together...and I cant wait to do it again!! Barcelona was so great, we were there for only 5 days and it most definitely was not enough! We met our friends Jess and Lok there, who had previously been in Amsterdam and Paris for a couple of weeks, and just got engaged, so it was time to celebrate! We had a massive seafood Paella and jugs of sangria on our first day there for lunch, then relaxed at the beach and back for drinks and our first taste of Arabian Sheesha that night - perfect! We honestly could have stayed a month living this life! We saw some amazing architecture, most notably Antoni Gaudi and Joan Miro, and some beautiful art, including the Picasso museum. The hostel we stayed at was great, we had an American roomie who ended up hanging out with us quite a bit. All in all, Barcelona is the type of place you go to party, explore, and get a tan!! Loved it! Ill let the pictures explain the rest!
We are both back working hard now, saving for our trip in August to Morocco, Portugal, Spain, and France. We are going to Madrid in Spain this time, and I am really looking forward to going there, I think it will be much more of a culture shock than Barcelona, where pretty much everyone spoke English!
We will let you know any developments! Enjoy the photos xoxoxox
PS. Click on "more photos" on the right hand side to see them all.

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Posted by MelJM2010 11:44 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Exciting news!

semi-overcast 13 °C

I was asked at the last minute by an organizer of Street Fest to paint a section of wall live, whilst the whole thing was going. All the other MALE artists were graffiti and street art, I was the only female (!) but it was a great opportunity so I decided to just go for it! It was the first time I had ever worked on that scale, and used spray paint. All I had to go by was a low res copy of my drawing, the rest was up to me to do free hand on that giant wall! My friend Danny helped me with the spraying, since I had never done it before, which was excellent. I got a great response from everyone, lots of people were watching and commenting! Pretty happy with the result, and Im looking forward to doing more events like this around London! Better start practicing with those cans!
And special mention to Mark who stood around for the entire 5 hours documenting the process!! (the free beers he was drinking helped compensate!)
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Posted by MelJM2010 02:13 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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