To Zorb the Stone Ring

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, June 24, 2006

For the first time in a long, long time we used a conventional mode of transport...we hired a car. Thankfully, despite not having driven a car since October last year it all came back very quickly; just like riding a bike. The first challenge was figuring out the car's indicator to actually turn out of the parking lot. As we discovered numerous times during the weekend the indicator is on the left and the windscreen wipers on the right. This is the opposite of most cars on the road in Australia. Just picture Megs driving along, she comes to an intersection and indicates to turn but accidentally turns on the wipers. She is then forced to fumble with the indicators and wiper's trying desperately to figure them out whilst executing a turn all to the sound of dry wiper blades scraping across the windscreen. It took a few goes to finally figure it out but next time we will be asking for a Japanese model!

The second challenge of the day was actually navigating our way out of London. Megan was driving with Rick navigating. He had three different maps (one a photocopy) all of which weren't the best. What kind of map doesn't have one way streets on it? Crazy! Luckily we managed to find our way out and onto the motorway with only one or two domestics and wrong turns. One observation we did make is that people no the roads here struggle to merge. Now we know lots of Australians can't either (mainly Queenslanders for some reason) but at least they have a go back home. Here they come to a complete stop at the end of the merging lane like they are waiting for an invitation to join the throng of cars whizzing past at 70 miles an hour (about 110 kilometers per hour). The English also seem to have an obsession with roundabouts. They are everywhere.

After a few hours driving and a short time stuck in traffic, we arrived in Bournemouth to have our first glimpse of a British beach. We could have been in Queenscliff to be honest. What happened to the black pebble beaches you always hear about? Maybe they ship the clean white sand in from other more desirable beaches? To be honest it was quite nice with seagulls and lots of people swimming in the cold Channel. After a quick lunch we continued on to Dorchester to experience Megan's birthday present - Zorbing!

If you ever get the chance to Zorb take it, it was so much fun. Luckily the sun was shining as we dived, in a rather undignified manner, into a big clear blow up ball perched precariously on the top of a rather large hill. Prior to getting in we watched the guy pump it up with a leaf blower then chuck in three buckets of cold water. Megan dived in first followed by Rick and once we were both in, without warning, the guy threw in another bucket that knocked Megs off her feet into the big puddle. Rick couldn't stop laughing! Once she was on her feet again we had to try to walk forward down the hill and after a few seconds we fell down and slid around inside the ball while it rolled to the bottom. It was hilarious and we came out drenched and laughing hysterically. It's like a water slide, but you bounce around and it keeps on going. At one stage we were both facing backwards, rolling down the hill. It was pretty cool.

After drying off and being fully qualified Zorbonauts, we headed back to the car and worked out where to go for the night. We figured out we were just a few hours from Bath so we headed there. Driving in Bath was worse than driving in London. The whole place was one way streets but they all looped around the town making it impossible to get into the middle. Eventually we stopped cruising around, parked the car and walked into the heart of town. Once we had booked a couple of beds at the local YMCA we headed out for some dinner at a quaint little Italian place then wandered around the town. Bath was nice as the tourists rolled out for the day. We saw the old Roman Baths, hence the town's name, and the cool looking old residences.

After an early night and our free breakfast (well actually it was included in the cost) we returned to some of the prettier places in Bath to take some photos before the day trip tourist busses rolled into town, Jumping back in the car we decided to head for the famous Stonehenge. On the way we stopped in a little town called Devizes for a rest and discovered it was famous for it's canal locks called the Caen Hill Locks. After a short walk along the canal we found the series of 16 locks and watched a few boats maneuver their way through. We decided the novelty would wear off after watching two boats go through some locks, we were told it takes three hours to get through all of them. Three hours of hard work opening and closing all the locks. From here we headed down the road to Avebury which has another national trust covered stone area similar to Stonehenge. After wandering around for a while we continued on our way to the more famous site with the heavens opening and rain pouring down. We had no choice, having driven all this way, but to get out in the rain and have a look at the henge. To be honest it's a lot smaller than you would imagine and whilst it is famous we really wandered what all the fuss was about. Soaked through we jumped in the car and headed home. We really liked the freedom the car gave us and may consider hiring one again later on in the trip.
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