family

London

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It’s hard to believe we were there just five weeks ago. We’ve gotten behind in our blogging during that time, but since we left London we’ve been to Paris, Versailles, Zurich, Bern, Lauterbrunnen (twice), Lucerne (twice), New York, Quito (twice) and the Galapagos Islands! Despite all that jetsetting, we both agree that our time in London is going to rank as one of the high points of this epic year of travel. It’s a city I could return to in a heartbeat, and I would even consider living there if the opportunity came about…

Some of the reasons why we loved London so much are as obvious as they were enjoyable. I have family living there, and we were able to catch up with my cousin Mark (who grew up in Sydney) several times during our eleven days in and around London. We got to know my uncle’s sister, Sonia, very well while she very kindly hosted us for most of our time there, as well as her children and grandchild. And we got to catch up again with Mike, a Londoner who we first met on that epic day in Penang near the start of our journey. Apart from spending wonderful time with Helga and JP in Graepel, dinner with CJ in Bangkok and a single day’s catchup with Andrew and Kara in Croatia, we have been starved of familiar company most of the year.

A less obvious but very real attraction of London is that English is its first language. We clearly love travelling to different countries – often the more different the better! – and usually make an effort to learn at least a bit of the local language while there. Even knowing just simple courtesies like hello and thank you can greatly enhance the travel experience, and in countries like Laos, Thailand, France and Germany we knew enough to get around fairly comfortably using the local lingo. But in all places we were a very long way from being able to hold a conversation or talk for more than 20 seconds, and it always took considerable thought and effort to remember the right words to use. In short it’s draining (though rewarding) to try and speak in foreign tongues, and after six continuous months of having to do so England shone like an oasis in the language desert. Imagine speaking without translating in your head first, being free to indulge in small talk and able to understand the conversations around you! We didn’t realise how much we would appreciate these simple pleasures until we got to England and started to live them.

London is also a city of endless possibilities, and we simply loved getting in amongst it and tasting what it has to offer. Below is a snapshot of some of the things we got up to:

  • Visiting pubs in Russell Square, Angel and Southbank. What better place to meet up with Mark than at a pub (or three)? London is a city that knows how to drink, and you’re never far from a watering hole to quench your thirst. Our catch up with Mike was also a potted tour of some of the nicer pubs around Southbank, including one that dates back to the 1600s.
  • Walking around Regent St, Carnaby St, Bond St, Oxford St, Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace. Window shopping in New Bond St was a walk down luxury lane, we stumbled across a great coffee shop off Carnaby St that was worthy of a return, and discovered that the deckchairs set up in Hyde Park are not free.
  • Checking out Notting Hill Carnival with Mark, only to find that it’s more crowd than carnival. The whole suburb was a seething mass of people looking for somewhere to go, and it wasn’t long before we ditched it completely and headed off to Jashan’s. Located in a less salubrious part of north London, it’s an excellent Indian restaurant that is several cuts above the usual curry joint.
  • Sonia took us on a very interesting tour of Hamstead Heath and Millionaire’s Row, and then contrasted the mega-rich properties of that area with a quick look at downtown Tottenham.  The local school behind the huge Whitehart Lane football stadium is prison-like in ambiance, with solid bars topped with razor wire and a full-time on-site police officer (Sonia’s daughter, Carla, works there and can tell some hair-raising stories of life there). The point was to show how different in character yet how close in distance these two areas are, and it was a thoroughly illuminating (and at times depressing) experience. The day also included a wonderful visit to Kenwood House for morning tea and a stroll around its gardens.
  • Op-shopping in Muswell Hill, the prosperous neighbourhood where Sonia lives. We also spent a great deal of time at the Sable D’Or café in Mussie, sampling its fine coffee and super-fast internet frequently on our way to or from the city.
  • Visiting Alexandra Palace, or “Ally Pally”, which is also quite close to Sonia’s place and Muswell Hill. This is a monstrous building superbly located on a hill with sweeping views of London, and surrounded by extensive gardens that are open to the public. The views from the top of the hill are wonderful and highly recommended for any visitor, and the Palace was the site of the first television broadcast by the BBC in 1936. It remained London’s primary TV transmitting centre for the Beeb until 1956.
  • Eating at Jashan’s again on one of our last nights in London. It’s a family favourite, and we shared a great meal with nearly all the Assirati clan 🙂
  • Discovering the joys of the Harrods food hall – late! The treats on offer here make the David Jones food hall on Market Street look like a cut-rate corner deli. Needless to say we were in heaven, and we managed to have nearly every meal on our last two days in London catered courtesy of that fine establishment!
  • Visiting the Imperial War Museum and strolling along Southbank. Even though nearly all of them are free, we didn’t do much in the way of museums while in London. However everyone we met said that the Imperial War Museum was a must-see, and we managed to visit it before leaving. It was quite overwhelming, in fact, and it’s a place that you could easily return to time and again to learn about different aspects of Britain’s wartime legacies. We followed it with a slow perambulation of the lengthy Southbank, which was thronged with people enjoying the evening.

The other major event we had planned for our time in London was outside of it: our pilgrimage to The Fat Duck. Kristen has already written extensively about that meal, so I will focus on the other aspects of the four day “holiday within a holiday” we took around our visit to that restaurant. It actually wasn’t meant to be four days, but we were enjoying ourselves so much that we tacked on a couple of days extra and simply relaxed in the wonderful environs of our hotel. The Oakley Court Hotel is a country estate near Windsor, conveniently located close to The Fat Duck and very prettily situated on the banks of the Thames. You can stroll along the water’s edge on manicured lawns, sit in the stately rooms of the main house or enjoy the sun on the outdoor terrace. All these things were fine attractions and we certainly did make use of them, but the clincher for our decision to stay there was that Oakley Court was used as the home of Dr Frank-N-Furter in the cult 1975 movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show. How could we not take up the opportunity to stay in the Rocky Horror house??

Our two days at Oakley Court extended to three, then to four, and on the last day we went to nearby Windsor to visit the Queen. Well, almost: Windsor Castle is the home of the Monarch and open to visitors most of the time. It’s a splendid castle with commanding views of the surrounding countryside, and we also went on an optional “behind the scenes” tour of the Great Kitchen. This short journey to less-visited parts of the castle was more about the fire of 1992, and what the subsequent renovations revealed about the hitherto hidden history of the castle, than it was about the kitchen, but it was very interesting nonetheless and gave an insight into the below-stairs life of the castle. We spent several hours there in total, visiting all the key sights including the State Rooms, the Doll House and St George chapel. Highly recommended, and thanks to Mike for suggesting it.

There was so much more we could have seen and done in London, and we seriously considered or intended to see a West End show, visit the Tower of London, go to The Clink, check out Camden Town and see a live band, amongst other activities. These are things we will have to save for our next visit!

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Categories: family, food, Malaysia, Penang, travel | Leave a comment

My version of ‘that day’

I have thought many times about recording my feelings about the day of my accident but there never seemed a right time, not least because my physical injuries prevented me from doing so. I knew that the time was definitely not right when I was still experiencing keenly the physical effects of it. Today has let me know that the emotional reactions to it will catch me unawares for some time to come. Similarly, they have made me feel very reflective and also wanting to just do it. I want to say now, if you don’t like bad language then this is not the post for you. I think expletives are almost mandatory in my portrayal of events. If you can’t swear about when you thought your time was up, when can you?

Today we went to Bangkok Phuket Hospital, again, and if I had known how many times we would frequent this place I would not have been so dismissive of the coffee card (we actually dubbed my hospital identity card as my “frequent flyer card”). Due to my parasite/fungus legacy from Malaysia we have been detained yet another week on this island….hence the visit today to get the OK from the doctor to travel to Laos.

Anyhoo, post-(successful) visit we noticed the tsunami memorial room and ventured in. After feeling so elated that Alan (the parasite/fungus’ code name) was surely being killed it was a massive deflation to walk and look at the pictures of this hospital, filled with people being operated on and sleeping in its usually perfect-looking rooms and hallways. I had to fight the tears back. God bless the Swedes and the British for taking the time to come and pay respects and ensure plaques were erected for posterity, in thanks of the tirelessly good work of the hospital staff who cared for all affected.

I also ventured to view a video of the 2004 tsunami, for only a bit, because a friend posted it on facebook today. Again, I felt very near to tears. But that is not the right emotion for tonight, as we are on the brink of nearly moving on and kickstarting our journey again. So as Damien kicks back and enjoys the soccer stuff on TV in this cool little local bar in Phuket Town (with an equally kick arse local band singing songs in Thai I don’t know and love anyway), methinks tonight is the right time to record how I felt about that shit day.

We had arrived on Koh Lanta fresh off the back of too many days of the slow, island love and reverie that was the luckily overlooked (by most) place of Koh Kradan….

How perfect was that first full day in Lanta?? So very exciting after the near comatose pace of Kradan! I overcame my fear of motorbike riding in Thailand (for those not in the know, I came a cropper, as a pillion passenger, 11 years ago. It was two nights after 9/11 and I spent 5 extra nights on Koh Samui…in a hospital) and we both zipped up and down the coast, enjoying the sights, the breeze, the speed, the freedom and the LIVING! Yes, it was exciting! Let’s not omit the delish lunch overlooking Diamond Cliff beach or the most wonderful Thai massage in the beach pavilion at Ao Kantiang.

The “most perfect day in ages” as we coined it the next morning, was made complete with an amazing meal at a newly opened restaurant followed by an unexpected visit to the resort bar, Why Not, where we were treated to some of the best covers of all the alternative and old rock music my heart desired. Furthermore, they played one of the most amazing renditions of Bad Moon Rising, which always reminds me of my Dad, it being one of his favourite songs. As it was his birthday in two days time I felt compelled to tell the lead singer and his girlfriend after the band had finished how perfect and appropriate it was for me that he sung that tune. As it turned out, it was also going to be Phoebe’s (the lead’s girlfriend) birthday on that day and they asked us to come back and celebrate with them. Indeed we would, we affirmed wholeheartedly.

Next day, somewhat dusty, we hitched a ride to our new accommodation. It was a basic but perfect guesthouse, positioned right on the sand at Khlong Nin beach. We lay around at the restaurant next to our guesthouse, lazily listening to Finley Quaye as he played out into the beautiful day. “Sucks to be them”, we joked about everyone else working somewhere in the world. I retired to our room for a snooze and later Damien came in. Sufficiently rested I strolled out the front of our guest house: Jesus, does it get more “beachfront and hippy heaven” than this I happily mused. So I wandered down to the water’s edge, scanned up and down the expanse of beach and thought, yep, perfect. I lingered a bit and contemplated taking a dip, but for some inexplicable reason I had a yearning to go and sit out the front of our guesthouse and observe the goings on of life up and down the little street we lived on.

As I sat there a low, long siren sounded out into the day. Weird siren, I thought. Obviously not an ambulance, wonder what it is? I sat and watched passers by some more and found myself fixated on an interesting European couple with a motorbike….she was tattooed to the nines (to quote one of my favourite Damien-isms) and she looked sorta mean. Next minute she dropped her helmet and ran like the clappers down the street. That’s awful fast to be running, I thought, wonder why?

Next our guest house owner (or was it worker , I’ll never know, but I’ll remember her for her kindness) said to me “you go now”, or something to that effect. I replied, ever so politely, no, I wasn’t waiting for a taxi and I would stay. “You go now”, she said again. Then almost instantaneously  a mass movement of humans was flying by. FAST. They were running fuckin’ fast, and they were driving  fuckin fast, a steely blank but determined look on their faces. My heart stopped, or did it drop, Jesus I don’t know but that mass movement in front of me in the previously slow-paced day brought me very alarmingly into the present! Holy fuck! Siren, chick running like the clappers, “you go now”, everyone else doing the ” you go now”. Shit. I ask her “is this a tsunami?”

“Yes”, she said. Well why are you just standing there like that, I thought?! Jesus. I don’t know what I really felt in that moment, was it confusion, disbelief, or brutal fear? I have thought about that moment often and honestly I think I felt the sickening reality of it all and the sickening resignation that this was real, and in an instant everything was about this moment and I could not stop what was in motion. Every decision from there counted.

So I pelted down the hallway and burst through the door screaming “get up we have to go NOW!”. Then I ran back down the hallway to the road, to check, what, I don’t know. Man, he’s still lying there! Didn’t he hear the urgency in my voice? So I run back down and scream “it’s a tsunami, get up!” That certainly got the desired response from Damien. I told him to get his small backpack thinking our passports, money and other important stuff was in it, and grabbed my small backpack too. I ran down the hallway again but Damien was still not coming. I was feeling panicky and yelled at him, “What are you doing?” and he replied that he was trying to padlock our room door.

I kept asking the lady from the guesthouse when we would leave. The car doors were open, the engine was running but we were still standing on the side of the road as everyone else screamed past. She was waiting for her friend.

I felt somewhat like a trapped and pacing animal, seeing the way out but not being able to make it happen. I said to Damien that I didn’t like waiting and that we needed to hitch a lift in some sort of vehicle so we could get to higher ground. Damien suggested that we should run across the field opposite our guesthouse and try and make it to the hills that way. But I was completely unsatisfied with that option because the hills were a long bloody way off, and there is no way I could outrun a tsunami if it was coming anytime soon.

But how the hell were we going to get a ride? No one was even remotely looking like they would stop to help us out. Then I spotted a jeep across the road with two people in the front. The back seats were empty. I had to get across and demand those seats for us I thought. Now, before they left.

I can’t really recall how well I looked, or if I even did, but with adrenalin coursing through me I ran across the road to get to the jeep. I don’t remember the impact and for that I am thankful. I do have vague recollections of a woman’s voice screaming something like, “there’s a bike coming” before I blacked out.

When I came to I was in a bad way and I knew it, I felt groggy and hot and most alarmingly I could not see. I was aware that I needed to get up before I got hit again, but I couldn’t see and I felt like I couldn’t move. All my thoughts were focused on getting the fuck up. Get up, get up, I was thinking to myself and I was trying not to be afraid of the fact I couldn’t see. This was probably all of a matter of seconds, but it felt like forever when I knew that I needed to remove myself from the road and my body was not willing.

There were others around me and as my vision started to return, they assisted me off the road. That’s when I was starting to become more aware of my body and how it felt. My arm was dangling limply, like it was a disconnected part of me and having felt that sensation before, I knew it was probably broken. But it was my head that I was more focused on and how that felt. Not good, in short.

Some of the people who helped were the couple from car, according to Damien, and they piled Damien and I into the back of their jeep. It was unbearably hot in the back seat and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I desperately wanted to bail right back out the door again. I felt claustrophobic stuck behind the front seat with no door for easy exit to my side. If the wave comes when we are in this jeep it will fill up with water and we’ll be trapped, I was thinking. My thoughts alternated from “I just want to get out” to “I have to stay in here whether I like it or not as it is our only chance of getting to higher ground quickly”. The way I was feeling I knew with certainty that I was not going to be moving fast of my own accord. So I sat there and waited until the couple got in the car. Which felt like forever.

For most of the trip to higher ground I sat as still as I could and I was focusing on whether or not we were high enough yet. No one really spoke in the car for quite some way. I do recall that at some point the girl eventually said, “well I guess we should introduce ourselves” and the other three went about it and some further conversation ensued. I sat mute and felt no obligation or desire to communicate. All my energy was focused on how high are we, and that I was hurting and that I would have to get used to this cause if there is a tsunami it’s gonna be a long time before I can get any painkillers.

I then became aware that I was bleeding in a number of places and had a fleeting thought of “I hope I’m not bleeding all over the car upholstery”, which was shortly followed by another thought more along the lines of “who gives a fuck, this hurts!”

Part way up they stopped the car. I think it was to call their friends who they were concerned for and may need to help out. I was feeling incredibly thirsty and somewhat panicky that because a big bloody wave may soon hit the island it could be forever before I could get some water to quench this overpowering thirst. So although I wasn’t happy that we were stopped… that “are we high enough yet?” a constant in my thoughts… I suddenly had to get out as I knew I was going to be sick. I felt most undignified standing on the side of the road vomiting into the dirt as people poured past up the road, and as a Muslim family watched on from the front of their home. I was hoping that the rather dishevelled state I was in – dirty, bloody and weird dangling arm – was enough for them to realise that this was an emergency spew!

Damien was by my side and I said I needed water, so he walked up to the family and asked and they kindly brought me out a glass of water. I was so thankful for that. I was still worried that it represented the only drink of water I would have for a while though…

Soon after we all piled back into the car and continued our ascent. The others were happy with our height and telling me we were high enough, but I wasn’t feeling safe. Anyway, we reached a point where all the escaping hordes became congested and we could not go any further up the hill. Some people were walking in single file like ants up a small path into the bush to the peak of the hill. I wanted to be doing the same, but the way I was feeling it seemed like a hard thing to physically achieve.

My need for more water was still a problem and as we waited outside the jeep I started asking for more. Where anyone was going to produce it from I had no idea. The guy from the jeep said he thought they had some in the back, but my hopes were soon dashed. There was none. He kindly produced a warm can of Diet Coke but I didn’t want to drink that.

However, out of nowhere a Thai man with a machete appeared and next minute he was taking Damien and I to his home up in the bushes, which consisted of a grass mat, a small knife but most importantly a mega bottle of water and a makeshift cup made out of a cut off plastic water bottle. What a relief. I could sit here and wait for whatever happened and drink as much water as my heart desired…but not before I returned the kind man’s hospitality by spewing everywhere at the foot of his mat. Most undignified, again, and I hoped he realised I couldn’t help it. I wouldn’t normally follow machete-wielding strangers into the bush so willingly, but this was not a normal kind of occasion!

Damien then saw that our jeep was moving below and he went tearing down the hill to stop them. They had been looking for us and were going to take us to their friend’s place, which was apparently at a tsunami-safe height.

We arrived at their friend’s property which was covered in trees, and the smell of horses was strong in the air. There was a gathering of foreigners and Thais and they all looked concerned when they saw me, and I was ushered in and told to take a seat. What I really wanted to do was lie down and I thought that this would have been obvious, but I didn’t want to be rude. So I sat with a collection of kittens and a goat at my feet and the lovely Thai lady, who was I think attempting to perform reiki on my arm. I was wishing so much as her hands hovered over my arm that she had some special healing powers and that my arm would feel better. Sadly, this was not my time to meet some mystical healer of the East! But her compassion was making me feel cared for and I was humbled by that.

At this time I remember others comforting Damien. He was suffering from shock himself. I thought how lucky we were to have such caring people around us and that they were tuned in enough to see that it was not only me who needed help.

Everyone there was so lovely and wanted to assist: I had a man construct a makeshift sling for me, even one of the pet dogs came to stand by my side as I had yet another “undignified” moment. Funnily enough, the tattooed young woman I saw bolt down the road also happened to be at this property, and she sat crouched a small distance away from the dog while I was sick. I felt slightly weirded out by having someone watching me so violently spew and wished she wasn’t there. But I felt bad for thinking she may be somewhat perverted, as when I stopped, her face was full of concern and she asked me if I wanted her to stay with me. She wasn’t as mean as my first impression, down near the beach.

By this time I had plucked up the courage to ask if I could lie down and they took me to a newly constructed bungalow and put a mattress on the floor and a blanket over me. I was happy about this, as despite the humidity I was shivering. A lovely Canadian girl came and starting attending to my wounds. She chatted away in a chirpy tone and I am sure it was to try and lift our spirits. What was amusing is that she spoke to Damien and I in broken English. She apologised, saying she had spent too long in Asia and found herself forgetting to speak complete English! I love this as after spending so long here too, I now talk the same way to the locals. At first I was reluctant as I thought it sounded somewhat condescending, but now I realise simplicity is the key to communication. Cut out all the unnecessary filler words!

Anyway, I was concerned about concussion, and hearing that I was worried about the hit to my head she checked my eyes with a flashlight to see how my pupils were. Just as an aside, where the hell did she pull the flashlight from?? Anyway, my eyes showed that I was fine, no concussion she advised, and I felt somewhat relieved.

At various points during our time at the property people were trying to encourage me to go to the hospital. I was resistant, even though I was worried about possible concussion  and wanted something for the pain. The hospital was not on a hill. We were advised it was on the safe side of the island and it would be entirely OK to go there. But I still wanted to wait until the moment that tsunami was supposed to hit had passed. The pain could wait.

Eventually, I became convinced that it was indeed safe and I think we may have left just before the predicted impact time. Someone had called the “ambulance” for us. It was in fact a four wheel drive, two dudes and a siren stuck on top. So off we went, siren blaring to Koh Lanta Hospital.

I don’t want to go too much into the events at the hospital except to say we were looked after at this very basic facility. It was a unique experience to receive care in what was evidently a fairly poor public hospital. So there we were, both sleeping on the same hospital bed, head to toe, on sheets that had seen better days, with the geckos, mozzies and the heat of an un-airconditioned open-to-the-elements ward. I do however, want to mention that the lady from the guesthouse appeared with her friend in the middle of the night. Although we had trouble communicating to each other, I knew that she had come especially to see if I was alright. I was further touched by her kindness, and that of her friend, when they returned the next day and waited all morning to see that I was discharged and OK.

I really wanted to go back to the house where we had stayed with the others to await the outcome of tsunami evacuation  but I was not physically able to move further than our villa. However, serendipitiously, the day we went back to Koh Lanta Hospital to get my arm put in full plaster, the Canadian girl and her friend happened to be there and we were able to sincerely thank them both and ask that they pass this on to their friends. We apologised for not making it back in person, and they smiled and dismissed this saying they were pleased things were looking up and that my recovery was paramount.

What I have taken away from this experience is my love for Damien because he was so wonderful throughout the ordeal and the weeks of recovery after, never once complaining. I also will remember the overwhelming kindness of strangers. I also have answered one of those questions I have asked myself at times throughout my life. I have always wondered how would I react if ever placed in a life threatening circumstance. I always hoped I would fight, but now I am happy to know that if the shit ever hits the fan again that I will focus on the essential thing which is to survive at all costs.

Thanks to those who contacted me during the time I was recovering. It was good to have contact from home. I especially want to thank my parents for particularly being there for me.

Although I started writing this when I was in the bar in Phuket Town, the computer ran out of battery so I have only just finished it as I sit in a café in the beautiful town of Luang Prabang, Laos. I have not felt like writing about it until now, as after arriving in Laos I was so happy to be in a country that didn’t remind me of the accident and the month and a half of recovery that put a pause to our adventure. But I am glad to have swallowed this frog, so to speak, and now I can forget about it. I have no desire to think about it again, I am much more content to enjoy the present, and what a fine place we are in to experience the present. I love you, Laos! You are the perfect antidote 😀

Categories: family, friends, Laos, Thailand, travel | Leave a comment

So what do we do when we are not chasing Lights?

Well it’s not all glamorous and action packed!

Today is a good example of the that! We have essentially ate breaky at our hotel, oh we love that buffet! And then hung out in our room in between doing trips to the hotel washing machine and making our room resemble something of a Chinese laundry. It’s amazing where you can can hang clothes to dry. We are quite creative.

I’ve had a chat on the phone to a mate back home via Skype which was so nice. We did some weights in the hotel gym which has heaps of great equipment too. Not to mention probably the best  panoramic view of an Arctic town nestled at the base of breathtaking mountains…oh and by the sea. Nice!

Post lunch we are both interneting it up. I have been reading my backlog of emails and came across this one from my cousin which  had me in stitches …. so I thought I’d share:

How tough are Australians?

The scene is set …  a dark night, cold wind blowing, campfire flickering, stars twinkling in the jet black sky.

Three hang-glider pilots are sitting by the campfire, one from Australia, one from Seth Efrika and one from New Zulland – each one embroiled in the bravado for which they are famous.

The night of tales begins…

Kiven the Kiwi says, ‘I must be the meanest, toughest, heng glider there es. Why, jist the other day I linded in a field and scared a crocodeale, who came out of the swamp and ate sux min who were standen close by. I grebbed the crocodeale and wristled him to du ground and killed em with my beer hends’

 Hansie from Seth Efrika (who typically can’t stand to be bettered) said, ‘Well you guys, I lended orfter a 200 mile flight in my heng glider on a tiny trail, and a Namibian snike slid out from under a rock and made a move on me. I grebbed de borsted with me bare hinds and beet it’s head off ind then sucked the poison from its body down in one gulp. End I’m still here today’

 Colin, the Aussie remained silent, slowly poking the fire with his pen!s.

 Anyway, that’s all for now from me. Ciao.

P.S  The pics are actually taken from our room which is down the hall from the gym as it’s essentially the same view.

Categories: family, friends, Norway, travel, Tromso | Leave a comment

Changes

A lot has happened since my last post. Such as:

  • I returned to Australia and got an entirely different job
  • I enjoyed that job for a year and a half, but have quit it to go travelling again for most of 2012
  • I got engaged to Kristen, and won’t be travelling alone this time 😀

This blog will become our shared travel diary, with posts, pics and musings from Kristen and myself as we wander across the globe this year. We’re still in the prep stage as we pack up our lives into as few boxes as possible, tie up numerous loose ends and get ready to go. We’ll formally re-launch this site when it’s all set up for the task, but there may be the odd post or two in the meantime…

Categories: family, friends, travel | 1 Comment

Sussex Inlet

Mum loved fishing. Whenever she had the time and the energy she could be found on one of the wharves in Davistown or Saratoga, spending an hour or two with a line in the water. She was modestly successful in catching fish, though I think she enjoyed it more for the peace and contemplation time fishing can offer.

Over the past few years Mum had a strong desire to visit Sussex Inlet on the NSW south coast and stay there for a while to go fishing. And to go to a particular place in the village that had caught her fancy called Alonga Waterfront Cottages. Unfortunately because of its distance from Gosford she would have had to travel with someone else – indeed would have preferred that for the company – and for one reason or another the trip was never made. Until now, at least in spirit. I have come down here with Joel to stay at Alonga Waterfront Cottages for a few days to fish, contemplate and remember Mum.

Mum had good instincts: she would have loved this place. Our three-bedroom cottage has 180 degree views of the water from its covered balcony, and there are half a dozen jetties to fish from only metres from the door. The cottage is large too, with full kitchen, TV and DVD player, comfortable lounge and lots of peace. Birds are everywhere, from pelicans perched on mooring posts and kookaburras in trees to bright red rosellas that fly up to your door looking for handouts. In the evening the wallabies come into town and the grounds of the holiday parks to graze. With its placid waterways and nearby beaches, it’s easy to see why this place is a great holiday destination for families.

So far our attempts at fishing have only managed to feed the fish, though we did see some large flathead cruising the reeds just a few feet away from us this afternoon. There’s always tomorrow…. as for tonight, we have the chance to indulge in another of Mum’s favoured pastimes at the local pub. They are holding a regular poker night, so we’ll do our best to be a bit more successful at that than the fishing!

Categories: family, friends, travel | Leave a comment

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