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Dr. Terrell Neuage

Interested in what comes next and not what was. Sole survivor from another place at another time with different outlooks on ‘the way it is' as I am mashing it together as a movie for my next lifetime to view this one so I can do it differently - hopefully on another planet or at least in another realm. For more see http://neuage.org
Dr. Terrell Neuage has written 153 posts for I said WHAT?????

Holland2022

Some of this Terrell wrote – some Narda wrote – some are photos of Narda’s notebook-scrapbook. Sometimes we say the same thing only differently. Cheers! Oh! There are several slideshows – they have arrows on the image so be sure to see what is next.

After three weeks in Pakistan and three weeks in Washington DC we got ourselves to the Netherlands. The first step was testing negative to covid before leaving the States. It took me fifteen days to test negative – Narda seven. I had virtually no symptoms. We changed our flights daily for the last week. When finally, I tested negative we almost got stuck in DC because of a winter storm – our plane got de-iced then to Newark to change to our international flight only to be stuck for another few hours until that plane was de-iced too. See our short clip @ https://youtu.be/49Sl-ApmKAk

Arriving in Amsterdam seven hours later than scheduled with little sleep for 36 hours we were hoping to sit down at a lovely Schiphol Airport café. Amsterdam was in a sort of lock-down due to covid and there was no café/restaurant offering table and chair. We found a takeaway shop, grabbed coffee and sandwich, and found a bench to perch on. Exhausted we manoeuvred onto a train heading toward our destination. I think we probably did not quite get it right and got off in Rotterdam with the hopes of finding a train to our destination, Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel. Basically, the town of Nieuwerkerk alongside the Hollandse Ijssel River, being a branch of the Rhine. By the time we got to Rotterdam I could barely stand up, being so tired. Needing to go to the loo I found one on the other side of the turnstile to leave the station. Having left Narda behind on a bench I worried that if I went out, I would not get back in. Seeing a station type of person, I asked if I could go out and come back to use the loo. Realizing that in Holland as with most EU countries one needs to pay to use the loo and I had no euros or any money for that matter I asked a non-English speaking person if I could go in and use the toilet. Someone managed to translate enough for me to lessen my distress.

Back in the station, Narda had figured out what train to take to get to our Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel station, from which we would have to walk twenty-minutes to our home sit. Barely being able to stand from exhaustion we grabbed a taxi to our doorstep. Adding twenty bucks to a $17,000+ four-month trip seemed reasonable. We are staying at Fred and Chantelle’s house. [back then at the beginning of Covid-19 there were no masks available in shops, we waited a bit too late so we wore these]…

We did a house exchange with them two-years ago. [there is a short blog over @ https://neuage.me/2020/04/10/rotterdam2020/ for this previous stay] February to March 2020. Half-way through March we took the last flight through Singapore to Adelaide due to covid. We had planned to stay for six-weeks but only got in four weeks. We had to isolate in Adelaide for two weeks, we were given a riverside home from a family member for our quarantine which worked out for Chantelle and Fred to stay at our home for another two weeks. Sometime during 2021 Fred and Chantelle wrote that they were going to Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa for a month and would we be interested in looking after their chickens (six) and two rabbits. Of course, we said yes, with two years of lock-down in Australia we were on our way. It worked out to fit in with Brendan’s marriage (our previous blog) in Pakistan (December) and a visit to see Narda’s new grandson in DC. So here we are. Their car was waiting for us in the driveway.  

Then yesterday, Fred said they wanted to stay longer in Cape Verde, two more weeks and yes, we will. Instead of going back to Adelaide in mid-March we will go back April 4th. We left Adelaide 4th of December. Four months of our covid-world-tour.

Now, there is a war in Europe (March first – writing this) with no way to know what happens next. Will our travel end early, or will we leave later – much later? Same house, same situation of not knowing what will happen next – even the same time March 2020. Today, March 01 – with five weeks to go Narda asked whether we should consider going home now. Today there were reports that Russian may have hit a nuclear reactor in Ukraine which could spread to where we are living.

We introduced ourselves to the chickens (chooks in Australia)

January 17th

Getting settled takes a few days wherever we go. Though we have been here before getting sorted takes time. After a nap – falling into a coma – for a couple of hours, we unpacked and rode bikes that were left for us to Jumbo – our favourite supermarket. Back to bed, slept more than twelve hours.

Narda’s writing is in italics – however she did not type her stuff rather she has a book she writes and adds photos into. Instead of copying all her notes out (I do some) I snapped shots of her book – being a bit on the lazy side + her book looks better than my digital tossups.

Here is a sampler – first few pages –  she will eventually add a lot to the sides as she has in other scrapbooks.

These are the shops we went to often. Jumbo was our favourite – a supermarket with all those wonderful Dutch treats. Holland & Barrett was my favourite overpriced health food shop. Kruidvat was like a general shop with shampoos and the like and where I got my low-carbs treats. Hema – always a favourite. They have a cafeteria where we would often get apple pie with a massive dose of whipped cream on top. It was a general store too. We bought our bike helmets there and I got a hemp mask for hair treatment – not that I would tell anyone that. Zeeman was like a dollar store – cheap stuff. (But I bought my now favourite trackie daks from there)
The chook in the photo above is Ruthie – a chicken with a lot of personality and quite friendly though she bit Narda so those two didn’t see eye to eye. We named her after Ruth in the Netflix series, Ozark. Narda says that the words beneath the bike basket says, ‘go and have a lovely bike ride’.
Narda’s notes on our first days there. To continue the next page; …who also had family there, he was very worried about them and upset with Biden’s rapid withdrawal of troops. That night we slept more than 11 hours. Pretty nice effort. It was dark and very quiet, Beds comfy. It did not get light until 8.30 am.
18th January
Video call with Fred (from Capo Verde), Wesley from next door helped us get Netflix going and we drove to Jumbo for food. All good.
January 23
It took us the first week to nest. By the 23rd we managed to ride bikes to Strand Nesselande to look at ‘Anytime Fitness’ gym. Narda had found a voucher on actievandedag, a great coupon site. We got a voucher for the gym for 9 euros for one month. The deal was even better than that. At the gym, Anytime Fitness in Winkelcentrum Nesselande, there is free coffee so after each session we each have a coffee. That is worth a couple of euros itself. We go three times a week which is at least twelve coffees for the month so the coffee + gym = less than a euro per time. We used it for the month of February and were so delighted with the deal we bought another one for this month, March. So, we are keeping fit plus getting coffee. For mid-January to mid-February, we mostly rode our bikes the twenty-minute distance. The last two weeks of February it was so windy, some days 40 – 50-kilometre winds, and rainy, that we drove instead. I am sure it was an oversight on our part, but we didn’t register the first two weeks we started, and our date began February 28th, meaning we now have our membership to the end of March – when we leave. Hopefully. Aside of the gym we did little else the first couple of weeks here but to ride bikes and watch the chooks in the backyard & rabbits in the lounge (all two of them). I am learning stuff about chickens I never knew. They all have quite distinct personalities – they are a tad bit smarter than I thought at first. They like to follow us around and often stand at the window wanting to come inside. 
Some photos around our home of our daily bike rides: this is behind our house  
The next page follows our bike ride to the gym on a fine sunny (cold) day in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, a small town founded in the 12th century. The ‘city’ currently has 2,700 inhabitants. Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel was split from the parish of Ouwerkerk, across the Ijssel River. This church, a Protestant church dedicated to St John was bombed by the Germans in 1945 and rebuilt in 1975. The church and tower were separated after the nave burnt down in 1586.
It is the lowest town in the Netherlands. At a point next to the A20 highway it is 6.67 metres below sea level! About 22 feet.
During the flood of 1953, 288 of its 1800 inhabitants drowned. We were also told by a volunteer at the local windmill, Windlust, that a ship which was sailing on the Ijssel at the time managed to ram itself into a hole in the dyke, thereby saving many more people’s lives in the south of the Netherlands.
The video clip of our visit to the windmill has this story in it…https://youtu.be/pC30Vuq_d88

one of several bridges we cross to go to town

the gym is in the tall building at the end of our path

We do a lot of bike riding. Here is a short clip of one such ride, https://youtu.be/rUNATeRe794

I bought this seat cover at Hema and now it is on my e-bike in Adelaide. “I also like to be dry”

24 January Started gym. We found monthly passes ($9 Euro) on actievandedag. We checked it out and decided to go three times a week. Terrell does the equipment and I listen to podcasts on the bike or tread walker. We then have a free coffee from the machine and head home, usually on our bikes. Side note: we used the same site to do it again in March, so we had full gym membership for two-months producing the chiselled bodies all ‘other’ old people crave. (haha).

27th January Drove to Capelle (Capelle aan den Ijssel), went to a thrift shop, Rataplan – https://rataplan.nl/ bought an outdoor broom – lamp – tins etc. The car won’t start, and we had no idea how to get help so we called Fred, in Cape Verde to tell him of our dire situation. He said that we needed to lock and unlock the car again. We had left it too long on unlocked. In our defense, every car is so different. Once, recently, like a month ago, when we were in DC, we had to ring Chris and say we could not turn off the motor. Of course, he has an electric start/stop button that does not need a key. Why not make cars simple like our twenty-year old Pajero in Australia? Put the key in, it starts, take it out, it stops. No alarms – like in Fred’s car that goes off at random times and causes people to look at us. Two old people in a car with ‘urban art’ on the side. I complained to my son, Sacha, that people looked at as if we were a couple of old stoners. I won’t pass on what he said. Bike to Jumbo when we got home.

Later in the week…found a nearby shopping centre, Binnenhof where we went to the grocery store, Lidl, a store we shopped at a lot in earlier stays. It is much like Aldi cheaper than the larger Jumbo type of grocery stores. This is the only Lidl we found in our ten-weeks in Holland this time. You know when your blog is getting boring when all there is to talk about is a discount grocery shop. Boring is good for us. Feeding chooks, rabbits, bike riding, going to the gym, watching TV in the evening. BTW here is our list of what we watched while here (these are my opinions – Narda seems to favour some differently than me):

Movies – DocumentariesSeries
Rocket man’ a 2019 biographical musical drama film based on the life and music of British musician Elton John. [loved it]
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ In 1946, a London-based writer begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was German-occupied during WWII. Feeling compelled to visit the island, she starts to get a picture of what it was like during the occupation. [loved it]
Six minutes to Midnight’ 28/03 British intelligence agent Thomas Miller must stop the repatriation of a few students to Germany after he is framed for murder and embroiled in an espionage scheme. [forgot it already]
The Trader A man sells second-hand clothing and household items out of his minibus in rural Georgia in exchange for potatoes, the only currency available in the region. [short about half an hour – interesting]
The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (doco) [loved it]
Enrico Piaggio ‘Vespa’ Italian – Netflix [an engrossing biopic about the noted Italian entrepreneur and scooter pioneer] [loved it]
Against the Ice’ [Exploring Greenland’s vast landscape for a lost map, two men must fight to survive. Based on the true story of Denmark’s 1909 polar expedition.] [Narda liked it more than me]
The Yukon Assignment (doco) [A British father and son undertake a 500-mile canoe journey through the Canadian wilderness.] [Narda liked it more than me]
Diecisiete (Seventeen) [To find his therapy dog, a 17-year-old escapes from juvie and embarks on a journey with his brother and grandmother through Cantabria.] [loved it]
Three songs for Benazir (doco Afghan) [The story of Shaista, a young man who — newly married to Benazir and living in a camp for displaced persons in Kabul — struggles to balance his dreams of joining the Afghan National Army with the responsibilities of starting a family.] [interesting]
Steve Martin/Martin Short – special [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Lead me home (doco about homelessness in USA) [sad]
The Lost Daughter’ [A college professor confronts her unsettling past after meeting a woman and her young daughter while on vacation in Italy. Her obsession with the woman and her daughter prompts memories of her early motherhood.]
Two Popes[OK, Narda liked it]]
The Power of the Dog’ [A domineering rancher responds with mocking cruelty when his brother brings home a new wife and her son, until the unexpected comes to pass.] [quite good]
Enola Holmes [While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.] [OK]
Don’t look up [Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.] [liked it]
Respect – Aretha Franklin [liked it]
Borderliner – Norwegian – Season 1 –  Steven King mentioned on Twitter that he liked this so of course we do too. [we sort of liked it]
Reinventing Anna – Season 1 – [A journalist investigates the case of Anna Delvey, the Instagram-legendary heiress who stole the hearts and money of New York elites] [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Pieces of Her – Season 1 [A woman pieces together her mother’s dark past after a violent attack in their small town brings hidden threats and deadly secrets to light. Toni Collette] [good]
Station 11 Season 1(ep. 6)– didn’t finish [Survivors of a devastating flu attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.] [should have given this a miss]
Alta Mar 3 Seasons [Mysterious deaths on a luxurious ship travelling from Spain to Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s uncover secrets surrounding two sisters who are travelling together.] [could have given this a miss, a bit lame]
season 4 part one Ozark [always good]
Dark Tourist[series-fascinating]
Succession Season three [loved it]
Emily in Paris Season two [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Family Business [comedy series, a Paris family decides to turn its declining kosher butcher shop into the first French marijuana coffee shop.] [loved it]
‘Manifest’ three seasons – January [about an airplane – people returned after five years] [could have given this a miss, a bit lame]
 

Narda reads more books than me as I am often busy making video clips, primping, staring at the future… the books I read so far here are: ‘A Freewheelin’ Time’, by Suze Rotolo – Bob Dylan’s girlfriend in the 1960s. She is the girl with him on the cover of his Freewheelin’ Album. The book is about Greenwich Village in the 1960s. As one who lived there at that time in an earlier, hipper than I am now time, I really liked the book. I started reading Henry Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’ but quit after a few days – I thought it was just a stupid book. Then I read ‘The End of the Affair’ by Graham Greene, liked that and now I am reading ‘The Power and the Glory’ by Graham Greene. This follows reading other classics I read at the end of 2021 by John Steinbeck (‘East of Eden’ & ‘Travels with Charlie’) which I enjoyed, being one who lived in California and a lot of the other places in the books.

We found some online vouchers for coffee and strawberry waffles at an ice cream store in our local old town, “Ijstartje” [Genieten bij Het ijstaartje Kerklaan 65 A, 2912CJ Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel] https://www.hetijstaartje.com/. We rode our bikes there and loved the food. The waffles were the very best. We took some photos of us enjoying the snack, then added our compliments and pics on their Facebook page, tagging them. A few days later we bought some chicken feed at a special shop, in another area of Nieuwerkerk. The lady behind the counter said she knew us….did we enjoy the waffles?? Ha!! It happened a couple of times, also in the shopping centre. Instant celebrities. 

This was a nice day out taking us several hours to get there and about two to get home as we found wandering country roads to there. A quaint fishing village we ate at Visrestaurant De Meerplaats. [https://www.meerplaats.nl] The place is filled of antiques from past fishing days. We ordered the ‘seafood platter with 6 types of fish’ expensive but a good variety. The dock is worth the wander with the fleet coming in early in the day.

We stopped at a pancake place on the way home. As we so often discovered,  many places wouldn’t take our US credit card (Visa). They want some Dutch card linked with a Dutch bank. Not having much cash on us at the time we put everything out on the table and managed to get one pancake and a coffee between us.

Rotterdam Airport

February 11 Mau’s visit. Great to see her again (Narda has known Mau for several decades having done music study with her in Hungary in the 1980s. She lives in Hamburg and we have visited often). We have many enjoyable talks, she has an interesting perspective on things and on my life. I picked her up at the Nieuwerkerk train station. I parked the car and went to sit next the track. Watching folks getting off I did no see her. Then I phoned and heard her answer. She had walked straight past me. With all the winter gear as well as masks we did not recognize each other! That evening we went for a walk, and in true fashion – got lost. Which caused a bit of merriment.

Molen Windlust Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel.  A bit of history of our local windmill. Still grinding flour hundreds of years later. In our exciting village it is listed as #1 of 3 things to do in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel on Trip Adviser, #2 is playing golf and #3 is a specialty & gift shop. Of course, for us #1 is riding bikes, #2 talking to designer chickens, #3 checking on the rabbits in their cage in the lounge to see if they are still alive #4 which is often #1 shopping at Jumbo our favourite supermarket #5 & # 6 some other stuff. We often rugged up (an Aussie term for jumpers, multiple layers of other clothing topped by a wintry coat and often I wore ski pants) and rode either on the dyke toward Rotterdam or ride along the Hitland Park which is a nature reserve filled with canals, forest, swamps and meadows. We could go for hours and even as far as Gouda which we did one day when Narda’s friend Mau visited from Hamburg, more below. We would check the weather forecast in the morning to see how windy and or rainy it would be. Our maximum to ride in was 18-20 kilometres wind. We would ride until we could not peddle one more turn then go back with the wind pushing us home. On gym days we would ride bikes for the 20-minutes to there if it were not too windy.
https://youtu.be/bn3hZURj_Cc  Gouda Bike, Mau, ferry, Our bike ride to Gouda – cheese and stuff
https://youtu.be/1ZVm7Rl8OkE  Escher in Het Paleis Escher in Het Paleis is a museum in The Hague, Netherlands, featuring the works of the Dutch graphical artist M. C. Escher. It is housed in the Lange Voorhout Palace since November 2002.
https://youtu.be/O0FnR11cGMI  a day in the Hague home to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Peace Palace, and the International Criminal Court. observing protests for vaccinations – masks – covid restrictions.

13th February – Another day out, this time train both ways. The Escher Museum was a highlight, and we watched a protest march (antivaxxers protesting that they lost their freedom) I walked alongside a woman who was shouting “freedom” I told  her we want freedom from the pandemic. The woman behind pushed me away…..quite hard, I nearly fell. 😊.

15th February Capella – another long bike ride through forests in Hitland. We found a lovely cafe- Schollebos Pannenkoek https://www.schollebos.nl/ for lunch then to the the thrift store where I bought some nice ‘different’ jeans. Wesley and Chantal  from next door had kindly lent us an extra bike for Mau to ride.( I had regular beers with Wesley! It’s quite the social area. As soon as the sun shines, they are all out, talking and drinking beer.Good practice for my Dutch!) Our ride home was a challenge – the storm beginning – riding in the rain and wind. Mau left next morning back to Hamburg by train. Pannenkoek- Petit Restaurant Schollebos biedt haar talrijke bezoekers een heerlijke keuze aan van meer dan 40 verschillende smaken pannenkoeken! Binnen de regio zijn wij al jarenlang bekend als een zeer gastvrij Pannenkoekenhuis!

22nd February Today we are reading that Russia has invaded the Ukraine. American embassy in Kiev has been moved to Poland.

February 24 – A down day (meaning not going out and doing stuff – not down psychologically – just staying home) Russia in the Ukraine unfolding. (on our TV we found the English-speaking channels after a few weeks; CNN, EuroNews, BBC, Al Jazeera – for the next two months the only thing on those stations was about the war – 24/7) Sunny day, weather seems to be getting better. We rode to the gym, got a few groceries on the way home. A fairly typical day. 

https://youtu.be/veabV7mLLck  Hook of Holland at the mouth of the New Waterway shipping canal into the North Sea. Stena Line ferry crossing between The Netherlands and Hull, England.
 I like this photo taken from our car window. It was raining very hard – a ferry that would be going somewhere across the channel if it was on its way.

26 February It was nice to catch up with Narda’s cousins on Saturday. They drove out to our place, which I guess was about an hours drive from Utrecht. After the breakfast we went for a walk in the neighbourhood. There are some lovely walks here and we made it, without actually doing it on purpose, to the old town. Hans was the one who studiously kept us up to date on all the changing border regulations.

March 1 – Tuesday. Drive to Kinderdijk. We followed the small roads, often becoming very small with water on both sides and me getting nervous about oncoming traffic. On the way back we dropped into a kringloopwinkel, bought some “Delft” bowls (and other things we didn’t need).

https://youtu.be/JqlCOvxGb0I  Windmills of Kinderdijk Netherlands “The windmills at Kinderdijk are a group of 19 monumental windmills in the Alblasserwaard polder, in the province of South Holland, Most of the mills are part of the village of Kinderdijk in the municipality of Molenlanden, and one mill, De Blokker, is part of the municipality of Alblasserdam.Wikipedia

We went to find Jeff Bezos’ yacht in lblasserdam (Rotterdam vicinity). We got through the gate (‘WARNING NO TRESPASSING”) And got quickly escorted out of the yard. The De Hef bridge in Rotterdam will be dismantled for a day this summer, so that Jeff Bezos’ boat can be sailed to sea. Otherwise, the ship cannot pass the National Monument. Read about it here, A Bridge Too Far? Thousands of Rotterdammers Are Lining Up to Pelt Jeff Bezos’s Gigayacht With Rotten Eggs.

My photos of Bezo’s bit of a boat in the slideshow above – could not get any closer. I actually thought I could sneak onto the boat. Reminds me of one time in Dalian, China, I heard there was an aircraft carrier being built, and no one had posted photos of it so we went onto the dock and got escorted quite quickly out of there. I had said I had just wanted to take a few photos for my blog, 300 mm zoom on my camera ready for it. This was in 2010.

Sunday 27th a sunny day but freezing, literally. We cycled along the Ijssel dijk towards Rotterdam. Our theory was to ride into the wind and then sail home with it on our backs. It seems the wind changed direction on us! Still, we had nice morning tea at Brasserie L’Oeuf (https://www.loeuf.nl/), a tennis club with a great coffee shop. We crossed the Algerabrug (Capelle Aan Den Ijssel) at the beginning of Rotterdam. We had planned to continue on to Kinderdijk but were exhausted.

March 02 After the gym we drove to Delft Ikea to get some new rollers which broke on one of the curtains. The Ikea folk were very good and search awhile finding the parts we needed – no charge – all fixed. We then parked in the municipal car park in Delft and walked around the lovely old city.

https://youtu.be/QFAYaMHj-9I  Delft, a canal-ringed city in the western Netherlands, is known as the manufacturing base for Delftware, hand-painted blue-and-white pottery.

March 5 Took a drive to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, locally known as Den Bosch, for obvious reasons! We loved the huge cathedral, St Josephs. One of the best I have ever seen.

https://youtu.be/LiJwnPWh3yc ‘s Hertogenbosch When we go to these cities here it is difficult to imagine a week ago in the Ukraine cities were like this. Featuring The Catholic Cathedral Church of St. John (Sint-Janskathedraal) from Wikipedia, The city’s official name is a contraction of the (archaic) Dutch des Hertogen bosch [dɛs ˈɦɛrtoːɣə(m) ˈbɔs] — “the forest of the duke”. The duke in question was Henry I of Brabant, whose family had owned a large estate at nearby Orthen for at least four centuries. He founded a new town located on some forested dunes in the middle of a marsh. At age 26, he granted ‘s-Hertogenbosch city rights and the corresponding trade privileges in 1185. This is, however, the traditional date given by later chroniclers; the first mention in contemporaneous sources is 1196. The original charter has been lost. His reason for founding the city was to protect his own interests against encroachment from Gelre and Holland; from its first days, he conceived of the city as a fortress. It was destroyed in 1203 in a joint expedition of Gelre and Holland, but was soon rebuilt. Some remnants of the original city walls remain. In the late 14th century, a much larger wall was erected to protect the greatly expanded settled area. Artificial waterways were dug to serve as a city moat, through which the rivers Dommel and Aa were diverted. ‘s-Hertogenbosch became the birthplace and home of one of the greatest painters of the northern Renaissance period, Hieronymus Bosch, The town suffered a catastrophic fire in 1463, which the then (approximately) 13-year-old Bosch probably witnessed; presumably, this fire provided inspiration for the fiery hell-scapes that would later make Bosch famous. Until 1520, the city flourished, becoming the second largest population centre in the territory of the present Netherlands, after Utrecht. The city was also a centre of music, and composers, such as Jheronimus Clibano, received their training at its churches. Others held positions there: Matthaeus Pipelare was musical director at the Confraternity of Our Lady; and renowned Habsburg copyist and composer Pierre Alamire did much of his work at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
https://youtu.be/A474zgsXONs The Hague/Scheveningen Beach

We took the train-tram to Den Hague to visit the International Court of Justice – which was closed. However, there was a ringing of bells for International Women’s Day and that can be heard in our video clip for here. After a bit of a wander around the court we hopped a tram to Scheveningen Beach. Being still winter, most things were closed. We tried to get into the local casino – to use the toilet, but they were hoping we were there to gamble our life away. Narda did not have any photo ID on her, so we were banned. The boardwalk along the beach was great. We walked out on a pier. We are now watching a TV Series (SBS on Demand), “Penoza” – in Dutch with English subtitles (up there with Breaking Bad) that is using this very same pier in Season 3 – 5. You can see the pier in our clip of this place, above.

Some snapshots (do they still say that?) of the International Court of Justice, World Court, in The Hague, The Netherlands – slideshow below. BTW, the first image is not the court building, it is the 5* Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus https://www.amrathkurhaus.com/, but you knew that didn’t you? The following photo is the court.

We were in The Hague in 2008 with Brendan. Here is a photo of then and now –

Euromast Rotterdam https://youtu.be/PoW3F2RP_7M

March 10 took the freeway there, quite difficult as they go very fast and the A20 becomes the A15 then the A13 all at high speed. Our drive back was quicker using more local roads. And much more relaxing. The Euromast was worth it. Speccie views. Rotterdam is a very big city, huge rivers, bridges etc. we had a Turkish pizza (rolled up) for lunch very tasty. Also met a German couple who had the day there from a cruise on the Aida ship which we saw from the Euromast. This was a seven-day cruise for 700 Euros as an intro offer. You can track this ship @ https://www.cruisemapper.com/?imo=9781877 – built in 2021 – 6600 passengers.

Below slideshow – mostly images from atop Euromast – others from the same day in Rotterdam.

We have often gone to Narda’s hometown of Utrecht.

This time we had four days there in a nice little apartment near the Dom –

These were the streetlights  giving us a quiet area.

This area reminds me of living in Greenwich Village in the 1960s – early 1970s with a lot of funky shops and people’s windows with various objects making it an interesting area to stroll through. Bit of a slideshow below – take your time – not automated…difficult to choose only a handful of images when we have hundreds but these will paint the picture so to speak.

And of course, all those canals…(animated gif below change every three-seconds)

My brother, Robert Adsit, had an apartment on E 9th Street with a shop window – he didn’t sell anything, it was a once-upon-a-time shop, but it was always interesting. For example, one time he had a lot of umbrellas in the window which he had collected from the streets, another time broken dolls. He was an artist and sometimes he would put his paintings in the window. There is a book written on him – [Marta Waterman…wrote the book with Robert’s best friend, handwriting expert, author and lecturer Marc Seifer, PhD (www.marcseifer.com), and with Robert’s brother, Terrell Neuage, PhD in communications and new media (www.neuage.org).] Worth the read. And of course, I have a page on him – https://neuage.org/robert_adsit.htm but this is all a side ramble. Utrecht just so impressed me, it so took me back to the 1960s in NYC I had to go off track.

Narda’s cousin, Hans Biemond, visited and took us on a day’s walking tour through Utrecht. What a great personal guide to this wonderful place. He brought us wonderful chocolates with an image of the Dom centred from the Theo Blom Bakery. https://banketbakkerijtheoblom.nl/  (Since 1882, our building on the Zadelstraat has housed a confectionery. First under the name Patisserie La Haye, until Theo Blom took over the shop in 1922 and started manufacturing the famous Domtorentjes.)

On our walk we went past this wolf statue, “Symbol of Justice”. [The wolf is not always a feared and hated creature. In the medieval village of Utrecht, Netherlands the symbol of justice is the wolf.
The courtyard of the criminal justice centre displays a magnificent statue of a blindfolded white wolf. Why the blindfold? Because as the saying goes “justice is blind”. This is done in order to indicate that justice is (or should be) meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness.”]

Along the way there are plaques on the paths indicating someone was taken from the house by Nazis in WW 2.

The flat that we had was very good – full of vegetarian ~ health food stuff, just like being at home (wherever we are).

We tend not to go out for meals; I am too fussy with my low-carb, vegetarian diet, but we did go to dinner at the underground restaurant t Oude Pothuyshttps://www.pothuys.nl/ underground restaurant Oudegracht 279, 3511 PA Utrecht – Lovely fondue cheese dipping.

t Oude Pothuys is set in an underground cave like atmosphere by the Old Canal (Oude Gracht). One of the few pubs that feature live music.   We stuffed ourselves with a cheese fondue (the first thing we did when back in Adelaide was to order a fondue set. We had one when we lived in Brooklyn about 2006 but have no idea where it ended up; maybe China, maybe in our shed – don’t remember). It was so good. The Dutch & cheese – wow! We had a dessert too, though I do not recall what it was – I just remember the cheese fondue. We left before the band started but we have heard that a lot of lively groups play there.

We looked at some old churches

and did lots of walking. Utrecht is so much easier to hang out in than Amsterdam. The Dom is being worked on for the next few years so we will come back for its re-opening in a few years. It was built between 1321 and 1382 so a few more years should keep it going.

We came back for a day visit to Utrecht a few weeks later – walking and walking, with Narda’s cousin, Hans and family. Hans is doing up an old van that he calls ‘Blue Note’ to travel around the UK and Europe.

We went to this historic Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children. She commissioned the house to be designed preferably without walls. It is a UNESCO World Heritage. Not being a particular house person, I looked up why folks were so ga ga about this place;

Why is the Schroder House important? “The house is globally recognized as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space. Its lasting influence can still be felt in architecture to this day.” (the internet). Excuse the image – my camera was going nuts and had some strange filter that I do not have the knowledge or time or care factor to fix.

Further along on our day’s walk we passed one of those community gardens scattered around Holland, usually outside of cities. [if you want to read more about it Esther J. Community gardens in urban areas: A critical reflection on the extent to which they strengthen social cohesion and provide alternative food” over @ https://edepot.wur.nl/345279 It is in English – 260 pages or so and has such groovy chapters such as ‘Conflicts at the garden’, and other stuff. If you like PhD thesis’ mine “Conversational Analysis of Chat Room Talk” is at https://neuage.org/ODAM.htm Anyway, these gardens are really Kool. Apparently, one cannot sleep in their little shacks, though we saw some with nice furniture, TV, little kitchen…when we were there, Spring, almost, late March, there were a lot of folks out puttering around, digging holes, and generally looking happy in their little organic world.

On our way back we walked through a tunnel that had a canal in it, and a canal above us. The Dutch love putting canals everywhere.

Bleiswijk bike ride from Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel to Bleiswijk.

It seemed that we now were in rather pleasant weather being late March and the temperature being a blistering 12 degrees centigrade with less wind than most previous days the time to go for a full day pedal was at hand. We spent hours getting to what ended up being our destination, the village of Bleiswijk, a faraway distance of 11.4 kilometres, OK that does not sound very far, especially on a flat surface, little wind, and Google does yak on about it is 35 minutes away from Nieuwerkerk /d/Ijssel.

We did stop lots (to take photos/video/drink coffee/eat stuff, rest) and managed to do it in a record speed of four-hours. We had really yummy cake & coffee at Jumbos then headed home which only took a bit over an hour in time for our afternoon nap.

The local church is 500-hundred years older than me.

We have had lots of visits with Narda’s family. Cousins and friends. One cousin, Bea Biemond, remembers seeing Narda sail away when she was four years old, on their ship to Australia. Bea was five or six at the time. Her brother, Len, lives next door.  He has a real man’s house with two motorcycles in his lounge.  He has choppers too. Narda has stories of riding on the back of one of his choppers decades ago, at high speed, on a visit in the 1980s to Holland. She was a bit terrified – no helmets either.

A day in Vianen, visiting cousin Els. Vianen is another cool Dutch village.

To quote wikipedia “Vianen received city rights in 1337. Vianen thrived under the counts of Brederode, who acquired its lordship through marriage early in the 15th century. It formed a self-proclaimed sovereign seignory till 1795, including Vianen, Lexmond, Hei- en Boeicop and Meerkerk. During the Middle Ages, as a “free city,” Vianen could be a haven for felons and escaped serfs. Of the three castles built during the town’s history, Castle Batestein was said to be one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Its only remnants are a 17th-century brick gate and water-pump. Remnants of the old city wall are visible girdling parts of the old downtown.

Vianen celebrates its city rights every year in October with a horse-market. Besides the horses there are also other activities on this day, such as a fair and market and traditional Dutch games. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vianen (April 2022).

Els took us to her friend’s home for lunch. The house is amazing, being part of the original wall, couple of stories, lots of rooms.
The husband is an antique book seller and Narda had a wonderful time browsing.

The house and its contents are like a museum.  For lunch we had yummy pea soup with rhubarb (mine was not so traditional as they left out the meat) and wonderful cream tarts for dessert.

Winding up. We are leaving our ten-week home in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel and going home. We have a place to stay in the city of Leiden. We are struggling, as always, with too much weight for our baggage. The limit is 30 kilos for checked in bags – giving us 60 kilos (132 pounds) to whittle four-months travel down to. Narda’s dresses from Brendan’s Lahore wedding is a bit much. We bought few souvenirs or foreign crap, where does all this stuff come from? Nevertheless, we spent days taking stuff out put more in. We even have an oil painting that Narda’s grandfather gave to his wife on their wedding day. Cool painting. Els had it and passed it on to family, which is Narda. Maybe someone famous painted it, couldn’t find a name. If it is worth a million bucks (USD please) we would probably part with it.

That painting got heavily packed as a separate package. More of that later. Not much later, almost done with this blog…a month after returning to Australia as we plan our next trip: Adelaide – Lahore – Wales (house exchange for a month), UK (house exchange), DC/Albany NY (family), Chicago (house exchange for a month). Maybe we can outdo this past four-month trip. At 75 years old I am sure I will be fine.

Our last night at home in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel we went to the local windmill restaurant, Molen Windlust windmill. I think it is the only the second time we had eaten out in our ten-weeks there (not counting when we went to other cities) as place were closed until mid-March due to Covid-19.

https://youtu.be/m1X126TtFys Leiden

We drove Fred  and Chantelle’s car to Leiden (population 119,713 now, 4000 people in 1389 – not counting us, perhaps either time). There was too much to take on a train. Maybe we are getting older, 60 kilos plus lots of carry on is heavy. Carry on is a trip of its own. The say seven kilos each. However, camera and a handbag is not counted. I bought a very large camera bag at the kringloop (thrift-shop) that not only has my camera, zoom lens, wide-angle lens, but several other items, Kindle, book, plugs, other stuff. Then my coat pockets were full of things, I had on a jumper plus a coat and another bag sort of hidden beneath my coat and if Narda can take a pocketbook/purse (wow! It was so heavy) then I can too, which I did. We probably had another fifteen kilos not weighed at check-in. Each. Back to that soon.

The apartment we had in Leiden was ultramodern. Old factories were being renovated for living spaces. We had great views of the city. And to add to our wonderful stay in the Netherlands we had a bit of snow overnight. This first image is a chair, not comfortable, piece of art I suppose.

We went for a wander at night.

A university city since 1575, Leiden has been one of Europe’s most prominent scientific centres for more than four centuries. It has the oldest university of the Netherlands, and Leiden University Medical Centre. Leiden University is one of Europe’s top universities, with thirteen Nobel Prize winners. Rembrandt was born and educated in Leiden. It seems to have been a settlement since 860. I know all this as I looked it up on the internet. Views from our window were always spectacular,
 Leiden seems to have more canals than any other city I have seen. I reckon there was one every other block.

We went for a long night walk, even through a few dark parks. We were more concerned that we would stumble over a rock than we were of someone knocking us over the head and stealing our umbrella. We never think of those things. I remember once when we were in Mexico City and returning to our guesthouse we were saying where we were (I was taking photos of graffiti for my son, Sacha) and people said ‘you walked where?’ Apparently, it was like a gangland hood. Of course, we have wandered about in many a third world country with little thought than ‘how the hell do we get home, now that we are lost’. Of course, I usually have an expensive camera that I am happily photographing everything in sight with.  

Watch our little video clip at the beginning of this section on Leiden. In the video the waiter gives a good explanation about the canals in Leiden, how they came about…well worth the listen. We went out for eggs Benedict breakfast to a nifty little restaurant along a canal – lounge-deel-van-het-restaurant – http://lotendewalvis.nl/  

So good. #1 of restaurants in town for us, of course we didn’t go to any others. #16 of 289 restaurants in Leiden according to TripAdvisor and if you are good at Dutch read about it.

On one of our many walks I saw this bike. We thought our e-bikes in Adelaide were good but I think this should be our next one.

Actually, I believe it is a motor-scooter after looking it up, https://carver.earth/en/ check it out [The S+ (Speed+) has a maximum speed of no less than 80 km/h. This speed in combination with the unique tilting sensation is guaranteed to put a smile on your face!]. I tried to book a test drive, but all the places were in the Netherlands – I am back in Adelaide.

01 April Car at Albert Hein’s garage – – flat tyre – Fred came to get RAA to fix – took screw out of tyre – drove to Fred’s 4 – 6.30 there Narda had sauerkraut meal I got left out so had McDonald’s veggie burger on way home.

Should explain…we parked Fred/Chantel’s car at a public garage near our flat as we could not figure out the parking situation where we were staying. In the morning, after our wonderful eggs Benedict we went to collect said automobile only to discover to our dismay that we had a flat tyre. We looked around in search of a way to unflatten it or change tyres which we could not find. In desperation we rang Fred – couple of hours away – and proclaimed our neediness. He rang whatever their equivalent to RAA is. They could not assist as they only help the driver of their insurance. Short story longer, Fred drove to us – some dude found a screw in the tyre – got it out – put on a spare and we drove back to Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel. We spent the afternoon with Fred and neighbour Wesley, and Chantelle and Wesley’s son.

Fred made a sauerkraut meal (this is Holland they add lots of meat) for Narda. I seemed to have gotten left out of the dinner plan and on the way back to Leiden we stopped at McDonald’s. Why wouldn’t someone eat at a Dutch McDonald’s?

I had the amazing Veggie Spicy McChicken. No animal was tortured for my meal. Sidenote, we brought back Fred/Chantel’s car the next day to leave it with them and Fred made me the most amazing meal with a portobello mushroom filled with cheese. Also, Burger King has amazing veggie burgers too. Better than McDonald’s.

Come on Australia, get with the program.

Before returning Fred/ Chantelle’s car we drove to the hotel we would stay at before flying out – near the airport to leave our stuff. The Ramada @ Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was good for us. They let us fill their luggage closet with our things even though we were not staying there that night but the following night.

Fred had spent the whole day (after returning from their long trip) preparing an amazing BBQ of smoked spareribs, having a feast also with our neighbours Wesley and Chantal and their gorgeous Dutch kids. I have never tasted anything so wonderful. Thanks mate. We will likely return.

😊Wesley helped us many times. The time when the storm almost brought down the chicken coop, the time when we could not figure out the TV, the time when the hood over the stove shorted out, the time when we needed an extra bike, and many more. THANK YOU!!

As we were leaving in a few days back to Australia we needed to get our proof of being virus free. We had hoped to take a train to Amsterdam to a testing place. We walked the half hour to the Leiden Train Station only to discover that there were no trains due to some electronic glitch. ALL services cancelled. This was at 10 AM and they said it would be up and running in a couple of hours. Of course, it was still down until the next day. Meaning, that everyone was now taking the bus. We waited at the bus stop for half an hour with many behind us. If you know the Dutch, take it from me, they do not know how to wait in lines. When the bus stopped everyone pushed forward with the hope that hundreds could fit through the bus door all at once. Somehow, being more pushy than even the Dutch (we lived in China for three years and became good at getting into overcrowded areas) we not only got onto the bus, with my large camera bag included, but we got a seat. Not just any seat but the front seat.

We had a good day in Amsterdam, found the clinic, got tested, proved to be negative, yippee, we were on our way. To celebrate we stopped for pancakes filled with fruit.

 I enjoyed sitting in the window observing folks at the ‘coffee shop’ across the lane, smoking, changing behaviour the more they smoked. How can ya not love Amsterdam? As everywhere else, we are all focused on Ukraine. We saw a large building draped in Ukraine’s national colours. Isn’t it fantastic that Ukraine won Euro-Vision 2022?

We took the wrong bus, opposite direction of the airport. When we realized it we got off and waited for the bus the other direction. This time the bus was empty as we managed to get ourselve to the middle of nowhere/somewhere.

We got ourselves back to the airport and a shuttle to the hotel. Because we had stayed at a Ramada last year for three weeks in Darwin, we had a bunch of points. See our blog about Darwin @ https://neuage.me/2021/03/03/darwin/ We blew them all on a luxury room with a balcony looking out at the airport.

·       HOME

We bought this bottle of booze to have when folks come here in July. Folks being lots of family: Chris and Jessica and children from DC, Sacha and Georgia from Melbourne, Stu and family are here in Adelaide all for Brendan and Sofie, coming from Pakistan to have an Australian wedding. (See their Lahore wedding @ https://neuage.me/2022/02/03/covid-world-tour-2021/

Long story short – we got back home early April. It is now mid-May. Somehow, we got busy the past few weeks, gardening, shopping, family stuff, staring out the window…. See ya next trip which is New Zealand October and November. 2023 early, February – May (again) working on UK, Lahore, Wales, DC, New York, Chicago… Narda just planed our trip to Thailand, Lahore, Malaya for that period and the Chicago/UK/DC/New York for September – November next year. Lots to do on that, but perhaps we will see you along the way. Cheers!

Thanks for coming along on our trip with us.

May 11, 2022 we celebrated 20 years married. Went to Glenelg for a couple of days. We met in 2020 on the internet, of course. Physically a few days later (what they say not to do; meet in a dark place). We met in an unlit car park at the University of South Australia where I was completing my PhD and Narda her Masters (at different campuses) and have been always together ever since. Nine years in New York, three years in China and heaps of travel in between.

Narda is at http://narda.us/

Terrell is at https://neuage.org/

together we are at https://neuage.me/

Covid World Tour 2021

Briefly, Braving the new world order, we left Australia on December 03. Our first stay was in Lahore, Pakistan for the marriage of Brendan. We spent three weeks there. On December 24th we flew Lahore to Istanbul – missed our next flight and spent Christmas Day in Istanbul flying on in the afternoon. We arrived in Washington DC in the evening with not much traffic. Got to Chris’ and family’s house Christmas night. Three days later all five of us tested positive for coronavirus. Four adults, all with three shots including booster, had mild symptoms, and tested negative within a week except for me who was positive for two-weeks, missing a planned trip to New York, missing re-booked flights to Holland three times. The child, age six, tested positive but never felt any symptoms. We are finally off to The Netherlands for two-months before hopefully returning to Adelaide. Narda writing in Italics Terrell whatever else there is. I will try and not tell the same story as Narda – but there could be some overlaps. Read the italics and you will be better informed. I tend to ramble as someone nearby has mentioned. Our last trip to Lahore – way back in 2019 is written up here, https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ December 03, 2021 Departure A new threat to us getting to Brendan’s wedding in Pakistan! Omicron, the latest variant of the corona virus is knocking on Australia’s door. We had decided to isolate for a guaranteed negative test result the at the airport, but we went a step further and moved our flights back a week earlier, leaving Dec 3rd instead of the 9th. Just as well, as there are pockets of the new more infectious strain circulating now in Adelaide. Flights were without incident, despite the additional paperwork. In Melbourne the test was cheaper than we expected ($79 instead of $150 which it was just weeks before) and we had a result in 40 minutes. In Abu Dhabi, a decent enough airport, we had a nice Irish Brekkie (as you do) and only a few hours to wait for the next flight. I think I may have dosed off in the comfort seat. Watched a couple of movies. The next flight was half empty, so I slept for 2 hours like the dead along 5 empty middle seats. We had a very friendly and sympathetic Aussie hostie. Lahore arrival, Bren and Imran waiting for 2 hours while 3 large jets unloaded. But we got there. Great to be back and see Bren. It was a long wait for them, not because of the flight but because it took so bloody long to unload it. Blimey. We checked into the AveriXHotel for 3 nights as Bren’s place was still being painted. A great area, close to some nice eating places where we had tomato soup and salads; safe, easy and yum. The hotel also had an amazing breakfast buffet, a mixture of western and Pakistani fare. —————————————————————————————————— We left Adelaide in the morning getting a ride with Narda’s sister, Caroline to the airport. The big box is Brendan’s wedding present, a coffee machine.
Luggage with the largest piece being Brendan and Sofie’s coffee machine present
Flying to Melbourne we tested there for covid doing the fifteen-minute rapid test. As throughout this trip we worried whether we would test positive and must cancel our trip. When we got the text that our results were negative, we quickly went to the waiting area only to find only one restaurant was open.
restaurant open Melbourne Airport very few people travelling
Due to covid very few were flying. Narda ordered something meaty, and I ate a sandwich I brought along. By 10.45 pm we were in the air on Etihad 461. Somehow, I have forgotten that flight so must not have been very eventful. Probably slept some. In Abu Dhabi we got a ride through the airport in one of those motorized carts they take the old and lame around the airport in. We asked to go to the food court and found a good Irish type of pub place, O’Leary’s, for a big breakfast then got a ride back to our gate. On the flight to Lahore one of the stewardesses let Narda know she too was an Australian. Narda of course pointed out that Australian’s look after each other and sure enough not before long we got moved to a forward section of the plane that had few passengers. Where we were was full. Narda stretched out over several seats and slept most of the three hours to Lahore. I looked out the window and got there exhausted.
Terrell in flight
Terrell in flight
December 04 Lahore Airport is a journey of its own. A remarkable madness for westerns to navigate with eyes wide open. We arrived with another flight or two and probably a thousand people rushing to the customs counters. Trying to find which line to be in is a challenge but after a few pushing into lines that were not moving we were directed to one that probably was for the likes of us. Another hour later our bags arrived on the conveyor belt.
Lahore Airport
Brendan with his driver (and go to for everything), Imran were at the airport when we finally got outside sometime in the middle of the night.
Brendan & Imran
December 05 Brendan was having his house at Swedish Flats painted before the wedding, so we booked the Avari Xpress Hotel. It is listed as a four-star hotel. Perhaps for Lahore but not in western countries – maybe two-stars. The smorgasbord breakfast was good though and our room was quite large. It is also next to a large supermarket and near restaurants and shopping malls. We were not able to work out the TV. We spent our first three nights in Lahore there Every day we would walk to Brendan’s house which is in a gated community – surrounded by high fences, large entrance door and boom gate with two or three guards, usually one with some mean looking weapon on his back. In fact, every shop has a guard with a weapon. Some of the guards look as if they are half asleep or too old to fire their weapon if needed. Shopping centres have more serious looking dudes (always males) with machine guns, and they inspect the boot (trunk), bonnet (hood) as well as beneath cars and have a poke around inside. In the containment area (Lahore Cantonment, a large area under military control) just to drive through on their freeway and better roads we need to show passports and women need to have head coverings. I will come back to this later about when I was asked to delete my video of them stopping us, of course being a good citizen of the world, I did – only to discover when I got home it was saved in another area of my phone – I will show you later but don’t tell the Pakistani authorities as they get quite thingy about such stuff.
view of attempted sunrise from Avari Hotel in the smog.
Lahore Pollution Index
Next to our hotel was a large chaotic supermarket (“Imtiaz Super Market, is the pioneer in the retail industry of Pakistan, providing an ultimate shopping experience to its consumers” https://imtiaz.com.pk/) with everything from clothes kitchenware furniture mixed with groceries so finding anything was always an exploration to behold. And long long lines everywhere. Further along the street we found several good restaurants our favourite coffee place being Mocca Coffee.
Mocca Coffee
We sat outside in the smog because it was a good day at only 257. We manage to survive in the six and seven hundreds later.
Lahore Pollution
December 06
Sofie and Narda
First night out with Brendan’s future wife, Sofie @ Bamboo Union, https://bamboounion.pk/ We sat outdoors, ignored the pollution, and had a good meal. We moved into Brendan’s house after three-nights at Avari Xpress Hotel and began our almost daily shopping at Jalal Sons https://jalalsons.com.pk/ the local supermarket which is not too far removed from what we would be used to. Everything is in English (one of our languages). Mostly imported foods for what we like which makes them expensive. For example, a bag of chips would be six or seven dollars, peanut butter twice what we would pay in Australia. Moving in with Brendan December 7 Heading out for the day, Imran dropped us off at Al Fatah Shopping Mall https://www.alfatah.pk/ so that we could get some decent coffee. The Second Cup across the road insisted on vaccination for entry. Friendly folk and good coffee. So then to find our way to a market. We tried a tuk tuk. I told the driver where we wanted to go and he did not understand. When I tried again his eyes lit up and he said “Oh La Bertie”! So we thought, haven’t heard of that one so off we went. We paid our 100rp which is about double the going rate at a princely 57c USD. We had arrived at Liberty Market, where we had been before. La Bertie…..Liberty. Huh!!! Lunch at Liberty AKA La Bertie was a challenge. We were seated in a basement after having ordered a vegetarian hamburger and something similar with meat for me. 45 minutes later it came….not a sign of vegetarian. We were nice about it, and said we would still pay for it, but they took it upstairs and picked out all the meat…….what are ya gonna do. Nest day headed out with Bren to a western style restaurant with the best food I have EVVA had!!! Bren had pizza, Terrell ordered a cannelloni/spinach/cheese dish (which won first prize!!!!) and I had a dried tomato salad for the gods. We will return, especially as they offered us a free triple choc mousse which we shared (reluctantly) Lahore authorities have a way of dealing with cars that double park or park where they probably should not. A forklift comes along and picks up the car and lifts it high into the air until the owner comes and pays a fine. See our fifteen second clip here
We took an Uber (taking a break from the scary tuk-tuks in almost impossible to maneuver traffic) to Packages Mall, a large western style mall. A slight difference is that there are armed men with machine guns at the gate and to get inside we had to show we were vaccinated – which is becoming the way of the world. Washington DC now has that requirement.
We made a two-minute video showing the ride to the mall, gun totting guards, the mall, [see Packages Mall below].
To Packages Mall
I got some really groovy shoes to wear with my Pakistani outfit.
Terrell’s new shoes
Narda tried on some cosmic looking dresses @ N Junaid Jamshed clothing store https://www.junaidjamshed.com/
Lunch was at Ganache Café at Mall 1, one of Lahore’s most crowded areas. Or as they proclaim “The café has a cosy and a simple ambiance with an indoor and an outdoor sitting area. It serves a range of decadent desserts and other savory items. Mall 94, Main Boulevard Gulberg, Block D1” Our favourite out-in-the-world breakfast place was at Bundu Khan where we would have puri (a deep-fried bread made from unleavened whole-wheat flour)
Puri breakfast
and lassies (those wonderful yogurt drinks). http://www.bundukhan.pk/. 11 December Saturday Off to the International Club initiation. They have done some nice renovation there; it’s very gezellig. We also met Bren’s mate from work, Dustin and his wife. Dustin is quite the personality. He promised to put us in contact with his parents who live in Thunder Bay, Canada for a must-do- because-it-has-lots-of-snow house swap. Nice pizza and beer at the club for me. We had lunch a couple of times at the International Club – I had mashed potatoes with garlic prawns, so yummy. One evening we had a bar-b-que there and met a lot of the expats from around the world; learning about how bad things were in Brazil and several other countries that people came from. All in all, everyone seemed happy to be in Lahore. I brought up the pollution issue, but it was not big in anyone’s mind, they just seemed to love living here. We met people from South Africa, Brazil, UK, Sweden, and places I don’t remember but at the time I thought ‘how cool’ to be from there. Luckily there was enough salads to keep me happy and a very large fish that was caught somewhere nearby. As I started eating fish a year ago due to my doctor’s ‘or else’ recommendations because of my strict veggie diet I reluctantly have fish twice a week – though not farm-raised. Oh! They serve alcohol which is one of the few places in Lahore where it is OK. Christians and non-Muslims can drink there. I haven’t had any alcohol (except in hand wipes which we all have dry skin from) since 2005 (had liver issues but all seems to be OK now) and don’t miss it. Then off we went to Packages Mall. I bought me a fancy schmancy wedding dress for the final night and Terrell found some groovy sandals. Next day we dashed over to a blanket place and bought one for Chris’s bed. Imran at the lead in negotiations. We also managed to get our own sim card, through Imran’s wife Agnes, buying it in her name. It was the only way we could do it. 14 December Sunday Our first family visit. We were invited to dinner with Sofie’s parents. Nighi, Sofie’s mum is a warm, friendly woman and Saquib, her father, an interesting man to talk to, with his views on the world. His resourcefulness and determination helped us get Chris into the country! Dinner was great. There was other family there from the USA, Islamabad, and Dubai. We enjoyed the conversations, the warm welcome and the food. It’s a beautiful house in an affluent area in the containment (army owned) district. The main events of our trip to Pakistan, was seeing Brendan going for the next step in his life. He has known Sofie for a few years, they work together at the same school. She is a kindy teacher, and he is a fifth-grade teacher this year. Sofie was born in the USA and grew up in Lahore. We met her parents and family at their house.
mums
Her brother came over from Dallas and sister from Chicago – so we were quite the international arrivals. We got ourselves looking local for the occasion – here we are standing in Brendan’s lounge before being driven to the family’s home.
We stopped at the flower market along the way [see our one-minute clip Flower Market]
This bouquet of flowers cost about $8 Australian, of course, that was tourist price – in Australia we would pay $50 – $70 for this arrangement. 13 December Monday A new development. Chris still has not got his visa despite the allotted time having been reached and passed. Poor Chris had been phoning and even visiting the Pakistani consulate to no avail. They told him they were waiting for word from Islamabad. I made a few useless phone calls to the embassy in Islamabad but did mange to find out that they are definitely not part of the approval of Pakistani visas in the USA. They only did the permits of extended stays. So! I passed the information on Saquib. He was on to it. His cousin (in charge of National Security) made a phone call to the US consulate, and to cut a long story short, many more moments of anxiety, especially for Chris, the bloody visa was approved. We think there is a bigger picture here, with these visa applications held up deliberately because Pakistan is upset with the USA….over dumping Afghanistan and causing a major refugee crisis. Who knows? I will add, there were several sleepless nights with lots of time on the phone (Skype, Whats App, Messenger) sorting out Chris’ arrival. It really started to look as if he would not get here or if he did, he would miss everything. As it turned out he missed the first of the three-day celebration, the Nikkah, but he did get here on the 20th in time for much-to-do still. Keep on reading… 18th December Nikkah – In Islam, marriage is a legal contract between two people. Both the groom and the bride are to consent to the marriage of their own free wills. A formal, binding contract – verbal or on paper is considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride. Once all the requirements are met anyone can officiate the Nikah ceremony (no they didn’t ask me if I wanted to officiate). The bride and groom repeat the word “qubool” or “I accept” three times. Then the couple and the two male witnesses sign the contract, making the marriage legal according to civil and religious law.
with witnesses
with Sofie her dad and Brendan
Happy Brendan
The vows, the rings all that good stuff
We had a lot of food –even vegetarian plates, seeing how ‘special’ I was/am. The main activity of the evening seemed to be taking photos: here is just a sample of probably a hundred photos:
with Sofie’s parents
Chris made it in time for the main wedding with only 1 hour to spare. Pretty tough on him!!! He was such a trooper and so was Saquib! I went to the hairdresser Toni and Guy. Lovely experience. Had a head massage, on a massage chair and then my hair curled down my back with flowers.
Finally, into the cars and off we go. It was a huge outdoor place filled with flowers and mirrored floors. The “stage” as amazing, Bren and Sofie mainly based there as folks came to congratulate them, though the dancing soon also revved up. This is the main event, a few hundred people, but outdoors. Everyone dressed extravagantly. Several hundred guests I think, many from Sofie’s family but also from Bren and Sofie’s school. I briefly got to meet Nadine again, Bren’s boss, who stayed back so that she could attend. The food was great. Buffet style. The kids were escorted into their going away cars. They will spend 2 nights at the Pearl Continental Hotel, a pretty flash place by all accounts!
Pearl Continental Hotel
Two days after the first event, Chris arrived an hour before the wedding celebration (above was the Nikkah, the actual ‘I am doing ‘of it all or ‘I did it’ – we dressed up for the actual celebration – see below). He got OK’d by one pm in DC got to the airport a few hours later and was on a flight that evening arriving four pm Lahore time with Brendan’s right-hand man, Imram, waiting for him at the airport, having him to Brendan’s home by six pm. The day of Chris’ arrival we went shopping at a very local market. For lots of blocks in all directions sellers had their gear in the middle of the streets and covering the sidewalks. The first few blocks of our wander were sellers of Oppo phones. Oppo seems to be the main phone of Lahore or at least the most advertised and with the most stalls selling them. It is the phone we have, based on Brendan’s recommendation a year ago. Now I see why, he lives in the Oppo town of Lahore. It has worked fine for us and takes good photos/videos, though I just read at least it is in the top 1000. I was told by Brendan that this market was recently bombed a week ago or so. I think 3 people killed and more injured. No one has yet claimed responsibility.
Narda was looking for some earrings or a necklace or some such thing and she found something she like. Brendan found an outfit for Chris to wear to the wedding and I took photos and some video see…[Gone Shopping] I was looking for a fancy handbag and found one.
Market day
Brendan bought Chris his outfit
Chris & Brendan in wedding drag
Narda had many funny memories to share with her children…
and his friends came over to congratulate him before we all went off for the celebration and dancing.
Brendan and friends
Then there was the wedding celebration (day two of the three-day event). Narda had a fitting for dress
and after a few days it arrived at our door in time for the wedding, expensive for us and for a once-off, though she may wear it with jeans back home someday. Not quite sure how often Chris and Brendan will wear their new-found gear. I think Pastor Chris should wear his outfit in his church when he preaches – I suggested that.
Narda Chris Brendan dancing outfits
I will wear mine at some random time/place. Probably to the gym or when I visit you.
A side-note, amongst many side-notes. Narda and Chris shared a car with Brendan I went in a different car with two others. A large SUV, the driver worked for an oil company. I mentioned how shops have men with machine guns in front. They both showed me their handguns – hidden in the car doors and mentioned that there was a machine gun M-14 on the shelf in back of me – I looked, sure enough there was.
Narda Terrell Chris Imran Agnes
marque for dance
Brendan and Sofie held court, so to speak, and everyone at one time or another got in the picture behind them or with them.
My favourite photo of the evening was Narda and her children…
And she had important bits of wisdom for her first married son, Chris, who got married in Tennessee long ago (I think about 2005).
Brendan’s hat and shoes – invite him over for tea – he will surely wear these items to you home…
traditional daily Brendan garb
And there was much dancing. I capture some on this marriage dancing [https://youtu.be/YXoRDebU6Vc] clip.
The Barat
Narda, the social one, spent the evening meeting and dancing whilst I was busy looking for vegetarian food, which I found. At the end of the evening everyone had something to say to the new couple.
The kids were escorted into their going away cars.
Narda being whisked away from the paparazzi and cheering crowds by bodyguard(s)
They will spend 2 nights at the Pearl Continental Hotel, a pretty flash place by all accounts!
The morning after we went to Breakfast with Sofie and Brendan at Pearl Continental Hotel.
And as with any well-respected hotel they have their resident astrologer/card reader.
That is me filling in until someone that is for-real comes along, which I predict will be at any moment. Our minute long clip of the hotel is here [https://youtu.be/NV8sSFHoBzs]
On Sunday morning we took Chris to our favourite brekkie place and had the traditional Pakistani breakfast with puri and a selection of dipping dishes all for the princely total of $3, this included some chai as well. Here is an eleven second clip of Chris eating breakfast https://youtu.be/Fb-I7f2_bG
We watched the parking management system where offenders’ cars are hoisted into the air!!! [car removal 12 seconds https://youtu.be/oxlb2489qkY ] December 19th Wedding part 3, the boy’s side Today we went to the Emporium Mall with Chris and had an American lunch at Big Mo’s. This 3rd event was the parents of the groom hosting and welcoming the bride into their family. Bren asked us to take the part of host, so we were there an hour before. This third and final one was on a rooftop restaurant, more black clothes formal, with about 40 guests. Narda and her probably once-ever-used very expensive dress – I could have flown to the moon and back for the same price. All hand made with each little bead/etc stitched one by one. Then again I am sure we will wear our outfits when bike riding back in Adelaide. PS, not that expensive!
For me, that is what I have worn before – I had the vest made in China when we lived there and wore it on my 15th day (https://neuage.info/html-weekly/Final/15-Lake%20Atitl%C3%A1n.jpg) of my 184 days in covid-lockdown when I wore a different tie every day. And yes, there is a YouTube clip of it.
Ties in isolation
it was a full moon night.
It was a very pleasant evening with spectacular views of the famous old mosque, Badshahi Mosque at the Andaaz Restaurant 2189 A Fort Rd, Shahi Mohallah Walled City of Lahore, https://andaazrestaurant.com/. As the guests arrived, I greeted them, trying some short phrases in Urdu, with mixed success and quit a few laughs. Then they opened the upper mezzanine and soon we had the crowd spread out. Chris and me had some interesting conversation with Saquib about religion and politics; what the religions in the world have in common. Nice.
And of course, we have a clip of the night over at Wedding dinner [https://youtu.be/aYV0vhot20c ]
The Valima
BTW remember at the beginning of our trip we had that big box we dragged around from Adelaide to Melbourne to Lahore? sorry didn’t get a clip of them opening it – oh wait, oh no not another clip! That’s right just this blurred photo of them opening the box at a very rapid rate and the finished product.
luggage with the largest piece being Brendan and Sofie’s coffee machine present
Men’s clothing in Lahore is a bit different than what I am used to in Australia.
Driving to places around Lahore at almost every traffic light there are beggars. A lot of cross-dressing men who tell people in the car that if they don’t give them money, they will end up like them. Not sure whether that is good or bad because being many decades younger than me, maybe being like them, at least age wise would be better than being old, then again, I would not wish to do youngness over again. Here is a bit of a clip of such an incident – [Beggars https://youtu.be/90Prkp0tDN8]
And a clip of driving @ night – [Lahore night https://youtu.be/c1YCpjZyfrk] Lahore driving is crazy.
I am amazed when we arrive at any place that we survived. It is not wise to read an English speaking newspaper –
Our last day with Chris in Lahore we went to the Wagha Border – between India and Pakistan. We have done this visit before, both on the Indian side and the Pakistan side. Due to covid stuff there were a lot less people at it than before. To refresh those few folks who have not read our last blogs about the border, Lahore side (https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/), India side (https://neuage.me/2018/04/12/amritsar/) every night year round there is a flag lowering in the evening at the border. On the Indian side there can be as many 50,000 people at the stadium dancing and cheering with less on the Pakistan side. As usual I made a video but not of just the ceremony this video has many photos of the ride to the border with closeups of folks in tuk tuks and walking along – some of my favourite photos of the trip (aside of family photos) are in this collect (an award collection of photos – awarded by my higher self – good on ya Terrell’s higher self for your recognition of my talent when few others …never mind) Slideshow of Wagha border https://youtu.be/vZCJiRKdyZE
[Chris Preaching https://youtu.be/OWicREb9x2E ] yes there is a final Lahore clip.
Pastor Chris, Grace Capital City church in Washington DC https://www.gracecapitalcity.com/ was asked to give a sermon at a Christian Church in Lahore his last night there by Brendan’s servant/driver/do lots of stuff and church leader, Imran. There are 1.27% or a bit over two-million proclaimed Christians in Pakistan. Read about it on the internet. I believe it is against the law to try and covert a Muslim to Christianity – death or something like that to those who give it a shot. The Christians there are from birth – or expats. For example, Imran’s parents and their parents were Christians – so no converting going on. December 20, moved to the Main Market On Monday evening we went with Chris as he was to preach at Imran’s church. An interesting experience. I suspect that this could be where Chris got infected with Omicron! Had some nice quality time with the boys, went to a nice evening coffee shop, Karak Khel Gulberg, good ambience. It turned out to be just around the corner from Main Market. December 21st Tuesday Chris got tested for his flight back to DC (it came up negative). Sofie took us shopping so that Chris could buy some outfits for the folks at home, I also found a nice Pak dress, bright red. Later Sof and Bren joined us in a hunt for scarves for presents to take back home. Sofie bought us some traditional roasted chic peas (I think they were), roasted in a wok of hot sand. Very nice.
We left Brendan’s at 11 pm. Chris went to the airport, for his flight leaving at 3 am. The next day Sof and Bren went off to Tanzania and we made our way to the airport with Imran, after a visit to the Covid testing site. I have to say I am loving travelling again. Our time in Pakistan was a buzz. It is VERY polluted this time of the year with 450 particle readings compared to Adelaide around 15. We used N95 masks all the time, and after only 2 days they would turn brown/grey. But it’s a wild and exciting place. Lots of restaurants and interesting places to see. We had our local chai wallah, who made us delicious chai in tiny cups on the side of the road. Then there are fancy western restaurants where the 3 of us (Brendan and us could eat a full meal for $17 USD total. Or the brekkie place where we got a nice local but fancy feed for $3 each. December 23 Wednesday Our final test was negative and the next day we headed to the airport hotel, the Royal Swiss Hotel. Imran dropped us off there. We were looking forward to a nice quiet evening ready for the next morning’s departure. The dinner restaurant was amazing, we were almost the only people there with a beautiful buffet where we ate like kings, a bit of everything. The room was also great. Later that evening we discovered that our flight was going to be delayed. There was no notification from Turkish Airlines. I spend lots of time on the phone to see about the connecting flight, which I discovered was postponed to the following day, also without any notification from Turkish Airlines. So we quickly booked a transit hotel in Istanbul (Yotel). When we finally arrived (having travelled business class, which was fantasitc!!!!) we were told that Turkish Air would have taken us to the city were they had a hotel, and put us up gratis. Thanks for letting us know guys!! The transit hotel was fine, we spent the next day enjoying the business lounge, sampling everything. The airport is nice. No complaints, except that Turkish Air need to pay for the hotel. The flight was again business class, we arrived at around 8pm and took a taxi to Chris’. They had been celebrating Christmas Day with 2 other friends, expecting us to be a part of it, but that was not to be. Chris himself had had a shocking return trip from Lahore with delays, and an overnight in an airport in Doha with NO hotels available. Pretty tough. Luckily, he managed 6 hours in a sleeping pod in that time. All in all a pretty difficult trip for him, but we are all so glad he could come and celebrate such an important event with his brother. Bren and Sofie by now reaching Tanzania/ Zanzibar for their honeymoon. Having got a good deal for a business class flight from Lahore to Istanbul then to DC we made the best of a groovy situation. Our flight from Lahore was delayed by several hours due to smog, getting us to Istanbul too late to grab our flight to DC. We stayed overnight at the airport hotel – a basic windowless small room costing close to $200 USD. We booked it back in Lahore, after Chris’ delay for many hours on his flight to Lahore back mid-December (Narda says it was the trip from Lahore to DC, but, it was the flight to Lahore – he arrived totally exhausted the night of the wedding celebration, little sleep for two days and then he was dancing the night away. One must envy these young folks and their ability to keep on going. We did not want to keep on going and paid the big bucks. However, once in Istanbul airport we were told we would be taken to a city hotel at the airlines’ expense – but it was too late. Now we are stuck with hustling our insurance company with paying for the hotel. We were able to hang out in the Turkish Business Lounge for the day – until 4 pm for our flight to DC. The lounge was great – we ate our selves silly. There were islands of food being cooked – we could order what we wanted at the past area, dessert area, soup, omelette, etc.
Turkish Airlines business lounge Istanbul Airport
I found lots of prepared salads, and of course at the coffee centre there was an endless supply of Turkish Coffee which I drank an endless amount of (I would be awake all the way to DC – more than 30-hours since Christmas Day began in Turkey and ended in DC, whilst Narda slept about seven hours on the way in her comfortable business class flatbed – I spent the whole time on the internet – who would guess?). We wandered around the airport – it was very quiet in our area.
It is a huge airport and I think at one end downstairs there were a few western restaurant chains that had some Christmas lights happening, but we didn’t go in that area. Narda found Turkish candy
and as there was no music – but there was a piano in the lounge – Narda gave me a bit of a Christmas concert – here is a sample https://youtu.be/c4noCPnr6-g
Narda rocks the Turkish Business Lounge @ Istanbul Airport on Christmas Day
I spent Christmas Day looking like a local –
Here is on our flight Lahore > Istanbul > DC https://youtu.be/vaIp2fGLhdk
Of course, as with any fancy dinner we had “candlelight dinners”.
great views of the Bosporus as we left Istanbul –
I tried sleeping but after a day of Turkish Coffee I was too wired.
Washington DC Christmas Evening Our flight was the only one when we landed in DC, and that was far from full, seven pm, so we went through customs quickly. No mention of vaccinations, covid tests, I guess that was all taken care of before getting on to our flight in Istanbul. We grabbed a taxi to Chris and Jessica’s house. The driver was from Afghanistan – pro-former guy in Whitehouse – we could not figure out why. He had not heard from his family for weeks – since the US pulled out of Afghanistan. With few people on the road, we got there in about 35-minutes. We had planned to get to DC the night before but a day later was better than never at all. It was Narda’s first meeting of her new grandson, Josiah, who I called Messiah as it is pronounced much the same.
Narda hugged Chris as a mother would do. I kept my mask on. Two days later Chris and Jessica tested positive to covid – three days later Narda did and five days later I did. We all had few symptoms with Narda in bed one whole day not feeling very flash. I had a bit of a runny nose but nothing else. We did our best to quarantine staying in the basement which Chris and Jessica rent out as Airbnb for five-days. We stood for about two hours in a line to get tested with my results being negative and Narda’s positive. The rest of the time we tested at home.
Jan 5th 2022 Washington DC We are currently in Chris’ AirBnB apartment downstairs. We’ve been here since Christmas, and the very first thing we did was hug the kids and contract covid! All of us. The little ones too. Luckily it’s Omicron (we assume, just a crappy cold, headaches, snot, cough, and achy bits.) Chris and Jess have to work now (virtually). Usually they have a nanny, but since we’re all testing positive we have taken up the nanny duties. It does look like the whole world will get this one. Let’s hope we are all immune after that…would be nice. We had a great time reconnecting with Liam, who has grown into such a lovely boy, a gentle type who adores his little brother. It was a challenging week for all of us, pretty full-on, but a great opportunity to really connect with our grandies.
Josiah is a joy. A cuddly happy little guy, who does not miss anything, very alert and smiley. Christmas Night at the Moerman’s – https://youtu.be/tT0UrbzE7zw
We had not been in the USA since 2019 (our blog for then https://neuage.me/2019/07/14/usa-2019/) and the atmosphere has changed so much. Not just covid – but politically too. We had been in DC July 2019 for Chris’ 40th birthday. His father, and brothers had come over from Lahore (Brendan) and Australia (Stu and their father). We had done a similar flight to what we did this time going from DC to Amsterdam in mid-January back in 2017 https://neuage.me/2017/01/24/washington-dc-to-amsterdam-and-life-in-between/ more on this later. We were excited to hear that it would snow tomorrow and when it did, we were up and out the door.
I went with Chris and Liam to a local hill to watch them play in the snow. Here is a minute and a half of their enjoyment https://youtu.be/cF4lpUVozGE
January 6, 2021, being a tough day for Americans we decided to go a year later to the capitol – not many people around in the morning when we were there, mainly TV stations getting lined up for a day’s broadcast.
We did eavesdrop on an interview by a foreign team of a policeman video https://youtu.be/fvVw-0OMo_Q
Chris and Narda sing to the children – https://youtu.be/Jut5fg3nXTk
We had bought tickets on Amtrak to NYC for New Years Eve and for a train to Albany, New York on New Year’s Day then rented a car to drive to Oneonta to visit with my sister for a couple of days then a train back to DC a week later then onto Holland. Never happened – well the Amtrak bit, Narda testing positive on December 28th put the end to that. Then of course, I tested on positive on New Year’s Day, so it was just as well that we did not go.
After five days of no symptoms, we thought we could go out safely, wearing masks of course. We did a few trips around DC but for the most part stayed around home and babysat. We did go to where Lincoln was shot, at Ford’s Theatre and did the free tour. Photo below is the chair Lincoln was in when he was shot.
I tested positive for fourteen days from January first (how I started 2022) until testing negative at six am on Saturday the 15th. We booked in our official test ($90 each of us) for five pm and that came back negative. One interesting side-note if there is an interesting side-note was that the very first time, I had a positive test on the first of January the line on the tester was so light I barely could see it. Each day after the line became darker then the last three days the line for positive showed lighter each day. I looked all over the internet – from top to bottom – and there was no one saying that the darkness of the line showed how much viral load there was, but we were convinced that the lightening of each day meant soon I would be negative. It was annoying, and mentally I was getting negative without being really negative – go figure. Every morning I would take a test – it would be positive, we would re-book our pcr test and change our flights to the next day (United Airlines were very helpful with this and we never had to wait in a queue and they changed it to the next day without fees each time). My insurance ran out on the eleventh as that was the day we were to be going to Holland. Australia has reciprocal Medicare with 11 EU countries and Britain. This helps us a lot with insurance, our insurance company is the one who told us we did not have to buy health insurance for these countries. As I have so many pre-existing things from heart disease (pacemaker, five stents, other surgery) to diabetes and beyond our insurance always is more than the flights (including going business class this last time from Lahore to Istanbul to DC). Insurance for the USA is very high. We spent from 6 am until 8 pm on the phone on January tenth waiting in queues – getting disconnected – starting over – waiting in a queue– to be able to extend our insurance for a week. We once again booked our flight for the next day which was Sunday the 16th. Besides all the other annoying things to worry about; insurance and covid tests being top – and being a week or more late for our house sit coming up in Holland, there was a major winter storm that was to “slam” our area starting Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning, we took a Lyft to Dulles airport @ 8.45. First the flight was delayed from 12.45 to 1.30 pm due to an approaching storm then it was delayed another hour then finally at five pm we were on the runway getting de-iced on plane. We got to Newark and had one hour to spare and spent it in the United business lobby as we get a free lobby thingy each year for having a United Credit Card. BTW it is a great card to have – we had enough points for both of us to fly to Amsterdam. We added a hundred bucks to upgrade to economy plus which was well worth it. So we ate as much as we could stuff into our face and got into line to get onto our flight. They wanted so much paperwork at the counter; pcr test result, vaccination result, some other stuff – can’t remember it all. Thankfully Narda is amazing at keeping track of all this shit. I just live in la la land and smile at all the foreign stewardesses. De-icing flight to Amsterdam https://youtu.be/49Sl-ApmKAk
Here we are in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, the Netherlands. Arrived on the 17th January about six hours later than scheduled and a week later than planned. We have a house-sit for two months looking after six chooks and two rabbits. We were at this exact house exactly two years ago but had to return to Australia March 2020 due to covid. Thanks to Fred and Chantal for asking us six months ago if wanted to look after their animals as they were off to Capo Verde off the west coast of Africa. We had done a house/car exchange two years ago so already had a connection to these really wonderful people. Narda hopes to catch up with relatives – but we will see how that works out with the current covid restrictions in Holland. Our blog from exactly two years ago https://neuage.me/2020/04/10/rotterdam2020/ We will probably just chill for two months, looks like we may go back to Australia mid-April 2022 instead of mid-March. This would be our longest ever house-exchange and almost five months away from home. I may be speaking Dutch after-all. I want to work on some video projects. But after Lahore and DC we need this time to do nothing except bike ride as much as possible. And we joined the local gym, finding a 9 euro special for a month online. And a few days ago, the 26th January, restaurants opened up in Holland after a year so we had our first meal in a restaurant since Lahore mid-December which seems like so long ago but was really only six or seven weeks ago. We even get to drive their car – what disturbs me in the photo below is that my hair has not grown in two years.
We didn’t take wearing masks very seriously either, I think. Actually, we were unable to purchase any anywhere at the start of covid. Because we do not follow the news (I don’t understand Dutch – and Narda speaking/reading Dutch didn’t pay much attention to the news – we did not know how fast covid was spreading until all the masks were sold out everywhere we went.
That’s all for today. Off to explore the Netherlands today and this week/month – check back mid-March/April for an update on our life. Cheers! Lahore 2021 covid world tour on YouTube https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzv1YGfx_SMw-e35J_du1wBRjpdY5D08c

I will continue to put up notes on our daily-life-with-covid page @ https://neuage.org/covid.html

Banned book in Oklahoma

My almost daily writing except for today as I am washing my hair (abstract-wandering-miscellaneous thoughts) is at https://neuage.org/2021/ current books by Terrell Neuage Leaving Australia 'Again': Before the After 
Now in print and delivered to your door Leaving Australia ‘Again’: Before the After Read the first 45 pages for free available on these devices (Amazon author page) PhD thesis > Conversational Analysis of Chatroom Talk: Online Discourse Analysis’ Method Kindle Edition Homepage @ https://neuage.org/ YouTube http://www.youtube.com/tneuage,Twitter rants @ https://twitter.com/neuage Facebook http://www.facebook.com/neuage Substack https://neuage.substack.com #Thoughts in Quarantine Images: updated Twitter ~ Tumblr ~ Pinterest ~ linkedin ~ Flickr (2020) / Flickr (pre-2019) Behance Project – Thoughts in Semi-Isolation June 2020 book 10 thoughts in isolation A few of my social sites that I post to… being a private person I have only listed a few of ones I am willing to share – what about you? No! I don’t add to each one every day – I would be a nut case if I did that. There is too much to explore here in the Netherlands to spend time on the internet. However, all these are my accounts and each has something different to offer. Me on a sliver platter or not. Leaving Australia now available on Books2Read Books 2 Read, Daily Motion Rocks Daily Motion, e publishing ePub, Tribel the replacement of Facebook Tribel, travels in and out of Australia physically emotionally metaphysically with two old fartssubstack, Flilckr Flicker, Medium, live journalLive Journal, FourSquare Foursquare, Screencast Screencast, twitter Twitter , wow we are so trendy Instagram , linkedin - for all you not mes Linkedin, I put so much here you can spend a lifetime sorting - I have
Pinterest, 100% uncensored social media Wimkin, one of those caffine type of sites - new social thingy - I will get involved tomorrow Caffeine, WT Social, Goodreads, github tumblr, myportfolio, Behance nonsensical right wing alternative to twitter and facebook gab got a question well i had an answer for you - long ago and far away Quora reddit deviant art the best of my stuff once upon a time
deviant art, chat room - always here come on inMeWe, this where I write all my code - it is all here to share with you as I am tired of making millions of dollars off of these codescoderwall, hacker news Hacker News, fiverr fiverr, something Japanese Kakao, my Russian connection VK, another Russian thingy OK, skyrocket Skyrocket, MIX, I had forgotten about this one - used it many years ago Pathbrite, books published on the Must RFead platform MustRead,my space used to be great now it is shit MySpace, all the books of Terrell Neuage in one groovy place Amazon by Terrell, what???????/ ZoomInfo, FDNitter really is twitter FDNitter. my daily podcast Spreaker, adobe education exchange AdobeEducation cargo Cargo tik tok TikToktelegramTelegram Ello Ello club planet Club Planet terrell neauge on bravenet Bravenet Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Photog.social tripod.lycos Tripod

Our current life with Covid

Leaving Australia ‘Again’: Before the After (e-book updated)

Queensland_20021

Narda’s drawing of Billy pulling Holiday

These are a few rambling notes and photos from our little trip from Adelaide, South Australia to Cairns, Queensland. The final cost of fuel (diesel, not including the $93 petrol I put in instead of diesel and had to have the car drained when we were in a small town a month into our journey) was $2339 ($1721 USD) for 12,000 kilometres of travel and camping totalled $1138 ($841 USD). We had hoped to do more free camping. At the end of the day we did 28 nights of free camping, 24 nights at caravan parks and 8 nights at cheap ($10-$15/night places like showgrounds or donations at council run) places. We had planned about ten-days in Tweed Head as a house exchange, but it was cancelled amidst covid close-downs when we got closer. Food, etc we tried for a budget of $350/week. We came close to that with almost all our meals made in the caravan.

The last and only other time I was in Queensland was 1992. My father, 87 years old at the time, flew over from upstate New York. I was concerned such a long trip would be difficult and with changing planes in Chicago and LA and no assistance I thought somewhere he would come unstuck, but he arrived in Sydney. He saw Sacha first and almost burst into tears, he was afraid we would not be there after such a long trip. My two boys aged 8 and ten at the time, and I collected him at Sydney airport in a large RV. I had never driven an RV before and right off we had to navigate rush hour traffic and some bridge that was quite a fright in such a large vehicle.  

1992 my children (age 8 and 11) my father (87) and me drove this RV for a month
1992 my children (age 8 and 11) my father (87) and me drove this RV for a month

We got as far north as the Gold Coast and Brisbane then went to our home in Victor Harbor, South Australia through Broken Hill. It was a rather difficult trip for all of us, about four weeks all together. I of course did all the driving, cooking, sorting out everything. My father and the boys all got quite grumpy at times. A typical experience was one Sunday morning I got up and my father was not in the van. Eventually he showed up in suit and tie and wanted to know why we were not ready for church. Holy cow I had not been in a church in a long time, like decades. It all went well as my father announced to seemingly many that he was from Clifton Park, New York. Later in the day when stopped at a shopping centre one of my boys (not telling who) came out with a toy. I asked where he got the money and he said they were passing around a bowl of money at the church and he took out a twenty. Yes, that really happened. One thing to this day that I regret not knowing was that we were supposed to empty the toilet. All vans have some sort of toilet or portable potty setup. We used the toilet until….well, until it was so full it would no longer flush. We also ran out of water due to taking showers. I was never shown how to fill up the water tank, so we just stayed at caravan parks. Gosh I was dumber then than now.   

Italic notes are Narda’s notes – the other stuff from Terrell

1. Burra 30 May 2021

Planned departure was around lunch time. Actual departure was some hours later.

We drove off happily at the end of the day into the Burra showgrounds. Met by a slightly grumpy caretaker who relieved us of $15 for an unpowered spot, we never-the-less slept like never before. I clocked up 9 hours …pretty solid.

Plenty of space at the Burra Showgrounds.

30 May 2021 Sunday Left home at 2.30 pm. Our plan was to leave about 8 am….so much for plans. We stopped at Stu’s so Narda could say goodbye to the grandchildren. They were not there. Got as far as Burra,

155 kilometres – overnight Burra Showgrounds it was 5 Celsius (41 Fahrenheit) the next morning. The fee at the showgrounds was $15 for an unpowered site. Basic toilets there – could not find the shower. OK for an overnight stay. We got out of there early the next morning.

31 May Monday

@ Penrose Caravan Park, a very good caravan park with a lot of spaces. We booked a powered site for three nights @$35/night, which is a bit high and we will do (hopefully) a lot of free sites as 90 days at this price will mean we can only afford a block of tofu to live on per week.  Worried about eating tofu we ate the first night at the Silverton Hotel pub I had a very tasty veggie lasagne (rare for me due to the high carbs and I had high blood sugars for the next two days – but worth the change in diet). Narda was happy with the road-kill version of lasagne. A lot of films and commercials are filmed in the Silverton area such as Razorback, Wake in Fright, The Slim Dusty Movie, Mission Impossible II, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The first stop for any Mad Max tourist should of course be the Silverton Hotel. There is a wealth of history surrounding the hotel, and inside you will find pictures from Mad Max 2, and many of the other productions that have been done out there over the years. The road out past Silverton will also take you to the Mundi Mundi plain, where much of the opening of the film was shot. I tried out for the Mad Max films but there was no one to sign me up, to my temporary dismay.

We went to the Mundi Mundi Lookout to watch the sunset. Missed it by five minutes as we were on Broken Hill time and Silverton – a few kilometres away is on New South Wales time – half an hour difference.

We got a photo of the road there that most of the Mad Max filming was done on.

If it sounds like I am a Mad Max enthusiast. I am not really – I think I saw one of the films many years ago but since so much is made of it here I jumped on the bandwagon as any self-respecting American Leo would. Though it is now on our list of flicks to watch if we ever slow down long enough to watch a whole movie. Speaking of movies; we recently say ‘Nomadland’ the Oscar winning film about people living in caravans and moving about in the States. It is so us. There are wild donkeys around the place – at the pub they say often they will just wander in.

The whole town consists of a pub, church, couple of art galleries…

and a couple of museums – of course there is the Mad Max Museum which we did not pay the ten-dollars to enter proving our loyalty to the film series.

01 June Tuesday

To Daydream mines tour – we have a bit of a video of this –  https://youtu.be/_JF_lNJhU9E. The drive is quite rough – don’t take your caravan with you -we didn’t. Narda opened the gates along the way to get us across the barren landscape,

watch the video.

2. Silverton 31 May 2021 3 nights

Then there was construction, or as they say in Australia, road works. Starting at Burra, this was a serious slow down for us. Barrier Hwy was slated, apparently, for many millions of dollars to be spent. We drove much of the section driving between 40kmh and 60kmh. So what’s changed, says Leon and Michael. And to that I have no comment except to say that I have more points on my license than perhaps you do. And that’s all I have to say.

I was very relieved when it was over. I am talking about the mine tour at the Daydream Mine. The name comes from the first prospector, who found a piece of silver in the ore. He could not believe his luck and said ‘only in my dreams’. It turned out to be a very productive silver mine.

We took the tour, after a nice introduction which included……no….which was ……yummy jam and cream and scones.. Then we had to put on helmets and go down, very far down. The headroom was much more suited to much short er people than me, and I found it a bit difficult. It cemented my belief that I would never like to be a miner.

Terrell also had a struggle with his leg seizing up and causing him grief, as it seemed to collapse on him as he tried to come back up to ground level. Something we will need to check up on.

“I don’t really believe that folks should be forced to have the vaccine, that would be communist”, said the friendly fellow, camping alone in the Silverton Caravan Park, called Penrose Park. He had his own camp set up, his firewood neatly lined up, and his matching blue kitchen utensils arranged in a wire bookcase. I asked him if he was OCD. He said he worked at the Silverton Pub and had a day off a week, and loved to live here, in his tent and the lovely layout.

The Silverton Pub is a treasure. Lots of famous celebs have been there, making movies like A Town like Alice, Mad Max 2, As Time goes by, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dirty deeds, Mission Impossible 2, and many others. The area is apparently also used for many commercials, every 2 months or so. Including but not limited to Land rover, Pepsi, West End Beer, Dove Soap, Hyundai, Pajero, Smiths Chips….and so on.

The flying-doctor doctor told us that they often landed on the road to pick up folks in an emergency. We met this charming doctor and her mother watching the sun set at Mundi Mundi. We arrived too late, forgetting, I think, to make the time adjustment form SA to NSW. But it was fun chatting with this interesting person.

Then there was the couple form Melbourne, who, like most of the folks around here, did a runner from Melbourne when it shut down again. They had really interesting travel stories for us, including the Trans Siberian Rail trip, and traveling from Kazakhstan to Tashkent in Uzbekistan by train. We exchanged cards and promised to stay in touch.

So here we are in the caravan park, now on the second evening, feeling relaxed. I feel very sad about Henk’s death and not being able to make the funeral. Hopefully tomorrow we can see the ‘livestream’.

We first went in and had coffee and scones with jam and cream at the one-stop-shop for the mine. Then we did the tour where we learned that

A miner’s life consisted of twelve-hour days, six days a week. Miners worked by Candlelight which were held in holders known as spiders. Mining method was mostly by hammer and tapping holes, then firing them. Miners did not leave the workings for firings. Pickey boys (Lads of 14-15 years old) would hand pick the ore after a firing, and bag it. Most miners suffered failing eyesight and respiratory diseases.”

the internet

We got the senior rate for the tour ($30 each two bucks off the regular admission whoopee) but after scones and coffee, the bill was like thirty eight something – but they were good.

The tour before going into the mines was fine. In the time of covid we even wore masks.

Going through the mine was a bit awful for me. I needed to bend over heaps most of the way. By the time I got to the end my legs were hurting and I could barely move. So much for all those aqua Zumba classes and weight lifting we were doing to stay fit. Then my thoughts turned to getting back out of the bloody mines – a steep climb, again bend over as the tunnels are probably four foot in areas and I am (was before getting old) six-foot two.

I had sore legs for several days after. Not sure how long the climb down and back up was – perhaps 45 minutes – I had to stop a few times and Narda had that ‘oh shit I am going to end up carrying the old bugger on my back out of the mines’, look.

02 June Wednesday

Rain all day –  we stayed another night at Penrose Caravan Park. We watched Netflix in the evening.

3. On the road to Cobar 3 June, 2021

Our first free camp. The road consists mainly of caravaners. Quite incredible, I think 2 out of 3. The road trains continue on their way oblivious, causing my extended side mirror to flatten against the car each time they whoosh by.

Terrell lit up a nice fire in the rest stop near the highway. There were 5 or 6 other vans and RVs nearby. A magical sky, all the constellations and far away galaxies in full view.

Left Silverton 11 am – shopping in Broken Hill. Found the local dump point (for those who have no idea what a dump point is and its importance to folks like us – think of an indoor loo with no outlet – just a collection tub and what to do with it after a few days) This is our second time to Broken Hill and both times just passing through. Last year we came this way on the way to Port Macquarie. (I am sure you read our blog on this) We will make a special trip here someday as there is so much to see. Mines and all and a train to Sydney.

(OK more interesting stuff too)

Overnight free camping alongside highway 100 Ks west of Wilcannia – arrived 4.45 pm – made a campfire to stay warm – 3 degrees Celsius – 37 degrees in Yank speak.

day after day – at least Australia’s infrastructure is working…

04 June Friday

Left 8 am – Overnight free camping alongside highway – arrived 2 pm, feel exhausted for all the nothing we have been doing. Perhaps driving through desert landscapes for hours is tiring. First nap since started – stopping in Cobar for petrol – used smoothie maker in bathroom – campfire – 60 Ks from Bourke. To elaborate on those notes…When home I make my daily smoothie with our super blender thingy: almond milk (yes at home I make my own – soaking ¼ cup almonds 24-hours, taking skins off them as we watch Netflix – blending with 4-cups water – enough for 4-days of smoothie, (when travelling I buy it in cartons) kale, blueberries, homemade yogurt, home grown sprouts, coconut oil, flaxseed oil (oils supposed to be good for brain development – ha ha ha – still waiting for that effect after decades of these things) tahini, and powders (hemp protein powder, sugar-free coco, cinnamon, turmeric, Matcha, Green banana fibre, Acai, Pea protein, Spirulina, and a Super Greens) Really! It is a bit embarrassing, so I never tell anyone outside of Narda.  She calls it green slime and refuses it – I think it does me good. I made up two large containers of my powder mix – enough for a month+. When we travel, I have a small food blender mixer thingy – so I leave out the kale – everything else goes in. As we do a lot of free camping I usually mix it up and carry my blender into the toilet when we get petrol. There is always somewhere to plug it in – usually where the dryer is plugged in. The daily few hours drive is quiet good – though a lot of sameness,

this is what the landscape looks like after a few hours

I have a fascination with the road trains; many with four-carriages. Signs on the highway say they are up to 53.5 metres – that is 175.5 feet. Stand the truck on its end and about a fifteen-story building.

Next to us we are quite small. They come hurtling down the highway doing 110 kilometres an hour, about 70 MPH.
Narda will probably tell the story later, when a regular truck (only two-carriages) was passing a road train on a curve and was coming at us in our lane. Narda was driving and had to go off on the shoulder of the road to keep from getting wiped out. Luckily there was a shoulder, some places there is none – just a drop off.
Years ago (2012) we got spun across a freeway in Alabama by a one-carriage truck and almost killed. The truck driver said he did not see us when he was changing lanes and hit the back of us – we went across a four-lane highway. I believe we would have been goners if one of these road-train babies crossed the line. The story (with photos) is at https://neuage.me/2013/02/01/a-piggly-wiggly-story/

4. On the road to Bourke 4 June, 2021

Another freebie, this time with only a couple of others. Another fire, some wine and a nap.

05 June Saturday
Breakfast in Bourke at Diggers on Darling – Cunnamulla caravan park by 4 pm watching the flick – White Tiger. The Cunnamulla Caravan Park is one of the really good ones. We needed to do laundry, charge up stuff, take showers… There is a river to view and walks to do which we did. We stayed two nights.

5. Cunnamulla 3 June, 2 nights 2021

Met some interesting folks at this caravan park which is the nicest one we have seen. They talked us into going all the way to the gulf, which is quite a lot further than we had planned.

This afternoon (Sunday) we rode our bikes (not the electric ones!) into the small town. Everything was closed though there were many caravans in town. We seem to be spending a lot on diesel, at $1.50 per litre. Heater is on now, the nights are pretty cold, but days are sunny and 18C.

Spend a bit of time removing red dust from many things 😊

red dust after a few days off road (not our van)

Rode bike into Cunnamulla centre – everything closed – went back to the caravan and took a nap – overnight Cunnamulla caravan park
Internet at 120 Kbps cannot load up anything. In 2021 when the world is so dependent on the internet why is Australia so far behind? We get better Wi-Fi in the back blocks of Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India etc etc. Not to worry, we could always try talking with one another – oh wait I have a book to read so will continue with that. 800 pages, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s ‘The Labyrinth of the spirits’ the third of his books in a series. I liked the other two much better (‘The Shadow of the Wind’ which even Steven King liked, so it must be a cracker and ‘The Angel’s Game’) but then again, I am only on page 604 of this one. Damn! I think I would rather talk with my wife.

North of Augathella Free camping

7. Longreach  June 8

Birthday stay, dinner at the RSL, and a wonderful visit to the Qantas Museum where we honoured Henk. Irene told us they had been there twice and he loved it both times. I even made an announcement about him and his long career with Qantas to the tour group we were with, and that the world had lost him only a few weeks ago. Got a very sympathetic response. Then we all had cupcakes for the 25th anniversary of the museum.

Walked through town in the evening, but everything (except the pubs) was closed.

Two degrees Celsius this morning – left Cunnamulla camp site at 9 am – stopped at Wyandra for coffee – drove through Charleville – lunch – walked through old pub Camping 45 Ks north of Augathella 70Ks south of Tambo. Tambo is a town with lots of buildings. We stopped at the library and had a long tour and talk of the town from the local Librarian.

Longreach overnight – arrived 4 pm – rode bike to Qantas Museum – lots of caravans near railroad track. The bike path is the old road into town and is quite good – a bit hilly but worth the half hour exercise. We did the Qantas tour for $114 for the two of us. Highly informative. It was especially special to Narda as a family member who worked for Qantas had died a few days ago. I think she has written a bit about that which is below.

We toured inside several planes including one that apparently cost $35-million to tart up and was to be sold to a Saudi Prince until he was told that the seats were covered in pigskins. Oops! Michael Jackson ended up with it for awhile then it sat in a muddy field  in England and the Qantas Museum folks put it together and flew to Longreach. 

We got tours through several other planes including a 747 jumbo. See ‘Celebrities and top-secret missions: Stories from the Qantas Founders Museum.

if not for covid we would be flying this plane to visit you – collecting you and flying off into forever

The town of Longreach is good – train station with a train going across to Brisbane that we promised ourselves we would take, ‘one-day’.

– left 2.15 pm to Winton

8. Winton June 9

Lured by the prospect of another free site, we braved the corrugated road for 2 Kms. It was beautiful, on the banks of “The Long Waterhole”, of course all the water side spots were already taken by fellow tight-arses, but we had a beautiful sunrise.

Next morning drove into Winton, we took off the bikes and rode around town.  I bought 2 tea shirts at the local Vinnies, and Terrell had an extended conversation with 2 ladies about America and other matters. Well actually, he did the talking and they gave him their rapt attention! One was from Scotland, and knew all about Findhorn, (a hippy place in the 60’s, we visited years ago, and they were still selling books on “how to communicate with your cat”), so that was a wonderful starting point.

Overnight outside Winton staying at The Long Waterhole – there about 4 pm – made campfire – cold. The landscape around The Long Waterhole is dry and dusty. We could have easily stayed for a few days but being at the beginning of our journey we thought one day would suffice. Winton is a good looking town – we missed the chicken racing though…next time.

Wait! the chicken racing was in the next town, Tambo. Who knew?

9. Prairie June 10

It was just a pub with no town. But boy the caravans were there. The whole area behind the pub, where we had planned to stay for a gold coin donation was chockers. So folks like us parked on the footpaths, amply wide enough. A good stay and some nice yarns with people in the pub over a beer. We were advised by a local stockwoman to take the inland road over the Atherton tablelands, rather than the coastal road, which we did.

The Prairie Hotel is a free/donation appreciated campsite located on the Flinders Highway (Savage Street) in the small town of Prairie about 43km east of Hughenden in the Flinders Region of Northwest Queensland. The hotel is an authentic Aussie hotel providing a free overnight campsite on its grounds and is a must-see for its collection of stockmen’s hats and other memorabilia from the local area. It is a bit of a bogan (Bogan is Australian and New Zealand slang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude, and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated) sort of place. We had planned to eat dinner there. The publican said dinner was steak and veg. I said what was there for vegetarians? He said ‘veg’. We ate in our caravan.

Overnight outside Winton staying at The Long Waterhole – there about 4 pm – made campfire – cold. The landscape around The Long Waterhole is dry and dusty. We could have easily stayed for a few days but being at the beginning of our journey we thought one day would suffice. Winton is a good looking town – we missed the chicken racing though…next time. This is commonly known as the locals’ waterhole. It is approximately 2kms from Winton on the Jundah Road. Long Waterhole is man-made and was once used during the Outback Festival as the site for the World Crayfish Derby! The road to it is pretty rough – even going slow it felt as if the caravan would fall apart.

10. Charters Towers June11 2 nights

Charters Towers was founded in the 1870s when gold was discovered by chance at Towers Hill on Christmas Eve 1871 by 12-year-old Aboriginal boy.

A much needed two night stay with power. Washing, clothes and bodies…all clean! Friendly folk in the van next door with good stories about driving on the dirt. An embarrassing exit, as we could not lower our awning. So we fumbled and forced, our neighbour tried to help, Terrell went into the caravan and applied the hammer….hey presto, all fixed.

Two degrees in morning – rode bikes around town, don’t think I would want to spend the rest of my life here, not much of a town in our world though they do their best to promote it with a great visitor’s centre. I bought a fridge magnet to end to our totally covered fridge back home, Narda bought a red backpack.

.

11. Greenvale  June 13

A little town that boasts one the few sausage trees in the world. We went into the caravan park full of galahs, ducks and turkeys. Quite a racket. Luckily they all went to bed at night. Another nice little bike ride checking out the real estate.

12. Ravenshoe June 14   2 nights

An old disused railway station with carriages on the tracks and lots of memorabilia made the next caravan stay interesting. We stayed here 2 days.

At 930 metres (3,050 ft) above sea level, Ravenshoe is the highest town in Queensland, with Queensland’s highest pub. The railway station is where the caravan park is, easily walkable to town. We did a day drive the area going to the Tully Falls and Gorge. Quite spectacular and groovy at the same time.

We have a bit of a video of the falls and gorge at https://youtu.be/5NvNSorPrwQ

“I can remember my past lives”, the local art shop owner/framer/photographer assured us. He said he used to be a potato farmer in Ireland in a previous life. He was bon in 1953, though he remembers dying in 1954. I can’t quite figure that one out, but he said this sometimes happens and you can live in 2 lives at once. He actually seemed quite intelligent despite these stories. Got the hat in the local craft store, birthday pressie from Terrell.

Who knows!

We had difficulty getting out of this dude’s shop…he just went on and on. Having been ‘an astrologer’ for 40-years (it is how I got to Australia, I was speaking at a conference in Sydney in 1980…blahblahblah) and had spent a decade trapped in a cult, I had heard his spiel too many times to want to hear it again. (BTW I don’t believe in any of this anymore. I grew out of it as most people do). But I did think he had a very chilled dog – see above photo with Narda and animal. I shared a bit about this at https://neuage.me/2013/01/13/those-were-the-days/

once upon a time in America

13.   Atherton June 16

The drive from Ravenshoe to Atherton was hairy. Very steep roads, with sharp bends. I was driving much slower than others it seemed, so I had quite a following. Nowhere to allow folks to pass. Sometimes the road had steep drops with no safety barrier. In a later conversation around a campfire, other drivers assured me that they were also freaked out by this particular road, while towing. So it wasn’t just me.

this doesn’t really show it properly…most of it was super curvy but the clip below does…
The Tablelands

The next day I had pretty severe vertigo. Not sure if there’s a connection. We found a physio in Atherton who was great. She was an expert in this area and diagnosed me with 2 conditions; vestibular neuritis (viral infection of the inner ear) and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. I have to do brain retraining exercises (watch an X on the wall and rapidly moving my head to make my left ear canal and brain connection make up for the damaged neural connection. A couple of weeks should do it.

Today, 3 days later it’s much better already. Weird stuff.

Deb, a volunteer at the Rocky Creek Memorial Park welcomed us to our free (donation only) park; really nice place.

We stayed at this park for a couple of days. A great area outside of Tolga. During World War II they had the biggest military base in Australia – with the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere — a 3000 bed hospital which treated over 60,000 patients from 1943 to 1945. Next to the caravan site is this great mine.

14.   Mareeba, Ringers Rest RV Park 3 nights

Now we are waiting for our damper in the last night at Ringers Rest RV Park. A great place, we are close to the nightly fire where a ring of oldies sit around drinking beer and pontificating. I have some nights got myself caught with true blue Trumpers. Blimey. But this is Queensland.

Dave’s damper

We bought a CD from Dave. A nice country mix “I remember” by his friend, Dennis Russell of his in a tribute for his dad, with also on song about Ringers Rest.

We decided to stay 3 nights, slow down a bit.

Below is the song about Dave and his damper…

We did lots of walks to the nearby stream. I wanted to see the local crocodile that lived there. Narda was not too sure. We were told that freshwater crocs don’t kill humans they just bit. Great. Nevertheless, we never saw it.

We did see a lot of termite hills, some quite large. We will show this later, next month, when we share our video of them along the highway.

One morning at 4 am we heard quite large noises, considering how quiet the countryside we were in was this got us up – we bundled up and went out in the two-degree (centigrade) weather and watched to hot air balloons in the nearby fields. They spent until sunrise – six am or there about – to get them in the air. Apparently, there were 25 people in each. Dave later told us that we could go for half price – $200. Below is a bit of a clip of this. 27 seconds… https://youtu.be/4IjhPwHyY4c

15.   Mossman, June 21, Caravan Park 2 nights

Parked at the caravan park, on the banks of a river. Nice to shower and wash stuff. Then headed off to Pt Douglas and stayed overnight with Carolin and Michael in a very pleasant Airbnb.

That evening we went to the local Irish pub were I drank a Kilkenny, accompanied with pulled pork sliders. All good. Gelatis for dessert.

We were walking to 4 Mile Beach with Carolin and Michael, (on a Tuesday…our holyday), we received the news from Chris that baby was pending, then an hour later baby Josiah was born!!!!!! They had a weird story to tell, with a 3 car pile up smashing into the back of their car, and possibly bringing on the contractions!!!!

Narda with her sister Caroline and Michael on 4-mile beach
tide out Pt Douglas

Drove back to Mossman, only 15 minutes away and rode our bikes up to the Mossman Gorge Visitors centre. Also found a nice little shop where we bought some pressies for the new boy and his big brother.

Brendan is exploring Skardu in Pakistan, the Masters finally completed. The photo I saw on Facebook was at 13,500 ft. Impressive!!

16.   Cairns Lake Placid Caravan Park 5 days June 23

This place is sooo beautiful. Tall rugged mountains all around, covered in rainforest. If the summers were not so fierce I think we could easily live here.

The drive from Mossman to Cairns follows a coastal road and is spectacular.  We took it easy (much to the concern of those behind us!)

Mossman to Cairns drive

Our first full day was getting Terrell’s second shot at a well set up health centre. Today he got his official vaccination certificate from the Australian government!!! Yay.

Below is the exact place for this recent headline, “Queensland Environment Wildlife officers have spotted a crocodile in Lake Placid in Cairns just hours after a man survived a horror attack while swimming.” Apparently the dude went swimming here everyday…crocs watch for patterns, when someone or something does the same thing at the same time they think, ‘yumm’. Narda was opposed to us swimming here – not sure why.

Last night we had a wonderful reunion with Paul, a dear friend I had not seen for 20 years or so. We met his wife, Liz and 2 kids, Hannah (aged 16) and Matthew (aged 14) in their beautiful wooden Cairns house. Carolin and Michael also came. They made nice veggie curry, and we bought some naan bread on the way. Also brought our first attempt at homemade raita, which was enjoyed all round. Lots of reminiscing and great food and fellowship.

click on individual photo below to see full size

The train ride to Karunda was amazing. It reminded us a bit of the Shimla rail trip with steep drops and lots of tunnels; also built in the 1800’s. [in case you missed that blog – with video and photos shoot on over to https://neuage.me/2018/04/05/shimla/] There is a real tourist strip through the town but once we got past that …did not buy anything…[wait! what? yes you did, you bought a few pieces of clothing – I remember. I was there.] we found some lovely trails through rain forest, as you do in this part of the world.

We checked out downtown Cairns, parked in a huge shopping centre and walked down the main drag. We found a neat little market style place where we ate crepes, made by a real Frenchman.

some days I choose not to have diabetes
we all look up to Narda

We returned in the evening a few days later when here was a festival of some kind. Nice atmosphere. Terrell had his first parmesan, veggie of course, I had chicken and we got the up graded chips using sweet potatoes. Really good.

We are not those people who take photos of their meals then post them…oh wait!!!

17.   Babinda Rotary Park 3 days June 28

This was one for the history books. A perfectly pleasant free camp (donation) with showers and toilets and LOTS of caravans. A big brown river passing by about 3 metres lower. It rained for 3 days and 3 nights. Solid! This was a first time for me I think.

Rotary Park, Babinda

So trips to Babinda proper, on the other side of the Brice highway were made, umbrella in hand. Eventually most things were wet, though the van did not leak. I was nervous about getting bogged there. We were parked in a bit of a shallow dip. We turned the van around the second day o get out of the water. I asked the guy driving the garbage truck if I should be towing us out to drier parts. He said “nuh, you’re fine. Only twice a year it floods and then it comes above my head. You’ll be fine”. OK.

On the first morning we inspected the brown river and I kid you not, it had risen a solid metre and was flowing alarmingly fast.

But we were fine, as we had been told. On our last morning we ate a hot brekkie, the full works at a café in the charming town, for $8. A bloke sitting nearby told us that Babinda and Tully compete for the dubious honour of having the highest rainfall in Australia. The pub that winds gets the rubber boot trophy until next time.

We went to the Babinda Boulders and the Josephine Falls, a tiered cascade waterfall on the Josephine Creek located in Wooroonooran. We did both on a rainy day. After three days of rain the falls were amazing. Narda said they were ‘the best I have ever seen’ and we have been to Niagara Falls (on both the Canadian and USA side)… whatifs – they were spectacular no matter the comparison. They are dangerous. @ least 18 folks have died slipping on the rocks/falling into the creek. Our photos and video really don’t show the force of these falls – quite incredible. Look at our slideshow below or better yet watch the one-minute clips.

click on individual photo below to see full size

#The Boulders Babinda Queensland
Josephine Falls Babinda, Queensland

OK! I will tell what happened while here…I was hoping Narda would. Two things:

  1. What an idiot…can not believe I did this….I filled Billy with regular gas…Billy takes only diesel. $92 worth. Narda was driving and after a few minutes, Billy spit the dummy…he just stopped. We looked up on the internet to discover that it usually ruins the motor – replace the bloody thing. To make a long painful story short and painful, while Narda was on the phone to get us towed to a nearby town an hour away I walked about a hundred metres where I spotted a car work shop type of place; Torque Auto Babinda – https://torqueauto.com.au/ it is primarily a fishing shop I think but they do fix cars. I said to the young fellow that I couldn’t believe what I had done. He replied that it happens a lot. That he could put a rope on his truck and tow us over. We have heard the many stories of (old) people from out of state getting ripped off in small country towns. We walked the short distance to Rotary Park and sat in our caravan expecting the worst. The other issue was that it was Friday three pm and they closed at five until the following Monday. Not to worry – he drained out the offending fuel and put in diesel – changed some filters, all in two hours all for $200. Wow.

this is exactly where Billy stopped – choking on the wrong type of fuel

  1. Because it had rained for three-days straight we had locking caravan brakes. Oh shit! Being the wise people we are, having survived the wrong fuel in Billy, we thought we should go along a country road and the brakes would fix themselves…the thinking was that they would dry out. Dumb dumb. Anyway we drove quite a distance then up ahead we saw a bit of a river going over the road. Narda refused to drive through it thinking it would be too deep. I probably would have kept on going. A couple of large county work trucks (the ones with cherry pickers on them) came along and we showed them the water pouring over the road up ahead. They laughed saying they could easily get through. Ten-minutes they had turned around and were headed back; ‘too deep’. Someone else came along in a large 4-wheel drive thingy and the same happened. The driver said he always drove on that road even when there was water across it, nevertheless he headed back a few minutes later avoiding eye contact with me knowing I was right. What was amazing…Narda reversed the caravan a long ways (took us an hour) until we came to a driveway to back in and turn around in. The road itself was too narrow and there was deep water on both sides. Yeah Narda!

here is a 25 second clip of that hour

18.   Mission Beach 3 nights July 1

A very crowded caravan park in a stunning place. The beach is gorgeous ringed with palm tress. A picture! Blue seas, mountains on the horizon and in the sea (Dunk Island I think).

Yesterday an old friend of Terrell’s (from 35 years ago) drove down to see us, with her friend. We had a nice breakfast in one of the café’s in town, and shared great stories.

The old friend was actually quite young. When I was raising my boys in Victor Harbor back in the 1980s early 1990s their playmates were the Rosalskis family. They were a Baháʼí family that looked after my boys and me when we were going through a very difficult period. In the early 1990s I started a radio station (E-FM Encounter FM) with Rik Rosalski and Sandy Mathewson down south. The last time Sacha remembers seeing Hannah Rosalski was when she was about six and he was ten – early 1990s. We would later see Rik Rosalski in Alice Springs on our journey home.

19.   Rollingstone 2 nights July 5

Vincent Bushy Park

The park was named after Vincent ‘Bushy’ Parker to acknowledge his significance; to many Vincent ‘Bushy’ Parker is known as a war hero. There is a real cool story about the dude here – read about a cool dude.

Another beautiful free camp spot! Nights chatting with travellers from interstate, one from Malta, the wife from Wales. Pleasant conversation. Then we went off to the next beach spot, and picked up some firewood. Riding our bikes to the main street of this little town was nice. We bought 2 post cards and mailed them to the girls. Masks mandatory in the post office/general store! This is a flow over from the Covid restrictions in Townsville. We bought a delicious pineapple (which grows all round here, for brekkie….$3!

After leaving Rollingstone we noticed the brakes behaving badly, locking and causing the caravan to skid. It got significantly worse by the time we got to Townsville so we rang the Redarc  friendly tech guy who recommended an auto electrician, and we managed to get an appointment for 8am the next morning. (PS. these are those brakes that were not working days earlier when Narda had to back us up along a country road. They seemed to work a bit when dried out but suddenly did not work at all)

We drove through the trendy Airlie Beach, Whitsundays – kept going

20.   Townsville 1 night July 6, 2021

Friendly folk at the auto electrician, a young guy worked in it for an hour or so, trying to save the appliance, but it turned out that we needed a new one. They charged about $450 which was not bad, given the retail price for the part was around that amount.

We had not planned to go to Townsville as it had been in lock-down for a week up to the day before we got there. However, there was no other place nearby to fix our brakes.

21.   Home Hill 2 nights July 7

Next day we headed to Home Hill. The GPS gave us the run-around, taking us off the Bruce Hwy for 1/32 , then bringing us back onto it! Blimey. But we made a scenic little side-trip through cane fields and small towns.  

John Moerman rang and wondered if we were still in Cairns as he was there, on his way to Cooktown. Bummer we missed him.

It was funny because both Paul and John made cracks about Home Hill. John told us it was an incestuous town. Ha ha. Actually, we did notice that in the dogs barking in front yard they were all similar, very similar!!

The campground was nice, an older couple (probably volunteers) were manning it. We paid $20 np for power which was nice, caught up on stories and recharging

The most delicious barramundi for tea was purchased from the local fish and chip shop. Yum. Mine was crumbed. The best fish I’ve ever had.

Off to Ayr to check on some memories. We found and photographed Paul’s old house and drove through the pleasant town. One the way chatted with some ladies at the info centre, outdoors. Lots of opinions about how to pronounce Mackay….Mackay as in Kay the girl’s name…the locals mostly use that version, or Mackay, as we pronounce it….the “posh” southern state version. We decided to stick with that one.

Narda got her second covid-19 shot there (I had mine weeks earlier in Cairns). We also had to get a new windscreen for Billy – bloody road-train threw a rock at him and cracked his window. We spent a day at Port of Mackay which is a relatively a nice place with a long breakwater that is drive-able on. See our clip below.

22.   Bowen 1 night July 9

It was a caravan park next to the visitors centre. We paid $15 for an unpowered site which gave us a choice of places over a large field. The first human contact was a guy who was cycling all over Australia and making a movie of it. He had his little tent, and his gear under a tree and promised more stories. We never followed this, a pity, it would have been interesting.

Bowen is situated on a beautiful stretch of coast. We drove up to some lookout points and took many photos. Other than that it seems a bit of a rough town, at least parts of it.

23.   Ball Bay 6 nights July 10

On the way to Ball Bay we went through Ayr to find Paul’s house where I also stayed some 25 years ago. I took a photo and sent it to him. The place did not remind me of being there lot’s of changes I guess. I had a great gas bag with 3 ladies who were “information” at the entrance of Ayr, where we discussed Covid, as you do these days, and the pronunciation of Mackay.

Then we stopped by Airlie Beach, a beautiful place with lots of touristy things, including a market, shopping, a marina, lots of stunning views. We stopped at Bunnings and bought fairy lights for the caravan and a rubber mat. Then onwards to Ball Bay. I missed the turnoff. Terrell insisted on still going there, so we took the long way, and we certainly did not regret it.

This was a lovely experience. A free council site, about 20 kms off the Bruce highway, right on the beach. It had toilets, and little mini camp kitchen with a power point and hot water. Plenty of shade. When we fist arrived we just managed to find a spot, right next door to a couple we became quite friendly with, Kevin and Magda (?)

On the Sunday many folks left: end of school holidays. After that we had the van brigade with their young people and sliding doors. Locally called Whizz Bangers.  It’s the noise those sliding doors make…all night. We made some friends. A young guy named Nick and his girlfriend of 3 months, Ebony. Lovely people. We met Nick in a laundromat in Mackay and got talking about where we were staying. I told him that if he turned up I would give him a beer😉

What was interesting to me that Nick was a true traveller and had spent much of his life working as a chef, and saving enough to travel, then going 6 months to India and many other places until he ran out of money. So had some nice talks about that, all of us really missing international travel in this crazy pandemic. They left us a lovely letter, an Elvis calendar and a little piece of art made from a twig. We have them on Facebook.

In the time in Ball Bay I had my second Astra Zeneca jab. No side effects at all, so far. We found an appointment in a surgery in the shopping centre in Mackay. I was part of a group, 5 of us, who got vaccinated together. We shared jokes about…was she going to use the same needle, what do we say to non-vaxxers etc. Nice. I didn’t feel it at all.

We explored the area, took some walks on the beach where we got some fantastic sunrise photos. Then a longer walk to the end, mangroves, and a lovely walk back (in the shade….lots of beautiful groves of trees, many paperbarks and palm trees. Some great beach houses. I think this is quite affordable.

Then there was the door. We fiddled and farted around with it, trying to install the very expensive little plastic handle ($56!!!!) which we had purchased at Jayco, Townsville. In the end, Kevin our friendly neighbour with the generator, installed it for us. He insisted that he did not know what he was doing, but that he was persistent, and liked to work things out. All good!

We had a couple of nice happy hours with these folks, set up by another newly arrived Czech couple, who came in their very fancy RV, complete with pull-outs. We had lots of conversations about travel, especially cruises. It was fun, our little circle in the middle of the grounds.

This was one of if not my favorite spot. We were there for six days. One of the ‘standards’ was this generation whatever it is for people in their 30s who would spend most of the day walking around the park in his boxer shorts and nothing else talking on his phone. I think he was working from home (well in this case from the caravan park) and he was always talking business. He seemed like a friendly fellow – wish I had gotten a photo of him – with no self-consciousness. He had one of those vans that people call ‘ Whizz Bangers ‘ next to us.

See our little slideshow of this place below – if you think we are throwing up a lot of photos, it is about one-percent of them. The photo with the fence around it is a crocodile preventive thingy – due to the number of these delightful playful creatures to go for a swim do it inside the fenced area or you will be quickly eaten.

24.   Home Hill July 16

And here I sit, writing this, in the caravan parked on the street behind the visitors’ centre, together with a whole street of caravans of all shapes and sizes. This is a free spot, hot showers included. Terrell is fast asleep, now it’s 6.30am, I’m getting close to accidently waking him up 😊…no I won’t do that.

We did a big U turn when we heard that NSW was closed and we would have to quarantine if we returned home through NSW. So back to Home Hill and onwards to the NT border and then home along the Stuart Hwy.

Last night we did something we never do…go to the pub for a drink and see the band. They were a duet of ladies with their guitars and no electronic add ons other than the PA/mics. They were great. Lots of golden oldies with great voices and lovely harmonies. Very enjoyable, though we were only there for about ½ an hour.

25.   Campaspe River Rest stop

It was a lovely shady spot with a thick green tree shading us. There are we few more folks, but not crowded. The couple near us have been on the road for 14 years. They still love it. We took the bikes off and road along a service road next to the railway track. Half an hour of exercise.

26.   Julia Creek 2 nights

We have started to get into a groove, leaving fairly early in the morning, on our way by at least 8.30am. Now we pack sandwiches; I eat mine at about 11.00am., and we take the thermos for coffee. It’s all pretty efficient and we make good progress

Julia creek is beautiful if you get there early enough for a water’s edge spot, but we didn’t and parked in the large dusty field. Not too bad, but on the second night a caravan parked itself right next to us…despite there being plenty of room not to do that. I was pretty cranky about it; you could hear every word they said!.

Then…..a wind gust tore the caravan awing. We tried taping it, but the more we tried the more it ripped. In the end I phoned Jeff Hale (bless) who said to just rip it right off, take all the canvas off. It worked, we folded the frame back into place and the next morning we were happily on our way. I made a phone call to a guy in Mt Isa to see if he could repair it. It will be an insurance job, but he said he could do it, but the awning would have to come from Brisbane which would take two weeks. So we decided to leave it until we get home to Adelaide (which I’ve just hear is in a 7 day lock down…schools closed etc, because of some Covid cases with the Delta strain in Modbury Hospital.

We also mailed a book for Liam, about the Australian monster dinosaurs.

I found the local dunnart’s interesting – even took a short clip of one though I am unable to find my file – hopefully you can see it here where I posted it on facebook –

click on the URL I think it should show… otherwise I tossed it up to youtube below,

27.   Corella Dam 2 nights

Here I sit in the most beautiful place, above the blue waters of the dam. Incredible. There are hundreds of caravans here, but it’s a huge area. Many folks on the actual shores of the dam. We are up a bit, with a view of water from 3 sides.

Our trip here was interesting. After shopping in Cloncurry (called Curry by the locals) where I scored an awesome meat pie, almost as good as a Villis, we drove to the camping are, studiously following the directions in Camps 8. “At the first Y you take a left”. We literally did that, onto a 2 wheel track, not realising that there are proper dirt roads all the way. We got monumentally stuck. Too many trees, and a sharp out-crop of rocks which Billy got stuck on, but Terrell took care of this with his trusty hammer. Eventually we figured out that we had to saw down a small tree, (sorry Jess) and managed to squeeze though. No damage to the car or van due to Terrell’s good directing. Oh well, we got there, and it was definitely worth it!!!

We took a short afternoon nap, with the breeze wafting through the van and a walk around the grounds. Terrell slipped and fell hard onto his knees. A nasty fall, he now sports a couple of decent bandages on each knee and a ton of Betadine!

We drove to an amazing mine site called Mary Kathleen. It was owned by Rio Tinto who were mining uranium. They built a complete town nearby, with houses, cafes shopping centre and a school for the miners. It was closed in 1985 and all the houses were relocated to Cloncurry, where they are still in use today. Nothing remains of the town, part some foundations and road curbs.

The mine itself was a 6km serious 4WD ride away. A huge place, all in tiers, with a startling blue lake at the bottom. No one can swim there as it is still contaminated. Certainly worth a look, it was just 6 Kms from our camping site.

Our neighbours showed us their yabbie catch. The males have soft red claws, and they can be eaten though we were told they are not as tasty as lobster! They had planned to make a curry using 20 of these yabbies.

28.   Mt Isa

We reluctantly left Corella Dam, to get some connection. Nothing for several days. I had a very unpleasant experience on the drive, as a large truck overtook a road train on a curve and came over the double lines, at least a foot onto my side. I was doing 80Kms at the time, and managed to swerve off the road and into the shoulder. All good, but it sure left my heart pounding.

Mt Isa is dominated by the mine. Large chimneys loom over the town. It is quite large, Coles and Woollies (which we discovered was the better of the two) and we managed to get some help at the Telstra shop. Terrell could not get his hot spot working on the phone. It took two of them ½ hour to find it, but it turned out to be that the ‘data saver’ was on.  They now also sell Oppo phones so that perhaps gives us a bit of tech help when we need it.

The situation in Adelaide is pretty bad Covid wise. Hot spots include Wyn Vale Dam, TTP, Modbury Hospital. The girls, Clare and Stu are all in quarantine at home for 2 weeks. Stu has lost 10 shifts of work. Really tough.

The caravan park at Mt Isa is pretty average with the usual squashed up site, for $45! But we did get stuff done, washed hair, washed clothes, checked internet stuff.

29.   Camooweal Billabong 2 nights

A couple of hours drive and we are at this town 12 Km from the NT border. We followed the Camps 8 directions, past the bridge, turn north, 2 Kms of dirt road and here we are. An amazing site, with our own little billabong, birdlife, 2 fire places and absolutely no road noise. Magic. It’s so quiet and private….

The petrol station was chockers, caravans lined up down the highway. They were charging 1.79 per litre.

Camooweal Billabong is a huge free camp on Lake Francis – even though hundreds go park we were isolated from the herd and had our own little billabong. We rode our bikes to town – bought an ice cream a couple of fridge magnets and that was one of our days. See our groovy photos below:

30.   Barkly homestead 1 night

We got through the NT border, friendly cop, chatty, complaining that this border did not have QR codes like they apparently do In WA.  Listening to Imran Kahn’s CD. Very interesting perspective on the USA after 9/11 and how they waged a “war on terror” costing many thousands of lives in the Muslim community world wide.

This place is great. Barkly Homestead. It has a caravan park, a little pool, lots of space, and tonight we went to the restaurant for dinner. I had meat lovers pizza and Terrell had seared salmon. All good. We watched the Aussies win the swimming in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Bren just texted that he’s back in Lahore after a really interesting trip north into the Himalayas. Looking forward to hearing more.

Josiah is 1 month old. That went very quickly. Sad that we can’t go over there to see the little guy. SA is in lockdown. It’s all a mess. Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison seems to think that borders closings are going to save us from the Delta mutation, instead of putting all effort into getting everyone vaccinated.  Grrr.

31.   Devil’s Marbles 1 night Jul 26, 2021

We left Barkly Homestead early and got over the border and to Tennant Creek stopping at the Three Way Roadhouse. Three Ways is a roadhouse located at the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways, 25 kilometers north of Tennant Creek. Diesel fuel was $2.04 per litre – the highest on this trip. For comparison it is about $1.35 in Adelaide. We filled up not knowing if there would be more available between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs 508 KM away. One full tank gets us abut 450 Ks and having run out back Charters Towers toward the beginning of our trip we were a bit insecure. ‘Spoiler alert’… we didn’t run of fuel getting to Alice.

Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia located in the locality of Warumungu about 105 km south of Tennant Creek, and 393 km north of Alice Springs. the Devils Marble are important to the local Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra, and Warlpiri people who live in the traditional country that surrounds them

An amazing place, but we weren’t the only ones who thought so. The camp site already had 35 caravans, pretty much lined up as in a caravan park. It is a national park, with some nice waking trails where you can see the rock formations from all sides. It’s pretty amazing and has a place in the indigenous people’s dreamtime stories. In the evening we were invited to a campfire to listen to a ranger tell us about his role as a manger of several similar sites, and lots of interesting information about the wildlife, kangaroos, snakes, and Australian’s largest lizard, the Perentie 2 ½ metres long, which keeps the snakes at bay. Much of their work is to cull feral animals (cats mainly, but also donkeys) which threaten the native population.

Another bonus was a guy who, toward sunset went up the path a bit, with the back drop of the rocks, and played his trumpet. Wonderful. Jazz standards like Autumn Leaves, Don’t get around much anymore, Summer Time, all with beautiful improvisations. I asked him about his James Morrisonesque playing and he said he actually had one of his trumpets which he bought from him. He showed me the inscription. Very cool.

32.   Ti Tree. 1 night in a caravan park.

A very pleasant little stay with some interesting characters. There was an ex-truckie in his own little set-up with car and tent, who watched me reverse the caravan ( I was  little concerned) and told me later that I drove better than 90% of his trucker mates. Not true I’m sure, but I’ll take it!

Then we met a couple of women, both with their own fancy RV’s, who had met further up the road and decided, after asking each other relevant questions like “How fast do you drive?”, to travel together. So they follow each other at a decent speed of 100 KPH, and enjoy each other’s company’. They both gave me the guided tour of their vans and I told them to watch “Nomadland”.

Barrow Creek: “Barrow Creek is a very small town, with a current population of 11, in the southern Northern Territory of Australia. It is located on the Stuart Highway, about 280 km north of Alice Springs, about halfway from there to Tennant Creek. The main feature of the town is the roadhouse/hotel” We stopped here and ‘refreshed’.

33.   Alice Springs 3 nights. July 28, 2021

Much nicer than I was expecting. A few years ago it was the most dangerous city in the world per capita, mainly because of the stabbings!

We met up with a friend of Terrell’s from way way back….30 years or so, Rik Rosalski. It was interesting to listen to his stories about his youth work with the Indigenous young people. Lots of issues but he is a gentle type and works well with them in a non-judgemental way.

The second day Rik invited us back for lunch, where we met his son Nik and his wife and little son. They were a lovely couple and we enjoyed shooting the breeze with this family.

We decided to stay another night and get some stuff done. The internet (Telstra) is pretty sparce on this trip. I worked with Shambhu in his project to earn some commission on carpet sales from the Moghul Company to my friends. I put up a blurb on Facebook with a bunch of pictures describing this situation (which for both Shambhu and the Carpet seller is pretty dire now with Covid) Surprisingly, I got 5 expressions of interest almost straight away (Jenn, Jo, Liz, Deanna, Marnie). So we’ll see. I hope it all works out.

Alice Springs is set amongst rocky hills, which reflect the sun and it make quite a colourful sight. It has a central area, usual shops, and a huge police station and Federal Court buildings! We bought a nice music box at a jeweller for Mabel’s birthday in the shopping mall.

Rik also showed us a nice lookout point dedicated to soldiers in different wars Australia has fought in. It was a beautiful spot. We also had a bike ride near the caravan park. The town is pretty good for that, with lots of bike paths, which Rik enjoyed with his newly purchased E-Bike….a real chunky one!

We got to the South Australia border – worried for days that we would be refused entry. We saw the sign – got rid of our fruit and veggies – we filled in the online permit covid thingy and hoped for the best. No one was there to greet us – I had wanted a full brass band, dancing girls in mini-skirts (oh shit the me-2 freaks are going to come after me – shut me down on twitter…and the other 73.5 social-less sites I inhabit.

34.   Marryat Rest Area (near Marla) 1 night

A simple overnight rest area next to the Stuart highway. The highlight was sitting in our deck chairs in the dark looking at the magnificent sky. There was no moonlight, just a couple of sinister clouds sometimes coming across. Gorgeous.

We met a woman travelling with her sister in an impressive rig. Both husbands had died and they were off to Katherine, to turn left into WA and take a trip around and back to Adelaide, expecting to take up to 6 months.

One of them came from Mt Compass, had lived there forever and so Terrell and her shared stories of their memories in the 80’s. It’s a small world.

35.   Rest area north of Coober Pedy 1 night

Found a decent spot in the middle of the red desert! It’s very quiet, not too hot, and lots of room for everyone. So far only 4 other campers, a long way from each other.

Terrell made a very respectable fire in the evening, which was still glowing the next morning so we also had a morning coffee fire. Nice!

36.   Rest area south of Coober Pedy 1 night

Drove into Coober Pedy to get some supplies at their great IGA. They have so much good stuff, Terrell remembered this from last time. All sorts of gourmet things, and of course good health food stuff.

Then a fairly long drive to the next spot. It was blowing pretty hard, around 45 kph, which did not stop all night long. We had a bit of a restless night because of this I think. No fires tonight there was way too much wind.

37.   Lake Hart 1 night August 3, 2021

We stopped at a petrol station hoping to have brekkie there, but the sign on the door said, no entry if you have been interstate in the past 2 weeks.

So onward to Lake Hart, a huge salt lake we have camped at before, back in 2017. We are a bit low on supplies, so we’ll be using some tins, and bits and bobs. Nothing too flash, but it’s a beautiful spot. Definitely back in the winter zone, coats and beanies. And I have a little stash of Peter’s drumstick, double choc. My new favs.

We wanted to take the Ghan – at least one way but it is booked for the rest of the year – a couple of days with this view. Oh Wait! we just did this for months…The Ghan is an Australian experiential tourism passenger train that travels between the cities of Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin in the Adelaide–Darwin rail corridor.

“Once one of Australia’s most prized salt deposits, Lake Hart was at the centre of a thriving industry in the 1930s. Today, it draws visitors for its isolation and natural beauty and can be spotted from the comfort of Great Southern Rail’s Ghan as it snakes its way along 2,979km of rail between Darwin and Adelaide.”

38.   Pt Augusta Aug 4, 2021 2 nights

A nice site in Pt Augusta. We did not expect this. The caravan park was right on a water passage with long goods trains on the other side, really long! We set up camp, checked out the facilities (clean, new and pleasant , with a radio playing there all the time. Also a very well equipped huge camp kitchen, where we happily watched the news with the whole place to ourselves, the first time in quite a while.

That evening we met Gaynor for dinner at the local pub. I had a great beef lasagne, with salad and chips, more than enough, and Terrell had a nice fish meal. Nice to catch up, she is the safety officer of the large clean energy facilities, with windmills and acres of solar panels. She loves the job.

We took a bike ride to Maccas, underestimating the distance, but crossing the long bridge which was beautiful and made it worth the ride.

The next day we drove home. We were quite ready to be home again, despite the crappy weather. The kitchen when we walked in felt HUGE! 😊 And that first night I was looking for the portapotty. 😊

All in all a wonderful trip, which we will no doubt do again in a different direction.

our next vehicles – you are welcomed to come along

Well we have run out of puff writing this – bottom line – long story short – we got home before my birthday. Turned 74 August 10th thanks for all the gifts, well wishes, love, poems, money…

We had bought our tickets to New Zealand for October – had two house exchanges. Of course, we take chances – though we really thought we had this one. Now NZ is closed to us all until end of the year. Maybe next April. Then maybe next July or so to the States. We were supposed to have gone this last year: had bought a ticket on the Queen Mary II, house exchange in Chicago for a month – had our round trip ticket on Amtrak DC to Chicago. Luckily we got all our money back, even the insurance except for a boat trip Great Britain to Hamburg to get the Queen Mary – got a credit for that one so hopefully next year. Looking forward to catching up with you soon. Put the kettle on – it won’t be long. 27/08/2021

SIGNS OF THE TIMES WE HAD

As we got back to celebrate my birthday – who won’t? we went to see the Van Gogh Alive show

And that’s a wrap – off to live a ‘normal’ everyday life – work in the garden – ride our bikes – play with the grandchildren and make videos with them and wait until next year to travel unless we do sooner. Of course, I write everyday on my page over at https://neuage.org/2021/ and at our #OurCurrentLifeWithCovid page

on my 74th birthday

Darwin

She was a carefree flower girl of 18
Selling flowers on Bourbon Street
1968
I was a street artist…

Life with Covid as of an hour ago

To Darwin 05-February 2021

Flight Adelaide to Darwin 3.5 hours

Flight Adelaide to Darwin 3.5 hours

Notes/photos of three weeks in Darwin.  Individual articles were tossed up to https://neuage.substack.com/

Narda in italics Terrell whatever

Adelaide airport

Adelaide airportIt always happens. I think it has to do with getting old. Any change in our routine and we have a terrible night’s sleep. As our flight to Darwin was leaving at 6.40 AM, we do as we usually do when we have an early morning flight. We stay at the Altura Adelaide Airport Hotel. Nothing fancy about the place, just the typical overpriced airport hotel. What is so good though is that it is a part of the airport – just walk from the hotel into the check-in area. Our last flight was to the Netherlands -January 2020 – then covid…we were back in Adelaide by mid-March.

It is more than an hour to the airport by bus from our house, which is free for us seniors, and we would rather pay the hotel than the taxi ride which is about $70. The hotel has specials and this time it was $122. We even walked over to Ikea for dinner which was less than half the cost of eating at the hotel.

Back to our messed routines. When there is a change in our routine, we get little sleep. We went to sleep about 9 pm – wide awake at 1 am – another hour or so sleep before the alarm at 4.30. Narda had just gotten back to sleep since being awake at one, I think I went to sleep about 2.30 which is the last time I saw the clock. By five am we were checking in. We had breakfast at the airport; a good Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce for me and an omelette for Narda. We were on the plane by a bit after six. Half an hour later they said we all had to get off the plane due to mechanical error and get onto another plane. As any zombie with little sleep would be, we staggered to the next plane. By 8.30 – a couple of hours later than we were supposed to leave we were on our way.

When we got to Darwin, taking a taxi ($35) to our hotel we were told our apartment was not ready, so we dragged ourselves to the nearest supermarket to get a few things.

We are on the 13th floor of the Ramada Suites – Zen Quarter. They have cute little Zen sayings all over the place and statues of Buddha. This one just happens to be on our floor viewed getting off the lift on the way to our flat.

By 3 pm we were taking our nap – I lasted half an hour. Writing this I feel pretty icky. I am going off to the gym soon and tomorrow we will go into the pool and try doing our Aqua Zumba without a leader. We do the Zumba three times a week in Adelaide at an hour each time. Not being disciplined I doubt we will last fifteen minutes. We tried this a couple of years ago in Florida and after ten minutes then a lap or three we would go home.

After our first or was it the second nap? We went to the roof which is only a couple of floors above us. Great views of the sea and port. Narda is concerned about the balcony and at night pushed the sofa in front of the door in fear that I may sleepwalk and fall off the balcony. Considering I have never sleepwalked in my life that I know of I feel even more safe now. There are few people in the hotel now as this is low season.

Eating on our balcony is one of our favourite things to do (so far after one day here). This is with a storm rolling in.

A few views from our floor – there is a balcony in each direction so we do not always have to go to the rooftop to get a view.

A view of road-trains loading up the morning’s catch on their way across Australia

Strangers in a foreign land 08-02

Here we are day 3 in Darwin. Day one we spent bits of the afternoon after arriving getting caught up on sleep and viewing the city from the roof of our building. Darwin CBD is small we walk it all in fifteen minutes. There is a mall and a shopping centre with a Coles supermarket ten-minutes away and a Woolworths supermarket eleven-minutes away. Fifteen-minute walk is the Darwin Waterfront Precinct a cool area with lots of restaurants and shops and Stokes Hill Wharf where cruise ships would come in if it were not for Covid-19. I have lived in Hawaii (1969 – 1971 / 1980 – 1981) as well as a few visits. I took my parents to Pearl Harbor and thought I knew lots of stuff. But until yesterday I did not know that more aircraft attacked Darwin than attacked Pearl Harbor. More bombs fell on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor. More ships were sunk in Darwin. On 19 February 1942 Darwin was bombed. We watched folks setting up a huge tent for the memorial in ten-days 19th February. A lot going on here in the next couple of weeks.

This is not what I was really going to write about – got side-tracked.

Living like a local 11-02

what Narda likes especially about Darwin – after being here for 5 days

  • Found chicken parmie special at Hotel Darwin last night. $19, a bargain for Darwin. (as for me…being a vegetarian for 50+ years, I ate their veggie mix which was adequate)
  • We cross the road at the lights diagonally!
  • Attended our first Aqua Gym class, made a new friend Susie.
  • Riding all buses for free all hours.
  • Found a local servo with $1 coffees: nice ones. We have a family rule, you cannot NOT buy a $1 coffee.
  • Found a suburb we might like to live in, Fannie Bay. Lots of houses there for $2,000,000 plus!!!! Blimey. Decided to stay where we are. (PS, I later decided that Nightscliff is more to our taste…more authentic, less yuppie)

When we miss Darwin, we’ll buy a humidifier.

We had our second aqua class today. Deep water – meaning feet do not touch the bottom. Luckily, being old as we are – we get a floaty thing to wrap around our belly. It is our first time to do this for 45 minutes – it was a good work out. Our instructor is from the Bronx so that made two out of about eight people there from New York. 25% New Yorkers in Darwin – a very cosmopolitan city.

Democracy sucks 14-02

I get up at five every morning watching the impeachment trial – always knowing the result. I want to sleep in – I am on holiday – well, being 73 and retired, every day is a holiday. But I am somewhere else, Darwin, we can only travel in Australia. Now even our home state South Australia is locking out our neighbouring state of Victoria for a week due to covid – 14 new cases in the whole state and the rest of the country locks their doors. More than one-hundred thousand new cases in the USA so far today – a few days ago there were more than two-hundred thousand in a day – 4,500 dead whereas in Australia no new deaths – there have not been any deaths for a long time. Happily, this is the end of the so-called impeachment trial. They just voted 57 – 43 so he is guilty but not guilty enough. What can I do? Millions of people worldwide are upset. I have given up on America and I am an American. My big protest I dumped on to Twitter.

Oh look! I have one retweet and 2 likes.

Another beautiful morning in Darwin from our 13th floor.

We walked along the wharf to the fishing fleet’s early morning arrival.

Yesterday we went to the Parap Market – rather disappointing, expensive eating places and local crafts. Took a random bus out of there and spent the rest of the day at Casuarina Square which is the largest shopping mall in the Northern Territory.

Now, Saturday morning, sick of all the senate farcical impeachment nonsense we are watching ‘Groundhog Day’. No more news – goodbye America – your democracy is a failure.

On ferries and other vessels

Narda in italics Terrell whatever

We arrived at the bus stop outside of Woolies for bus number 4 which would take us to the National Museum and Art Gallery. A minute later, a bus arrived heading to Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal. We looked at each other, and without much further thought or discussion, jumped on board. Luckily there were a few friendly folk on the bus who filled in the information we needed. “This is a bus taking you to the ferry terminal, you can go across the harbour to Mandorah”. It cost $30 for 2 return tickets, a fancy ferry. It was only on the ferry we realised that there was not a town at the other end, just a jetty. It was, however, a nice ten-minute ride. A free shuttle bus was taking travellers to Cox’s Tavern, but we were told that it might be full of people who had purchased package deals. On arrival we were the first off. We briskly walked to the minibus and sheepishly asked if we might come if there are spare seats. The bus driver said, “just get in”. We did. It was free. All is well.

A nice drive through some tropical forest, and there we were, a pub in the middle of nowhere, a band due to play in the avo, and pub grub waiting for us. We ordered fisherman’s baskets and sat with our young backpacker friend, called Max, with whom we had wonderful engaging conversation. The kid was 19 and heading out for a year long trip through Australia. Cool.

see our short video of this https://youtu.be/q96RNjktc54

https://youtu.be/q96RNjktc54

A nice drive through some tropical forest, and there we were, a pub in the middle of nowhere, a band due to play in the avo, and pub grub waiting for us. We ordered fisherman’s baskets and sat with our young backpacker called Max, with whom we had wonderful engaging conversation. The kid was 19 and heading out for a year long trip through Australia. Cool.

This morning Max joined us in our second boat ride. It was a small, but fast vessel, with an amazing guy giving us the low down on the invasion of Darwin by the Japs in WW2. Fascinating. Incredible stories about Australian politicians ignoring warnings from the military and naval people, resulting in a gigantic surprise attack. Even as the bombers approached, folks pointed and said that it must be the Americans. There were many deaths, far bigger than Pearl Harbour, and  also many heroic tales of sacrifice. One of the worst things was that fuel tankers and containers were bombed, spilling the fuel into the fast retreating 26-foot tide, out into the sea. It caught fire, burning many sailors and wharfies alive as they were thrown into it from the bombed ships. The ironic upside was that the thick black smoke obscured more vessels from the bombers, probably saving many lives as well.

there are sometimes that being a vegetarian means missing out on some good old tucker

torn between crocodile schnitzel - Kangaroo schnitzel - Barra schnitzel: what's a vegetarian to do?

torn between crocodile schnitzel – Kangaroo schnitzel – Barra schnitzel: what’s a vegetarian to do?

or just chilling with a good ice coffee on the wharf 

our video for this is below- it is not as long as it looks…

Stokes Hill Wharf

we spent a lot of time at Stokes Hill Wharf

we spent a lot of time at Stokes Hill Wharf

these tugs @ low tide - @ high tide they would be level with the jetty - we often saw them out towing a large ship into port or pushing one out

these tugs @ low tide – @ high tide they would be level with the jetty – we often saw them out towing a large ship into port or pushing one out

World War 2, Darwin bombing & etc

We sat under a fan in a giant marquee with I recon at least a thousand others. 

Bombing of Darwin Day

Bombing of Darwin Day

The band of the 1st Brigade played, wreaths were laid, the last post was played, and notable people spoke. It was very moving. Then the air raid sounded sirens and a jet flew over, real loud, real close. The gunners shot rounds into the sea. Cosmetic smoke whirled around us.

Today is the 79th year anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.

After attending this commemoration service, we walked up to Stokes Wharf and saw the Flying Doctor Museum 

Narda attempts to save stuffed bear on operating table but it died before we could learn her name

Narda attempts to save stuffed bear on operating table but it died before we could learn her name

and learned more about the bombing. There were special headsets where you could experience, virtual reality style, what it was to be there in the harbour as the bombs fell, the smoke, then falling from a fighter jet and nearly drowning. Quite the experience. 

Our video of this wonderful day… https://youtu.be/j9kQd3e9jbQ

Cyclone Tracy

It was a small one but extraordinarily strong. No one expected it to disrupt their Christmas eve in 1974. The cyclone made a direct hit on Darwin, destroying 70% of the buildings and 80% of the homes, with gusts of wind up to 250 Km per hour. 30,000 people were evacuated, many of them never returned.

The museum has a special exhibition for the cyclone, lots of footage, even a small booth you could go into to experience the noise it made, in total darkness. Pretty amazing. 

Cyclone Tracy Museum

Cyclone Tracy Museum

The museum was really good, one of the highlights of the museum was a maritime exhibition of many of the boats that carried people from Indonesia, Vietnam, Borneo and other islands, trying to get into Australia. Back then, in the 70s and 80s they were welcomed, though some were repatriated back to their countries. Now we treat them horribly and lock them up.

Hotel Darwin

Barramundi was on the specials menu and Terrell wanted to return for the third time. I had Caveman Pizza…Yum. You can imagine it. Back to Stokes Wharf, we met with Joel and Phoebe. It was very enjoyable, lots of interesting conversation. These guys have done well here and love it. Cannot see them leaving. There is much to love, everywhere you look, you see water. Lots of rain, almost every afternoon. And friendly people. We have almost forgotten that it is also expensive. 

QANTAS begins

QANTAS begins

Our new friend Max has found a temporary job in Kakadu, in a hotel called Crocodile Hotel, a nice start to his gap-year backpacking adventure. He said we should come down and see it all. Unfortunately, it is a 3 hour drive away, and with no car…though it was tempting.

Darwin Botanic Gardens: which is more dangerous? a python or a badass wife

Darwin Botanic Gardens: which is more dangerous? a python or a badass wife

We slept in late today

We slept in late today because it was Sunday…oh wait! We do that every day. Nevertheless, when we did get our sorry asses out of the flat, we looked at our list of stuff to do in Darwin and in our first two weeks we have done most of what has been recommended – or we found what we like to do already done.

So, we took a random bus – the first bus that we saw to wherever it was going. We do this wherever we are in the world – a great way to see places never thought of or known about. Here in Darwin, being old farts has its benefits, there is no charge for public transportation with our senior’s card. The first bus to come along was the number 10. As we were enjoying the view of going through the Darwin burbs, we saw a market across the street from a stop and quickly alighted. The Rapid Bay Sunday Market was a local and wonderful market. It was like being in Asia except with Darwin prices (about 25% more than Adelaide and Adelaide is about 56% more than Asia). Lots of food stalls. We went to one that is advertised as ‘the one’, last Saturday (Parap Village Market, they even have a yuppie webpage https://parapvillage.com.au/)  – very touristy – very western – like those organic markets one finds in the States etc. – where they just double the price and put the word ‘organic’ in front of everything. Like one would find in Eugene Oregon (think ‘Portlandia’) everyone looking so fresh, young, wholesome…organic. Perhaps I should not say such stuff, after all I was a tofu manufacturer in Adelaide for eight-years, flogging my bloody organic soyfoods… https://tofu.neuage.us/

That’s it – we had some lunch @ the Rapid Bay Sunday Market. I took a few photos – see our  one-minute clip at

Oh, back to our list – most of which is done and crossed off in our first two weeks – five-more days to do the rest.

  1. Watch sunset @ Cullen Bay
  2. Darwin’s Doctors Gully – fish feeding – http://aquascene.com.au/
  3. Casino – not to gamble (maybe) just an alleged groovy place to visit
  4. Darwin Aviation Museum https://www.darwinaviationmuseum.com.au/
  5. Military Museum – I think we are giving this a miss
  6. Cyclone Tracy Museum
  7. National Art Museum https://www.magnt.net.au/
  8. Flying Doctor Museum https://www.rfdsdarwin.com.au/
  9. Commemoration Bombing of Darwin 19th Feb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Darwin
  10. Parliament House https://parliament.nt.gov.au/
  11. Botanic Gardens

Darwin Aviation Museum

The number 8 bus goes from central Darwin along Stuart Highway to the Darwin Aviation Museum.

Not really real – but close…

Darwin Aviation Museum: two crazy pilots

Darwin Aviation Museum: two crazy pilots

Interesting stories about Darwin’s aviation history and wartime experience with 19 aircraft including a B52 bomber, 21 engines and a rare amateur footage of the first air-raid in Darwin on display. Aircraft include a B-25 Mitchell Bomber (one of the few surviving in the world), a replica Spitfire, Mirage, Avon Sabre, a Royal Australian Navy Wessex helicopter that assisted in the clean-up of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy, F-111C, the legendary B52 Bomber.

Loving aircraft this was toward the top of my list. However, knowing that the beauty of these aircraft has the only purpose of killing takes away some of the lustre. The most distressing display was the photos of more than 500 Australians killed in the VietNam War. Even more distressing is that these young people, mostly in their early 20s, were conscripted– they had no choice about dying. What did it accomplish?

I (Narda) still have memories of bring my trannie (transistor radio) to my high school at the age of 15 and crouching over it with a group of my friends listening to the roll call of birth dates. My then boyfriend, Peter, later my first husband, (now my good friend) was not called.

To quote from https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news

WHEN the wooden balls began dropping from the barrel 50 years ago this week, there were many people who were hoping that this was one lottery in which their number wouldn’t come up. 

The prize was a trip to Kapooka or Puckapunyal, for National Service training and possibly a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Often known as the “birthday lottery” it was held in secret in the boardroom of the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne. 

The draw was done from a barrel that had been used for 50 years for Tattersall’s cup sweeps, filled with 181 numbered marbles representing the days of the year from January 1 to June 30. Alternate lotteries would have 184 balls for the dates of the rest of the year.

If one of the balls drawn corresponded to the birth date of one of the thousands of Australian men, aged 20, who had registered for National Service, it meant they were eligible for call-up.

From that first ballot, on March 10, 1965, around 2100 men would be called up. While many of those went willingly, the birthday lottery was not without controversy. It was also not the first time a bingo barrel had been used to call up men for national service.

That was how it was done in Australia. In the States it was a bit different for us.

Nevertheless, a visit to this museum is well worth it.

See our two minute clip at https://youtu.be/Bu-gazFBOF4

Zen of Mac & Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese – perhaps an American thing like peanut butter and jelly. I have had to give it up for way too long. I am on one of those low-carb diets – defeating diabetes, wishful – wild attempts @ that… to reboot the system – with some success if success can be counted as being close but never complete. I have brought blood sugars down though still too high to proclaim that besides machine-learning my body is best (it isn’t).

We do Aqua Zumba a few times a week. We have been doing this for years in Adelaide; me and 35 women – my fantasy from 50 years ago, finally come true. We even found a class here in Darwin with our groovy NYC instructor, Audrey. We do a Tuesday Aqua- Pilates class and a Thursday deep water (over our head for 45 minutes) class. That is what brings my sugars down. For example, yesterday before class my sugars were 9.8 – 45 minutes later 5.9 (anything below 6 is normal). I will do anything to be normal – apart from aspiring to being a bogan – it is my second my sought after title, ‘normal’. After mac & cheese my sugars are between 18 – 20 – oops. The same with my second favourite food, mashed potatoes – and rice, bread, maple syrup…

Not being able to spend 67% of my life in the pool I try to control my diet. However, last night we decided to go out for dinner. Mitchell Street, ten minutes from our hotel, is a hub for restaurants. We go there most mornings, to McDonalds of all places, but that is because we get senior’s coffee – the second cup is free, and they do make good latte. I had it in my mind that I wanted a meal of mac & cheese – for the first one of 2021. I don’t think I had any in 2020 – but that was a bit of an unusual year anyway wasn’t it? We looked at heaps of places and no one was offering such godly tastes. We needed to find one that catered to Yanks. It is in the news that ‘Thousands of US marines to touch down in Darwin before June 2021’ (arriving in batches of 200-500 marines) – probably to find a good mac and cheese. Knowing that heaps of the critters are already roaming the streets of Darwin was a good piece of information. There must be a place that panders to the American palate.  And there was. Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar was our nirvana.

Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar

Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar

And yes, they had six tanks

Six Tanks Brew Co.

Six Tanks Brew Co.

And yes, they had mac & cheese… (Narda had lasagna, probably because it had meat…yuck – though she claimed it was yummy)

Six Tanks Brew Co. Mac and Cheese

Six Tanks Brew Co. Mac and Cheese

And that is it. Nothing Zen about it. Perhaps it is because I once chased the Zen concept, whatever that was, lots of decades ago. I was thinking about that period so long ago when I saw that my favourite beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, passed away on Monday, February 22nd – he was 101 years old…
I remember going often to the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco in the 1960s – seeing him in NYC – following him for decades… reading my own poems all over the place back in 1960s. But that was then now isn’t and the only Zen in view is our hotel here in Darwin. Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin – https://www.zenquarter.com/

Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin

Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin

And this is the meal I was so excited about

Then we stopped at Woolworths on the way home and got some magical chocolate and peanut butter ice creams to celebrate my high sugar/carb intake as we watched ‘Outlander’ on Netflix. I do not take my sugar readings during these times – I am having a holiday from myself. Loving it! However, here I am up since 3.30 am because I could not get back to sleep so perhaps I will not have mac and cheese for a while.

Goodbye Darwin

During our three-weeks here I took photos of the street art around Darwin and made a short clip of them.

Here we are back home. We took a chance going to Darwin. Often, lately, we would turn on the morning news and some area of Australia would be closed due to Covid. Flights, after landing, would be sent back. South Australia would close its border then Queensland or Victoria or Western Australia or New South Wales – it was a roulette table featuring a map of Australia – a dart board that once blindfolded the area we would want to be in would be the winner of our getting there.

We bought our roundtrip tickets to Darwin; a few days later a couple of states became closed for a week or so. The day before we were to leave, we booked into the airport hotel, Atura, as we do when we go overseas and leave early in the morning. We were up at 4.30 and thankfully our flight was still listed. We spent our three-weeks in Darwin, as highlighted below, and got back to Adelaide without a hitch. At Adelaide airport after going through a check to see where we had been, that we were not near any covid hotspots or overseas or feeling yucky and then we each got a little ticket that we could show on our way through the airport to safely get out. Really sophisticated tickets to say the least,

Our last morning we had breakfast at the Ramada where we were staying. The sunrise was so spectacular that even the kitchen folks came out to take photos.

These were taken minutes apart and are not photo-shopped. Obviously, I changed the settings on my camera but don’t recall what they were.

One of our evening past times was playing pool on the fifteenth floor. Narda beat me every time – not quite sure why. I think I used to be quite good.

As always, I bought a fridge magnet to add to our collection. Hopefully, we get lots more this year – probably none from overseas.

right fridge door

right fridge door

Of course, they become lost when the fridge is looked at from a distance – the two front doors and the left/right side leave little room for more. Narda’s rule is that we can not have a magnet from a place unless we stay at least one night there. No airport transit or day trip through a city – which as you can see limits me a lot, so I am just satisfied with this, now slowly, growing collection.

side of fridge (right)

side of fridge (right)

left side - right side of fridge - Soon we will need a new fridge for our next overseas trip

left side – right side of fridge – Soon we will need a new fridge for our next overseas trip

and that is all for now. Our next trip is a four to six month caravan trip through the Outback Queensland.

Stokes Hill Wharf is the main wharf for the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia and is named after Stokes Hill, which it sits beside. The hill itself was named after the previous commander of HMS Beagle, Captain Pringle Stokes, by the current commander of the Beagle, John Clements Wickham in 1839.

Stokes Hill Wharf is the main wharf for the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia and is named after Stokes Hill, which it sits beside. The hill itself was named after the previous commander of HMS Beagle, Captain Pringle Stokes, by the current commander of the Beagle, John Clements Wickham in 1839.

Thanks for sharing this moment with us.

#Daily Thoughts 03 March 2021
Our current life with Covid as of 03 March 2021
how we see the world today 01 March 2021 (Goodbye Darwin)
youtube videos
25 February 2021 (Darwin Street Art

video – (ties in isolation)
previous youtube channel (prior to 2013)

picture poems are available at these sites: Twitter, Google Plus ~ Tumblr ~ Pinterest ~ linkedin updated 05 February 2019 Adelaide, South Australia

Leaving Australia Book 2‘ (new NOW IN PAPERBACK & AS E-BOOK)
Leaving Australia “Again’: Before the After” (See the first ten pages of each for free) Paperback Edition

Port Macquarie

Our current life with Covid as of  28 February 2021 Darwin, Australia

how we see the world today   Thursday 25 February 2021

Thoughts in Isolation https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08TW5FNHN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky us: we left South Australia four days before the border was closed due to Covid 19, We left Port Macquarie a few days after massive rain and floods that would have put us under water where we were camping and we left Sydney 14 days after it is now being shut due to Covid 19. Here we are waiting to see you. And going over a few of our notes of the last part of our trip to New South Wales

Italics are Narda’s notes – straight up – Terrell’s scribbles…

Jerry’s Landing and Beyond December 6, 2020

The girl going in the opposite direction wound down her window looking a little alarmed at my frantic waving. “How much further?” I asked her. No, it’s not like asking “are we there yet, mum”. I was driving on a very bad stretch of corrugated dirt road. I had been promised by Google and by some blogs that this shortcut from Jerry’s Landing to Bathurst was “all sealed”, “suitable for a caravan”, and yet here we are. What the heck. Luckily, she assured me it was “not much further”. Another couple of kms at 5 kms per hour and we start climbing steeply, still on dirt. Worse still we had to come down the mountain. I engaged low gear and 4-wheel drive and inched my way down, heart pounding. Terrell, completely unfazed, happily took photos.

We questioned whether we should be leaving the New South Wales coast where we have been the past three weeks: Port Macquarie, Forster…various beaches, rainforests. Hiking, swimming, biking…chilling and wishing we lived here more permanently. For some odd reason we started thinking maybe we should get back to Adelaide by mid-December for various appointments and of course to see Maggie and Mabel who recently not only turned 7 and nine years old recently but who obviously are almost teenagers – at least by the looks of the posts that their parents put up. Mabel at seven already a basketball star, Maggie a star in so many ways. So, we are headed inland. Instead of going the way we came through Dubbo and Broken Hill we are going a bit south via Bathurst then across through Mildura. We had wanted to go through Victoria to stop in Melbourne and see Sacha but then there is the virus…Victoria has just opened…what if South Australia makes people go into two weeks at an expensive hotel when we cross the border like Sacha did last month ($3,000 for a mandatory 2-week quarantine)? We are just scraping Victoria – as Mildura is approved if we do not stop between the New South Wales border and South Australia.

As we did on the way to the coast, we stopped overnight for free camping at Jerrys Plains. It is off the main highway, Past Pagan Street, where else would one want to camp?

Jerrys Plains is horse country. It reminds us of Kentucky except the fences are not painted white.

Off @ 7 am – not us, but us; off down the Golden Highway, until we turned off to take the scenic route to Bathurst.

OMG what a winding up the bloody mountain down the bloody mountain even a dirt road thrown in to the ‘scenic mix’ journey. The dirt road is corrugated [‘Washboarding or corrugation of roads comprises a series of ripples, which occur with the passage of wheels rolling over unpaved roads at speeds sufficient to cause bouncing of the wheel on the initially unrippled surface and take on the appearance of a laundry washboard.’]. In other words, it was an extremely bumpy road. Narda pulled over a passing vehicle to ask how much further before the road became a ‘real road’. We were going at the amazing speed of about ten kilometres an hour at the time with Narda toying with the idea of turning around and going back. How we were supposed to turn around with Billy (our truck) pulling a two-tonne caravan (Holiday) was not discussed…probably because there was nowhere to turn around, anyway, the driver, a young girl with lots of face piercing and tats and red hair (why do I notice all this in a four-minute interaction?) said it was only a short piece before we got to pavement, keeping us going forward for the next half hour. Narda was driving at this point and became more alarmed when the ‘washboard’ road became a steep descent.

Short 30 second video of this road… Take a left at Denman and be thrilled by the “National Park” signs.

Of course, we survived, I am writing this, arriving at the town of Bylong with its one store. I took over driving for the next hour and lucky for me the road was just a regular country road.

Road trip to Bathurst

After stopping in Kandos for petrol we arrived in Bathurst at 1.30; our GPS had innocently proclaimed we would arrive at 10.30 when we left Jerrys Plains. Chalk it up to the elderly out on a scenic drive.

Looking back, with some PTSD, and cup of coffee, I don’t regret that road. The scenery was amazing! We were on the leeward side of the Blue Mountains, valleys and national parks and beautiful Victorian villages with little development. We had 2 eggs and toast while sitting near a table with two paramedics, me busy.straining to eavesdrop. They said that their last job was a couple nights ago, “there were 3”. I filled in the blanks myself (3 bodies? 3 cars?) and was glad they were not

Bathurst

A crazy old broad (also from Adelaide) came racing to us in her golf cart, skidding around corners. She was fun and friendly and signed us into the Bathurst Showground for 2 nights.

 

We got more than we bargained for with a “severe” thunderstorm and large hailstones promised. What do you do?  Well, we took down the awning, which we can now do in under a minute (we’ve been practising) and unplugged the computers. We even asked the man in charge of the carnival, which was also parked in the showgrounds, sadly in the rain. He said, “don’t worry about the hailstones, the sky has to be green for that to happen”. Seriously, he said that. The guys standing around looked up at the sky and sagely nodded their heads in agreement. They call themselves “carnies”. We bought $5 admission tickets out of sympathy, and free hotdogs and chips was part of the deal. It rained the whole time; we were their only customers.

We are camping out at the Bathurst Showgrounds. Lucky for us there is a fair going on so Narda bought a hot dog and the only vegetarian thing they had was chips, so we had our nourishment for the afternoon and settled in for a nap.

After a stormy night – not us – the weather; high winds, thunder/lightening, rain, we did a bit of exploring in Bathurst, including going up the mountain to the racetrack. For non-Australians, it is the most famous of the racetracks: “Mount Panorama Circuit is best known as the home of the Bathurst 1000 motor race held each October, and the Bathurst 12 Hour event held each February.” https://www.mount-panorama.com.au/ We drove around the track at the blistering speed of 60 Ks – taking about 12 minutes to go around. The track record is 2 minutes, with the top speed being 300 km/h (190 mph) on a straightaway.

Tomorrow we are going to Sydney for the day, leaving at 7 am. The 4-hour train ride is through the mountains. The train back is at three pm; we will spend a day in one of those world cities you read about in the comic books. Being seniors, we get to do the whole day for $2.50 each which includes the train, ferries in Sydney, buses, and trams. Of course, we will spend our year’s pension on food.

Sydney

We had coffee in midtown Bathurst with a friend of Narda’s she had not seen for twenty years. While talking about how we had thought of going to Sydney but changed our mind as we did not want to drag the caravan over the mountains to get there. She suggested we take the train. Not only that but that we use the New South Wales Opal card to get there. The Opal card gives seniors a day’s travel on any transportation in New South Wales for the crazy price of $2.50 for the day. That includes ferry, train, bus, and tram. We went back to our home at the showgrounds clutching our borrowed opal cards and waited as any children would do for sunrise to rush off to the train station.

@ 7.34 am we were settled in with our facemasks on. BTW, this is the first time since arriving in Australia from The Netherlands eight months earlier in March that we have had masks on or seen anyone else with one on.

The signs at the station and on the train suggest wearing a mask on public transportation but not as a rule. On the train we saw only one person not wearing a mask. I posted a photo of us on the train on FB and my sister in New York immediately wrote back for us to change seats as the person in front of us did not have mask on. Such is the life in the States. We did not change seats and wore masks for the day when inside.

In Sydney, more people wore masks in the shopping centres but not on the streets. Sydney is coming off a hard lockdown with no new cases for the past few weeks.

The reason I wanted to come here was to “see Leigh”. Leigh died in 2003 falling from the Novotel Hotel in front of the Olympic Stadium – I try to get here every year though sometimes we do not. What I always find surprising is that the tape is still on the pole where I posted a memorial of him in 2003 along with his baseball card from the Dodgers. The memorials have long been gone but the tape is still there. https://neuage.org/leigh.html 

 

 

I find sitting across the hotel one of my comfort places in the world.

As we only had a few hours from when we arrived in Sydney to taking the train back at 3 pm we did not do more than go out to Olympic Park.

Catching the train at Central is almost like travelling again.

The ride home was as beautiful as the train ride there – well duh! Of course, it was on the same track.

Riding through the Blue Mountains [The Blue Mountains are an extensive Triassic sandstone plateau rising to 1,100 metres (3,609 ft) near Mount Victoria

We saw the effect the 2019-2020 bush fires had on the area, almost a year later green is beginning to re-emerge:

From an online page about the fires, “Here in the Blue Mountains the extent of the fires has greatly exceeded any previous recorded fire seasons. Over 80% of the Blue Mountains National Park has been impacted with 63% partly or fully burnt. In the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area of over one million hectares (eight reserves including the Blue Mountains National Park), over 68% has been fully or partly burnt and over 122 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been impacted.” https://www.bluemountains.org.au/bushfires.shtml

Then we drove back to Adelaide, taking four days, staying at free camping places along the way:

  • Narrandera, along The Murrumbidgee River, the third longest river in Australia. – we have camped here before…one of the best.

    Lucky for us the river was not flooding the park when we were there – that would be a week later

  • Balranald, this is unusual as free camping is available in the car park behind the visitor’s centre. What is unusual is that there are hot showers available and not have power I was able to make my smoothy in the loo. When I have power, I add a few ingredients to almond milk and coconut water (Hemp Protein Powder, Pea Protein Powder, Creatine Powder, Turmeric, Coconut Oil, Cinnamon, Flaxseed Oil, Acai Powder, Spirulina Powder, Super Greens Powder, Aloe Vera, homemade yogurt, homegrown mung bean sprouts, Blueberries, and Kale – surely one of those ingredients are useful for my ageing brain). The only thing different is that I used commercially bought almond milk – at home I soak almonds overnight, one cup of almonds to four cups of water, blanch them, the next day take off the skins and make my own almond milk. It is a bit messy to do in a caravan.

  • Lake Benanee, a very quiet peaceful place… 

  • Renmark Caravan Park – we paid for this one as the days were getting hot and we wanted air conditioning.

And here we are back home. After five days home we realized we needed to go away again and booked flights and an Airbnb in Darwin for the month of February. As Australia has closed its borders to the world we will explore more of this great country. Our next road trip will be three or four or five months to Queensland after April or perhaps May.

Forster. December 1, 2020

“Can I help you find something?”. The cleaning lady at Maccas was full of ideas. So was Terrell. So yesterday we went everywhere man! Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse at Seal Rocks,

Cape Hawke,

a long drive three on the road with a Wallis Lake on one side and the 7 Mile Beach on the other. The iced coffee we bought at Bluey’s Beach General Store was not Farmers Union, but it hit the spot. We took a decent walk through some rainforest; 200m  (that’s metres not miles I hate to admit!!) and got lost on the way back.

We discussed a way of tagging our car, but don’t really know how to. Other than installing a load beeper….we are open to  suggestions.

I’m writing today on a ‘down day’. The weather is cool, some rain maybe. The washing is in the $4 slot machine. This park is specie, called Lanis Holiday Park, with lots of nature where tenters can find the own isolated spot, mostly with water front onto lakes. It’s a little version of Thailand, compete with mozzies!. Could live here. Hm.

Riding over a very long bridge in winds gusting at 50Km is a bit scary, though it was a designated bike path with fences, preventing us from tipping into the traffic.

This is a flat town, great for bike riding without the bike paths. But riding on the footpaths these days seems quite acceptable. The views are amazing, another lake, fed by a giant river, running into a pounding surf beach. Northern New South Wales abounds with very respectable rivers. I’m quite impressed. Pity it’s so bloody far from Adelaide….nearly 2,000Km.

My favourite place on today’s hours of hiking was this blowhole – see it in the video above…

End of November

Day via ferry to Crescent Head

Laurieton 26 November 2020

On the road early this morning; well, by 9.30 am. In retirement speak that is early. Locals have been saying we should visit the nearby hamlet of Laurieton, 42 km south of Port Macquarie. As you would know from your upbringing the Birpai (also known as Birrbay) people have lived in this area for more than 40,000 years.

We rode our bikes around town, over a couple of bridges which are in the amazing video below; the one with friendly kangaroos, a slow-moving goanna, a pod of hungry pelicans, and to the top of North Brother Mountain – with its fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean and our day at Diamond Head. Not the one in Hawaii – of course.

Further useful information is that Captain James Cook named “the Brothers” on 12 May 1770 for their resemblance to mountains in his native Yorkshire. He was unwittingly mirroring the name given to them by the Birpai. The Camden Haven area was explored on foot by John Oxley in 1818 and was first settled by Europeans in the early 1820s. A convict settlement was established at nearby Port Macquarie in 1821 and the first settlers were limeburners burning oyster shells for buildings there. Some of these lived at the foot of North Brother.

We did come across some large oyster farms on our bike trip. Too expensive for me, and Narda does not like them. They were $20 a dozen at the factory – before they hit the shops. I looked up whether these were overpriced and discovered that the most expensive oysters in the world come from Coffin Bay, a mere two hours up the road, and retail for $100 EACH. Why? Well, they are ENORMOUS: 18cm long and weighing up to 1kg.

We stopped at the local Coles Supermarket and bought lunch fixings of smoked salmon, rolls, Castello Blue cheese, and Farmer Union Iced Coffee (the best iced coffee in Australia, of course, from South Australia and took the dirt road to Diamond Head Camping grounds in the Crowdy Bay National Park. [Diamond Head gained its name from the quartz rich rocks, plentiful in the area, which contain an abundance of small, perfectly formed, clear quartz crystals whose appearance resembles diamonds.] Having lived in Waikiki for more than a year, a few blocks from Diamond Head Crater, I was intrigued by the sign pointing to Diamond Head when we were driving out of town. It is a beautiful place overlooking the Pacific with a lot of folks camping. If we had not already settled in on back in Port Macquarie we may have come here. Of course, Diamond Head in Hawaii is a volcanic tuff cone on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu and known to Hawaiians as Lēʻahi. The Hawaiian name is most likely derived from lae plus ʻahi because the shape of the ridge line resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin.

November 25 2020 Hastings River

We took the Hastings River Ferry from the Ferry terminal in Port Macquarie, New South Wales across the North Shore then rode the 9 K’s to the Settlement Point Ferry through the countryside. then back home to our caravan park.

November 24 2020

Port

Yesterday, strong winds near a lighthouse warning of sharp rocks. A very blue sky, and an even bluer ocean. Walks with trails warning of snakes, glorious overhanging rainforest. Us on a balcony high above Port (the name the locals have for their lovely little city), There is a view and a constant breeze all around us. Our final night on the hill was a spectacular light show of lightning, with jagged spikes and light flashes showing the whole coast for a split second. We relaxed, the thunder came much later.

Today, cycling to Maccas for our morning 2-for-one decent senior coffee. Under the cicadas in the trees, the noise is sometimes deafening. Our caravan park is on the shore of the Hastings River. Last night we sat near the wharf in total silence.

Even the water, a wide expanse, had no ripples, Only those caused by the lone pelican which patrols the wharf. He seems quite old.

Today is Maggie’s 9th birthday. She got some money. I asked her what she might spent it on. She replied, in her 15-year-old voice, “clothes oma, duh”.

November 07.

Stop 1, Broken Hill

An offer of home exchanging with Pt Macquarie came through Homelink from Geoff and Rosalind. So here we are tyres pumped to 45 and 38 at the front, car serviced and way too many clothes packed. We managed Adelaide to Broken Hill in one shot, despite our misgivings. Following the same route as Brendan did in July. Stayed at the racecourse on the outer edge of town, not a great spot though it had lots of caravans ($20 no power), but next morning took a nice walk down main street with a  coffee stop and a magnet purchase at the newsagent, which had opened 6.30am on a Sunday morning. Impressive!

We are up and ready early; thought we would be on the road at seven, maybe even six am. We slept in the caravan the night before and had the car attached, ready to race across Australia @ our usual elderly, dragging our home behind us pace. These plans seldom mature, we did well though, 8:15 out the door and headed across the country. Fifteen minutes later we were at the grandchildren’s house as we will miss Maggie’s ninth birthday later in November, we dropped off her birthday present. We give cash these days as children have too many toys that disappear into landfill for the next generation of architectural nightmares to be built upon. Maggie was happy as she is saving for roller skates.

Finally, on the road by nine, still a good start for us. We managed to go for almost an hour before pulling over for our first coffee stop. Port Macquarie seemed like a long way away. ‘18 hr 4 min (1,747.9 km) via Sturt Hwy/A20’ according to Google Maps, meaning it will take us five days if we hurry.

What a time we live in. This is our first long road trip since arriving back from The Netherlands more than seven months ago when we went into quarantine for a couple of weeks and stayed home for the following months except for two short camping trips.

We had Brendan with us for these seven months. Teaching in Lahore, Pakistan he was given 48-hour notice to leave due to Covid-19, did his quarantine in Adelaide then spent every weekday with us teaching his fifth-grade class via Zoom @ our house. The door was closed but we would listen in sometimes. They sounded like quite lively classes, quite different from the years Narda and I were teaching. One of my favourite interactions was when Narda took him a cup of coffee and a child in Lahore watching said, ‘you still live with your mother?’ We stayed away the rest of the time. We would have dinner every day at five pm as that was lunch time in Lahore and the children would be away for half an hour. They still had their regular schedules such as their specials; Phys ed, library, even music classes. All through Zoom as they were home. Sixteen students are a lot, I would think, to keep track of via computer, but Brendan did. It is an American private school with classes taught in English. We had visited Lahore in November 2019 (blog @ https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/) including a visit to Brendan’s school.

Brendan returned to Lahore a few days ago. They were doing a mixture of in-person teaching at the school and online teaching. After a week, the school went into lockdown and Brendan is back to teaching on Zoom, hopefully temporarily.

Two days before we left, my son, Sacha, came over from Melbourne. He had to do a two-week quarantine at a hotel as the border between his home state, Victoria and our COVID-19-free state has been closed since July so we got to see him for a couple of days before leaving. I wrote about that , ‘A cautionary tale’,