After the rest of my Paris experience I went to visit Tom, and his lovely flatmate Derik and girlfriend Roja. We went to see Britain's Got Bhangra, a new musical produced by a friend of mine, which was funny and full of great music. So much so that once we got home Derik was Bhangraing around the flat. I got to see lots of art with Roja, and she taught me how to make some Iranian food. And had lovely beer with Tom at a couple of pubs in his neighborhood, as well as exploring the area where the industrial revolution started, which has since become the first area of urban regeneration in Europe. It's called castlefield, and has a lovely canal (europe's first again) running through and warehouses turned into flats with lovely pubs outside.
After Manchester I took the train to Wales to see Charlie and Tim in Swansea. They now live in a flat with a spare room with a very comfy futon. I arrived a bit sad that I was going to miss the barbeque and pimms that Tom had planned for Sunday, only to discover that Charlie had pimms ready at the flat and had planned a barbeque for Sunday as well. Pimms is an british alcohol mixed with lemonade (sweet fizzy water) and cucumber, peach, lemon, orange, strawberry and mint. It's like fruit salad with alcohol, and I drank a lot of it with Charlie over three days. We also watched Fantastic Mr. Fox (amazing), walked to the Mumbles, had sunday lunch and a barbeque and sat around in pubs. One day I went on the train to Cardiff with Tim where we discovered that the museum was closed, and that while Cardiff has lovely arcades and neon blue ice cream (which we couldn't find) there isn't that much else to do. I also did some walking along the coast of the Gower Peninsula.
Very sad to leave Swansea, I got on the 8:30 evening train to London, arrived at nearly midnight, took the underground to Heathrow, slept on the floor for four hours, checked my bag at 5 am, and got on the plane at 7 to arrive in Istanbul at 2. Mark met me at the airport which was very exciting. And then began about 4 days of packing and crazyness. We didn't do much on the Wednesday, but spent the time until Sunday at 1 in the afternoon packing the house, throwing things out, giving things away, visiting people, making arrangements at the last minute for the cat and thinking we might never leave. But on Sunday at 3pm we arrived at the otogar after putting all our bags in a friend's house and returning the keys to our flat. We were free! And then told the next bus was at 7. But never fear, IKEA was there, and so we ate swedish meatballs and had free refils and cake, as well as testing all of the beds and couches before boarding our bus to Canakkale. The traveling had begun!