30 September 2012

hungary at the last minute

I've started a "places I'd like to see" list since it's under six months till I'm kicked out of the country.  So with a week's notice of a four day weekend I decided I should go travelling.  I opted for a quick trip to Budapest, Hungary.  Now I really don't know much about Hungary but this is the reason I wanted to go...

Just in case you are unaware, Gellert is my surname and it's not the kind of name you're likely to see places. So it was a real novelty to book a few nights at Hotel Gellert and I giggled randomly throughout my time there seeing things that had my name on it.  I didn't actually go for the whole weekend as they were booked out.  I went Sunday, 16th September to Tuesday, 18th September.  It was a long journey there though the actual flight was only just over two hours from London.  I was up at 3:30am to get ready and start making my way to the airport on time.  It was nice to arrive though and wait for my ride which I'd prebooked to take me straight to my hotel.  It was fun anticipating the reaction as I checked in and gave my name.  The receptionist asked how I spelled it so I spelled it out for him.  "Oh, like the hotel," he responded amused.  Then he gave me a free upgrade because of it.  Woohoo.  He he he.  I settled in to my room, relaxed,  giggled when I turned on the tv and it said "Hello, Ms Gellert..." on the screen, slept a little,and then headed out.

I roamed along the streets (and browsed a little in the tourist shops) as I followed my map to what I hoped was the right location to start my segway tour.  The street I walked up was small and back-street-like with construction work going on.  But at the end where another street met it there was the tourist shop I was looking for.  Turns out I was the only one booked in so it was a personal tour.  We spent the first bit with me learning how to use a segway.  It was my first time and like any such thing it takes a little while to get a feel for it.  It's odd to make it go forwards and backwards just by leaning and turn by twisting the handle.  But happily it only took me a few minutes.  My guide was very informative but most spoken information doesn't stick for long with me unless I find it intriguing or I make the effort to specifically remember.  Like the fact that most of Budapest isn't that old as about 70% of the buildings were destroyed in WWII and then rebuilt. The surrounding photos of the tour are me at a piece of the real Berlin wall, Hero's Square where there was some traditional horse races going on, the Castle area as night came in, Parliament House surrounded with scaffolding (also nearby were two very different styled but grand buildings which were apparently the runners up of the architect competition to design the parliament house that king decided to build anyway) and me in front of St Stephen's Cathedral.  It was fun scooting around on the segway though my feet got sore as you really just stand still for two hours.  They can go quite fast if you want them to as well.  It was a nice way to see the some of the city.  After my tour I walked back past this special bread making stand we'd stopped by briefly on the tour.  I don't remember what it was called but it smelt delicious and the tour had been during my normal tea time and I'd not eaten so was rather hungry.  The reminded me of damper (a simple aussie camping treat) as they wrapped dough around a barrel, glazed it and roasted it spit-like over coals.  I bought a vanilla one which is the classic flavour.  The sticky glazed shell is sprinkled with vanilla sugar and I ate it warm.  It was sooooooo delicious.

On Monday I got up early and went down for my buffet breakfast which was satisfying and then headed off to market.  I went to the Big Market Hall which was an interesting building in itself.  The tiled roof was all patterned. Inside it was a grand space filled with food and grocery stores on the floor.  There was loads of paprika hanging and I noticed quite a number of paprika designs on the tourist trinkets too.  The second level with it's balcony and walkways were lined with tourist stalls selling all sorts and often repeated items.  It took me a bit to get my head around the prices as the Hungarian Forints were quite different.  I had to keep thinking through conversions to understand the cost of things.  I had exchanged at the airport in London at the not so great rate of 300 forints for 1 british pound.  I then ventured up the main shopping street in town as well searching for the right article to add to my collection for a price I was willing to pay.  I noticed they seemed to have a few different coloured plastic bags that they put people's purchases in and it made me think of the bagging system in Indonesia.  There the bag they give you when you purchase an item tells other shopkeepers whether you were an easy, average or hard bargainer.  I didn't bother trying to bargain and my first purchase was a funky little tote with "Budapest" on it so I just stuffed the other things I bought into that so no one would know if my theory was correct.  I liked the folkart on plates and other items. So detailed and patterned it was pretty impressive.  I didn't buy any but settled on a picture.

After I was satisfactorily loaded up with tourist trinkets, I made my way back to the hotel.  My room was not so fancy and splendid but it was pleasant and a nice size for one with a proper bathroom.  The hotel itself was a little more fancy.  The lobby gave a nice welcome as you entered and made you feel like you were staying somewhere where you felt like a special guest.  Not as fancy as the hotel in Vienna but certainly not that expensive either.  They had doormen and porters which was fun to experience I walked across a "Hotel Gellert" mat to enter through the revolving door.  The reception was helpful with various things other than just checking in and out like posting letters and having a packed breakfast for me for my return journey.  The stairwell was had panes of stain glass windows depicting historical stories or legends. At least that is my guess as the writing was all in hungarian so I obviously couldn't read it.  After I had unloaded my shopping and rested my feet a while, I decided on some more Gellertness this afternoon and started with lunch at the Gellert restaurant downstairs.  It was a lovely, warm sunny day so I sat outside and easily chose what I was going to eat.

My first course was delicious!  Pork tenderloin Gellert style with grilled vegetables.  I'm not sure what the Gellert style was but my guess would be straight from the pan. Ha ha.  It was deliciously topped with yummy chunky sauce of some kind.  I then followed this with Gellert pudding.  That wasn't very nice though I still ate most of it.  It was a mix between vanilla instant pudding and plum pudding.  I don't enjoy instant pudding anyway and the flavours were weird together for my tastebuds.  I wasn't convinced I would like it when I asked what it was but I had to order it just because of the name.  I took my time enjoying it all though and appreciating the summer warmth and looking out over the Danube River and Liberty Bridge which I liked.  When I was satisfied I moved on to my next "Gellert" adventure.

A climb on a sunny day....up Gellert Hill.  I'd heard of Gellert Hill and seen it on the map but I must admit it was bigger than I was expecting.  It stands at 235m.  I walked up the first path and hair-pinned back round to see the cave church.  I stuck my head in but you had to pay to go and see it properly so I didn't bother with that.  I continued up because I wanted to visit the statue on top and also see the view.  There was a network of paths weaving all over the hill so I was glad I'd brought my map with me so I could figure out which paths took me to the top.  It was a nice walk along bushy paths and I managed to find my way.  I hung around for a while taking some photos and checking out the view.  Couldn't read the writing on the statue--hungarian naturally.

Buda                              and                               Pest

Buda used to be the capital of Hungary.  In 1873 Buda and Pest were officially merged along with Obuda to become the one city.  Buda, on the west of the Danube, is hilly and more expensive and formal and Pest, on the east side, is the main shopping area with more affordable and regular living.  As I was heading down following the road on the other side of Gellert Hill I realised the statue I'd just seen was not the one I thought it was and I was still yet to see the one I'd climbed the hill to see.  The one I'd just been to was called szabadsag szobor on my map which I have now discovered translates to Statue of Liberty.  So following my map with better reading of it I made it to where I intended.  The statue of Saint Gellert.  There are a few versions but the basic story is that King Stephen wanted to convert the country to Christianity and sought the help of the italian Bishop Gellert.  In 1046 the hungarians revolted against Christianity.  Seizing Bishop Gellert, they carted him up the hill, put him in a sealed barrel and pushed him off the edge to his death allegedly from where his statue now stands.  He was canonized in 1083 and is now the patron saint of Budapest and the hill was named after him along with other various nearby places.  Just a note this saint: He was italian and in italian his name is San Gerard Sagredo but in Hungarian it is Szent Sagredo GellĂ©rt.  And Gellert is pronounced the same way I and my family say it.  I was pleased to hear that.

Back in my hotel room I changed into my bathers, donned the bathrobe and went downstairs to find the spa reception.  Even though I'd seen a number of other people doing it, it felt a bit strange walking the halls of the hotel in a bathrobe.  I found what I was looking for, stupidly stuttered through my sentence that I was entering as a hotel guest (wish my brain and tongue would cooperate better) and entered the Gellert Baths.

The Gellert Baths were built in the early 1900s over eighteen generous hot springs with pools.  Sounds like a lot huh?  But Hungary is covered with them.  More than 1000 and 80 beneath Budapest alone.  There are numerous baths in Hungary and it's a leisure tradition that the hungarians take quite seriously apparently.  The Gellert is the Taj Mahal of baths.  It's decorated lavishly with stained glass windows and mosaics inlaid with gold.  I went a bit later in the day than I had planned to and though it was still sunny and warm the nearby buildings and trees cast their shadow across the outside pools.  I went in the wave pool first but the waves weren't on.  I paddled around for a while waiting.  From what I could figure out from the men swimming slowly looking at the bottom and from a few gestures, one of them had lost his ring.  I thought they might turn the waves on eventually but I ended up getting too cold to wait any longer.  The outdoor hot spring pools were really quite busy so I went inside.  I went into the shared pool in the what felt like the grand hall.  It's pictured on the left below.  Men and women could swim here.  I thankfully had read in my hotel notes you need to wear a shower cap in this pool (which I was given for free as a part of my free guest entry).  Good thing too as there was a lady asking people to get out if they weren't wearing a cap.  This pool wasn't that warm either so I went and found the ladies only hot spring pools.  Nice and warm.  After soaking for some time I noticed the pool on the otherside (see right picture below) was a 38 degrees compared to 36 degrees one I was in. So I switched.  I just soaked for ages in the wonderful warmth.  It was very relaxing.  It is also believed that the minerals or such in the water benefit the body and aid in relief of ailments.  I was happy to make sure I gave it a good chance.  Not sure of any noticeable results...

I got out in time to go and get ready for my cultural evening out.  I thought this would be good but it ended up being so different from what I expected.  I had booked this "tour" online before I came, had even called to confirm what time my pick up was but felt unsure what was going on as I went down to the lobby.  That feeling remained the whole night.  I waited for a while in the lobby and then thought I'd go wait outside.  They may not come in to fetch me but I should recognise a tour bus or something.  After about 10mins the doorman came over to see if he could help and I told him I was waiting to be picked up and showed him my voucher.  He made the connection and led me to a waiting taxi.  A taxi?  This was unusual.  As we drove along I noticed the metre counting.  Umm, I hope I don't have to pay.  The pick up was a part of the booking.  I actually asked when I arrived and the driver said I didn't have to pay.  Phew.  One of the waiters came over to greet me and lead me inside to a table...by myself.  Errr, ok.  This is when the last flitters of hope vanished from what I assumed this night would be.  You see, I booked this tour partly to experience some hungarian culture but as a sole traveller it's nice to share such experiences with others.  I had wrongly assumed I would be going with a group to have dinner and see a cultural show.  I feel so odd sitting down in a nice restaurant by myself.  For lunch is not so bad.  It's more casual.  But for dinner?  When you eat by yourself, the meal is just....to eat.  To fill the stomach and maybe relax for a while.  It was weird to sit around waiting for the next course to come and having no one to talk to and share the meal time with.  And I quickly realised the 'show' was just musicians playing--who were good and interacting with customers and serenading and entertaining--with the occasional singer who joined in a few songs and the couple who did some low key dances every now and then in a small space made amongst the tables in various hungarian costumes.  Not what I'd call a show.  And they'd listed on the tour site that it was 4-5hrs.  I managed to stretch it to 2.5hrs but mainly coz I wasn't sure what was going on.  I was disappointed about all this.  I was just a girl eating out at a restaurant that happened to get someone else to book it for me.  *eye roll*

Well, aside from let-downs it was a pleasant evening even if it was weirdly lonesome.  I was amused by the fact that I ended up with four drinks--water, a red wine, a white wine and I don't know what that I didn't really like--all of which I drank randomly and not any in their entirety and that I was brought four different dishes throughout the evening of traditional hungarian food and had not a clue what I was eating.    Well, at a good guess the first one was probably beef goulash but I don't know what the rest were exactly.  In fact, I wasn't even sure how many courses I was getting.  Even when dessert had gone I wasn't sure if there was something else or not.  I actually had to ask the waiter, explaining that I'd booked through a tour agency and I was unsure what was next.  They rang a taxi for me and it was the same deal to get back to Hotel Gellert.  Anyway, thankfully each course of whatever it was I ate was tasty. I took my own photos to remember the experience though I find this a bit embarrassing in this sort of situation.  One lady randomly approached me and offered to take a photo for me.  That's the one above of me at my table.

The music I enjoyed.  Classical I'd say though I'm not sure if it all would be classed so.  It's always entertaining watching musicians play.  Two violins, actually I think one may have been a viola, a double bass which I always enjoy and a hammered dulcimer.  Had to google that one.  I've not seen one before.  It was fascinating and I had a a table right near them so could easily watch them play.  The violinist was the lead guy and he would occasionally go talk to a table group and then start up a song for them.  He commented to me frequently since I was so near the main playing area and by myself but it wasn't till near the end that he came over with the double bass and viola in tow.  When he found out I was from Australia he showed me his kangaroo badge on his tie and then started up Waltz in Matilda.  Shortly after was when I had a taxi called.

Back at the hotel I was distracted by my camera.  He he.  Gotta keep practising my self portraits.  As a sole traveller it's a good skill to have.  Even though it was now late I was still determined to pack before I went to sleep.  And just as I travelled here so I returned.  Going to sleep at midnight when I had to get up at 3am.  So I farewelled the Gellert zone in Budapest, Hungary and wearily travelled back to London.

Remember you can click a pic to flick through them all at a more viewable size.

25 September 2012

in remembrance of Papa

A man called Arthur Stanley Hutchins died last week.  
You may not know him.  I did.  
He was my grandfather. I called him Papa.

When my older sister, his first grandchild, was learning to speak her 'grandpa' came out as 'papa'.  He was too endeared to correct her and so he was called by the rest of us too.

I don't really know a lot about his life.  Bits and pieces really.  Like how he spent his 21st birthday dodging bombs in WWII.  How one of those mornings he was woken by the air raid siren and reacted by rolling out of bed and onto the floor.  An excellent move since when it passed he stood up to see his bed littered with bullet holes.  I think he met Nana during the war.  They got engaged and then caused a stir when he visited her in Sydney and they made the impulsive decision to just marry then and there.  A lot of people were expecting a baby less than nine months later but my mum didn't come along until a significant amount of time later.  They loved each other and simply got started on their lives together.  And carried it on for 61 years.  Even when the last of them saw Nana fading with alzheimers.  He cared for her as long as he could and then visited her every day in the hospice.  Amazing love and commitment.  

Then there's all the little things I remember from our shared history.  The noise he made with his mouth when he poked at us and the funny little side to side dance on the spot he did to make the littlies smile.  The rythmical way he always stirred his tea, the tin of mints in his mint green car and the scones he baked (his kitchen trademark).  And more recently it's nice to know that the postcards I sent from here lived on his fridge and that he enjoyed hearing about my adventures.

Today my family gathered back home in Australia to celebrate his 90 years of life and farewell him from this world.  

Today, on the other side of the world, I stood on Westminster Bridge in London and dropped a bronze arum into the Thames in his memory.  

I'm glad you were a part of my family, Papa. xo

23 September 2012

a scilly end

These two weeks in mid August began with mixed emotions. This was the family holiday that I'd heard so much about, in particular the helicopter flight there, all through out the year I worked for this family. I was looking forward to it; to riding in the helicopter, seeing the places I'd heard about and joining in the general holiday relaxing (even though I would be working). It was also sad. A bitter sweet sadness. These were my last two weeks with this family. But I tell you, it was a truly wonderful way to wrap it all up.

The mum, myself and the boys drove most of the day all the way down to Penzance on the south west end of England. The journey went quite smoothly. We stopped for a snack and run around and then the boy got to watch the movie, Cars. The baby pretty much slept the whole way as the drive was scheduled that way. We had to wait around at the heliport as we made such good time we got there fairly early. The boy had fun playing about, watching some Olympics on tv and most of all watching the helicopters land and take off. Eventually it was our turn.

The boys were troubled by the flight. For all his love of helicopters, the boy was scared of the noise. It really was quite noisy up close and for the whole flight. The boy was quite upset getting on and the baby, well it was his first time so it must have freaked him out too. But I enjoyed it. I think it was my first helicopter flight and it was a beautiful day and the scenery was great. The mum pointed out Land's End to me and then it was sea, sea and more sea until a nice, speckled array of land appeared. The Scilly Isles. St Mary's is the main isle which I think has about 1700 residents. We went to Tresco with inhabitants of about 150 excluding all the coming and going holiday makers.
The above photos are Tresco central which was the main hubbub of the isle. Pictured in its entirety. It had a small grocery store with post office, the Tresco office, indoor pool and day spa and the Flying Boat Club (restaurant). But really you can just see some of the holiday houses in front of all that. The pic of me is from the field just behind our house. It was a great view. For the first few days it was just us two and the boys until the dad arrived after being away for a study week. We spent most days first in the indoor swimming pool after breakfast. I usually swam around with the boy. There was only one day I think where I didn't get in and let the dad do it all. We would then go to the Flying Boat Club for a cuppa before heading back to the house for lunch. The boys would rest and the rest of us all had some kind of down time. I found reruns of Burn Notice on tv which conveniently ran in time with the boys nap. Then in the afternoon we usually went to one of the beaches to play about in the sand and seaweed and surf. Not that there was much surf. They were calm beaches. We'd then come home for tea and the whole bedtime routine with a bit of inside toy play involved there somewhere. Once the boys were down the adults had tea together. It was all wonderfully relaxed and easy going. Tresco is really quite nice. Semi-tropical but in a more rough and tumble barren sort of way. Hills and rocks and heather and bracken, a bit like the north end of Scotland but with more trees. Not the typical rainforest, tropical island images that usually pop into mind. There was a lot of tropical plants put in the Abbey Gardens but I'll talk more about that later. It was a wonderfully nature-surrounded holiday place though not with the lovely tropical warmth. The average temperature for our two weeks there was about 17-19 degrees.
There are practically no cars on Tresco.  Only the trucks and tractor/trailers to deal with passenger transportation to and from the heliport and garbage collection.  There are golf buggies for those with hindering bodies but the rest walk or ride bikes.  I rode frequently with the boy in a baby seat on the back of the bike.  It's really odd to ride a bike and have someone else effect the balance but I managed fine.  It was really lovely scenery to ride around in.  Lots of nature.  I had two days off during my two weeks there.  I mostly slept in, dawdled about, went to the club or the pub with the laptop (no internet or barely mobile service at the house), or wandered about.  I had lunch and tea with the family still.

The first day off, in the evening before tea I went for a bike ride around Tresco.  I went out to the carn on the point below the heliport.  I trekked through the waist-high bracken along a partly hidden path and climbed the rocks.  It was a nice view on a lovely day.  I could see lots of the other isles around and it was peaceful and relaxing.  The second day off I slotted in a pedicure which was another first and had my toenails painted dark blue.
A few days in my boss' parents arrived.  They stayed with us a few nights before beginning their time at their own holiday house near the hubbub of Tresco.  I find it amusing watching the family interact.  It's really quite different from my own.  Different personalities really.  The grandma is french and can't keep still.  She's always busy--cooking, planning, entertaining, organising.  And she'd tried to calm herself and not do too much coz this was a holiday. He he. And she's more proper and formal where as the rest of the family is more relaxed. My boss sometimes got a little frustrated with her and sighed at her providing an abundance of unnecessary stuff though she acknowledged her thoughtful kindness and thanked her.  Just a few days earlier we'd been unpacking boxes of personal stuff they have stored away all year until they come and my boss had commented on it as we sorted out all the things her mum had bothered to give them for their storeboxes.  I glanced at my boss and giggled when the grandparents arrived and the grandma pulled out about 8 large bottles of creams and soap to stock them up.  She brought me a little travel pack too which was very thoughtful.  They really are very nice and generous--she later bought me a map of Tresco too--but they have their quirks which I lovingly laugh about.  It was so nice to be a part of this family and the extended family and witness their interacting not just on this holiday but on all the various times I've been around them.  They can be frustrated and rude and abrupt and annoyed with each other and sometimes argue and I've even witnessed a bit of role reversal with my boss telling her mum off but they are family and clearly love and value each other.  I think I find it amusing, even entertaining, because they love each other like my family does but our interactions are so different.  It was lovely to witness this on holidays with them too as it's a different, more relaxed atmosphere.  It was particularly enjoyable seeing my boss and her husband more playful and laughing together.

Once the grandparents moved to their own holiday house, friends arrived to stay with us.  A couple and their 1yo son.  Nothing much changed when they arrived. More people around but the same general routine--breakfast, pool, lunch, naptime, beach, tea, bath and bed for the boys, tea for the adults.  They were a lovely little family and it was nice having them around as well.  Sometimes they went out and left me with the baby.  It was lovely to have the baby all to myself for a while and relish in his cuteness and cuddle opportunities.  I soaked up time with him and his big brother and even the parents as I knew this was end of my time with them.  I strapped on sling with the baby one day and went walking while he fell asleep.  I fed him, bathed him, let him nap on me.  There's something so sweet about a baby sleeping on you.  He loves talking to people in his gurgling way and his smiles are precious.  I couldn't quite get him to laugh though.  He'd only manage the first hiccupy sound and not follow through.  I really enjoyed being more involved with the 14wk old as well since the maternity nurse help was finished.

On one of the afternoons I took the boy to the Abbey Gardens.  He's into plants, which I think is Grandpa-influenced, and when I asked he told me his favourite was the agapanthus.  But maybe because he knew the name and look of that one best.  He said a few other names as he looked at plants to which I said to myself, "Probably right."  He knew more than I did.  We enjoyed wandering through the gardens and wandering the paths with it's many tropical and exotic plants. The boy enjoyed using my camera for random shots.  Some very random; others are quite good.  There were even some Australian Eucalypts in one corner.  It made me smile to be somewhere that looked like the familiar Aussie bush.  The intriguing part though was the popping bush.  I don't what kind of plant it was but it was covered in small black balls (seed pods) and because of the timing and the sunny day they were bursting all over the plant.  It took me a little while to realise what was making the noise but it was quite fascinating.  I've never seen anything like it and enjoyed just listening to it and watching the bush shake and bits of seed pods flung everywhere.  We then joined the others on the beach nearby.

The beaches were great.  Real beaches, not that stone-filled shore the funny Brits still call a 'beach'.  The water was on the cool side and I never went in much more than knee height.  Maybe if the weather was warmer I would have.  The boy got brave in the first couple of days and touched the seaweed with me.  We found popping seaweed which was a bit of fun.  Not quite like popping bubblewrap but similar.  By the end of our holiday he was happily playing with all kinds of seaweed, picking it up, dragging it around, playing with the long string-like one as a rescue rope and putting some on his head just to be silly.  We drew a line all over the sand, weaving and twisting about and then followed it from beginning to end.  We wandered along the beach exploring, finding shells and bits of crab we collected like puzzle pieces.  There were quite a few entire dead crabs found actually throughout the holiday.  He went splashing about in the water while I skimmed shells or sometimes half threw him in while we chattered about a variety of things.  My favourite beach part was sitting on the beach together while he ate his picnic tea, the other's having headed back home already.  We were watching some of the boats when the boy started up this story about a girl who had apparently just kissed me on the cheek.  When I exclaimed "Oo" with surprise, he smiled and went on to explain that she was in the boat and had seen me and thought I was her nanny.  She jumped overboard and swam ashore but then she was sad coz she realised I wasn't her nanny but then she decided she liked me anyway.  I'm a little hazy on the details now but I think she sat down with the boy and ate a picnic tea too and was sad coz she lost her mummy and at some point had left.  He said a few other things about her too and I offered that if we spotted her on the way home we could pick her up and invite her to come and stay with us for a while.  He did spot her on the way back so I stopped the bike and we asked if she'd like to come with us.  She did.  So she sat on the boy's lap and he held her tight so she wouldn't fall off.  She was 3 as well apparently but she didn't have a name.  I offered a couple names we could call her and the boy chose Pebbles.  He carried on with random mentioning of Pebbles throughout the holiday and answering with extended information different questions we asked about her.  I was quite impressed with his imagination and how it has taken off.  It's delightful to see.  And to share in.
The last few days before we left there was a lot of family and friends around and we made some trips to some of the other isles.  The first day we went to Samson.  We readied ourselves and the boys and went to the quay where we were to be picked up.  They had a small sail boat and a powered catamaran at their usage.  They brought the catamaran over to collect us and then we passed over my boss and the boy to the sail boat and then went looking for the rest to pick up from shore.  And went looking at the quay.  And went back to the sail boat.  And looking at the shore again.  Ha ha.  Took us a while to find them as they weren't out waiting on the shore or in the house as assumed they'd be.  During this time it rained on us too and I wondered what the day would be like.  By the time we were finally on our way skirting between the sandbars and heading toward Samson the sun came out again and it ended up being quite a warm day.  Samson was nice and it was a real day at the beach a bit like an island holiday.  Not a touristy one though.  Samson was inhabited until 1855 when the families were removed due to lack of fresh water and good food or something.  Then the governor built a deer park on the island but all the deer escaped. There were jokes about how that happened.  The grandma brought along a great lunch for us all with the german salad I've grown quite fond of and must remember to ask for the recipe for.  During 'naptime' I went walking with some others to the top of the hill where ruins remain of Samson's civilisation.  Then I played in the water and along the shore with the boy and we floated crabshell and seaweed boats down the river-like trickles that ran from the rocks down to the low tide sea.  When the tide was up again we sailed back to Tresco.

The next day we were at it again but this time we went further.  After the change of plans, which apparently is a typical family activity, we headed off to St Agnes with a population of 70ish.  I sailed in the catamaran everytime which I was glad about.  I don't always fare well with motion but I was fine on the catamaran.  The boy's tummy was a bit 'wobbly' after sailing to St Agnes as we crossed a bit more of open sea which was rougher.  We sat at the tables high on the shore and chatted.  I had a lovely time with the boy as he sat on my lap talking with me while his tummy settled.  We ordered what was proclaimed to be the best cornish pasties in the UK.  They were pretty good.  They had chunks of meat, not like the our pasties back home.  Though tasty, I was a little disappointed with the lack of tang in my lemon tart.  The meal on the whole was rather pleasurable though the company was the most enjoyable part.  I sat next to the boy and he can be rather entertaining at times.  He came out with some classic child oneliners I can't now recall and I still love that child perspective.  Across from me sat the dad and the uncle who were also entertaining as they were rather playful and joking and laughing together which was wonderful to see.  One even fed the other with leftovers from the boy's plate. Ha ha ha.  Neither really acted their age but I think that's a good thing in this case.  That's actually all we did on St Agnes.  Sat and had lunch together.  It was lovely time though.
The family and I and the uncle headed back on the catamaran.  We were heading for somewhere on Tresco's edge to go shrimping.  Our spot was chosen by the low tide and not making it through were we tried to go.  While we waited for the tide to rise again the boys, bar the baby, waded out to the shrimping grounds.  The boy was delighted to go and floated around in the dingy that was roped to the uncle.  He had his own little net and had fun dipping it in the water or holding it out for the uncle or the dad to put a shrimp in for him.  When I finished feeding the baby the mum took him and I waded out to the action.  I've never been shrimping before.  I'm not much into seafood things but I wanted to go see.  They just dig the nets quickly into the water around the seaweed and see if they snagged any unsuspecting shrimps.  The boy was either scooping up and playing with seaweed or transporting any shrimp placed in his net to the bucket in the dingy either by tipping them in or using his fingers.  I hate touching living moving sea creatures.  Heck, I even irked at scanning wrapped lobsters back in my supermarket days.  I was watching where I put my bare feet and trying to keep them in the open water away from the seaweed.  The uncle moved suddenly exclaiming something nearly nipped his toes and shortly after I quickly and anxiously stepped aside with a muffled exclamation. A not-so-small crab was scooting on by.  Not too close thankfully but still had me feeling uncomfortable.  The uncle scooped him up with his net when I pointed him out and showed the boy.  His body was good fist-sized.  Then he put him down again closer than I was happy with.  I was a little on edge after that jumping with a bit of brush from anything.  Though one of those brushes I jerked from saw a little crab scamper off.  That caused a more audible shout from me and earned an "Are you alright?" after explaining it was a crab and doing more frequent checks.  I did consider getting in the dingy with boy briefly.  I spotted a couple of little starfish while keeping watch over my feet.  The second one I picked up was quite active for a starfish.  It was ticklish as he put his suckers out and crawled his way from the palm of my hand to the back.  I've never seen them move before.

Once the tide was on it's way up again we got back in the boat and tried to go a little further by man-power.  Another catamaran joked about bringing slaves (their teenage children who were pulling them through the shallow water).  I giggled again at noticing the mum biting her tongue as the uncle decided to head in one direction after she offered her advice to do otherwise.  After changing his mind a few times about what he was doing the uncle ended up steering us back the way we'd come a little and round a sandbar.  Something like the mum had suggested. He he.  So many funny moments.
The tides at this time of year were phenomenally significant. The photos above are taken of the same beach, though not quite the same position, at roughly each extreme.  Most days here were sunny except for 2-3 days near the beginning which were rather wet and very windy.  Even very windy by Ballarat standards.  The whole holiday was splendid.  I really enjoyed it.  It was a terrific final two weeks to spend with the family and it was sad leaving knowing that the following week while they were away in Scotland I needed to pack up and move out.  I've so enjoyed working for this family.  Truly one of my favourites.  It's a pity my visa interfered.  All that said, it doesn't really express my fondness and gratitude and appreciation for the family.  Still, I have loads of wonderful memories from a great experience. I really enjoyed being a part of this family and even now still feel a bit like an aunty to the boys.