It seems that many of you are getting the impression that we are gadding about the country, having great adventures every day of the week.
All the places we have been to. (Places we have stayed overnight are in yellow, those underlined in red are merely places we graced with our presence for a short time.)
In the interest of fairness, I must correct you. Indeed, we have seen some wonderful places and sojourned across a significant portion of the English countryside, yet we have also spent much time holed up in hotel rooms searching for jobs or apartments or waiting for important phone calls. (We would have done the above in cafes, but the coffee here is so terrible we could not bring ourselves to pay for it. We have heard quite a few people here say that New Zealand is backwards, but in coffee, I think we lead everyone else!)
We spent nine days staying in the areas below - the South East (Croydon) and South West (Guildford) on the outskirts of Greater London, and while we were there, we had only a few, more gentle, adventures.
Again, the areas we stayed in are in yellow, merely visited are in red. (For the pedants, yes Farnborough is bucking the trend but it's too much hassle to fix. Also, London is strictly north-east, but the arrow wouldn't curve. That will teach me for using MS Paint!)
We were mainly in the area as Adam was following up some job leads and, eventually, having some job interviews, but it was a nice part of the countryside to be 'stuck' in.
Guildford is a nice place, with lots of trees and a homely feel to it. Because it's country town near to London, there are a lot of Londoners who buy houses in Guildford but commute to the Big City. As a result, house prices are phenomenal and the price of rental properties made our jaws hit the footpath. (At that stage, we hadn't seen central-London rent prices...).
The pretty, cobbled main street
and again, just in case you didn't see the first time...
One day we ventured to Walton-on-Thames, in pursuit of a Gourmet Burger Kitchen - the kiwi burger chain we found in Bristol (Hey! When your wife is one of the fussiest eaters in the world you just go where you know she will eat something and like it). We immediately felt at home, as the GBK was on this street:
After eating our tasty lunch we drove around Walton-on-Thames to see if we could handle living there. We definitely could (but whether or not we could afford it was another matter.) Once you get this close to London, the little towns all run into each other, and soon we found ourselves in Shepperton.
Shepperton was lovely. Really, really lovely. I would rate it and Walton-on-Thames (as they were basically the same place) as my favourite spot east of Devon and Exeter. We arrived just in time to see a boat being let through the lock.
After staying to watch another boat go through, we wandered along the tow path and an adjoining riverside walk for a wee while.
I don't know that you can really see from this badly exposed picture (below), but looking upriver from the lock really made me feel like I was in the Wind in the Willows, with Ratty's tow path on the right, and Badger's Wild Wood on the left. I looked at the Wood very hard, for quite some time, and felt that I really could see all those nasty stoats peering out.
End of Part One.