Thank you to my 9,000 followers!

A great big thank you to each and every one of you that has engaged with me on my travels and for the past few years, another huge milestone and for that I am truly grateful.

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It has been a little while since my last milestone post thanking you for helping me reach 8,000 followers. I haven’t blogged too much in the past couple months but I am on a three day streak and I will aim to keep it going, I love this platform and everyone I have discovered and I aim to be present here for a long time coming.

Thank you again, I am going to celebrate with Italian food tonight and probably wine.

I hope you all have a great weekend!!

 


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

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Well that’s just a shame…

I thought I bagged a window seat, and I did. Just without the window.


Luckily there was noone behind so I could recline like there was no tomorrow. 


That’s the thing with short haul, budget airlines, I rely heavily on the view out the window. The lack of wifi gives me limited options however with something to gaze out to, the ride is that little bit better.

And back to Melbourne it is.

Back to Brisbane (and some sunshine)

This trip was very last minute. And with this could only find an early flight to the Gold Coast, which meant that I needed take an hour long train journey up to Brisbane. But this was fine as I had much more time on Saturday evening to see some friends and old work colleagues for a catch up.

The weather getting into Gold Coast was mixed, but one thing I noticed was the difference in temperature to Melbourne. I got that holiday feeling the moment I left the plane as the warm tropical Queensland air hit me walking into the terminal.

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The weather was nice enough for this stunning sunset as I made my way north.

The good thing about the train is that it drops me off right here. The hotel I used to work in.

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I had such a fun experience working here, and I think it may be the best place I have ever worked in terms of actually enjoying going to work. It was right in the city centre and if Brisbane had something going on we would usually play a part. I was actually gutted when I left Brisbane for Melbourne, the only saving grace was that Melbourne is a fantastic city with a lot going on. But coming back to the warmth and going in to see some on my friends there was nice, although it made me miss it even more.

What I love about hospitality is that every day is different. You never know what is going to happen, for better or worse. But the bad days help with personal development, and the good days are great memories. I think that is why I have stayed in the industry for so long, and I have been very fortunate to have worked in the same chain in three Australian cities now. Despite the six month working holiday restriction, transfers are possible and this has kept me in employment within the chain.

What I also love about Brisbane is it’s size. Not as hectic as Sydney or Melbourne but just the right amount of everything for it to be a fun city to live in. After finishing my farmwork in the middle of nowehere and travelling down the east coast in fun yet small destinations, Brisbane seemed like New York City. However after moving to Melbourne and revisiting I can see why it gets labeled ‘a big country town’. Limited options on a Sunday, a city centre you can walk through fairly quickly, it is growing rapidly but it isn’t quite comparable to Melbs or Sydney yet. But I love this big country town and out of the three, it may be my favourite to live in so far.

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But each city has it’s perks, Sydney has the landmarks and Melbourne has amazing food. I think it would be unfair to have a ‘favourite’ as each have their own strengths and differing identities.

I crossed the river to meet my friend, who I met during my 88-days farmwork. Coincidentally he was born just up the road from me in the north east of England and even more of a coincidence is that he shares the same birthday as me.

And for this reason the beers started and my camera roll ended.

The night got pretty messy pretty fast, which I guess is not surprising for a milestone birthday. Especially with a friend that is celebrating on the same day. My only regret was not being sober enough by the time I met the others to get some group shots, but what can you do. Two guys that used to live in Newcastle going out for drinks is always going to go downhill fast.

It is also fairly strange being away from home on a birthday, let alone a 30th, and is never going to be the same as it would be back home. There will never be that big sense of occasion and I guess with that I was content with it being low key. It was a sacrifice I knew I was going to have to make at the time when I was arranging the visa, and long term solo travel always comes with some sacrifices. We just have to ensure that the sacrifices are worth the journey, and to me I can have a big 31st instead. The opportunity to travel isn’t always there, or at least being convinced enough to book that one way ticket.

But I am glad I chose to enter my thirties here. It felt right and I was back in a city that has given me so many memories and great friends in and outside of work. I think any future visits to Australia wouldn’t be right without stopping by this great city and I am grateful to feel welcome every time.

Hopefully this won’t be the last time.

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Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Follow me @samest89 on Instagram and @octstw on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

 

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Then and now: Turning thirty and being okay with it

If there was one memory that freaked me out growing up it was those that told me our schooldays are the best days of our lives. I mean if there was one thing that would make me anxious at the thought of another birthday it would be the idea that staring everything is downhill 16+. And it is a great motivator to make sure this isn’t true. Undoubtedly for some it is true, but we should all have an aim of ensuring we keep living the best life possible instead of investing energy into fond yet distant memories.

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It is easy to look back on life with rose tinted glasses and feel like everything was great. That the ‘good old days’ were nothing but that, filled with laughter and good times. However I have made a conscious effort to remember the not so great, using it to remind myself that youth doesn’t equal happiness. Effort equals happiness.

I remember the moment in school when we found out that London won the bid for the 2012 Olympic games. And I remember thinking ‘Shit! I am going to be 23!’. And now I look back envious that at one point I was 23. But when I think of reasons why I would be envious, I struggle. I mean if I am fortunate to live to 100, I was further away from it back then. But this isn’t a guarantee. Picturing life as a long road has it’s problems because some leave that road much sooner than others. Why be happy at the beginning of the journey when then end could be around the next turn?

Instead I am trying to find joy in the fact that I am still on it. Age isn’t as important as knowing we are making the most of this current moment. Instead of thinking that our best days are behind us, it is much better to think of how to make our tomorrow better than yesterday.

One reason I came to Australia in my late twenties was that I struggled to find the motivation beforehand. When I was 24 my dad died and it hit me hard. I was numb and travel was the last of my priorities. A couple of years flew by and I finally felt it was time to make the most of life whilst I could. So, I packed my bags and here I am.

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So why would I want to go back to my mid twenties? I was younger, but younger and needing therapy. I feel youth and happiness is often an illusion. Like when we think that old music was better than it is today. It wasn’t. We only remember the classics because the shit stuff wasn’t worth remembering. This is like our memories.

Also, back to freaking out about turning 23 around the London Olympics. It is pretty strange to think I looked ahead with dread, and now look back at that age as a seemingly distant memory. What I thought was only age was not, the same when I am 50 looking back at 30 I am sure. It is all relative, and I need to learn how to embrace the fact that I will never be this young again instead of reminding myself that I am the oldest I have ever been.

This helps me to have a little more urgency to do the things I can whilst I can. It is true that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now. Don’t ever regret not doing things sooner, it is better than the regret of not doing it at all.

So this is why I am happy turning 30. I feel good, I am excited about my plans and realise that this is a decade in which I could achieve so much more than I did in my twenties, if I choose to. And I aim to say yes much more than no and see where it takes me.

Keep living!

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Also, thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes. It really means a lot and I appreciate every single one of you. As I have said previously your kindness really helps me to keep coming back here!

 


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Follow me @samest89 on Instagram and @octstw on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

Travel Diary: Finally visiting Melbourne’s Winter Market

I honestly reside a two minute walk from this market. And ever since I arrived in Melbourne I have heard the same ‘why haven’t you visited Queen Victoria Market yet?!’, and it is a question I have asked myself a lot too.

Maybe the fact that it is right on my doorstep has given me less urgency. Maybe it is because I have been doing a lot of morning shifts at work. I don’t know. But now that the winter markets are taking place every Wednesday evening I decided to take a very quick look for myself.

I will warn you, it was very quick.

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As I was walking up to it I could sense the scale of it. The smoke escaping the tent from the various meat stalls, the sound of the live band playing and chatter of hundreds of people enjoying their mulled wine and finger foods. That and the neon signs pointing to the entrance and various stalls made this a very exciting and inviting first impression.

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I mean it was packed. There was enough room around the market to find space to stop and eat your chosen grub, and seating didn’t seem to much of an issue. The first thing I did was head to the bar, what else gets you more in the mood for food than beer?

In fact, the queue was that short I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of it before being asked my order. I grabbed a pale ale and did a lap of the floor. Here is what I found.

Firstly, meat. Lots of meat.

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The smells were amazing. And it was an obvious choice looking at the lines, usually a good indicator as to how good the food is going to be. IMPORTANT RULE: Always trust the locals. Although I am unsure as to how many of the people here are locals with this being such a popular venue.

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I kept walking around and almost got knocked over by this silent disco train…. I have seen these a couple of times wandering through the streets in Melbourne, the last one was a hen party. Must be something you can hire… Have you seen this in your city?

The looked like they were having a good time.

 

I need to come here during the daytime, I have seen many pictures from this position and the skyline makes for an impressive backdrop.

Thanks to the guy in the hi-vis below for providing the light.

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Melted cheese anyone?

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And of course, there were vegetarian and vegan options, although I am not sure how much choice there was as I didn’t really look out for them. The below stall is one with vegan choices, I am sure this was food stuffed into a pineapple. It looked very different, but very good.

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What would the world be without live music? I don’t want to know.

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Now this was a very quick run through of the market, as I had a busy night ahead of me and needed to meet friends from both Sydney and my work on the opposite side of the CBD. However as I got there quite late, things were wrapping up anyway. I then noticed this huge parting of the crowds in front of me, which I assumed was the grand finale of some sort. The lights moved around on the floor like a nightclub, the music was pretty dramatic as if we were expecting a close encounter with the third kind.

As everyone held their breath in anticipation….

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Actually, that was it. It led to a bit of confusion as it was a bit of an anti-climax, loud music, lights all concentrated onto this small patch of ground that people circled, maybe I was late and missed all the fun. But it all stopped and we all started walking again. Picture it like a crosswalk basically. An overly dramatic crosswalk.

 

Now as this was a very brief tour I aim to go again very soon. I also aim to do the day market too and see what this has to offer. However this was a very fun run around and I would recommend anyone in Melbourne to take a look, whether during the day or winter market. Look out for another post from here in the near future!!

Winter Market: Every Wednesday 5pm-10pm, 5th June- 28th August.

Website: thenightmarket.com.au

Queen Victoria Market:

Thursday- 6am- 2pm

Friday- 6am- 5pm

Saturday- 6am-3pm

Sunday- 9am-4pm

Monday- Closed

Tuesday- 6am- 2pm

Wednesday- Closed

Website: qvm.com.au

 

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Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page. Also please feel free to connect on the following links:

About My Blog

Travel Diary 

Instagram

Happy blogging,

Sam

I went to my first AFL game

This has been on my Melbourne bucket list for as long as I have known I was moving to Melbourne. Even in Brisbane many people told me it is a must when I am down in Victoria, visiting the 100,000 seater Melbourne Cricket Ground for an Aussie Rules Football game.

The MCG, Australia’s Wembley for my British readers. Australia’s Madison Square Garden, I think? I don’t know, you will have to tell me what your biggest or most beloved stadiums are in your home country so I have a place to watch some great sports if I make it to your corner of the world. Don’t be biased though. Sports fans never are anyway… 😉

This was a very quick ride from where I was in the city, we all met in a bar called Stomping Ground, appropriately named as we bought a can for the road and discreetly yet very elegantly drank them on route to Australia’s biggest and most famous stadium.

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The bar was in Collingwood, as this was the team we were watching play against Melbourne. Interestingly enough for those not too familiar with the sport, the majority of the AFL teams are based in Melbourne. Ten of the 18 are in the state of Victoria, and nine in Melbourne’s metropolitan area.

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Apparently this says 11… which ones are no longer?

As you can see above, Collingwood sport black and white colours. For me this was an easy team to cheer on.

Or so I thought. Black and white stripes with the nickname ‘the magpies’? Just like Newcastle, the city I lived in back in England. Easy choice!!

However it seems people that aren’t Collingwood fans, well, like to tell me not to be a Collingwood fan. Apparently it is a bogan/chav/redneck team, as are their fans. I mean in the stadium everyone including my Melbourne friend seemed to be pretty nice people, is this a myth? I guess I will let the locals decide…

 

The Big Freeze at the ‘G’

Melbourne vs Collingwood is an annual game held on the Queens Birthday. On this day an event called the ‘The Big Freeze’ takes place before the game. This is a fun charity event with the aim of raising awareness for Motor Neurone Disease, a condition former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher suffers from and now aims to raise funds fighting for a cure.

On the charity website, fightmnd.org.au it states about the event that:

‘Each year, a group of ‘A-List’ celebrities take the icy plunge sliding into the Big Freeze pool all in the name of raising critical funds to help fine a treatment and cure for MND.’

As you can see below, the celebrities ride down a slide on a sled and into the ice water, often in fancy dress. I noticed people started to clap the intro to ‘We Will Rock You’, and with that out came Freddie Mercury himself. Freddie was always at home in a stadium.

 

And the plunge…

It was a glorious day for football. Well, I say glorious, it didn’t rain. And the Melbourne skyline looked fantastic from here with the Eureka Tower dominating as always.

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Now for the game itself. It is a sport that always looked rather funny to me, as does Gaelic football, with the variety of things going on whilst the players run. Sometimes bouncing it, something punching it, sometimes kicking it. Sometimes kicking each other. Once I understood the rules a little better it was much more fun to follow and appreciate.

I was under the impression that this game evolved from Gaelic Football, but after some quick research it turns out this may be a myth. Historians consider that the game Marn Grook that was played by Aboriginals in Australia possibly has more of a connection. One reason is due to one of the founders of AFL- Tom Wills- having watched the game being played.

Here is a picture of Tom Wills, believed to have been taken on a very early Nokia.

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The basic rules are this. Six points are awarded if the ball is kicked in the middle goal. one point if it is kicked between the outer posts. The games lasts four 20-minute quarters and starts with a ruck. In the event of a crocodile, any player is considered ‘fair game’ and the team suffering the loss can substitute another player on without penalty. This is when you see the referee do this.

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The ball up is an interesting start to the game. As the umpire throws the ball off the ground, the players then try to take possession as it is bounced into the air. A bit like a basketball tip off really, but with what resembles a mild kids temper tantrum. The throw-ins are equally unique too. As the ball goes out the opposition team does not get to throw it back in, instead one of the umpires throws it over his head, wedding bouquet style. The difference is the guys actually run to grab it first.

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The ball is passed between players via a handball, in which the ball is punched with a clenched fist from the other hand. This is the only hand pass allowed. Players can also kick the ball to opponents, and can ‘mark’ the ball by catching a pass that has been kicked over 15 meters without being touched or bouncing (I think). A mark gives the receiving player a free kick without the threat of a tackle. Players running with the ball have to bounce it every 15 meters. This and the kicking rule got me thinking how umpires (or anyone really) can tell what exactly 15 meters is on the field in such a fast game. I mean, does anyone really have the ability without computers to determine what was a 14, 15 or 16 meter pass or sprint? It seems pretty hard to do. I asked my friend and he replied with ‘they don’t’. Fair enough.

But knowing these rules made the game more fun to watch. Like any sport actually investing a few minutes to getting to know the rules means we can relate to the cheers and geers from the fans, and can actually join in. It was a great atmosphere and I would certainly do it again.

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I would recommend to anyone reading to go to a local sports game, even if you aren’t a sports fan. It is a great way to embrace the local culture, meet some of the cities most passionate people and try some of the local junk food, which is more than often delicious with a beer. It might not make sense at first, but think of it like trying new foods. You don’t know what it is or what to expect, but regardless of the outcome it is another memory to look back on. And I am certainly glad I had this one.

 


 

Pssst, if you want to see the pro-shot of the glorious ‘Freddie’ slide, here it is…

 

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Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Follow me @samest89 on Instagram and @octstw on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

 

I think these days are over…

A few readers from Melbourne will know that today was a fairly decent day in the sense it didn’t pour down. It’s still cold enough for a thick jacket but being dry made today actually pleasant enough to walk outside. However the days of gazing up and seeing the blazing sun surrounded by a blue sky are seemingly long gone.

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I cannot actually remember the last time I saw such a blue sky. Probably not too long after I took this shot, riding along the coast in South Melbourne shortly after arriving in March. It doesn’t seem like I will be able to take my typical bright and colourful photos as much as I have been which is a damn shame, however it just means I will have to find other ways to keep my blog bright and upbeat.

More street art perhaps? I haven’t uploaded many of these posts recently. I guess more pictures from the inside of buildings too as I am usually looking from the outside. My phone has enough water damage already and the rain has been forcing me indoors more than I would like. Goddammit.

Or simply more posts without pictures, or without my own pictures. I enjoy using Unsplash for some of my posts as there are some amazing photographers out there and this site allows you to use their images. You don’t have to credit the photographer, but I like to. They help me out so I want to return the favour. Some of the posts I thought wouldn’t be particularly popular without my own photographs are the most popular, which is a pleasant surprise. It shows it isn’t always about the images, although they can certainly help. A post can survive without photos, but a blog can’t really survive if there isn’t anything worth reading.

Maybe winter will help me to improve my writing skills with this in mind. I have always tried to see the benefits in any bad situation and if winter can help me improve on certain skills, then I have no complaints.

That, and I can try more hot chocolate variations. Have you tried hazelnut hot chocolate? A taste sensation.


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Follow me @samest89 on Instagram and @octstw on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

Winter is coming.

I am probably in the minority here, but I love a rainy day. It sounds contradictory as I curse to myself all too often during that awful moment when I take my wet shoes and socks off, I should look at the soaked pavements underneath the sea of umbrellas with dread when venturing out. But I don’t. I just feel calm and relaxed and go about my day.

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I think this mindset comes from childhood. I remember in my more lazy teenage years a rainy day would give me a guilt free pass to stay indoors and play video games. I loved being outdoors as a kid as much as I do now, staying indoors on a nice day is very difficult. I can’t do it. On a rainy day I feel like I am allowed to and that sense of urgency washes away with the sound of the rain. I get a great sense of nostalgia.

It sounds crazy flying from the UK to Australia and being happy with the rain. But I have had my fair share of summer days down under. Sunshine that I made the most of on the incredible beaches down the east coast…

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And sunshine I avoided as much as possible whilst picking watermelons for ten hours a day.

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The sun can be a blessing or a curse depending on what we are doing. And being from northern England, the northern Queensland heat can be intense. I only recently moved from Brisbane and the weather there was still very humid for me even in March… I had to buy a jacket and scarf and actually wear jeans immediately after moving to Melbourne. But I didn’t mind the relief from the constant humidity, how long I will remain happy will have to be seen.

I’m not sure if ‘I like the rain’ is worthy of it’s own post, but one of the reasons I got onto my blog so soon after work is that I needed to get indoors fast. It is a blessing for my productivity on the blog.

And with that I ask, are you a fan? I have met Aussies that are jealous of the mild temperatures I get back home, and Brits that have moved here for the sun and never went back. And of course the exact opposite. I know some of you need the rain right now and will through the summer, and it reminds me to be grateful if anything.

What’s your verdict?

 

Featured Photo by Kieren Andrews on Unsplash

 


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary or follow me @samest89 on Instagram

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,

Sam

I’ve never noticed this before…

I regularly walk through Melbourne Central when in the CBD, usually going to or coming back from work. I always thought the clock above was impressive but today there was a bunch of people taking photos at the same time.


It seems that on the hour the clock moves to reveal a hidden section of birds and children playing flutes. Gentle music plays and goes along with this. It was something I’ve never noticed before walking through, despite doing so countless times now.


I thought it was pretty cool and reminds me that I still have a lot to see in Melbourne, even on my most regular walks.

Just thought I’d share this little discovery with you all!

 


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary or follow me @samest89 on Instagram

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,

Sam

This is Australia 

What I’ve noticed over here in the land of the creepy is that these spiders really don’t move all that much. It’s really helped my phobia diminish to the point that I can get up pretty close and get a decent shot. Not too close though.


There was a time when I was walking through a relatives garden late at night in Sydney and I almost walked face first into a web like this. If it wasn’t for my iPhone torch I would have been peeling it off my face frantically like Jim Carrey in The Mask. That’s not a job I want to have before bed.

But saying that I love late night walks and seeing these webs. The spiders are pretty damn impressive and if you keep a look out, they are there and they seem happy to stay there for the shot.

If you want to see them, that is…