The UK – Liverpool

We’re groggy, but slowly coming together.

I’ve come to realise that when its just the two of us, we actually get up a decent hour (earlier than 8), but when we are in big cities, we easily don’t get up before 10:30/11am.

Its kinda been good having the van and seeing that we’re not just lazy slobs.

This morning, we are up a decent hour again.

Early enough to feel the cold, anyway.

Everybody is out running their dogs already.

Last night was particularly odd. I mean, the sun is going down around late arvo, so by the time the sun has actually set, it is like 5/5:30. So, when people are knocking off and going for their post-work run, it felt like people were getting to the park at 7 or 8pm. But it turns out that they have probably just finished work.

We wake up and kick off the morning with brekky, which is nothing other than bacon and eggs. I dunno if this is a regular thing here or not, but the bacon here is more like undried prosciutto. The good thing about this, is that it when it cooks up, it is super nice and crispy.

Its a good way to start the day.

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The only downside to cooking brekky with a camper van, is that the vans are equipped with this gas cooker thing, which uses butane cans. These cans, for some reason or another seem to get icy cold super super fast, and when they are cold, they produce a minuscule flame.

You literally can’t even heat water up with it.

We tried.

The only way to remedy this, is to stuff them under your armpits to warm them up. Being that they aren’t just Lynx cans, they push your arms away from your torso a touch. This is particularly odd, because I am wearing a jacket, you can’t really see the cans under the coat, so you are led to believe that I have just got massive lats and I want everyone to know it.

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Not say that I don’t have massive lats or anything though…

The next cooking hurdle we had to overcome was the issue of the wind. We’re already trying to warm up the gas canisters, so the flames aren’t exactly holding their own weight, but we’re parked right in front of a nice big green field, which means that the wind doesn’t really have anything trying to stop it before it collects speed and tries it very best to snuff out our means of a cooked breakfast.

To combat this, Bec and I conjure up a wind break, consisting of propping the black plastic case that the cooker goes in, on its side, which then covers 2 of the 4 sides of the cook top, and then use the mini jerry of water to block the third side. Its primitive, but effective. With me showing off my lats with the help of the cans and our wind barrier, we have breakfast underway. Little did we know, this method would be our main method of producing flame from here on in.

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While brekky is just getting cooked, we get talking with a local, who informs us that we should make the effort to see the Cathedral while we are here. We’re a little surprised that the cathedral is the sight that you have to see, but if he says so, I’d believe him.

We eat, do the dishes and head off for a morning stroll around the park before we get on the road.

We find ourselves some ducks, birds we have never seen before and a curious little wren-like bird, which allowed me to get well within a metre of it, as it sat perched on the hand rail.

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We wrap up our strolling and find our way to the Cathedral, which isn’t hard to spot.

The thing is a bloody behemoth.

The stone is some sort of terracotta colour, with this mossy green-ness growing up all over it. I am assuming from simply being around for so long in such a cold climate. The perk about this place is that its free to enter. The westminster, for instance was 20 pound to enter. I kinda feel as though this is going to be a little more architecturally impressive, and it is free.

We park in the only spot we can find for sure that is free, which also happens to be on the exact opposite side to the entrance of the cathedral. So, we walk around, and stare in jealous envy of all the other cars parked mere meters from the entrance of the cathedral.

As we get closer, the taller it looms over us.

We walk in the front door, and were greeted with glimpses of the magnitude of the building we are in. We get given a pamphlet from one of the volunteers, and find out from him that this is the biggest cathedral in Europe. I mean, I’m no cathedral expert, so I am just going to take him on his word. I would find out later that I shouldn’t have just taken him on his word. Its like the 8th biggest, or something.

Not quite the biggest in Europe.

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Regardless of it’s standing among the cathedrals throughout Europe, this was pretty darn impressive. I learnt when we were in NZ that your eyes can understand depth up to the distance of 50m. Beyond that, and it doesn’t make so much sense to the eye. This cathedral was so big that I was struggling to make sense of it all. I don’t know exactly how tall it was, but the ceiling heights were something from another world.

Absolutely bloody massive.

There was just bulk space upon space inside that cathedral and the architectural detail was absolutely stunning. I am always blown away by the craftsmanship in these old buildings. The level of detail is something that I can’t recall seeing in work proceeded in recent years.

I also found out that it was international holocaust week, so there was this temporary exhibition up, also with a handful of volunteers who are super passionate about making sure that everyone learns everything they can about the holocaust. This one lady asks me to do a quiz, and I oblige. I’m sure I’ll learn something while we are talking.

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She asks me, “So who were the victims of the holocaust?”

“Ahh. The disabled, homosexuals, jews, elderly, and I guess anyone who was a burden on society or didn’t fit their mould?”

“YESSS” she replies with her eyes widened and a heightened level of passion in her voice.

I’m a little bit taken back by it, but if this is the thing that makes her tick, whatever. I mean, I would like to learn more, myself.

My self and my newly found friend part ways as I reconnect with Bec and find our way out of the cathedral. We are meeting with Bri Louwen, who has been living in York for the past 4 months, while she studies singing. Bri and Bec used to be besties back in the day, and she’s been one of those people who I’ve just kinda always known, but event spoken to in literally years.

We make our way to York, and arrive mid-late arvo-ish.

We knock the door, and even though you know how things are going to go, there is still a little bit of uncertainty as to how the events following will unfold. Bri opens the door, and we are met with the most genuine welcome one could ask for. Its like we had just caught up with her the other week. She begins to fill us in on all the things that she has been up to since she has been here.

For some reason, I thought she was over here for a good 12 months or so, but it turns out that she has only been here for around a couple months. Regardless, she is settling in nicely and has fallen in love with York. So far, all the half hour that we have seen of the place, we like it too, but its a touch too soon to say how much we really like it.

We head off and collect ingredients to cook up a quality meal in return for showers and somewhere to park our car without fear of being fined.

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We stay up for a fair while, being that Bri is a student again, she has a fair bit of freedom when it comes to her schedule. She only works around 3 hours a day, to which I nearly say “Oh dude. Thit sucks”, but before I can dig myself that pit, Bri jumps straight in and says “Its soo good!”.

Right.

I forgot that not having work is a good thing when you are studying. We tuck into the living room for a good couple hours and catch up on the last few years. Its funny when you are travelling and meet another of your countrymen. Regardless of how long ago you had caught up, just for the fact that you are on the other side of the world, and get to meet up, there is an instant rapport, simply from being from the same country.

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Its so funny.

I mean, there are so many people back home that I would imagine that would be a little odd to meet up with just because, but if we were abroad together, there is an instant connection, for no other reason than we are from the same country, in another country.

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

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