“Dear all Time has flown again and I find myself once again wishing that I was more organised and more disciplined to write more often. The last letter I wrote was just before Christmas, so of course that was a long time ago and we have done a lot since then. The most exciting thing is that we did manage to buy the London flat that I talked about in the last email. We moved in in mid February and we are enjoying it a very much. It is always a nice feeling to own the place you live in, it gives you more scope to do what you want and put nails in the walls etc. The flat is in a renovated warehouse that used to product Bryant and May matches. Our flat is on the top floor, so much of it is built into the roof. It is very open plan, there are very few walls. Because of this the flat is built over 3 levels, the loungeroom and the kitchen are on the first level (as well as a small balcony), the bathroom and a galleried study are on the second level and the bedroom is on the top level. The kitchen and the bathroom are in need of a little work, so we will need to spend a bit of time on them, but otherwise apart from small things it is in pretty good shape. On the travel front we also have a few short trips to report. Over Christmas we went to the French Alps with two of our London friends, Dan and Tanya, and two of our Sydney friends, Nick and Carolyn. Apart from a disastrous trip there and back caused by delays at every turn, the Alps were wonderful. It was our first truly white Christmas. We stayed in a brand new Chalet with our friends and 6 other Brits. It was a ski holiday, but Jon and I were only thinking of the fact that we wanted to buy a lounge to sit on in our new flat, so we were uninspired to ski, as it is fairly expensive. Instead we relaxed a lot, played scrabble, walked around the mountain in –15C temperatures, watched bad American TV dubbed into French and German and generally just enjoyed the fresh mountain air. It was a lovely break, but I think that I would rather be in Aus cooking a Barbie than freezing in the French Alps! We then had a bit of a travelling drought because we didn’t want to leave our new house (and couldn’t afford to!) But over Easter we went on a bus trip over the English Channel by ferry to Brussels, Bruge, Antwerp and Amsterdam. Gillian, a school friend of mine who has been in London for a while came too, which was really good, as it was Gill’s first trip out of the UK since she got here late last year. The first day of the trip was mainly taken up by travelling, so we didn’t get to see that much, although the Dover-Calais ferry trip was a new adventure for us. The second day we walked around Antwerp, which is a quaint little Port town which is pretty in the centre, but the surrounds are very industrial. That afternoon we were taken into Brussels, the head city of the European Union. It is a really nice city with a lot of green spaces and plenty of new modern buildings to house the politicians of the European Union. The centre of the city is lovely. After wondering around for a while we felt that we had earned some waffles with chocolate sauce and ice cream, which were very nice! Later we had a Belgian beer in the centre square. Belgian beer is supposed to be the best in the world, and although nothing can beat a Toohey’s New, they don’t do a bad job. The following day we went up to Amsterdam. Jon and I had already been there so had seen most of the sites, so I indulged in a little shoe shopping (they have great shoes at about 1/3 of the London price). We also met up with Sarah (another friend from back home who is also in London) and her boyfriend Tony. During the afternoon we rejoined the coach and went on a tour to a little fishing town North of Amsterdam called Volendam. It is a very pretty town on the coast with its share of Dutch windmills, but was a little touristy for our liking. The following day was Easter Monday, time to head back to London. However on the way home we went via Brugge, which is a lovely little Belgian town. It has maintained most of its medieval buildings, has lots of cobbled roads and canals in the town. It was also extra lovely because it was early spring and all the flowers are starting to come out. One place we went to had a grass field full of daffodils. It is a really lovely town, and we were disappointed that we could only spend a few hours there. We will try to go back there sometime. Last weekend (the weekend after Easter) we were invited to the wedding of Matt (and American guy that Jon works with) and Marion (one of the only English people we know!). They had the wedding in a beautiful ancient church in Cornwall which was first built in the 11th Century! The wedding was lovely and we stayed in Cornwall for the weekend. So now the travel bug has hit we are very keen to do some more travel. Jon is going to Dublin for work next week, so we decided to go for the weekend, so that is the next trip. We also booked our ‘Summer holiday’ for a week to the Greek Island of Corfu at the end of May. So that’s the last 4 months in a nutshell. Hope that everyone is well. We miss you all. Love Jane and Jon”
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