Saturday, 31 March 2007

And so to work.....

Ok, today was the first day of the REAL reason for my trip......this is the first of two days of meetings with the other members of the international research group that i am part of.....and if it wasn't for my involvement with this group then i probably wouldn't have made this trip at this stage.

today was the first time that the whole group had got together so much of the time was spent hearing from the two chairs of the group and getting the context of the project that we will be working on together for the next two years or so.

after gaining some context, we then heard from each of the members of the group. there are some extraordinarily amazing people in the group and i am lucky to be a part of this. we each have a slightly different interest in the research project so there are some very different perspectives. as well as that, this is a truly international collaboration (although i did have to ask which part of the trans-atlantic collaboration did australia fit into??????).....

there are representatives from various universities in the US, the UK, Israel, Slovenia, France and me from Australia. I was starting to feel a little bit 'lost' - everyone else in the group has done so much travel and are all working for academic institutions full-time, or studying full-time, or doing research full-time. but they've asked me to be a part of this so obviously i have something to offer. i did start to wonder how i could manage to put together a funding package that would mean i could do this full-time - and it was hard to have to say i doubted i could apply for the chance to attend a PhD student institute meeting in July even if tuition fees were waived as i couldn't afford the travel and time off work :(

ah well, if it is meant to be there will be a way......

as well as that whole buzz, the other highlight of the day was my chance to sit on yet another bike.......

i was leaving the hotel to go meet the group for dinner when i spied two very nice looking cruisers just across the road.

since it was the direction i had to go anyway, i decided to cross over and have a quick look.

a couple of minutes later, out of a shop comes obviously the, i just had to say hi.......introduced myself as a virago rider and said that i was missing my bike.......we got talking and then gus said would i like to sit on his bike.......WOULD I !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and the proof is in the album........lovely bikes.........and it was very kind of gus and his partner (sorry can't remember his name) to let me have photos too.......

and tonight i have found this wonderful chocolate shop all in all an excellent day.

oh, and i also saw two squirrels.....i tried to take photos but they didn't work out :( maybe tomorrow..........

which will be full-on with an all day meeting starting with working breakfast.......

(btw - here it is now 8:18pm on friday - not saturday)

Friday, 30 March 2007

Harvard is in Cambridge!!!!!

well, it took me a little while but now i realise that cambridge is NOT boston.......but it is just across the river.

so what has happened today? mostly i walked.........and took photos. this place is full of history. and famous names.

because the hotel that i am staying in doesn't have a restaurent, i had no option but to get out and find a place to eat. and have that first cup of coffee.....fortunately not such a big hassle as there are numerous places to have coffee. i tried a different place this morning, but naturally managed to make it just in time for rush hour - so i made it a 'take out'.......and i stuck to a latte cause i KNEW that would have milk in it :)

oh, and ray, i want the puffy jacket back please. it was COOOOOOOLD. -1 plus wind chill making it -4. thank goodness i bought my wombat 'sweater' (see i'm learning more american) - but it was still chilly. tomorrow morning is meant to be cooler so i might have to resort to layering everything i have bought with me.

but i did manage to find the building where i have to go for the meeting which is the real reason for this whole trip.

i also had a look through a couple of bookshops, bought the obligatory 'harvard' souvenirs - at the clearance table so less than half price and no-one at home is going to know it is all LAST season!, (and the lady who served me loved the 'gorgeous' sweater - great job mum)

and then to find a place for lunch.

i strolled along the footpath to this burger joint. it looked good. it sounded good. it smelt good. little did i know that it was in fact the famous Mr Bartley's......and i was greeted at the door by Mr Bartley himself asking for my order. then shown to my seat at the counter by Mrs Bartley. the place was completely packed so it was lucky that it was just me - a crowd would have had to wait. the burger was excellent - i have never been asked before how i wanted my burger done! and the fried onion rings were amazing too. for those who want to know more here's a link:

after that, i had to walk it off so wandered around some more and found much of the actual harvard uni buildings including the famous 'harvard yard' - nope, don't know why its famous but i'll endeavour to find out.....

a little bit more walking and i was ready for my 'nana nap' (your fault ray - it's part of my body clock now).......

i'm having dinner tonight with a number of people from the research group which will be good. but i'm guessing i'm in for a bit of a late night.

and i've managed to coordinate my timing so that i have had a chance to chat online with michael, and apart from the dog being a pain all is well at home too.

that's all for now. and ignore the date and time stamps on the posts - right now it is 5.42pm thursday cambridge time but my computer is still set for qld time......

and two questions:

  1. why is my hotel located on a 'square' which is actually 'round'??????????
  2. can u see the photo of the traffic cops doing what traffic cops do????????
ok, all for now. catch everyone later.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

helloooooo from boston....well, hahrvahrd actually.

yep, here i am in harvard.......getting a bit tired now - it was a long day. and a bit sad because i had to say goodbye to ray and lily and blade.....they were starting to feel like my second family. they gave me such a great time while i was in their little town and after being 'email buddies' for nearly six years it was wonderful to be able to talk without a little thing called a time difference getting in the way.

so ray and lily, big hugs and kisses from me. massive thanks (again), and let me know when you are closer to getting to my home. i look forward to the day when i'll be able to arrange your australian experience. take care.

and so to boston.

lucky me, yet again i got a window seat on a plane (wide-eyed excitement i know), and this time it was daylight so i was able to see what i was flying over. now i realise how much i should have paid attention during geography lessons.

and guess what? boston has had the same problems with bushfires as new york.

yep, that's right, from what i can see the trees are all brown and dead-looking. of course, it is night time now so i can't really tell. i'll let you know after tomorrow's exploring.

and naturally, harvard doesn't look anything like i'd imagined it. with the exception that the buildings that i've seen so far look very, very, very old. tomorrow i'll take a wander around and take photos for you all.

oh - and the travel adventure wouldn't be complete without another run-in with customs people would it????

this time it was leaving ottawa, going through the american customes section of the airport when they tactfully (?) pointed out to me that the tin of maple syrup i'd bought for myself was tooooooooooooo big to fit their 'liquid' regulations.


so ray, i'll need to see if it's possible for you to post me some.......... :(

ok, i'll leave it here for now - after all i think this makes three posts in one day - and catch you all up sometime tomorrow.

ice hockey!!!!

ok, brekky over, ray's delighted in getting me to help take blade for a walk round the block - he just wanted to see the aussie freeze - bright sunny morning but -9 degrees!!!!!

so, back to the ice hockey report. well, obviously there was the traffic - but with the stadium outside the main part of town the traffic jam wasn't as noticeable as in brisbane - but still sitting in traffic is not pleasant for anyone.

then we went inside to wait for ray's mate - alex - who was going to join us. the instructions for finding him? well, he's a harley rider with the ponytail and the you KNOW how many people fit that description????????

but we met up with alex, then dashed into the gear shop so i could do the touristy thing and buy the t-shirt - which of course has ended up being a replica jersey -even better. but it was the quickest in-buy-out i've ever done before!

then the race up the stairs to find our seats. great seats - up high but not so high as to get a nose-bleed and with a superb view of the rink itself. we missed the first goal (darn tourists needing to buy souvenirs!), but it was ottawa in the lead 1-0.

naturally, i couldn't understand a thing - which was a real laugh for ray and alex who typically both knew the sport well. and despite their attempts, i still don't know much more - except for the concept of a power play - where a player gets sent off for a penalty leaving one team at least one player more on the rink than the other team. a great chance for scoring apparently (but not last night). and that the game is played in three periods with a twenty minute break between periods - enough time to go get what i have realised is a staple food - timmy's coffee (and a double double with cream is i gather a white coffee with two sugars).

speaking of timmy's - they have this competition where you have to roll up the lip of the cup and see if you've won the car. well, i haven't won a car (ray and i had schemed how that would be sold and the money invested to pay for my next trip to canada) but i did win two coffees - so the next cup is on me......

unfortunately boston defeated ottawa 3 - 2 (ray managed to miss both ottawa goals - i'll let him tell the story if he wants to). and so back outside for the traffic jam.

and of course, a chance to meet alex's bike......and sit on it.........great feeling getting back on a bike after only what? a week and a bit?????

and so to bed. what a great day it was. it will be a shame to leave ottawa, ray and lily. but don't worry - in the words of some great american actor/governor - i'll be back.................

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

cultural day in canada

day three in canada was cultural day - museum, french restaurent, art gallery and ice hockey - all topped off by meeting a fellow biker who let me sit on his bike......uuuummmmm that felt good!!!!!!!!

there are pics coming of the remainder of the trip. ray was determined that none of you missed out on seeing what i was seeing, but they will probably not be posted for a couple more days.

ray took me first to the museum of civilization (i think that was the name) to see the first nations display - i can remember as a kid pretending to be the 'indian' and here was the real stuff - totem poles, art works, clothing, weapons (ray's favourite bit i think). so much to see. the artwork on the drums was marvellous and the museum building itself is awesome - i loved the curved architecture.

it was also amazing looking across the river to the parliament building - sitting there high on its rocky outcrop across the frozen expanse. and no, i didn't take ray's hint to 'move just a little bit more to the right kerrie - right about where that crack on the ice is' (nice try boyo!).

after that, we went for a quick stroll (given ray's height, you can read 'jog' in my case - and in high heels too!!!!) between buildings to the french quarter restaurent where i met up with elizabeth - another colleague who i have been in email contact with for a few years. i have to say that it has been a real buzz meeting these people who have become friends through the internet and being able to hear their voices not just read them. oh yeah and i ate boar - interesting gamey taste (sorry to those of you who are vegetarians but i had to give it a go).

following dinner, back to the car and across the river to the art gallery. a very modern glass-surrounded building with this enormous spider sculpture outside. again with the photos courtesy of ray. then inside to see the art work from a famous canadian indigenous artist. depictions of whales and ravens mostly - predominantely in black, white and red colourings. quite different to things i had seen before whereas the artifacts in the museum shared some similarities with those from new guinea and the aboriginal groups i have worked with in the past. unfortunately no photos from inside this time - neither ray nor i felt like being thrown out.

and then home for a rest before the real highlight - the ice hockey game......

oops brekky ready - back later for the game highlights

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

of bikes and shops....

well not really but i do have to respond to muttly's comment about the pic of the pocket bike:

at least now i know what a pocket bike is hehehehehe. i would have loved to have brought it home, but i don't know that it would have survived the kyogle run any better than the virago would have - i think it would have been more about the skills of the rider mutts.....!

i have managed to do the souvenir shopping that i planned. with the rain that we had here (apart from being a bit like melbourne...) we had to find something to replace the ski plans with so ray and i went shopping. i had never realised before that shopping for a shirt to go with a suit was quite such a big deal! there is more involved with that than buying the right dress for a formal! and this from a fellow who has some serious weaponry hanging around his house!

  • first there was the decision about which particular stripe in the suit should be matched.
  • then solid colour or stripes?
  • then which tie?
  • and not to mention the shoes!

whew, thank goodness i'd had that practice with tegan shopping. those who know me well know that clothes shopping is a quick 'in, glance, see what i want/don't want, out again as quick as possible' foray........but good on ray - it's great to know that there are guys out there who care as much as the girls do.

and i hope people back home like maple syrup. there's plenty coming home with me. provided it doesn't leak all over the bag on the way home.......

all for now. getting ready to go visit museums (maybe there will be a mountie there!)


Monday, 26 March 2007

Playing in the snow (day 2)

if you've checked the blog since my last post you'll already have seen the photos that ray and i took on day two.

the day was another amazing day in my adventure - the snow that fell on day two lasted long enough for me to enjoy a wagon ride put on by janet and her partner richard - in quebec.......where they only speak french (well, i'm sure they speak english too if they really want to). of course, i soon exhausted ALL my french - saying bonjour to richard whereupon he immediately started to talk more to me and i had to admit that 'bonjour' was about the only word i could remember.

i'm sure there were many jokes about the aussie girl behind my back, and in front of me, particularly since ray told them about my amazement with the big fires they had in new york (well, it only took me about 30 minutes to realise that in early spring the trees DON'T have leaves anyway and looking like they've been burnt is NORMAL and not the result of bushfires :) )

but i didn't mind since i was having so much fun.

then we went to the sugar bush. this is where i got to eat what i believe is staple french-canadian food - maple syrup freshly 'distilled' (not sure this is what they call it) and cooled off in the well as a lunch that consisted of ham, bacon, pancakes, eggs, beans (better than the tinned variety that's for sure), pea soup, bread, and of course MAPLE SYRUP poured liberally over the top of everything.....followed by this absolutely yummy sugar pie - bit like caramel pie but made with maple syrup. now where to get the recipe?????

then home again to the sad news that the thaw had set in and the ski trip was off. ah well, can't have it all i spose. and i'm sure most ottawans are just dying to have spring properly start.

and i do have the hockey game to look forward to...........:)

see you next time.

i am have an amazing, awesome, wonderful time.......

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Day one in Canada

well, i'm posting this early in the morning on day two - cause last night i was just toooooo tired to post.....

day one was amazing. woke up about 8 to wander down for breakfast with ray and lily. lovely sunny morning so we took blade (the dog - little cutie) for a walk around the neighbourhood. it was a bit cool but i had one of ray's jackets to keep me warm.

every here and there were old snow drifts that were melting. and on the footpaths that means that there is every chance of ice as well - i nearly slipped but fortunately for my pride (ray woulda loved a photo of THAT) i didn't. it was a nice nippy 6 degree forecast for the day so my face felt it a bit but unfortunately, ray was sure there was no chance of snow :(

then went with lily to do some shopping and have a girly afternoon. i am now sporting nicely manicured hands and some pretty pink toenails - and this image of what it would be like to turn up at such a place on a bike and complete with leathers......

while i was being 'done' lily went off for a bit and came back to say that it was snowing....but by the time we got back outside it had stopped. oh well.

then she offered to take me to a harley shop to look at some bike boots, and on the way there, there was a nice little flurry of soft little white things falling from the sky - yep, snow - very lite but i could say i'd seen it.

so i was feeling good, because not only had i been pampered, but i also found my new boots (YAY - thanks to the awesome guys at the harley shop. shame i couldn't take them up on their offer of a trade-in for a new harley - but i guess it would be a long ride back to canada on the virago hey?), and i had seen some snow....

but like the guy with the 'but wait there's more' steak knives - there's more!!!!!!

we got home to even more snow flurries.........and i took a little video (will post it when i can).....and then some more........enough snow now for it to be lying on the ground - so i made a little snow-man (6 centimetres tall with a body and a head DOES make a snowman ray......!)

we took blade for another walk and this time not only did i need the jacket but also some gloves and a scarf. my nose was dripping with the cold this time.......

and then it snowed some more.......ray and lily are absolutely sick of snow by this time of the year, but for me this is just like the photos ray had been sending me of his house for years........just like a christmas scene..........

so the day had a great mix of holiday experiences for me and it was only day 1........

bring on day 2 - going to meet another friend of ray's who has organised a sleigh ride and sugar bush......and with snow it looks like the sleigh will be a sleigh and not a wagon. WOO HOOO


Ottawa is COOOOOLD

finally, after:

6 airports
5 planes
5 countries
48 hours (or thereabouts - maths is not my strong point)

and hearing the plane safety message in aussie english, kiwi english, french english, french, tahitian, spanish, canadian french and american english.....(you want me to recite - which language you want?)......

i have hit ottawa........bbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

the holiday adventures commencing in auckland continued of course. i literally ran through papeete airport to get my next plane since the one from nz was running late. then had a seat all to myself so managed to have a nice sleep.

arrived in new york with plenty of time to catch the cross-city airport transfer bus. new york is enormous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i breezed through customs in every place except canada - they mustn't be sure bout me - and it wasn't helped when i had to explain how it was i'd come to be there......

the story sounds suss even to my ears:

  • customs officer: why are you here in canada?
  • me: visiting for a holiday
  • co: do you know anyone in canada?
  • me: yeah, the mate i'm staying with
  • co: how long have you known this mate?
  • me: five years
  • co: how do you come to know him?
  • me: ummmmmm, we met on the internet...........................................................................
  • co: so you've met him before face to face
  • me: ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, no.......................................................

yeah - sounds realistic doesn't that's why i then had to visit the immigration officers at the airport too!

but anyway, i've made it, had a great night's sleep last night. introduced ray to bundy rum (nope - he doesn't really like it.......rotgut is probably the term that came to mind hehehehehehe).

and today - vegemite is on the menu - i'll try to get a photo................

catch you all later.

better late than never hey?

well, sorry, the update from new zealand didn't come the other night as promised to some :(

but i had trouble logging into the site from the hostel so ended up giving up. i had forgotten just how 'basic' a basic youth hostel can be.....but at least it was a bed for the night.

but as my family will tell you, there can't be a kerrie holiday without dramas.....the bus trip from the airport to the hostel was supposed to take 30 minutes - 2 hours later i got there. which actually worked out alright for me in the end because i didn't have to walk my bags up this enormous hill!!!!!!!!!!!

and then i found that the bistro that was promising me dinner and breakfast was CLOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so i had to traipse round auckland looking for something to eat - ended up with noodles and a banana. nearly had to resort to the old baked beans - wardie - i want my tin back!

after a good night's sleep, i found a coffee shop that makes absolutely awesome coffee. worked a treat and then off to the airport.

from where the next part of the adventure began........................................