Friday, September 30

Mum & Dad Arrive

Mum & Dad at the UNMy Mum & Dad got here last Friday - it's so nice to see them! We spent most of last week showing them around Geneva and of course Peter took them on his standard chocolate tour to Broc and Gruyeres. Yesterday they went up to Bern on the train for a day trip. They are enjoying themselves!

Tonight we're off to Belfast for the start of our Northern Ireland & Ireland holiday. We'll be hiring a car and driving around the coast for the next 9 days. This will be the first visit there for all of us and we're really looking forward to it!

Monday, September 26

Lake Thun

Jess with the pigsWe recently went to visit Lake Thun in Central Switzerland for the weekend. Lakes Thun and Brienz are side by side with the town of Interlaken in the middle - about two hours drive from Geneva. The weather was not great but we were able to enjoy views of the countryside from the warmth of our car.

Peter found a nice hotel in Kattigren called Hotel Seeblick, which as it's name means in German, has fanstastic views over the lake. The highlight of our weekend was a visit to Ballenberg - an open air museum near Brienz. It's set in a beautiful forest and features nearly 100 houses/buildings from all over Switzerland. They have all been painstakingly deconstructed, transported, then reconstructed at Ballenberg. The different architecture mirrors the diversity of cultures that exists in Switzerland, and there are demonstrations of craft and building methods to show what it was like living here 100s of years ago.

Here are some photos on Flickr.

Monday, September 12

London Calling

Houses of ParliamentLast weekend was a long one so we popped over to London on EasyJet, as you do. It was was my first visit there and Peter's first in 27 years. The flight cost us about $150 each - what a bargain!

I loved the city and we had great weather (most of the time). We did the usual sightseeing: a 'hop on hop off' double decker bus tour of the city, cruise on the Thames, visit to the Tower of London, a couple of museums, walked through Kensington Gardens and went to an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical called 'The Woman in White'.

It was nice to be in an English speaking country again and we took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on some books. Park LaneThe Woman in White was a fantastic show - the story, music and performances were great, but especially the use of computer imagery and a rotating circular stage to create an amazing set. We definately recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

Our first experience of the Underground was a memorable one. Still reeling from having to pay 2 pounds each for a single trip, we clamoured on board the small, stuffy train, only to be evacuated due to a security alert at Westminster. We then had to sprint across the city on foot to get to our boat tour. We foolishly walked right through the area where there were problems. Police were huddled in big groups, some with machine guns, and some bloke was being questioned and complaining very loudly. Without knowing what the city was like before, the heightened security was pretty evident in most places.

Peter next to John the Giant's armourOur accommodation was really nice. It was called Beit Hall and is student residence at the Imperial College, which doubles as a hotel during uni holidays. The location (South Kensington) was fantastic and the rooms comfortable. At 40 pounds per night for an ensuite room, including cooked breakfast, we were very happy campers!

All in all it was a great trip. If you're interested, there are more photos on Flickr.

Sunday, September 4

Chez Gardner

It's been a busy summer at Chez Gardner, with many Australians dropping in for a visit whilst on their European holidays. We've really enjoyed their pleasant company and while I'm working hard at the office, Peter has the opportunity to hone his tour guide skills. The many visits to the shop at the Cailler chocolate factory are not helping our waistlines!

Last week Peter and Margaret, lovely friends of Peter's from his Canberra days, came to stay for a couple of nights. Despite the long flight from Australia, they arrived full of energy and we headed off to the UN Beach Club for dinner. The next day Peter took them on the obligatory chocolate factory tour, which they really enjoyed.

As well as entertain, we have been continuing to play tennis, go bike riding (see our other website) and I still manage to fit in time to work. The office has been quite busy with people now back from their summer break. Soon I will start getting involved in planning my first meeting (more like a conference really) which looks like being held in the US next year.