03.07.2016 - 06.07.2016
I’m thrilled to report that we passed our looking-after-a-sausage-dog test with flying colours. Peter and Jackie arrived home on Sunday night absolutely buzzing after their cruise (pretty sure that sort of cruise wouldn’t fit into a ninky budget…) and were quite happy with our housesitting skills. Jackie even commented the next morning that the house was spotless – obviously I am a total domestic goddess because I can operate a vacuum cleaner. Nailed it. They were so happy with our work that they asked us to come back, but the job of a nink is to keep exploring as much as one possibly can and, you know, “sorry we can’t, we’ll be in Iceland” is one of the best sentences I have ever uttered. We were quite sad to leave Max and Archie, but excited to be on the move again.
We headed North and stopped in at Botts Green to have lunch with Juliet and Sam (our very first housesitting home) and two of their boys, Alex and Angus. It was amazing how different the garden looked after a bit of sunshine – greenery and flowers everywhere! We enjoyed sharing the stories of our adventures since Botts Green and getting travel tips from them all. It’s always fun to pick someone else’s brain about the as yet undiscovered countries of the world.
After lunch, we continued heading North and had the privilege of being detained by traffic on the motorways. Oh joy. The radio constantly kept us updated at just how bad the traffic was, and how many other people were experiencing delays. Once the broken down lorry had been towed away the flow improved, until we got to within five miles of Otley, when things escalated again. The Otley region was, however, a very scenic and picturesque place to be travelling slowly so we stayed in good spirits all the way to the home of the Thornshires. And Rosie even had the decency to look pleased to see us when we arrived! She did have her work cut out for her when trying to teach Simon the names of the In the Night Garden characters though…
On Tuesday, we had a day out with Annie, Rosie and Lesley, while poor Andy had to go to work. We fitted Hugo up with a car seat and met Lesley at Tropical World, which gave us a little taste of heat and humidity that was reminiscent of Singapore and fairly un-British. We saw all manner of creatures and critters (a few token Aussie animals in there too – huzzah for the potoroo!) and Rosie impressed us all by deciding that she would walk the entire journey. Once she made it to the final room, though, she felt that enough was enough, and directed Lesley to carry her around to the exhibits that she was most interested in.
We had a splendid picnic lunch made up of a random assortment of things found in the pantry (the best kind of picnic there is), and followed it up with ripple cones from Mr Whippy. Because summer. I had not encountered the ripple cone phenomenon before, but one needs to try new things and one was rewarded with a rainbow swirl (a ‘ripple’, if you will) of sugary syrup on one’s soft serve cone. Delish. We had a turn on the swings, the slide and the merry-go-round (Rosie’s request) before stopping for a quick half-pint of cider at the pub (adults’ request). What a lovely day!
Once back in Otley, we had a bbq for dinner, because, as I mentioned before, summer. Rosie and Simon got some block tower practise in before practising the fine Art of Packing Up. We finished the evening off by watching a classic British film (Brassed Off) with some classic British people, and that was a well good end to proceedings.
This morning Simon and I got up early (early for ninks, anyway) and hit the road at 7.45am. We then proceeded to drive to Aberdeen – just under six hours away – a feat considered near impossible by most self-respecting Brits, but a mere necessity for most Australians who want to get anywhere. We stopped for granola and yoghurt in the morning, and macaroni pie (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it) and toffee cake in the afternoon, making it to return Hugo to his Europcar home with a good fifteen minutes to spare. The girl who served us at Europcar was incredibly a) friendly and b) jealous of our adventures, as all of the Europcar staff have been so far. It will be interesting to see if there is any confusion regarding paying of the account, though…
Aberdeen gave us its best granite city welcome – there is something about the vast greyness of the place that makes it feel as if it is raining, even when it isn’t. Maybe it’s a fun and happening place to live, but as a tourist it feels just a tad depressing and certainly seems to have more than its fair share of slightly-dodgy looking Chinese restaurants.
We trundled toward the ferry terminal, and stopped off to use some of our nectar points at Caffe Nero, which has established itself as The Place to Be when you have time to kill in a city and you want free coffee, free wifi, free warmth, and free toilets.
From there it was only a short trundle to MV Hjaltland which is propelling us in the direction of Lerwick as I type. I rather like the ferry option for travelling – obviously it is significantly slower than air travel but you get the opportunity to eat, stand up, lie down, and play cards whenever you want, and without feeling like you are disturbing your fellow travellers. And there is something quite delightful about going to bed and then waking up somewhere completely different. We have dined on lasange [sic], as well as partaking in some island delicacies, such as Lerwick IPA and Orkney icecream. The entire passenger contingent is divided between watching Murray vs Tsonga at Wimbledon, and Wales vs Portugal in the European Cup. Britain could certainly do with some sporting triumph after the political upheaval of the past fortnight – fingers crossed something goes their way!