15 April Saturday
Breakfast at The Captain Alexander Liverpool – J D Wetherspoon https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/merseyside/the-captain-alexander-liverpool It was the Grand National horse racing weekend so the place was packed with people drinking at 7-8 am for breakfast.
NOTE: The video clips in this blog are re-directed to YouTube because I did not pay for the expensive upgrade to upload each clip individually. Also, this page loads much quicker to have these links to YouTube. The clips for this blog – Wales – are in this playlist – or watch them as they appear in the blog – which obviously makes more sense. Probably.
Left Liverpool 9am and took the train after a wonderful breakfast to Chester. We spent a few hours at the train station there then took the train to Llandrillo Junction. Our house exchange hosts, Bob and Beth, met us at the train station and drove past the Conwy Castle. We had beers at the Conwy Marina https://www.boatfolk.co.uk/conwy-marina-wales . There was a dog menu at the restaurant. I would see throughout our three-weeks here that there was a lot of love for dogs in Wales. See the below slideshow of some signs. (click through to see each)
They drove us on the Marine Drive toll road, a 5-mile scenic drive around the base of the Great Orme headland, with its spectacular views over Anglesey Island. We stopped midway up and watched some seals do their stuff – it’s in the video below, as well as other stuff from our first wonderful day in Wales.
Checking out of Liverpool was quick and easy. We met our hosts again and heard the interesting story of their current job. They together manage 70 properties close to our current one. Some in our high rise block. They own 10 of them. Quite impressive. My dad would have loved it. We discussed the apparent resistance in some cities to Airbnb. They surprisingly said that they agree with the objections, which are mostly that people use them for parties, make a lot of noise etc. This is a problem for them too.
Then we tromped over to the pub around the corner for a big English brekkie. The place was very full of people dressed to party. The night before we had also had fish and chips in another pub called “the Bank”, and it was also chockers.
Boys in suits and girls in fancy dress with head pieces and all, dancing the night away. It turned out that we had walked into the 3 day celebration of the Grand National horse race, where everyone in the UK places bets and parties…held at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool on 15th April at 5.pm. We were told that the odds were great. The one expected to win was paying 8 to 1. Can’t go wrong. We didn’t though.
The train to Chester left nicely on time, then the connection to Llandudno, Wales. I have been told that the way to pronounce the double Lls is to assign a “c” sound to the first one….clandudno. That’s just the beginning of our issues with Welsh, the single most difficult language in the world, in my view. The word Welsh is pronounced Wetsh or Welch. Terrell did it naturally…. And Llundudno is pronounced clundudno…go figure.
Bob and Beth, our new English friends, with whom we will no doubt exchange again, were still home, and so we had a lovely time catching up. First a great meal, home cooked by Beth, (which lasted us for 3 more meals) and lots of talking. Bob has a nifty piano and heaps of fun music which I will work my way through. Thinking of buying one.
Never having been exposed to Welsh anything – my first notice is how everything is written in two languages. They want to preserve the Welsh language so it is taught in school and all signs are in Welsh first then English. I found it difficult (impossible) to tell any jokes in Welsh – perhaps next time. Here is an example of a poster – go figure.
We had thought of ‘capturing’ some speech but it never worked out. Once in a supermarket I put on my voice recorder on my phone and stood next to two women speaking something, I had no idea what, for quite sometime. I was so excited to get home and listen to what I had recorded. Damn! I had pushed the wrong button and recorded nothing. Never got around to it again, but believe me it sounds really cool.
They seem to use a lot more letters than the English folks do – perhaps in the beginning of language they had letters left over…they also like to put two ll’s in the front of a name, such as our hometown of llandudno. Actually, our real hometown is llandudno Junction – that is where the train station is. llandudno is the seaside resort a few moments away.
llandudno is really into Alice and Wonderland with statues all over the place – I just took this one of a rabbit in the town square.
In 1861, the eight year old Alice Pleasance Liddell (the real ‘Alice’ in Wonderland) spent the first of many summer holidays in Llandudno. The Liddells were close family friends with Charles Dodgson, who wrote the books under his more famous pen-name, Lewis Carroll. White Rabbit statue was cast in 1933. They are proud of this Whtie Rabibit stuff and even have ‘The White Rabbit trail’ throughout the area. Of course, to me, I thought the song, ‘White Rabbit’ was about LSD. I used to live in San Francisco and would see Jefferson Airplane in the 1960s. “White Rabbit” is a song written by Grace Slick and recorded by the American rock band Jefferson Airplane for their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. It draws on imagery from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass. You can learn more by going to the Wales webpage about Alice here. If you want to know about my experiences with Alice go here.
Below is The Promenade at Llandudno – Llandudno is the largest seaside resort in Wales, and as early as 1861 was being called ‘the Queen of the Welsh Watering Places. This goes for miles – row after row of these hotels.
The town of Llandudno developed from Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements over many hundreds of years on the slopes of the limestone headland, known to seafarers as the Great Orme and to landsmen as the Creuddyn Peninsula. The origins in recorded history are with the Manor of Gogarth conveyed by King Edward I to Annan, Bishop of Bangor in 1284. The manor comprised three townships, Y Gogarth in the south-west, Y Cyngreawdr in the north (with the parish church of St Tudno) and Yr Wyddfid in the south-east. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llandudno
On our walk along the shore we came across the smallest chapel in Britain. It stands on the foreshore at Llandrillo yn Rhos (Rhos-on-Sea). Its a simple stone and mortar structure with integral walls and roof and has a heavy wooden door. Its altar stands over a natural spring of clear water dedicated to St Trillo and St Elidan and was first established by Saint Trillo early in the sixth century AD. The chapel has seats for six people and is used for an Anglican Eucharist every Wednesday. The chapel is named after St Trillo, a 6th-century saint who built his cell here. It appears that Trillo lived as a hermit at this site sometime between 570 and 590 AD. And I concur – because I read it on the internet. Whatever – it is quite the old place and is cool. I know because I meditated for a good two or three minutes in the chapel because I couldn’t get WiFi and had to do something else and I felt really good afterwards.
My first long drive. It was fine. Everything in miles, so I decided not to go over 60mph which is 96 kph. Plenty fast enough for a freewway, even when not towing. The road is punctuated by many roundabouts. Seems to work pretty well, no one has to stop for long.
We finished up at Caernarfon Castle a royal fortress medieval castle in the town of Caernarfon. It is recognised as one of the greatest buildings of the middle ages. The castle was built because of bitter war between Edward the first and the Welsh princes, hence its immense structure able to withstand assault.
Terrell faithfully climbed some of the turrets to the top, while I languished a few floors down, but he certainly paid the price with sore muscles he did not know he had, in the following days.
Caernarfon Castle is recognised around the world as one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages.
This fortress-palace on the banks of the River Seiont is grouped with Edward I’s other castles at Conwy (five-minutes from where we currently are living), Beaumaris and Harlech as a World Heritage Site. But for sheer scale and architectural drama Caernarfon stands alone.There is so much about the history of this place – check out Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caernarfon_Castle to catch up on all the gossip.
The bottom line for the likes of us is this is a walled town – people live here – there are shops and apartments and wow what a cool place to live. Hey Narda can we move here?
A bit our of sync here, on the way to Caernarfon Castle we got very lost and ended up on mountainous roads through a slate area. At one point we came to the end of a road that was actually the entrance to a slate mine and guards shooed us away. We told them we were lost. They had one of those eye-rolling moments and we moved on and got lost on another road. What we did find was a great visitor’s centre where a lot of people were all geared up for walks. Apparently, this is a big hiker’s paradise. We hiked over to the coffee shop and had lunch.
The crater-like cavity of Cwm Idwal is the result of phenomenal geological activity that took place millions of years ago. The slideshow below is self-controlled thingy – meaning you move the slides along so there is enough time to read each slide – if it s a readable one.
Cwm Idwal has been attracting climbers, hikers, geologists, biologists, and botanists alike for many years, including the coffee lovers, Narda & Terrell. The most notable of Cwm Idwal’s visitors, besides Narda & Terrell is Charles Darwin, who conducted much of his scientific work in the area. If I were you I would visit their website and get more notes…https://snowdonia.gov.wales/walk/cwm-idwal/
Bethesda is a town and community on the River Ogwen and the A5 road on the edge of Snowdonia, in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. It is the fifth-largest community in Gwynedd. The town grew around the slate quarrying industries; the largest of the local quarries is the Penrhyn Quarry. At its peak, the town exported purple slate all over the world. Side note: I lived in Towson/Baltimore which is next to Bethesda back in 1977 – 1979. You can read about those crazy days here.
If you the time I would suggest checking out the webpage of Lisa Jên Brown. She is a Welsh singer, songwriter, actor and the lead singer of Welsh folk band 9Bach. She was born and raised in Bethesda, North Wales and has lots to say about this area. And better photos than we took.
For a deep dive into Cwm Idwal see our two-minute video clip…
Today a garden day. We had strong recommendations from Beth and Bob, and it is indeed a masterpiece, even to a non gardener like myself.
We spent a day here. Well worth the visit – we noticed there were a lot of benches and made use of a large majority of them. We even managed to get lost and spent hours wondering around.
Off to Anglesey, a large island connected to northern Wales by a bridge. We started off via Bangor, because of the song of course, only to find out the song was not about this Bangor. Still a nice city. We made it to the pier where we joined a friendly group of retires in the little pavilion. This was to escape the howling wind coming off the sea, and eat the yummy sandwiches crafted by my resident cook, Terrell.
You can be the first to hear Narda sing this song as we drive through Bangor (spoiler alert…someone told us this Bangor we were in was not the one in the song….what a sorry sour puss) – but you will need to be quick to be the first…
Then onward to Anglesey, via the bridge. We seemed to have taken a wrong turn early on, and so the roads were mostly single car width, as in our last Irish experience.
We were lucky to arrive @ Benllech Beach at high tide. Only for maybe ten-minutes, the water was splashing across the road. By the time we got to a cafe at the end of the bridge to grab a coffee the tide was already quickly going out.
High tide in Benllech. The waves come over the wall and deposit seaweed on the road. Quite speccie, though it’s short lived. We went back to park the car, and the tide had already started to recede when we returned.
Nice walk in downtown Llandudno. Bit of shopping, found a nice second hand bag called Vintage Rose. I liked the name, and the colours.
Then over to Wilco for stationary. Can’t go wrong. Got a new travel folder, a small Thermos (strategy for keeping to our daily budget) and two mugs.
And here comes the bonus…we got to meet Goat Lisa, our checkout chick with an obsession with Cashmere (or is it Kashmir…….yes it is, I later found out) goats. Apparently during the pandemic, they came into the town, while there were less humans, and she was over the moon, seeking them our and taking lots of pictures, many of which she showed us. We are told, by our reliable source, that they still come down off the mountain, called the Great Orme, at night, and that you can go walking up there to check them out. So there is our challenge.
Our first sighting of a Kashmiri Goat was on the side of the road happily chewing on the hedge.
Our bus day. Bus #5 to Bangor, then bus #4x to Holyhead.
We bought a day pass for 6 pounds. Single story buses, but boy do they hoon given a chance!!!! The bus stop near home was only a few minutes away and it was really nice to relax and not drive.
We had driven to Bangor before but the bus visited all the nice little villages on the way.
For example, we saw town of Llandfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllandtysilliogogogoch along the way
https://llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.co.uk/ – think we should move there just to confuse ourselves with our town’s name.
The record for world’s longest town name goes to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch. The pronunciation isn’t easy (llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch) and the meaning is just as odd (St. Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the Red Cave), but this tiny town in Wales is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.There is even a monopoly set with the name of this town.
Holyhead is a port. Mainly ferries heading to Dublin (Bren took one of these years back!) There are the Stena and the Irish line. Both ships were in port. Another interesting ship in the port was the National Geographic Resolution, an ice breaker/cruise ship carrying around 135 passengers. The cruises are pricey but quite different from regular cruises.
We read heaps about the National Geographic Resolution – and are determined to go on it if we can find $50,000+/each laying around in a drawer somewhere to the Arctic Circle. If we find more, of course, you can join us. Holyhead is a short ferry ride – less than two hours – to Ireland. I think if we had our passports with us we may have done it. There were a few cruise ships in port – we didn’t have our passports so here we still are. Wishing~ Holyhead itself looks like a nice town – a bit hilly – so we didn’t ride the bikes we did not have.
Conwy Castle is the jewel of the area. The impressive wall surrounds a large section of the old town. It is smaller but built in an impressive time of 4 years by the English. The Welsh tried to get them out, and finally succeeded by waiting until most of the guards were at church for Good Friday and then pretending to be carpenters doing repairs, overwhelmed the remaining guards and stormed the castle. I believe this was in the 1300s or so.
We have been living five-minutes away from this amazing site/sight for three-weeks. We have found a free parking spot not far out of town, where hikers park to go off into hikes that we would not dream of going on. However, we can hike to the castle walls and the town centre in less than ten-minutes. A photographer’s dream place. Of the way too many photos we took here are a few…
And a few of the train tunnels in Conwy – being lovers of trains we took heaps of train photos and videos too but for now suffice to say, what a cool place – as we did not upload a train video (yet)… and yes I did play a bit in Photoshop – who won’t?
Llanrwst is a market town and community on the A470 road and the River Conwy, in Conwy County Borough, Wales, and the historic county of Denbighshire. It developed round the wool trade and became known also for the making of harps and clocks.
Llanrwst’s three-arched bridge across the Conwy, built in 1636. It leads across the clear-flowing waters to Tu Hwnt i’r Bont, a beautifully restored 15th-century house now owned by the National Trust. Click through the images below – not auto play – so you have time to read the poems and other stuff.
Who won’t want to go to Betws-w-coed? Such a cool sounding name. Of course, we got lost – see the clip above.
Betws-y-coed is an old town, much of the building is from dark coloured stones. There was a railway station with a functioning rail there too.
Stopped at Gwydir Castle – didn’t go in – saw peacock took photos outside and left – An example of a fortified manor house dating back to c1500. There have been fortifications associated with this site since AD 600. The turret was added around 1540 and John Wyn ap Maredudd’s initials can be seen above the main entrance in the courtyard gatehouse along with the date of 1555. The surviving buildings date from around the year 1500, and there were alterations and additions in c1540, c1600 and c1828, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwydir_Castle
The next day was a road trip heading east, towards Liverpool, but not reaching it. The first stop was a beach side town, with lots of caravan parks. The caravans are actually stay-caravans. There are thousands of these all along the coast in towns like Rhyl. I guess folks have them as holiday homes, and perhaps also rent them out.
We climbed up the dune for this picture of the lighthouse, called Point of Ayr.
Drove along coast through: Rhos-on-sea, Colwyn Bay, Kimmel Bay, Rhyl, Prestatyn – to Ruthin. At Kimmel Bay saw the effects of a low tide – lots of boats waiting for high tide again to sail the seven or so seas
Ruthin is a cool old place…The name comes from the Welsh rhudd (red) and din (fort), after the colour of sandstone bedrock, from which the castle was built in 1277–1284. There is a lot to read about this place – it’s forever old – checkout https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruthin The slideshow below is not on autoplay to give time to read stuff…
This was Ruthin, an old market town.
Then on to St Asaph to see the Cathedral, whose claim to fame was to house the first ever translation of the Bible into Welsh. Beautiful church.(see pic further down) On the last stretch we saw another castle which was not open, but we managed some cool pictures of a peacock having a stretch.
I had read about and wanted to see he Cathedral Church of Saints Asaph and Cyndeyrn, commonly called St Asaph Cathedral The cathedral dates back 1,400 years. One of the things that is significant about this forever old church is that the original translated Bible in Welsh (1588) is there. The slideshow below is not on auto changing stuff – to give time to read at your own pace.
We did the Great Orme – which is really close by, right here in Llandudno. Most of the Great Orme’s rocks are between 339 and 326 million years old, which I have been told by reliable sources, is quite old..We drove to the top and took the tram down the Orme (and back up, obviously) The Great Orme Tramway is Britain’s only funicular, or cable-hauled, tramway that travels on public roads. It opened in 1902. Check out our video, you will be pleased with yourself that you did…
Large-scale human activity on the Great Orme began around 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age with the opening of several copper mines. We went to the main mine only to complain that 10 pounds each was too much to see some bloody hole. But we did walk around the outside of it to get photos, for free.
From the summit of the Great Orme we grabbed these photos of windmills in the bay…they looked like they were floating. The photos don’t do justice to what we saw but if you use your imagination you can imagine this scene as much much cooler than our photos.
Yesterday we headed into our local pub and had a great meal. Mine was pork ribs and Terrell’s was cod and linguini in a nice sauce. There is also a bit of festivity in the town with antique trucks and buses at the show ground.
Managed to score a lift in a bus from the 60s.
The LLANDUDNO TRANSPORT FESTIVAL was this weekend. Some long weekend celebration, Monday is a banking holiday. They seem to have heaps of holidays in Wales. Not sure what this was about but the transportation festival was on our mind. We went on Saturday to discover their annual parade of trucks was cancelled but there was a bit to do at the showgrounds. As Narda mentioned we took a 1960s bus to it but did not go in as they wanted 8.50 pounds each to enter – about $10USD or almost $20 Australian. However, the next day, Sunday, we wondered over to the showgrounds at four pm and there was no one collecting money so we went in and wandered about for hours or seemingly hours – long enough to look at stuff and say WOW and grab a few photos – see below, and a video clip, see below.
Now we are counting down. Today our last tourist gig, walking along the castle wall which encompasses the old town of Conwy.
And that is Wales – we are now in Todmorden England with a whole of more exploration to do.
Today my son Sacha is in Hanoi and because it was such a hot day he spent time inside playing with AI – here are two examples – one of Narda and me last month at the Elton John concert and the other how I see me.
March 22, 2023
As usual Narda’s writing is in italics – the other person’s in whatever else…
Back to the ferry terminal. We used an Uber type ride the whole way there. It was quick and easy. Another wonderful crossing, this one a little less bumpy, or at least the ocean calmed down at midnight. We got an upgrade straight away, nice cabin, a bit newer. Paid an extra 50 Euros which was worth it.
A bit of a wait in Newcastle but the train was good, we arrived at the Liverpool station at 5 p.m. to be met by the daughter of our host and her friend. Very nice people, got us into the 6th floor flat right in the centre of Liverpool, close to everything.
Of course, our first stop before hoping the train to Liverpool was Burger King
Our high rise flats – views from across the road – Royal Albert Dock
Views from our window looking out toward Royal Albert Dock –
More views from our windows + reflections in the windows of the building next to us – from our windows
We live in the area called Liverpool ONE – The project involved the redevelopment of 42 acres (170,000 m2) of land in the city centre. Liverpool ONE is the largest open-air shopping centre in the UK and the tenth-largest shopping centre overall. Each store was created by a different architect. Work began in Spring 2004.
Narda’s drawing of our view to the docks
We have this view out of our window called the Royal Albert Docks.
This is not the Mersey. The Mersey is a beast of a river, quite treacherous and carrying shipping, including cruise ships, and quite polluted, though in recent times this has improved due to the best efforts of Liverpudlians. So behind the Albert Docks one finds the actual river. It can be crossed by ferry, or by tunnels, 2 road tunnels and 1 rail
Good train ride from Newcastle to Liverpool. For a moment I was feeling we were a bit lost. We didn’t seem to have a contact with our hosts except via email. Eventually we got hooked up and taken to our perfectly placed flat. It is in a section called Liverpool One, the project involved the redevelopment of 42 acres of land in the city centre. Liverpool ONE is the largest open-air shopping centre in the UK. They started building up this area in 2004. We are across the street from the Albert Dock (1846) or now the Royal Albert Dock since 2018 when it got some royal thingy added to it for reasons unknown to me, until I looked it up and now, I know. It was sort of wiped out in World War II then re-groovified in the past decade with lots of Beatles stuff, great museums – which we will tell about over the next 50,000 or less words with multiple images of proof. So, continue with us and see what lucky folks we are to inhabit this place at this time.
What it looked like before we came along and before Liverpool became Liverpool 1 – the docks in the forefront of this image are covered over by Liverpool 1. Picture is from Liverpool Museum.
March 24 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Today we threw caution to the wind and attended Elton John’s farewell concert to Liverpool. We got the last tickets I reckon, great spot, and it was amazing. The venue was a 10-minute walk away. 7000+ people there. A big arena.
We were early….the rest of them were still downing their last beers…
We did not make a YouTube video of this as they get themselves all in knicker if copyright music is used and how can we show you any glimpses of an Elton John show without his music which is so heavily copyrighted not in the background so see our images and download your own et of songs. BTW, here are the songs he performed at the concert. No, I did not write down the songs as they were performed, I copied them off their website of the song list…
It went for a bit over two and a half hours which considering his age, turned 75 the day after the concert that is quite good. His voice and piano were as always, amazing. However, when he did move about on the stage he did shuffle and not very easily. At the piano he was fine, but he surely shows his age when lumbering about on the stage. The arena was close to sold out – more than 8,000. It was his last ever concert in Liverpool and the end of his last world-wide tour. So good we got to go.
The only downside for me was that I realized a few days later that I had quite a cold, took a test, had covid. I have had five-vaccinations (three-boosters) and covid once before in DC. I was only feeling really crap for one day, the whole thing lasted maybe five-days. Narda did not get anything this time. She got it last in New Zealand and I didn’t. hopefully, that is it for ever.
Spent the morning after wandering the streets of Liverpool, a little shopping at Aldis. Today (Sunday) we took bus number 26 on a circular ride thought the other parts of Liverpool. The driver was a a young buck and Terrell fell off his front seat on the upper story twice. Hairy turns on narrow roads. Blimey. Fun though. We laughed a lot. In the driver’s defense, he did give us a freebie, waving away the 10 pound note I offered him.
We did our usual random bus rides. It costs six pounds about 10 Australian bucks or seven USD for an all-day pass including ferry, bus, trains, which is quite a good deal as we go to lots of places. We have always gone the front top seats which makes flying through Liverpool fun.
Here we are on the 27 Liverpool Sheil Road Circular Bus Route this morning, an hour trip. The conductor didn’t take our money – so free trip to see a good part of the city. Cheaper than the hop on hop off busses
Narda’s drawing of row houses seen on the bus
Cold and sunny today, we bundled up but it did not feel like 3 degrees as predicted. So, following Gerry and the Pacemakers we took the “ferry, cross the Mersey”.
The ferry ride was a half hour – not far up the river but enough to see Liverpool. Only ten pounds so well worth it.
Liverpool’s main theme and money maker is the Beatles. Everywhere we go there is something about them. The statue of them is in front of the ferry dock and is always surround by zillions of tourists taking photos with the statues. Just to be gregarious we did too.
We did the Magical Mystery Tour – It was an hour-long tourist ride, lots of commentary and things to learn.
Off to the Cavan club. It was really interesting, a doco showing on its history and rebuilds as the owners were turned out of the original, and very successful club building, by the railways, to make room for a ventilation shaft.
This was where the Beatles really got started, with 292 appearances there before 1963. They also performed in Hamburg a lot.
It was early avo but there was live music in both sides of the venue. We really enjoyed a great piano player/singer doing Beatles covers for a couple of hours.
Wrenched my hip putting on sox, so limped and downed ibuprofen for a few days. Blimey. Is this my new life as an old lady??
Then there is The Cavern, the place where the Beatles started with over 300 gigs, before they got famous. We actually found it by mistake. This town is all over the Beatles, here, there, everywhere. 😀
The original Cavern was demolished buy a replica is alive and thriving. We had a coffee and pee stop in the vicinity.
More photos from the Magical Mystery Tour – I made a video of us walking down Penny Lane but YouTube blocked it saying I was using copy-written music – hello! it was a Beatles tour. But Facebook didn’t block our video – so you can watch it here – https://www.facebook.com/neuage/videos/623134893065891
A life-size bronze statue of Cilla Black stands in Mathew Street. Unveiled in 2017, the statue is a tribute to the local star who once worked as a cloak room girl at the Cavern before having a successful music career herself. Here she is so excited to be wearing my hat.
We watched El Camino in the evening. Enjoyed it, the story of Pinkman after Breaking Bad, then realised at the end that we had already seen it. One of the benefits of getting older.
Random Bus Rides has officially been replaced by Random Rides, and this is Random Rides Episode 1.
It’s a concept we have subscribed to for many years and is based on ignorance and the willingness to learn. The main criteria in a country such as this, with double decker buses is that the bus we catch has a seat in the front of the top level
Yesterday we purchased a day trip card for 6 pounds each, covering the greater Liverpool area, and including buses, ferries, and trains.
Some photos of our ferry ride
So back to episode one. We sat opposite (in our kingly seat) a couple of Liverpool chicks who knew what’s what. Despite not understanding much of what they said (the accent is quite unintelligible) they enthusiastically told us where to get off. So, we did. We made it to Kirkby, walked out of the bus terminal and had our sandwiches. The pigeons here have many beautiful patterns and colours. They helped us with the sandwiches.
Another bus, following some local advice, took us to the Kirkby railway station (the long way, but that’s not the point), and we glided back to Liverpool in a fast moving, very new train. At that point we made the mutual decision to head home for a nap.
Feeling refreshed and revitalized (though Terrell was a bit below par, with a heavy cold slowing him down) we found the bus (this time a little less random) to take us UNDER the Mersey River. The other side was also nice. A very long bus ride then took us to the ferry, where I met Mr Cruise. He was a helpful bloke, addicted to ships. Used the ferry every day for the last 12 years, told me how to get a free ride (come after 5 when the staff at the entrance have left) and gave us tips on Cunard cruises which he takes 3 times a year, including winter. I asked about rough seas, he told me to “get my sea legs”.
The Titanic exhibition in the Maritime Museum was well done. I did not realise that so many people were rescued from the life boats.
Maritime Museum – https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime-museum go to their website so I won’t need to say what they are saying except it is well worth the visit – either in person or to their website. We went to all their museums Slavery Museum – a must see https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ the national museum – and so much more…
In 1906 the shipping company Cunard launched a huge vessel called the Lusitania, which was torpedoed in the first world war by a German submarine close to Liverpool. Everyone was killed.
Today is a quiet day, Terrell is still feeling poorly, sleeping lots and carrying a fever as well. We were to find out later that he had covid.
Missing NYC and living in Liverpool? – lots of films made here – “Liverpool is the go to place for film companies needing a doppelganger for The Big Apple.”
Our local dock was transformed into 1940s New York for the first Captain America film in 2011. Or this drama series ‘It’s A Sin’ set in 1980’s New York …photo below
Some other flicks filmed here worth watching – pretending you are elsewhere: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, The new ‘Batman’ movie (2020), ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant – made Liverpool look like NYC,’Florence Foster Jenkins’ starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, and on and on – like probably a hundred films and series – lots being NYC – Currently there are 18 films/series being done this year… we should just stay here and pretend we are elsewhere…. though we are moving to Wales Saturday…
We dashed out to buy a couple of day passes and took the bus to Southport. The town is lovely, historic buildings and a nice vibe. The seaside is strange, a little seedy in low season with a tide WAY out. If I didn’t know better I would have thought…watch out a tsunami is on its way.
Night out and clip https://youtu.be/q-P9yQuM8sM yes even the elderly go on a Friday night – Good Friday at that. Just because we left soon after eight pm doesn’t mean we can’t hang at the pubs in the Cavern District.
We decided to go out and be part of the night life here. We walked into a couple of pubs, had a beer and sang along with the songs we knew. These guys like to sing. A nice atmosphere with all ages and types having a good time. There are so many pubs as you walk through the town, with live bands, folks spilling out into the streets. We had a good time.
We went to the bombed out church see their page https://www.slboc.com – St Luke’s Church, more commonly known by locals as the bombed-out church. The church was built between 1811 and 1832. The church was badly damaged by bombs during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941 and has been a roofless shell ever since, giving rise to its nickname. It now stands as a memorial to those who died in the war, and has also been hired as a venue for exhibitions and events.
Then there was the bombed out church on the way home. Just a shell left after WW2. But they decided to leave it that way as a reminder.
Plenty of destinations.
Next stop….in search of Penny Lane
We actually made it home for a quick nap, then back on the bus.
A wonderful sort of a learning day – though forgot most of what we did learn at the World Museum which has an extensive collections covering archaeology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences. These are the only two photos we got…
We found, by accident sort of, the Philharmonic Dining Hall (AKA pub), which was the venue for James Corben’s carpool karaoke episode with Paul McCartney’s surprise appearance on a stage set up for unsuspecting patrons of the pub. See it on youtube. https://youtu.be/QjvzCTqkBDQ
The pub is a treasure, just beautiful. I had a German grapefruit radler. Yum!
Narda’s fascination with scouse – scouse is a food but also, “Scouse, formally known as Liverpool English or Merseyside English, is an accent and dialect of English associated with Liverpool and the surrounding county of Merseyside. The Scouse accent is highly distinctive; having been influenced heavily by Irish and Welsh immigrants who arrived via the Liverpool docks, it has little in common with the accents of its neighbouring regions or the rest of England.” (internet)
Scouse is a dish so close to the Liverpudlian heart that they’ve adopted it as a nickname – though lobscouse, or lapskaus, lapskojs or skipperlabskovs, depending where you are, is a popular dish throughout northern Europe, thought to have its origins in the simple cooking of Hanseatic sailors, and with even more variants than names. In Germany, for example, labskaus is more like corned beef hash, while in Norway, lapskaus is a chunky stew much like our own. (Also the internet)
You don’t, of course, have to use any meat at all: when you couldn’t quite run to any, you’d make the aforementioned “blind scouse” instead – often with bones, but you could use vegetable stock, or try the Quorn and sweet potato version in the Merseysider magazine.
Prep 25 min
Cook 2 hr
800g scrag end/lamb neck, on the bone, in thick slices, or 600g boneless lamb shoulder
2 tbsp beef dripping or neutral oil
500g floury potatoes, cleaned
600ml beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
250g swede (optional)
Salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Heat the oven to 160C (140C fan)/320F/gas 3; alternatively, cook this on the hob. Heat the fat in a large, lidded saucepan or ovenproof pan over a medium-high heat, then sear the meat in batches, until properly browned.
Trip home. It’s getting busy on Easter Saturday. Lots of folks out and about enjoying some good weather.
h manufacturing and the function of the extensive port systems became obsolete, the unemployment rate rose to one of the highest in the UK, bringing poverty to the city. At the same time, in the 1960s the city became known for its music , the “Merseybeat”, especially with the huge popularity of the Beatles.
Liverpool’s economy started to recover and in 2008 it was called the cultural capital of Europe.
Another great visit was the library. A good library is an indication of civilization. Liverpool has the most amazing library I have ever seen, including the NY library.
The stunning modern entrance to 5 floors of library
the amazing old fashioned and completely silent reading room!
We were so impressed we bought some “merch”. 😀
Brekkie at the Beatles Cafe…bargain at 3.95 GBP, and included black pudding. Not sure …I did try it though.
Chantilly Beatles Cafe @ 8 Mathew Street, Liverpool is a great place for breakfast – I had the vegetarian breakfast with plant-based sausage, hash browns, egg, beans, tomatoes and toast a great deal for less than four pounds – my wife had the road-kill version – same price – the coffee was good but more expensive than the meal – total was $19 USD. Beatles stuff all over – a nice little cafe next to the Cavern Club.
Then we had our final Random Ride day. Are we up to #4 or maybe 5? First a bus ride to Toxteth, which used to be a poor area. We got off at the wrong stop…I think it was the wrong bus….and had a coffee at the Subway. A random stranger told us to buy the latte, and said we could take it on the bus. So that was a quick stop, then off to the real Toxteth, which is home to the 8th largest church in the world. In overall volume it is the 5th largest Cathedral in the world. More from Terrell who has researched this properly.
We headed north on the northern line to Ormskirk, a pleasant little old English town. At the return to James St station, we were ushered quickly through the various connecting tunnels by many train employees. Seemed to be some drama somewhere, but we never did find out.
Tomorrow we are back on the train heading to Conwy, in northern Wales. April 1
Random Ride episode 3
Actually not so Random. We topped up our trusty card, this time at our real local station, James Street. A couple of minutes round the corner. Who knew!
And off to the lovely city of Chester. A fast 45 minute train ride, first under the Mersey then south bound followed by a brief bus ride into the centre of town. Straight to Maccas for a quick coffee then we embarked on walking-all-the-way -around-the-old-city on the ancient wall. Spectacular! Two hours walk, (2 miles) lots of photos taken and a two lunch stops to eat cheese and caramelised onion sandwiches. This is a world phenomenon, this onion chutney. So yummy. We thought it was a New Zealand exclusive but no it is following us everywhere, even in chips.
Chester is a cathedral city and the county town of Cheshire, England, on the River Dee, close to the English–Welsh border.
Chester is a cathedral city and the county town of Cheshire, England, on the River Dee, close to the English–Welsh border. Chester was founded in 79 AD as a “castrum” or Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. One of the main army camps in Roman Britain, Deva later became a major civilian settlement. In 689, King Æthelred of Mercia founded the Minster Church of West Mercia, which later became Chester’s first cathedral, and the Angles extended and strengthened the walls to protect the city against the Danes. Chester was one of the last cities in England to fall to the Normans, and William the Conqueror ordered the construction of a castle to dominate the town and the nearby Welsh border. Chester was granted city status in 1541. (source – the internet, obviously)
The city walls of Chester are some of the best-preserved in the country and have Grade I listed status. It has a number of medieval buildings, but many of the black-and-white buildings within the city centre are Victorian restorations, originating from the Black-and-white Revival movement. Apart from a 100-metre (330 ft) section, the walls are almost complete.
A real tourist day. We went on the Magical Mystery Tour. What a treat, 2 hours of listening to Beatles’ stories as told by a local with songs in between.
This is Paul’s last house in Liverpool in the early days where very 100 songs were written. They move into the house in 1955. Within a year his mother, Mary, died of breast cancer. Then when Jim his father died, he decided to keep it.
The National trust bought it in the 90s. Paul lived in it until 1964.Some 100 original songs were written here.They used the bathroom mainly because “it had better acoustics”. This house is considered to be one of the most important in terms of rock
A other Random Rides day. So this must be episode 4. At James Street Station we hopped on the first train heading for Crewe. Our plan was to get off at the airport (John Lennon Airport). With that name you gotta check it out. But we missed the stop, as we did not listen to the instructions which were, to move to the first four cars, as the approaching platform was a short one. When we realised, we stumbled forward, but alas, when we got far enough the doors closed on us. Since this was a random ride, there was no harm done. We continued to the end destination, Crewe.
However, unbeknown to us, this was outside of the scope of our trusty day Metro passes, a prerequisite for Random Ride days. The conductor assured us that he would see to it that we could return with no additional money changing hands…other than a cup of coffee at the Crewe Station. He told us that he lived there, and that it was a dump, so we were not missing much. These Poms (an Australian affectionate name for the English)…they are so accommodating. 😀
Anyway we did make to the airport.
Exchange Flags on Exchange Flags City Square – we came across this place in our wanders today. Walker House housed the Western Approaches Command Headquarters, the command centre for the campaign waged against the German submarine fleet during the Second World War.
Castle Street was one of the original seven ancient streets in the city and you can even see it on maps dating back to the 13th century!
Liverpool Town Hall which was built between 1749 and 1754
Liverpool Cathedral is the largest cathedral and religious building in Britain, and the eighth largest church in the world. Constructed between 1904 and 1978. In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world. At 67 m (220 ft) above floor level, the bells of Liverpool Cathedral are the highest and heaviest ringing bells in the world. The organ, built by Henry Willis & Sons, is the largest pipe organ in the UK, and one of the largest musical instruments in the world. It has two five-manual consoles (one sited high up in one of the organ cases and the other, a mobile console, on the floor of the cathedral), 10,268 pipes and a trompette militaire.
Liverpool Old Bank a great restaurant – we had the fish and chips – we only went out once to dinner in our three weeks here – our last night. So many people everywhere – so dressed up – apparently there is some huge national wide horse race going on this weekend and everyone just gets drunk for the weekend.
Knowing, assuming, no one reads this far I will tell a bit of a story. It is of course, in my book, “Leaving Australia” available in hardback, paperback and on Kindle from Amazon… for pennies on the dollar.
When I was 19 years old, living in New Orleans with a female that I have no recollection of except for what happened at the end, It was 1967. A friend of mine, Fredrick King from Boston, who I had met at a bar (pub) a week earlier and I decided to stole away on a freighter to England. We thought we could meet some English girls – which for some reason at the time we thought were really cool, and meet the Beatles. We spoke with some Swedish dudes at a bar who worked on a freighter and they said it would be easy to do just don’t let the captain find us. We got detailed instructions. SO I packed up a bag of my clothes and some food, left the apartment I was sharing with I suppose was my girl friend, left her a note, ‘gone to England’ or something. I didn’t want to tell her in person because she had said she was in love with me and at 19 I couldn’t really relate to such a line. We got on the ship, found our way to a hold – made a little cubby amongst piles of bags of rice. The ship sailed that night. However, they only went from New Orleans to Mobile Alabama to load more. They opened the hatch where we were and loaded a lot more. When they closed the covers over the hold we realized it was full and we could not climb over to where a ladder was that we had been told we could climb up to ‘get’ food at night in their galley. We banged on the covers – hatch roof – whatever it was – suddenly the hatch doors opened. A long story short – police arrived, we were taken to jail went to court and were given six-months in federal prison, which was the maximum sentence for stowing away. We were treated poorly as we were from the north (New York and Boston) and Fredrick had a guitar. For some reason they thought we were civil rights people come to free the blacks or some such thing. Anyway, I had forgotten about this as it was so long ago…until I was applying for teacher registration in Australia and they asked if I had ever been in jail. I said no as I thought all this was erased by no. It showed up in their Interpool search. I told a very kind person that it was so long ago I forgot about it. She said OK. And I got my registration and have taught in the USA, China, Australia at both universities (I have a PhD) and at high schools. Read my book it tells much more.
Then we tromped over to the pub around the corner for a big English brekkie. The place was very full of people dressed to party. The night before we had also had fish and chips in another pub called “the Bank”, and it was also chockers. Boys in suits and girls in fancy dress with head pieces and all, dancing the night away. It turned out that we had walked into the 3 day celebration of the Grand National horse race, where everyone in the UK places bets and parties…held at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool on 15th April at 5.pm. we were told that the odds were great. The one expected to win was paying 8 to 1. Can’t go wrong. We didn’t though.
Checking out of Liverpool was quick and easy. We met our hosts again and heard the interesting story of their current job. They together manage 70 properties close to our current one. Some in our high rise block. They own 10 of them. Quite impressive. My dad would be impressed. We discussed the apparent resistance in some cities to Airbnb. They surprisingly said that they agree with the objections, which are mostly that people use them for parties, make a lot of noise etc. This is a problem for them too.
Next blog is Wales Cheers
The reason we ‘did’ Muiden is due to our original house-exchange was to be in southern England for a month and one of our hosts became ill and was not able to travel to Australia. As we had already paid for tickets, insurance, hotels along the way, we scurried about and found some alternatives to make up for our first month in the UK, a couple of weeks in Holland and three weeks in Liverpool in our exchange world.
Firstly, today, 26th January 2023 we are in a caravan park in Adelaide, South Australia with the temperature rising – tomorrow it will be about 38C / 100F.
I looked up Muiden to get a feel for the place – this is what the internet says:
Muiden is a city and former municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It lies at the mouth of the Vecht and is in an area called the Vechtstreek. Since 2016, Muiden has been part of the new municipality of Gooise Meren. Wikipedia
I looked up images for our street…I’m excited – but we will wait until further down the page to see the ones we actually took when we finally got there.
That’s it. The rest is now. In real time, as of today, the…
As usual, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
Etihad flight was good, I slept quite a bit. It seems my new combo of bringing extra padding (little pillows) has done the trick, without a pill! I had window seats both times.
Off to O’Leary’s Abu Dhabi Airport for an English breakfast (they called it an American breakfast, which it is NOT!)
Heathrow was quick and with the help of a friendly ticket guy we got instructions and purchased tickets to Paddington. People offered us their seats. Not sure if we are looking so old, or the English are just incredibly polite. Both, I think!.
Balmoral House Hotel, https://www.balmoralhousehotel.co.uk/ was just around the corner from the Paddington Train Station. This is definitely a hotel I would return to. The room was small and warm, reasonably priced with a fabulous hot brekkie. We slept well. A couple from Colorado travelling with their grown-up son joined us, and we chatted about home exchanging. I gave them our card.
Dinner in a nearby street. It’s a buzzy place, nicer vibe than the tourist areas around the Thames.
Finding Kings Cross Station was a bit of a challenge as there were train cancellations and limited access to some lines. But we got there, asking for lots of help. The train was great, good seats and some nice company.
Then there is Newcastle. What an amazing city! There were so many people around I asked someone if there was a festival. He replied, “no its always like this”. The old section is beautiful, a small castle, lots of winding streets.
Later in the evening (after we had checked into a somewhat average, but well-located hotel, called Motel One) we venture out again, found some food (pizza and beer in the library of a sports bar!) Accompanied by a very drunk couple who were there celebrating the artificial insemination of their twin boys. Too much information there. Liberty House…
Slideshow of some of our images of Newcastle. Not on ‘autoplay’ just click through, about nine images.
And there were the drunk (teenage) girls who threw spaghetti at me. Their aim was off, it was meant for someone else….so they said. “Oh, I am sooo sorry” repeated many times as they followed us for a while. In the end I said they can make it right by explaining how we can find our hotel. Pretty funny.
Next morning no brekkie at the hotel, so we slunk off to Maccas. The porridge was sensational, but the rest, not so much. Still…. friendlier staff than at Motel One!
The food on the ferry makes it worth taking it. It was incredible. Despite the waves rocking us all night. No sea sickness though. Best to stay lying down…which we did.
Departure was delayed by 4 hours, as the ship waited for 300 soccer fans from the Netherlands and Germany to board. We were allowed to board early so we got a good start on that buffet.
I always considered myself quite nimble. I took the top bunks when necessary and always rode the man’s bike when there was no other choice. This however has changed. Unfortunately! Now I’m 68 and the legs are stiffer. I climbed onto the top bunk in our cabin and was unable to get down. The ceiling was too low and I could not reposition myself. After a lot of giggling, Terrell helped me down. I went to the office and was able to get an upgrade for 45 Euros… 2 beds on the floor level and a window bonus. I manage the giant bike by mounting from a raised curb. Blimey. Though it’s a little disturbing.
That last line is out of context – Narda is writing about when we were in Muiden…following day and I rode the “girl’s” bike as it has a step through as I always do – too old to get over the bar so to speak, and Narda as usual takes the “man’s” bike.
There plenty to do on these ferries, it really is a mini cruise. Duty free shops, night club, cafe lounge with live music and a cinema with crap movies. I met an interesting woman travelling alone name Ellen, from the Isle of Man. She invited us to visit but the ferries are really expensive, so we’ll have to pass on that. But she had plenty of interesting travel tales to tell, including going to Greenland in the winter.
We took the shuttle bus into Amsterdam Centraal. A friendly coffee server helped us download an app, like Uber called Bolt and ordered a ride to Muiden. The driver was from Yemen.
We both love cruises, even if they are this short – 17-hours, though a lot longer than taking a ten-minute ferry across the Murray River back in Adelaide. Longer than the three-hour ferry we recently took in New Zealand. It was a great ride. We were on the eleventh floor – that is how big this boat is. The food was really top stuff. I don’t remember eating so much at one time. We got to repeat our gluttony fun the following morning at brekkie. Sleeping was OK for a while – but we were both wide awake at one am as the sea was getting a bit choppy. We took a sleeping pill and slept through until breakfast.
March 13, 14
Muiden is beautiful but quite isolated. The house is stunning, designed by an architect I’m sure, with the old exterior and amazing interior, decorated with an African theme.
Our first night was a bit difficult, no food in the house, shops nearby closed, so we walked about ½ hour in the dark searching for food. Finally stopped at a “fine dining” hotel and blew 50 Euros on some small plates of very fancy food. But it did the job.
Muiden is isolated in that its hard to get public transport. The trains are so expensive here. For us to spend a day with our friends in Nieuwerkerk tomorrow will cost 71 Euros, and that’s riding our bikes for 15 minutes to the station in Weesp. The buses come once an hour. Still, it’s a charming village, with its own castle on the river Vecht. We’ve enjoyed walking around it very much. There’s a grocer 5 minutes away who has everything we need. BTW 70 Euros gets 79 USD
We thought we could find a grocery shop as the one in Muiden closes at six and we found that out at 6:15. On Google we tromped off into the dark to what we thought would be a Spar Grocery Store only half an hour away. After walking on some walking trail through woods we got to a road that had nowhere to walk alongside it. Google was still egging us on but after a few trucks came close to knocking us off the road we turned back and found our trail though the woods we had been on in the dark. Eventually we came across this “fine dining” restaurant mentions above. Fort H – https://forth.nl/ – we were grateful to be in a place that was warm and lit. We each got one thing for 19.95 Euros. They were both vegetarian, mine had a small slice of avocado and a couple of vegetables squashed into a two-inch square slice. It was very tasty and four bites later was gone. We also got a small order of fries. The bill was 50 euros – no credit card please, luckily we had a fifty euro bill from last year’s trip to Holland. Fortunately, we didn’t get anything to drink, just tap water. We did get home fifteen minutes later, still a bit hungry but we had the next day to eat. Lucky us.
Next day we found, at the end of our street, Weesperstraat, a few blocks, a great little grocery store, De Muidernier, with all we needed. You can read about our street below…of course, if you are like me, who knows no Dutch, I had Narda read it to me, sorry, but I forgot what she said, however, one can see the date 1600, so let’s assume this street started then.
Here is me standing in front of our house – on Weesperstraat (let’s call it Whisper Street to make it pronounceable).
Next days we’re exploring the village, bit of washing, “Better call Saul” on Netflix, getting a Lebara sim card working…..took way too long. They still had my email on record so I could not recharge. After several frustrating hours I found a 3rd party recharged company called surprisingly Recharge.com. Worked instantly. Note to self….keep the bloody sim card for next time.
Today on Brens birthday we rode to Weesp and checked out a giant book sale in the local church. I bought a cool little music book called “Nederland Bevrijd, even muzicale terugblik op de meidagen van ’45”. Some songs in there that mum and dad used to sing. Look out, sisters, we’re having a sing-along at Carolin’s. She doesn’t know yet.
Our host had bikes we could use. We needed to fill up the tyres and have the bikes checked out. In our very small town, there happens to be a bike shop. The proprietor was so knowledgeable and got us all safety inspected, fixed a flat tyre, raised handlebars, and informed us he would closed the next afternoon. He was going to have a bit of a birthday party, his 84th. I asked how long he had the bike shop, “more than sixty-years”. He spoke enough English for us to have a conversation of sort. He had such a good bike shop, everything imaginable. In the back he had a pulley system to raise the bike up to have a good look. From now on when I need a bike repair, I will only go to people who have been fixing bikes for a minimum of sixty-years. What are my chances for success?
What a great town. A canal, well a few, go through this town. See the slideshow. I don’t usually cut and paste a bit from Wikipedia, but in this case I will do just that to give an example of how old this hood is…
[The first known reference to Muiden is from 953 when Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, granted the settlement and its toll rights to Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht. It was called Amuda, meaning "mouth of the (river) A". "A" was the old name for the Vecht river. In 1122 Muiden was, together with Utrecht, granted some city rights by Emperor Henry V. After the lands around Muiden were given to Count Floris V, he began building Muider Castle at the mouth of the Vecht river. Muiden once again received city rights in 1296. The first defensive works date from the first half of the 15th century. In 1590 the walls are replaced with earthen mounds with bastions after a design by Adriaen Anthonisz. Muiden was the northern end of the Dutch Water Line. In 1673 the sea lock in the Vecht river was relocated from Fort Hinderdam to Muiden and in 1676 it was expanded with a sea wall along the Vecht mouth to prevent flooding. To learn more go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muiden]
We rode our bikes, now in top form, somewhat, to the next town, Weesp, a town of over 20,000 folks with a train station and larger grocery shops. For some reason it is referred to as ‘Little Amsterdam” don’t know why or who does – it’s online, so it must be true. It too is an old city grabbing their rights as a city in 1355. The ride takes us about twenty-minutes, Google says 12-minutes, obviously they don’t take into consideration the elderly puffing and panting all the way.
As one would expect, we came across a book sale, sparked up Narda heaps.
It was in this gothic church built in the 1200s. I was more interested in the interior than the books, probably because they were in Dutch. Fascinating is that there are graves all over the floor. Like five-hundred years old. I took a few photos of some, see below. From the history of tombstone covered floors in churches; “It was seen as a privilege to be buried inside the church (the closer to the altar, the better). These are not cenotaphs, these are actual tombs, with people slowly decomposing under them.” No one seemed concerned that people were looking at books above a graveyard. I thought it was all quite morbid and worthy of an Edgar Allen Poe type of poem that I will write next week. Narda was happy and that all one would want in life, a happy wife.
Took the trains to see our previous hosts and now friends from last year’s long visit to Nieuwerkerk. It was a celebration trip, our first train connection was disrupted by someone jumping onto the track. Terrible. We saw the medics rush down the steps with a stretcher. Hard on everyone, especially train drivers.
Needless to say, the trains through that station were cancelled so we took the Metro, a subway system to Amsterdam and then a long slog on the Intercity to Rotterdam. A trip that should have taken under 2 hours became a 4-hour trip.
But we had a nice time, sharing stories with our friends in Nieuwerkerk an den Ijssel , and eating croquettes. The last ride home from the trains was by bike with no lights. Hairy scary. It’s 15 minutes through the countryside with little street lighting. Oh well.
The bike ride home was a bit difficult, like in the dark, with no lights on our bikes and we don’t have helmets. In Australia there is a big fine for not wearing a helmet, but in Holland no one wears the. Last year we were in Nieuwerkerk for three-months, see our story for that at https://neuage.me/2022/05/15/holland2022/. Fred and Chantal may catch up with us in October of this year in Valencia.
Today we had invited the Albers clan for lunch, Hans, Miriam and Linda. We dashed out to Albert Hein and got some nice stuff to make a spag bol dinner. Veg version too which only Terrell ate. Lots of nice catching up with these guys. Then a walk in this charming little village, and Hans with his new toy, a drone. Wow that kept us all entertained for a while
Narda’s cousins. Fortunately, we get to catch up with them almost on a yearly basis. Considering we live in Australia and they don’t, that is quite the effort, on our part.
Hey, I was entertained. Heaps. Now I want a drone like this. Narda points out I would 1. Get into trouble flying over something I should not be flying over, like a military space in Pakistan or some such place 2. It would get out of my sight and land in the sea or someone’s backyard 3. We have too much stuff to travel with now already…there were a few more objections but I forgot them. There are many restrictions on these according to Hans. Can’t fly over residential areas, flight paths, crowds/groups of people, and on and on. Well then what’s the point of having one? I guess I don’t want one after all. We aren’t allowed to fly over the castle either so Hans flew around it – see the video – incredible.
And that is it. We took the overnight ferry back to Newcastle then the train to Liverpool.
Liverpool and Wales and more UK are the next blog.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. We are now in a fantastic flat overlooking the docks. More, plenty more, of that after we leave Liverpool. See ya then. Below some snapshots of our train Newcastle to Liverpool. Cheers
We have been here twice before. December 2021 for Brendan and Sofie’s wedding, see blog, and in 2020, see blog for then.
To see all our Pakistan video clips, 2019, 2020, 2023 click here
Lahore is the second most populous city in Pakistan after Karachi and 26th most populous city in the world, with a population of over 13 million. It is the capital of the province of Punjab where it is the largest city. Lahore is one of Pakistan’s major industrial and economic hubs, with an estimated GDP of $84 billion as of 2019. Wikipedia
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. It is the country’s ninth-most populous city, with a population of over 1.2 million people, and is federally administered by the Pakistani government as part of the Islamabad Capital Territory. Built as a planned city in the 1960s, it replaced Rawalpindi as Pakistan’s national capital. Wikipedia
When we were here last, November 2019, a thousand rupees equalled $6.44 USD ($9.44 Aussie bucks). March 2023 a thousand rupees = $3.75 USD or $5.56 Australian. In other words it is very difficult for the people here. Everything has risen in cost y close to 50% this year alone. For example, water is a dollar more this week than last week which is a lot.
As usual, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
Also, I did not put some sideshows below on Auto-play – so click the little arrow on the sides to see the next photo…forgot the reason…perhaps I thought at the time someone would want to dwell on a particular photo in the series – have no idea why. Let me know in the comments at the end which you prefer. In fifteen years of blogs here only one person has ever left a comment, that was because I spelt an old girlfriend’s name wrong – damn! You could be the second to leave a comment.
leaving Kuala Lumpur
Woke up at 5.30, our host Steve met us at 7.30 and then off in our Grab taxi. All went very smoothly. The Batik Air flight left at 12.30 right on time. We had never tried these guys before, but I think it was great. Mainly because the departure and arrival times (4 pm) are so civilised. Most of the fancy airlines manage 3 am for arrival in Pakistan.
The leg room and recline was fine ..as good as any economy seat. The food was OK, we had to purchase it. We also purchased a pillow each…never seen that before…but it was only $1 …nice little souvenir. The toilets were pretty bad by the end of the 6-hour flight, but you can’t win em all.Sofie and her mum Niggi were waiting there with their driver, Brendan has an after-school commitment he could not get out of. Back in their nice home now. Sofie has done some gorgeous decorating. It looks very homey.
This my little amateur sketch of part of the living room.
This stunning work by the real artist in the family, Sofie.
We have not flown on Batik Air Indonesia before, certified as a 3-Star Airline by Skytrax. It was budget all the way though comfortable. The plane was new with more leg room than other budget airlines we have been on. Meals were quite basic and cost little, I got some vegetable thing with rice and Narda had her usual something that once was alive meal. We even had to pay for a pillow, water, coffee. We didn’t buy a blanket. The pillows were cheap at about three bucks USD. There was no entertainment screen or plugs or charging. The stewardesses were friendly. Overall to save a few bucks it is OK for a six-hour flight.
Arriving in Lahore has been difficult in the past, two times, because there have been other flights, creating huge lines at customs and long waits for luggage. This time it was just our flight which was half full. We were the first at the passport window and our luggage came rather quickly as there were not many of us. No one checks us, or our luggage. Probably should have brought Brendan a carton of wine. Oh well, next time.
Sofie and her mother with their driver met us. We usually arrive at three am when so many others do also. This time at three pm there was no one else in the car park, the road into town was very sparse and we got to Swedish Flats, the wonderful home of Sofie and Brendan before Brendan got home from school.
Our first impression was of the difference a woman in a house can make. Not that Brendan’s house wasn’t homey, after all, Narda had bought stuff for it the last time we were here, but now there was so much more. Very homey.
Narda is showing the inside of the house below. A walled compound with guards. Inside we could be in any upscale neighbourhood in the world, except the air is a bit smoggy for us. Like Lahore was rated the most smoggy city in the world today.
Terrell and I happily went for our favourite walk to get coffee from the local chai wallah! Then off to Jalal’s at Main Market for groceries and snacks.
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On the first night Bren and Sof took us to our favourite restaurant…all western food, called Rina’s. I shared a great pepperoni (without pork?) pizza with Sof, Terrell had his remembered favourite dish, spinach lasagna and Bren had a chicken salad-pasta thing. Not sure exactly though I’m sure it was spicy.
Feb 17, 2023
Bren and Sof have half days on Friday. We took a longish nap at lunch then went to the international club. I spent the hour chatting with Dave, an English guy who has just returned to Lahore because his Pakistani wife wants to be close to family again. Bren and Terrell worked out in the gym.
Then at p.m. back there. We met up with Lulu again, she was pleased to see us. Nice long chats with her. She’s had an incredible life, travelling all through the middle east with her husband in the 60s, then settling with him (a Pakistani) in Lahore and raising 2 kids, both of whom returned to the USA. Her husband died 16 years ago and she now lives in Lahore, and would never go back to the west. Interesting person, with a long history of involvement at the International Club.
We went outside and were welcomed by the “boys”, Bren’s close Pakistani friends. Atif, who lent his nice car decorated with to Bren and Sof for their wedding celebrations. Faizan who got us lost driving to the reception. He also recently married and showed me lots of photos. Then there is Cash, a Pakistani with a plummy English accent, and with lots to say and strong opinions on everything. There was a long discussion led by Cash on the merits of psychedelics in finding truth. This man is a devout Muslim. Terrell had quite a bit of stuff to say on the topic 🤔 When asked what my experience was I told him “codeine is great, makes love everyone and everything”. One of the other guys (I had not met him before) insisted that reading and studying was the best way to finding truth. I tried to agree, but no one heard me.
It was a fun night. Imran came to pick us up, we went home with him, Sof and Terrell and me leaving Bren to party on. He assured us Cash would drive him home. I must say I was a little concerned about that. He’s home, Imran took him home.
Feb 19, 2023
Now here we are up early…..just had an instant coffee, I’m back on my 16/8 fasting regime. Life is good in Lahore.
Last night we had an interesting meal at Dan and Dan, a hotpot place. The beef was really something, very tender and tasty. So also the eggplant strips coated in stay sauce, which Saquib and I both thought was chicken. Bit of a cliche ‘tastes like chicken’. I had a good conversation with Saquib, Sofie’s dad, and the reason why Chris made it to his brother’s wedding. He was telling me about his family property in Gujarat.…..?.? here there is a 300 year tradition of helping people and teaching. I want to learn more. I also enjoyed meeting Niggi again, this warm-hearted, generous woman.
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We had spent some significant time in the hours before downing snacks with Bren and Sof and I thought I had left no room, but it was all good. Plenty of extra space there..
The walk to our local central is not without risk. Cars, trucks, motor bikes, rickshaws, donkeys pulling carts, pedestrians – so much more, going in whatever direction there is an opening. We wear N-95 masks while out as the pollution is heavy. Actually, Lahore was the most polluted city in the world for a couple of these days. “Lahore top list of most polluted cities, Karachi sixth in world. https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/26/lahore-atop-list-of-most-polluted-cities-karachi-sixth-in-world/ Here is an article as to why Lahore is so polluted, https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/11/29/pakistan-lahore-pollution-fossil-fuels-climate/ We took an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk to us) home. It is only five-minutes to get home but we are tired of avoiding traffic and have a bag of groceries, so we grab a ride home. Last time the fee was one hundred rupees. This time we don’t ask how much and just give 200 rupees, and there is always such a big smile on the driver’s face and thankyou that the extra money makes it worthwhile. Narda put the app for their Uber equivalent, InDrive, on her phone and we have started using that for further distances. We always give an extra 100 rupees to them too. A hundred rupees is around 37-cents to us.
We love Rina’s Kitchenette. I always get the same, pasta with great cheesy sauce. Narda and Sofie shared a pizza and Brendan got something or the other that meat lovers get. A few dollars each. And my favourite drink here, pina colada, a cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, though of course this is Pakistan, there is no rum in it which is great for me as I have not had any alcohol since 2005. Rina’s https://rinas.pk/
I see this dude above quite often wheeling around his furniture. We bought flowers for about seven bucks USD – in Australia the would be $60-$75.
Walked to local shops – pens notebooks – groceries – nap – gym with Brendan – evening dinner @ The International Club. There are always people from lots of places here. A few from where Brendan works, mostly businesspeople from South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Denmark, USA and so many more places. Good to speak with others. The food is good too. There is a gym, though a bit too hard core for me as I like the machines more than the free-weights which they seem to favour here. Brendan even has a trainer.
Narda has found a favourite stationary shop, she found it two times ago and again last time and low and behold it is still there, with all kinds of stationary stuff so she can draw and we found some odds and ends to give people along the way.
Out for breakfast with Brendan and Sofie at Bundu Khan Lahore – http://www.bundukhan.pk/ Desi Nashta –
slideshow of our days in Islamabad
11 am QConnect bus to Islamabad – to hotel – dinner with Phil’s parents at our Hotel Roomy in F6 –
Today Brendan left for Turkey with his grade 5 class for a school camp learning about space. Turkey has been in the news lot with Syria, having recently suffered catastrophic earthquakes in the southern border region, with 40,000 people so far losing their lives. A shocking thing. Bren and his students are a long way from there, so the camp wasn’t called off.
We left on the QConnect luxury bus (rated ‘business class’ italics deliberate:) headed to Islamabad. It’s a clean planned city purpose built as the capital of Pakistan. We stayed in a really nice hotel called Roomy Signature. The room was indeed roomy.
We met up with a couple of American music teachers, Tim and Gwen, with a long, interesting background in international schools. They were visiting their son Luke, living opposite Brendan and teaching at Lahore International School. We have lots of stories to share over dinner at our hotel.
The next morning, they picked us up with their school driver and showed us all the necessary sites. The museum of natural history, with a couple of competent science graduates telling the stories. Really nice.
Then to the central mosque, impressive.
And then the famous monument, and a craft museum which was dark, electricity down, but the little craft shops were open with nice stuff. Maybe I happened to buy some stuff but I’m not saying for sure 🙃 🤔
The cost of living has increased significantly for the locals. In November 2019, a thousand rupees cost us $6.44 USD ($9.44 AUD). In March 2023 a thousand rupees = $3.75 USD or $5.56 Australian. The rupee is continuing to fall…10% in the last weeks. Terrible for Pakistan. They are unable to pay for imports leaving ships full of goods standing in the harbour causing terrible shortages and price rises.
See https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ for 2019 blog
With Luke’s parents in AM to museums – nap – afternoon InDrive to The Centarus Mall F8 – Jinnah Avenue – dinner cheesy noodles
- The Pakistan Monument is a national monument and heritage museum located on the western Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad, Pakistan. The monument was constructed to symbolize the unity of the Pakistani people. It is dedicated to the people of Pakistan who sacrificed their “today” for a better “tomorrow” The four large petals represent each of the four main cultures of Pakistan, the Punjabi, the Baloch, the Sindhi and the Pakhtun. The three smaller petals represent: the minorities, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Its elevation makes the monument visible from across the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area and is a popular tourist destination
- Natural History Museums – The Pakistan Museum of Natural History has four divisions namely Botanical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Zoological Sciences and Public Services. The first three divisions are engaged in the collection, preservation, identification and research activities pertaining to plants, fossils & minerals and animals resources of Pakistan respectively, while the latter is responsible for mass education and popularization of the natural history through various displays, exhibits and dioramas.
- The Faisal Mosque is the national mosque of Pakistan, located in capital Islamabad. It is the fifth-largest mosque in the world and the largest within South Asia, located on the foothills of Margalla Hills in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad. It is named after the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
Our new friends headed back to their son and his family in Swedish Flats.
We headed off to the Metro, a new adventure. It’s a great idea, a concrete track, in the city for buses only costing very little. It was full of locals. We quickly learned the protocols from the locals pointing and smiling. Boys in the back, girls in the front. I got a seat, Terrell was sandwiched in the back with all the males, pretty much standing the whole time, about 8 stops.
We did not have a destination in mind, which puzzled the girls sitting next to me as I asked where we should get off.
“We want to see a market”.
“Commercial or local?” she replied in good English.
“I have no idea”, I thought.
“Both” I replied.
She smiled and assured me she would let me know. So, with this non information I texted Terrell urgently to be sure he would somehow catch sight of me as I got off.
It all went well, we both got off at the same stop and headed off in search of chai. It was definitely a local area. (Understatement!). The chai wallah had an “upmarket” area we were to sit in, deep underground with NO light. He was very hospitable. I think we may have been the first to sit down there in quite some time.
A few scarf purchases later, we had lunch, neon noodles. Nice. Toilets navigated. It’s all good.
The return trip took us back to Centaurus Mall. I bought a groovy shalwar kameez with lovely material, but too big, it was tent like. Seriously, it needed tent pegs. I later had this altered at our local Main Market to my satisfaction, with sweet Sofie as translator.
Dinner in the mall. Mine: chicken and noodles, Terrell: noodles, but the cheese made it yummy.
Of course, Narda got another dress,
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.The QConnect bus took us back to Lahore without incident, though I did spot a large bus with some significant roof damage, and men standing around looking at it. This was on the very steep decent coming back to Lahore. Not really sure what that was. Maybe they had just tipped it back upright. I did enjoy the fancy these decorated trucks heading west.
Bus back to Lahore – out with Sofie and Brendan’s for dinner to Rina’s
We decided to take Imran out with his family as a thank you. He’s a good guy. Unfortunately, he had to work and so we played host to his wife and 2 of his daughters. He was keen for us to meet Jennifer as she was home for a short time, working in Dubai. It was a nice experience, buffet in a speccie rooftop location. Food was good.
For some reason I cannot reconnect with Uber after our 3 months in India using them all the time. Nor can Terrell. We have finally managed to connect with InDrive, a similar local service by using our Aussie phone to verify us. Not sure what’s going to happen with our roaming charges. So, it’s working, sometimes with local folks helping us communicate with drivers in Urdu.
Evening dinner with Imran’s family – wife, Jennifer – her sister – buffet – I had fish A La Cart – Nestled in the city of Gardens, situated at the rooftop of one of the highest building around liberty and offers Indoor and Outdoor Dining with an extensive view of Lahore.
“Monal Lahore is the definition of contemporary Restaurant, serving the finest Cuisines with a combination of traditional and exciting flavours from around the world.” So they say – on some website.
Night Market Tour
The school generously paid for tickets for us and others to join the school community and go on a tour of the Lahore Fort. It is a huge complex, right next to the mosque in the old city. Beautiful. We met at school and were transported there in the school’s 12-seater bus. While waiting for the tour guide, we browsed the many souvenir shops.
Then the start of the tour was announced with a trumpet blast, and we were admitted through a low door. The tour guide was full of beans and gave us lots of information on this world heritage site and the restoration projects currently being undertaken. Incredible, everything lit strategically.
See our three clips:
Then there was quite a bazaar dance that went on for about twenty-minutes
This dance was more mild – Sufi extreme…
We got breaks from walking, watching different performances and also being transported in big tuktuk like vehicles. I enjoyed getting to know Brendan’s boss Nadine, a person I could easily be friends with. We both complained that it was way past our bedtime, a terribly late 9pm. 😴
After all the touring we ate a good meal on “food street”, generously paid for by Nadine and Chris in Pakistani fashion.
Bren home again after a week with his fifth graders in Turkey on the school camp in an area far from the devastation of the earthquakes. In southern Turkey and in Syria the damage and loss of life has been shocking. I think the total deaths are now close to 70,000.
Morning brekkie at my favourite place. It has the best sweet lassi. Lassi meethi
2 cups whole-milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, or to taste
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
Pinch of salt
1 cup ice cubes
- Step 1Combine all the ingredients in a blender with 1 cup cold water. Blend until smooth and serve.
My favourite drink is their Piña colada – of course without the rum…yumm – in picture below with Narda’s mint thingy
Sofie’s mum took us out to Breakfast at the English Tea House http://ethpakistan.pk/. A great way to start a Sunday. I had the eggs Florentine – in Australia it would have been $25 – $30, here about $5 Australian. I had a blueberry smoothie which was good.
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While Brendan was catching up on sleep, we attended a couple of sessions at a writer’s week. The second involved a book launch by an ex-student of Lahore International School. In his book he wrote of his kidnapping in Lahore and torture by extremists. He was held in captivity for 5 years. Lucky to be alive. It was a riveting speech, and I’m not going to read the book.
Too confronting for me
Does anyone remember Statler and Waldorf? They were the two old guys who provided a running commentary of Sesame Street. Well, we met their Pakistani brothers over lunch. Two educated gentlemen with opinions. Interesting conversation. They spoke of their support of Imran Khan, their views on the relationship with India, which they said was driven totally by politicians. Their view that the countries of the world who had confiscated weapons in their populations were the ones getting ahead. They compared Pakistan with Bangladesh in this regard. Pakistan remains heavily armed, Bangladesh does not. I want to research this some more.
Bren had an offer one can’t refuse of the box seat in the local cricket match, including full access to unlimited food. So, we joined Sof at her hairdresser for head and foot massage and hair wash. 😍 lovely.
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InDrive to Mall Road – breakfast/lunch at Grazer Mall 94, Soups: mushroom and chicken $1.95 USD each, sweet lassie $1.18 and mango smoothie $3.15 +$1.25 on top of it all for their 16% GST tax for a grand total of $9.50 USD for lunch – shopping at Imtiaz – Narda bought dress – InDrive back home gave 350($1.35) even though it was about 300 ($1.17).
Another strange experience with the InDrive person, who couldn’t find us at the flower market, The vendor helped by talking to the driver and we made a dare devil crossing of a busy road. Not quite comfortable with the tuk tuk, fast car, bus, and pedestrian mix on these roads. We need more practice and need to take a chill pill.
Nice dinner last night at Paola’s Mediterranean food restaurant. Just newly renovated, really lovely atmosphere. I ordered a pepperoni pizza again. Can’t seem to get past it. The pepperoni is made from chicken, and you would never know. This is because Muslims do not eat pork. Just because something is made from chicken does not mean it tastes like chicken. 😉
Here is their menu if you want some good food sent anywhere in the world – or at least in Lahore
Sidenote: just because it is made with tofu and tastes like chicken doesn’t mean some poor animal got snuffed just to taste like chicken. Hey, for those who don’t know – or care really, I was a tofu manufacturer in Adelaide for seven-years. Really. I even have a webpage – of course, https://tofu.neuage.us/
Today was going to be a down day because we just got new internet. So, catching up on blogging and bills etc. It was restful. Walked to the local street stall and on the way home bought more than a kilo of strawberries for the princely sum of less than $2 USD. Yum, so ripe. Just hope I washed them properly. Won’t know that till tomorrow morning.
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My tuk tuk take.
Driving to Sofie’s parents was a challenge. I covered my head with a scarf to blend in and Brendan kept driving confidently past the check points. This is the process, each time they drive to their home. Foreigners are not allowed into the “containment” area owned by the army. . Sometimes they check and send you back. Its a bit of hit and miss, but tonight it was busy and we slipped by unnoticed.
Saquib was there too. Dinner was lovely and we had interesting conversations about the current politics, Saquib assuring us that Imran Khan would win by a landslide. Niggi told us that he was being guarded by many women from the city, armed with sticks, who beat off any police who tried to arrest him on trumped up charges. It’s a funny image. She said she might join them.
Good morning, Pakistan. I survived the consuming of a great deal of non-sanitized strawberries. Today the sun is shining, little pollution. We headed out early to enjoy the blue sky and the quiet roads. I bought the requisite white vinegar using this Urdu phrase “sofed seriga”. It worked. We went home (stopped first at the other chai wallah) and sterilized the remaining strawberries. 4 parts clean water and one part sofed seriga.
Part of our local walk.
Then came the highlight of my trip. We went to the fancy home (Nadine and Chris) of the principal of the elementary school for a pleasant TGIF experience, lots of food and beer. She had actually offered me a job as middle school music teacher for the remaining 3 months of the year. I did think long and hard about it. If this offer had come at the end of our trip I would have done it. It would have an interesting experience, but we still have lots of travel paid for and I didn’t fancy cancelling it all.
But that was not the highlight. Brens new band was playing and the boys invited me to sing so I joined them for 2 songs singing harmony with the very capable lead singer who also played ukulele, Brendan playing a mean bass, and two other guys on guitar and single drum. This was something I had always wanted to do.
See the clip at https://youtu.be/rh_o7XGW6mY
You know, the cricket player Imran Khan, became prime minister, was ousted, and is trying to get back in as prime minister. He was injured in an assassination attempt recently in a long march episode from Lahore to Islamabad. Two days before leaving Lahore there was a big protest, rally, whatever, in front of the compound. Rumours were that the current government was going to arrest Imran. His compound has lots of tents in front, probably equal five NYC blocks or more. Apparently, women are camped out and have sticks to beat back police if they try to arrest him. Well Wednesday Brendan and Sofie got released from school at noon due to ‘trouble’ brewing and Thursday Brendan and Sofie got the call that there would be no school as the roads were blocked. The compound is near their school. To us, having taught in New York, it was equal to getting a snow-day. Narda was quite happy. We saw various Twitter clips with the army and police using water cannons and breaking car windows. Narda and I wanted to go and see what was going on but we were kind of told no. in my defense, my first degree, BA, was in journalism. And I fancy myself as a reporter of stuff. Anyway, we stayed near home.
to Sofie’s mother for dinner father there too – left 9.30
On our walk to and home from our daily grocery shopping we sat in the local park and were looked at with great interest, even talked to a few fellows.
Being an American I have a slight fascination with guns – like why people have them. In Pakistan every business has a (male) guard with a machine gun outside. They are always friendly. Never seen anyone come close to using one which I suppose is good. Here are a few of my gun toting guards…
March 05 Hung around house morning – worked on train trips in UK and started looking at flights for NY – Valencia. Brendan and Sofie to a wedding, we took a nap. Packages Mall_ https://youtu.be/eFH2CGigBtw Narda bought shoes at Ndure for rainy weather in UK, dinner at The Pantry –
Bit of this and that. Head massage, dinner at the club, and driven home by someone’s driver, then Packages Mall for some waterproof shoes. Found a bargain at Ndure (1,500 rupees which is around $6 USD. Will be useful in the rainy UK. Another run at Imtiaz. We are carrying a dongle which gives us internet on the go. Sometimes. So, we can order a driver or use WhatsApp. No Sim cards for us. Next time we will contact the embassy.
Coffee and cake at Second Cup,– ten-minute nap – InDrive to Al – Fatah to get my hair oil and InDrive back – later walked from Main Market to Imtiaz Narda bought dress and shoes at Imtiaz to go to Lulu’s.
My hair guru, Sofie, put me onto some hair oils to help me. My hair seems to be shorter than a few years ago and is thinning too quickly. Just because I am 75 is not a good reason to have hair loss – really, get with the program. I once had hair most to my waist in the 1960s, and it was black, now it is going grey at an alarming rate. Sofie, having had a bout with TB and losing hair discovered the oil of an onion rubbed into the scalp overnight regenerates hair. Narda already is complaining, and I haven’t even started. Something about I will have to sleep in the other bedroom when we get back home if I dare do such a treatment which of course I will. Her hair grew back long and thick and black – just because she was a hundred years younger than me doesn’t mean it won’t work with me. I did purchase two oils, one with onion extract but not with the smell. I am to use one treatment twice a week for two weeks then the onion extract one for a week and do that until my hair is thick and to my feet. So excited. Thanks hair-guru-Sofie. I am so lucky.
Dinner at home…
Yesterday we had another chai at our local street seller. We waved on arriving. This meant and was understood as “the usual please”. He made us one with sugar and one without. Cool. We sat in the back and had a pleasant conversation with a local office worker taking a break. Lots about the bad economics of Pakistan, the falling rupee and of course Imran Khan and the (unsuccessful) attempts of the opposition to have him arrested.
Narda asked a child’s parent for permission to take this photo – I called it photo of the day.
One of Narda’s go-to conversations with locals is re. Imran. Seems everyone we speak to is in favour of Imran or they are just fearful of disagreeing with Narda. If you don’t believe me, say you are an anti-vaxxer. For example, at an anti vax rally parade we happened to come across in The Hague, Narda confronted one of them and she got pushed – luckily she got out of their way and survived to ‘discuss’ vaxing with others since. Yes, we have had five, three of them boosters. We may have a future ‘conversation’ about pressed onion oil in hair, but aside of that we agree on most everything. I make fun of her and have lots to say about her meat eating and she pays me out for being a vegetable…lover, otherwise we are on the same page, well, except I still play Dylan and Janis Joplin when I can. Pretty good as we come from such a different background in some ways. Mainly, I did the hippie lots of LSD and everything else and she didn’t. I am still glad I did. I loved my years of doing lots of drugs, no regrets, remember them well, great experiences, but also happy I haven’t done any drugs since early 1980 when my mate Randy sent me a lots of LSD. I was a single parent at the time. When I told Sacha a few years ago he said his whole childhood made sense to him after hearing that. No drugs since early 1980, no alcohol since 2005, feel high all the time, happy. What more could a person want?
A new Tim Norton’s shop opened in Lahore and of course Sofie wanted to go and stand in line to get one of their donuts which she claims were quite good. I didn’t, Narda did and liked it too. Brendan rolled his eyes.
Another one of those lovely days…foot massage, head massage, hair wash. Far out, wish we could afford this in Australia. All up it set us back $23 including tip for the two of us, and Narda getting her toenails coloured – kind of a pink instead of her usual red. Go figure, women – but then again today is the international day of the woman or of women – something like that. Huge marches here in Lahore today – and a large rally for Imran Khan. That got Sophie and Brendan home early, as Imran’s compound is near their school and the military is out and there seems to be a lot of nonsense going on Narda and I wanted to go and see it but we were told probably not a good idea. Water cannons – police breaking car windows – lots of mayhem. I wanted to be one of those twitter journalists – had my cameras including zoom lens ready to go too. One of the girls who did the massages is from the Philippines, said she was a Christian. We used to say we were atheists, but Brendan said that is not good to say, so I suppose we are culturally Christians so yes that we are, sort of.
Our last days were a bit of a whirlwind seeing folks and winding up our stay in Lahore plus getting train tickets lined up for the rest of the trip – Newcastle to Liverpool, train to Wales. Tickets for our next trip; Adelaide to Albany NY, renting a car for a week or more, visiting my sister in Oneonta, friends in Albany, my father, mother’s and brother’s cemetery in Clifton Park, reminiscing about living in upstate 2002 – 2006, teaching in Albany, then driving from Oneonta to Battle Creek Michigan where I was born then I was carted off to NY and put out for adoption soon after those glorious few days of my youth in August 1947. Want to check out the place, see if it has changed much over the past 76-years. I suspect it has and I think I will be there on my birthday, August tenth, if you are thinking of wishing me well or sending flowers. From there we will train it to Chicago for our house exchange in downtown for a month. The Chicago folks have just left our home in Adelaide, they seemed to have enjoyed their month stay there. After Chicago we are taking Amtrak overnight – got a sleeper berth, to DC, staying with Chris and Jessica for a couple of weeks then to Valencia. We got one ticket on United with points and will get the second next month when we accrue enough points to grab that one. At the rate we are spending on this trip that should be easy. We have a house exchange in Valencia for a month, our ticket is direct on United from DC to Madrid where we will stay for a day or two then train it up to our house exchange in Valencia. Then back to Adelaide beginning of November. Of course, Narda has us planning for 2024. Coming back to Lahore for a couple then her hope is that we will do a land crossing over the Wagga Border into India instead of flying there, then hanging out in India for three months, or two months there and a month in Malaysia – still connecting the dots now. Of course, there will be world-stuff to deal with. Who knows what the issues will be then? Last couple of years we had to navigate our way around covid, now the ever-expanding wars with Russia.
In June of 2024 we are looking at how to celebrate Narda’s seventieth – something we did, a cruise, in 2017 for my 70th – shit I’m old.
Wow, what a coincidence. I am writing this flying over some snow-capped mountains between Abu Dhabi and London listening to The Pretenders doing the Dylan song, ‘Forever Young’, which is more than five-minutes long and just discovered it is looping after hearing it for too many times, the point being in my ramble I was thinking I was getting a bit long in the tooth for all this travel whilst ‘Forever Young’ was playing.
Back to the real story of now. Now. Wednesday night we went to Lulu’s house. Well apartment. She used to have a house, sold it and got this groovy apartment in a new building with a swimming pool, spa, and so much more. She is a very interesting person. We met her at the International Club last year. She is past 80, from Denmark, married a Pakistani Brit, they lived in Lahore for a long time he died 17-years ago. Lulu stays in Lahore because that is now her home, she loves it. Her two-children live in the States and are married to Yanks. They are Trumpers. We had good talks about how difficult it must be to have a Trumper in the family. Narda and I don’t know anyone who is of that ilk. She is so full of stories of her life. My favourite is about when she and her husband lived and travelled throughout the middle east – living in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. The 1960s were so different in these places. She told us what it was like on the hippie trails through Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan – all these places we no longer travel to. We have met others who have described places being so open and full of westerners. My friend, Michael McCarthy tells of when they used to drive luxury cars from Europe to Afghanistan, sell them and hitch hike back to Europe and do it all over again.
from Lulu’s roof top – Because of her upper status in Lahore society, she took us to the Punjab club https://thepunjabclublahore.com.pk/, for dinner. It is very difficult to become a member here and one can only go here with a member. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos, as we were asked not to. We ate on the rooftop, quite the meal. Because Pakistan is such a meat-eating country there was no vegetarian options except for a few veggies cooked up, so I had sword fish. Never had that before. It was quite good. According to Brendan, Narda, Sofie, and Lulu their many meat dishes were superb. I snuck a piece of chicken to a feral looking cat beneath the table. Felt quite noble doing that.
Narda dressed up for our night out on the town – at the Punjab Club – members only – and their drag alongs
These birds, called Kites, (we have the large ones) are birds of prey feeding on rodents and trash. Black Winged Kites are common in Lahore, scavenging in this local area. They lay eggs in winter, January and February. Their diet consists of small birds, human waste, and meat.
It’s all gone pretty quickly. We discovered some new stuff.
We were walking random streets in Lahore and came across a group of men who wanted to chat – we could not understand much of each other but we did selfies and were told one of the men was a principal of the local school. Really enjoy hanging out and meeting people and they like being with us – we all understand one another in the sense we are just regular people. Well I am anyway. I didn’t select auto play here so scroll through at your leisure.
Sofie and Brendan went to a mate’s wedding (a three day thingy) here they are dressed for one of the days…
Our last day, yesterday, Thursday, we went to lunch with Sofie’s mum. Another great feed. I had a creamy noodle spinach thingy and they had, according to them, tasty roadkill. Don’t recall the name of the place.
Also, I got Neuage soap.
Bit of a story. Since 1993 I have been making webpages. That is toward the beginning of it all as the internet was invented 1991, I know because I used to teach computing at the university of Albany in 2002-2003, with a history of such. I saw it originally as 1. Finding friends, I have lost along the way; that rarely happened in the past thirty-years, maybe two or three people from my past. It is either because people thought I was an idiot and never wanted to have anything to do with me again, or because I changed my name from Adsit to Neuage in 1981 – a long story, which I won’t tell now, or because my friends all died off. As a fact I know three from my past, Kathleen in Florida who said I was the first one she kissed back in 1962 or so, Marta Waterman, my brother’s girlfriend in the 1960s – she is in Woodstock, New York and we keep constant contact, even did a book together about my brother, and my once-were-girl friend, Tamazon, from 1974 New Orleans, she even joined a cult order I was in back then, so I probably had an influence on her life, – we have kept tabs on one another for the past decade or so through Facebook as I have with the other two. I did discontinue friendship with Beverly, my girlfriend in the late 1970s, Baltimore, because she got weird, I think she would be a Trumper. Wrote me that my dead-son, Leigh was trying to tell me, through her, to turn to God. That was too much for me. 2. The other reason I was so excited about the internet was that it would be an obvious place for me to sell my children’s stories – books, and my picture-poems. In the mid-1990s I thought I would become so famous and rich that my children and I would travel the world on our magic carpet. Needless to say, that never happened. I never sold anything. I presently have about twelve books on Amazon. I think Kathleen bought one once. Anyway, to make a long story short…for decades if you put in ‘neuage’ into Google I would be the first dozen pages to appear. I have thousands of pages about me. Really, look it up. Well, now, putting in ‘neuage’ the first several pages are about some stupid shit product called Neuage soap. What a foul disgrace to my good name. the Neuage soaps and products are as one would have it, centred in Lahore of all places. It is now available only on the internet. I have tried many stores. So of course, I ordered it so I can give Sacha a gift of love from Pakistan.
One final note from me…I was concerned at the start of this trip that I would have difficulty carrying medication that needed refrigeration. I have several liquid ice packs in a thermal bag with the medication, Trulicity, for diabetes. I contacted various airlines and read heaps on the internet with lots of different answers to whether I could carry these things. Adelaide airport said nothing – put the bag through the scanner – nothing, this was the result everywhere so far: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, London, Ferry to Holland. All my worries as usual have come to naught. Even hotels are willing to put my medication into refrigeration overnight, and the icepacks into a freezer. Even the ferry between Newcastle and Holland did this – that story is for the next blog.
Goodbye Lahore, see you next time. We love you.
Postscript 16 March
Things are heating up in Lahore with Imran Khan’s supporters not allowing the government agencies (police ans soldiers) to arrest him. Kahn’s supporters are out in droves, blocking access to the school where Bren and Sof teach, and also Kahn’s home. They have had a number of days off as a result, I don’t hear complaining from them.
Unfortunately there are tear gas and water cannons being used. The other day it all went quiet as police and soldiers went to the cricket.
This brings a smile to my face. Brens description of the Pushtuns from Peshawar standing in the back of their utes with their bushy beards and machine guns, high on hashish coming to rescue their beloved Imran. They take up both sides of the road and I’m sure speed limits do not apply. According to Sofies dad, if he gets to the election he will win in a landslide.
Kahn is opposing the arrest as he says they will kill him. This is not an unreasonable fear, as an attempt on his life has already happened when he was shot in the leg on the march to Islamabad with his followers a few months ago.
February 9th start of 111 day trip
Adelaide -Singapore Depart 10.35 SQ 279 Arrive 3.30 pm Cross border into Malaysia, Johor Bahru Citrus Hotel
All I know back in January couple of months before being here. As we will be here beginning of February, three-weeks away, and we will be travelling for most of the three-months after I thought I would learn a bit of this place where we will be for a week before going to Lahore.
Firstly, today, 26th January we are in a caravan park in Adelaide, South Australia with the temperature rising – tomorrow it will be about 38C / 100F.
I looked up KL to get a feel for the place – this is what the internet says:
Kuala Lumpur, officially the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and colloquially referred to as KL, is a federal territory and the ceremonial, legislative and judicial capital city of Malaysia. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia and the largest city in Malaysia, covering an area of 243 km² with a census population of 1,982,112 as of 2020. Wikipedia
That’s it. The rest is now. In real time, as of today, the…
As usual for the past twenty-years+, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
February 6th – oops Almost missed this trip. Last Friday, the third of Feb. did my usual six-months visit with my liver dude. He said my ultrasound showed a couple of spots (lesions is their nerdy word) adjacent to some random ‘falciform ligament in segment 4a’ yeah sure tell someone who cares…wait that is Narda and me. He says may need an operation to zap these little fellows within the next six-weeks if they are sinister. Damn! But wait – let’s do a CT Scan to verify or not what the trip is. Being can do people we found a radiology SA centre that can book me in Friday afternoon – three-hours after getting a form in my hand to do this sometime soon. Dr ‘Oh-No’ said if we do go on our trip in a few days to leave roaming on my phone so he can ring and say whether he have to immediately fly back to Adelaide for surgery. So, I get the CT scan in record time – we stand around waiting for the printed results for the scan – and with it in hand go back to the RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital) and leave it with the secretary. She says the good doctor has gone home (after scaring the shit out of me) for the weekend and I would need to have an appointment to give him the results – no appointments available next week. I kind of flirt/plead/beseech the lady behind the desk and say he is expecting this result and needs it soon as we are going overseas. She caves to my charm(s) and says she will give it to him Monday. BTW, as far we could read the CT scan it looked fine. It not only did not find the so called lesions but said the ‘study is unremarkable’. So we think maybe OK, however, being humans we have a bit of a dark weekend thinking not only are we not going on our trip but we will have to move into our caravan and park at the overpriced local caravan park as people who we have a house-exchange with in August (Chicago) are staying in our house starting the end of this week making us homeless. OK, bottom-line as this is getting lengthy in its telling, Doctor Fantastic rings Monday at 1.30 (waking us from our nanny nap) saying all is good and to enjoy our trip. [reminds me of that once-were-president in the USA saying he made a perfect phone call] We were all happy – clouds disappeared and we continued our packing to get the hell out of here in a few days. Yippie.
After book club, where we discussed the apocalyptic book Station Eleven at Lois’ place, we headed off on our way. Carolin and Michael picked us up, dropped us at the Riviera Hotel opposite the RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital). There’s no secret meaning to this particular location. It’s just nice to get on our way at the end of a day rather than dashing around early morning.
Marcelinas is a nice farewell place, this is the second time we’ve done this. We polished off some great pizza between us with Carolin and Michael and had plenty of laughs.
A public bus ride for free. Only in Adelaide. I was sitting opposite a woman, occasionally making eye contact, and smiling. Then she stood up to get off the bus and walked over to me and said in my ear, ‘I am going to kill myself’. I jumped up and said uselessly, ‘no, no don’t’. By that time, she had walked out onto the pavement and the bus had started moving again. This is a memory I will carry. Shocking.
The flight to Singapore was uneventful.
Instead of the ‘easy’ sky bus we had planned to take, we finished up in a public bus headed to the border of Malaysia. The bus took us on a 2-hour trip through the back blocks of Singapore. Interesting though; all new to us. What was also new to us was that when we arrived in Woodlands, we had to transfer to another bus to reach the actual border to exit Singapore. A long queue as it was a Friday night when all the good folk from Malaysia who had jobs in Singapore where also queuing. Literally hundreds of people in front of us. Then on the other side another bus with folks lining up again to go to the Malaysian border.
It was exhausting. I am exhausted writing about it again, as no doubt you are, reading about it. Anyway, the entry to Malaysia was much easier. We managed to find a ‘seniors line’, and got through customs rather easily.
And no one was rude or pushy in this ordeal. The lines were massive, but strangely quiet.
Then there was Johor Bahru, the border town. Not a town, a big city. Friendly folks pointed us on our way to Citrus Hotel. https://www.citrushoteljb.com/ We did sleep well, though the hotel was little less than we had expected.
Arrive 3.30 pm Cross border into Malaysia, Johor Bahru Citrus Hotel
Changi Airport – Singapore to the border.
Back to our trip… we left the hotel this morning, stopped in at McDonalds for brekky. Didn’t sleep much last night – just all revved up, I guess. I was concerned about a large bag of medical stuff – five-months of pills and five-months of Trulicity, an injectable diabetes medicine that needs to be kept cold. I rambled on about this drug last blog and how it is almost impossible to get because people got it prescribed for weight loss even though it was for diabetics, creating a worldwide shortage. Though I managed to find six-months’ worth via several pharmacies and by being very persuasive, and a bit of a hustler. The company says Australia will be fully supplied by next April. Anyway, I got several ice-gel packs, which are larger that the 100 ml they allow onto flights. I thought they would be confiscated even though I need them in my insulated medical bag. But they weren’t. So here is a tip, at least with Singapore Airlines, frozen gel packs can be taken in carry-on luggage. We will see what the next airline does.
To cut to the end of this whole thing; we are now in Lahore, no issues with any flights, no one even looked – the large insulated bag with all the ice packs went through all the screening devices in Adelaide, KL, and now Lahore. In KL we did not even have anything scanned, no computer out of the bag – no airport scanner to walk through; I can’t go through airport scanners anyway as I have a pacemaker so I get scanned separately, but not in KL. It is all so quick, just walk through the waiting areas and onto the plane. I think it has something to do with facial recognition they can see we are not going to cause havoc, apart from being the pain in the ass elderly demanding people that we are.
I have downloaded a lot of Netflix things. Watched two on this flight which I really enjoyed. The first was Creedence Clearwater – 1970. I was such a fan 1968 – 1969 (ended up in an occult order in Hawaii from December 1969 to finally escaping in 1978 – Baltimore, Maryland – so missed out with keeping up with my favourite rock group). What a great flick to watch high (well not high like in the 1960s, obviously) but high above Australia on the way to KL.
The other flick I watched – wow, Dylan was so much of my life in the 1960s (I lived in Greenwich Village, NYC, a real street person hippie/beatnik at the time), was the Rolling Thunder Revue, Netflix special. I was lucky to grab a train up to Memphis, from New Orleans, to see Dylan with the Band in 1973 and again with Tom Petty in Adelaide in South Australia in about 1984. That concert he seemed not too engaged with the audience but it was still good. If you are a Dylan or Creedence fan gives these a view.
View from our hotel in JB
You can imagine this was not such an easy beginning to the trip. We called a taxi to take us to the train station or the bus station in KL. We had no real information about either option, or no internet. So, we asked the taxi driver if he would be prepared to drive us all the way to KL, 327kms away. He quoted a reasonable amount, so off we went. It took about 4 hours, sometimes reaching speeds of 140 kph. But worth it. He was a friendly guy who spoke a difficult to understand version of English. But he did it right. Right to our Airbnb.
Wow! This dude had no sense of speed limits. Even when there was construction and signs would say 60 Ks he did not slow down. He said he liked motorcycle, motocross, racing to be specific. Narda asked him to slow down at one point and he was good about it and stayed at 110-120 the rest of the way. The posted speed limit seemed usually to be 110 – which is about 68 mph in the States which I know is not fast, but he had a bit of an old car and the memory of crashing once doing 70 mph on a freeway in Mississippi a decade ago is always there. In that case a truck hit us from behind making us spin around and crash into a barrier in the middle of the highway. How we survived that remains one of those lucky things that means you are reading this. If you want to read about it, we still have that blog up @ https://neuage.me/2013/02/01/a-piggly-wiggly-story/
I asked our driver what the trip with the hanging and sitting statues on his dashboard were – he said they protected him whilst he drove. I wanted to say that if he drove reasonably he would be more protected – which any rational atheist such as me would say. Driving the appropriate speed will always be more protective than a bunch of statues. I know. Proof is that I am alive, and I do not worship any plastic nothing. I take reasonable risks. Well now I do, perhaps, like most people in my teen years and twenties and damn my thirties and forties I was a bit over board then – but hey, I am still here., and apart from liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and a few other once were life-styles reminders I am in rather good nick. The downside is our travel insurance cost more than the flight tickets for these little excursions.
Last night we met our host, an interesting guy who told us stories of his days in Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Fascinating. The Airbnb is in Bukit Bintang, a great area. We are near the food street, slept like the dead and decided to move here…no just kidding. But it wouldn’t be hard. The rain falls every day (so far). You get some loud thunder as a warning and then down she comes. We sit on our 13th floor balcony (known here as floor 12A) in wonder. For a person raised in Adelaide, the desert city, this is a real treat.
I like this flat. Even had a large swimming pool, which we never did get around to use. We brought our bathers, with great intent to do some aqua aerobics like we do three mornings a week in Adelaide, somehow, never happened. But we walked heaps and I suppose that is exercise. Also, three days, or was it two? I did use the gym for a bit and put some weights up into the air to keep my well-chiselled body in shape. I have avoided mirrors since turning 70, five-years ago, so not sure if that is true.
Lots of security: two guards at front lobby, scan card to get into and out of building, scan card to get into our section of the building, gate in front of apartment, two locks on door. We always felt safe, but I am sure there is stuff we don’t know.
some photos from our balcony,
view of our building
February 11 – Saturday
I am fascinated by the world’s second tallest building – 123 story up, 2,227 feet. The tower has a mall, a mosque, a Park Hyatt hotel, and Southeast Asia’s highest observation deck. The building overlooks the Stadium Merdeka, where former leader Tunku Abdul Rahman declared Malaysian independence in 1957. Ismail Sabri, who was named prime minister in August, said that the sculptural design “reflects the image” of Rahman famously raising his hand to shout “merdeka!” (Malay for “independent!”) more than six decades ago, and we concur. I wanted to go to the top, but it is not opened until June. Our Airbnb owner said he went to a dinner on the 23rd floor. Lucky him. Narda refuses to go to the top of these tall things.
buildings of KL
Everywhere one goes in this city the building is somewhere in view… We are near Berjaya Times Square, one of the biggest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. I bought a battery charger for 50 MYR or about $12USD as I have lost mine somewhere along the way to here. I had paid 50 bucks for it in Australia so this was a fourth of the price. The food court here was much better than the food street next to our house though that street is just so groovy. By better, it is about half the price for food. For example, Narda got an omelette for 9 MYR – two bucks USD, three Australian. I got a sweet rice mango dish for about the same price. And forgetting I was diabetic we got Kristy Kreme for 80-cents US or $1.16 Australian. They are 3-4 bucks in Australia so what a good deal. Speaking of diets. Impossible to have low-sugars in Malaysia I think. All coffee has sugar. Even the milk has sugar and other crap. Everything is high carb (think rice and noodles) so my past five-years of a super low-carb diet has gone to shit. However, my taste buds are in overdrive pleasure. So take that body! The other thing I like about Times Square food court is no one hassles about eating in their shop. Our local street food foodie for local and tourists, mostly tourists, is annoying. Every place has a person or two standing in front waving their menu in your face and trying to get you as their favourite customer. No thanks, mate! Just like in many other places foaming at the seams with tourists that try to capture hungry people if some fool puts a menu in my face I definitely will not go to their shitty little shop. See I am not emotional about these things.
Just a slight complaint…the coffee is terrible – unless there is a Starbucks or some similar expensive coffee shop. Local coffee is so sweet if there is any milk in it. We could not find just plain milk. Milk has sugar and many other things in it. Like the label below that we thought was a carton of milk – has one of the ingredients on the list that says contains milk along with all this other stuff…
Central Market began life as a wet market in 1888, built by Yap Ah Loy, the city’s Chinese Kapitan. It served as a prominent landmark in colonial and modern-day Kuala Lumpur. When the wet market was relocated in the 1980s, the Malaysian Heritage Society successfully petitioned against the demolition of the building. Now, Central Market Kuala Lumpur is an iconic attraction and a delightful destination for tourists, shoppers and art lovers.
We bought a sound cable in Chinatown for five times what it was worth. Tourist price even though Narda got the price down from 69 to 49 RM. Now we can listen to Netflix saved movies on my computer linked to our large TV with our little speaker we cart around because my computer speakers are not that good.
We ate somewhere, Often we are not sure what it is we ordered. I make it clear I do not want any road-kill, or meat of any sorts for that matter. Narda – has a different view/taste. In this instance, Narda ended up with someone else’s meal – we thought it looked quite different than what was expected, and it tasted differently than expected. I like her expression – sort of sums up the unexpected experience. The coconut milk was good though.
We ate on food street, lots of hustling and people shoving a menu into your face. We did get a nice meal though. I ate chicken on skewers with peanut sauce, always a winner, and Terrell had a green curry, which he loved.
The area is well painted with wall-art. It reminded us of Darwin – see Darwin https://neuage.me/2021/03/03/darwin/. Not just with the street-art but also with the heat and the heavy rain every day 4 – 6.30 pm.
This morning we discovered a sort of coffee shop very close by. There is coffee in the western style mall for Western prices. In one such mall we came across a recruiting event for Asia Airlines. Lots of hopeful candidates waiting for their interview. Had a really nice meal for tea in an Indian restaurant. One of the best we’ve had in a while.
Back to the local coffee shop for strong coffee, which we soften with some Stevia.
Today some paperwork. I realised to my dismay that I had purchased only 2 days of travel insurance by writing the wrong date. So, a bit of stress here. We had to buy another month’s worth, and unexpected $1,000 added to the costs. Hmm.
Then we decided to test drive the Grab Car phenomenon. It was not great. The app kept changing arrival time, and we finished up in a car an hour after we ordered it. I guess I should have cancelled, but I wasn’t sure. Anyway, we spent some time in the Central Market which thankfully was air-conditioned.
I met a woman in there who was on a day tour from her 68-day cruise, on the Queen Mary. Not too shabby.
Then a treat. At about 6 pm some crashing thunder (the usual) followed by the most intense rain I have ever experienced. Incredible. In no time the streets were filled with at least 6 inches of fast flowing water. The drainage systems coping well. We were hungry and decided to walk out into this wonderful new world of water. We took large brollies, and wore our plastic raincoats, but still got pretty wet. We ate at the local eatery, nasi for me and noodle for Terrell. The rain was deafening on the roof, but no one seemed excited, as we were.
There were some young people all dressed up thing going on at our local times square shopping centre – hundreds of comic looking folks – we felt a bit out of place – not sure why.
Today our train journey started with the monorail, Terrell led us unerringly through the maise of building to the station. We transferred to a proper train at KL sentral, after getting lost in the mall that has taken over the whole bloody thing. It’s a conspiracy, take more money off the intrepid travellers who can’t find the next platform.
It’s a bit of a shit tip, but the natural caves and the cliffs are stunning. The long stairs one has to climb was climbed by Terrell but not by me. Too hot. Lots of nasty little monkeys grabbing scraps of food from the visitors. Watch out for rabies I recon. But Terrell was mightily impressed by the caves at the top as you will see
from his photos.
Batu Caves is a set of Hindu temples built in both caves and the surrounds on the edge of Kuala Lumpur. There are four main cave. Batu Caves is situated on a mogote which is a type of steep-sided hill made out of limestone, marble or dolomite. This limestone formation is thought to be around 400 million years old.
The caves found here were first used by humans as shelter by the indigenous population. Then around 1860, Chinese settlers began taking the guano found here (bat poo) for fertilizing their gardens.
The Batu Caves story really begins when an Indian Tamil trader, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, dedicated a temple to Lord Murugan inside the caves. He promoted this to others in the Hindu community as a place of worship.
Then in 1890, Pillai, the founder of Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur, installed the consecrated statue of Sri Murugan Swami in Temple Cave. There are hordes of monkeys running around. I was nervous of them as Narda’s sister got bit by one in the past. Nevertheless, I tromped up to the top – a zillion plus steps which is a lot to deal with at 75-years-old. Narda stayed below and used our zoom lens to watch me huff and puff up the steps.
The other photos are with my cell phone so not quite the same quality but shows the cave deal anyway. We have a bit of a video on YouTube here
We started off our morning with a western style breakfast at Gravybaby https://www.gravybaby.com/ Quit the good feed. After awhile we had had our fill of rice and noodles and needed just to eat normal – normal to us.
We went for a random walk. After awhile it just became to hot so we got on the first bus we saw. Air-conditioned, free. Our kind of bus. After a few stops we saw those landmark Petronas Twin Towers and got off near them. We were here a decade or so ago. Didn’t go to the top then either. I was hoping to go up to that little bridge that goes between them, Narda had no intentions of going up. Our other photos are in a slideshow with other buildings above. In all transparency I did change the sky here in Photoshop, in the one photo with the obviously sky changed – due to the fact that our zoomed in photo did not show much of a sky background.
No matter, it was booked full for today. I got heaps of photos though from street level. We drank our store-bought ice-coffee (75-cents USD) we had with us in their fancy lobby, and took a free-air-conditioned bus back to our area and walked home. Yesterday we only paid the monorail and train to the spectacular caves, there is no entrance fee and today we spent nothing, oh wait! we have spent nothing on tourists shit this whole trip. That is because we live like locals wherever we go.
Goodbye from KL – on our way to Lahore for our third visit. Lady at customs at the KL airport looked up at me and said “Pakistan?” with a surprised look. We get this. People wonder why a couple of white elderly people are going to Pakistan.
as our next stay – is Lahore Pakistan – and we probably won’t get to finishing it up until middle of March when we are in the UK or Holland you can visit our previous two visits – 2019 https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ and last year’s visit when we came for Brendan’s marriage @ https://neuage.me/2022/02/03/covid-world-tour-2021/
Side note; we have enjoyed our first few days in Lahore and will be off to Islamabad for several days whilst Brendan takes his class to Turkey for a week school trip (no, they are not in the same area as the earthquake last week). We are here for three-weeks then the UK then Holland then back to Wales and on and on. We may do one more blog or many more.
Christmas 2022 to January 23, 23
Terrell notes not italics Narda notes italic NOTE: sometimes we may almost repeat one another probably because we are always together – Narda’s though, is probably the writing that makes sense, and I sometimes use ten words to Narda’s one to say the same thing – so that is that, for example,
Getting prepared for a trip is always quite the project, for us. The older we get the more is involved. Not in actual stuff but rather being slightly paranoid of what we may forget to do to take to succeed. This time was an extra complex little world. Not only are we off in our caravan for a month but a week after we return, we are off to Malaysia, Pakistan, UK, Netherlands, Thailand for three months+. We are in our caravan for part of the time as we are a bit homeless. Our house exchange folks from Victoria and the UK/Wales are in our house in January. December 27th to February 3rd. We are OK in that we have a house exchange in Hepburn Springs, and they are at our house. Then we are camping with my wonderful son, Sacha and his partner, Georgia at Paradise Valley, Victoria for four days. From January 8th until Narda’s son’s 40th birthday on the 21st we will be wandering about looking for great camping spots which will be shared as we progress on this journey. After that we have booked into a caravan park in Adelaide – still a bit homeless, then first of February back home to zip up our bags for our overseas trip.
Finally, the caravan packed, and we are on our way to our kids for a merry Christmas. It was lovely, relaxed, exchanging gifts and having some good laughs. Maggie and Mabel liked their painting sets and got straight to creating art. We decided to share art experiences over the next months while we’re away. Stu set it all up so that we could use Messenger together and named it Art Chat.
We drove to our first overnight stop in a great free site in Bordertown. Amazing place. Lots of shady spots, trees, a lake with birds and mozzies and a spot for me to practise reversing using the mirrors. A big new challenge. Terrell borrowed 4 witches-hats from the local council workers, and we were busy for an hour or so. Not sure if I made much progress but I do need a bigger mirror and that’s the excuse I’m sticking with. 🤔
For the past few weeks, we have been getting home in our usual deep-clean state that we leave it for house exchanges and doing two packs. Our bags are packed for overseas – along with visas and all other travel documents and flights are in order. I even got my fifth covid shot (third booster) last week. Narda was unable to get it as Australia is too strict with shooting up folks. I only got it due to health. Speaking of health, what a project to get me up and out the door. One of my medications, Trulicity, had become unavailable, with a world-wide shortage. My other medications (heart, liver, diabetic, etc medications) take up their own box as I am carrying four months’ worth. Trulicity needs to be kept below four degrees. I needed six months’ worth (two for caravan and extra weeks plus overseas). I had squirreled away enough to last until a week before leaving on our caravan trip by hustling many different chemists in the Adelaide area. With one week to go I had no more left, and the pharmacist said there would not be any until next March. My doctor gave me a script for six months and I started the rounds to hustle any that were available. I had read on the internet that limit amounts were still being brought into Australia and distributed to chemists. So lucky that the day I collected six-months of my other medications from my usual place they had just had a few boxes of Truicity dropped off and they gave me three months supply (three boxes with four injectable pens, one a week) but could not give anymore. We tried several other places but with no luck or whatever it is that makes things manifest in our life. Narda has been chasing up mosquito spray without Deet but with picaridin 20%, as there is dengue fever in several places we will be in February – May and we need the best stuff. Finally, she tracked down a doctor’s surgery in Blackwood – just a 35-minute drive away. After that visit we stopped at a chemist, and they just happened to have had three boxes of Trulicity dropped off with no more expected until sometime next year. The pharmacist gave me all three. Now I had my supply for six-months. Kind of amazing.
We have had a streak of a bit of good luck lately. Last month we decided to put a reversing camera on the back of our caravan. Of course, deciding to do some major caravan fix is not ideal the week before Christmas but timing never bothers us. We bought the camera ($800) and asked if they could install it – perhaps next February was their unhelpful response. However, they said maybe an auto electrician down the road may have an opening sooner. We stomped over to the auto electrician place with caravan and car in tow and they said, surprise, surprise, they had an opening the next day. Because this is Australia and charging whatever is no object here, they did it in six-hours at $100/hour. Narda does the caravan backing up – I have always thought I would learn never quite got to that moment but now I may be interested sometime in the future. Nevertheless, Narda did get a good practice at our first caravan stop on our trip which I will finally get to now that I have thrown away the privacy tab and told everything there is to say about me.
Christmas morning – hooked up the caravan, backup camera in motion, drove to have Christmas morning with Stu/Clare/Maggie/Mabel/Ned. Ned is always especially excited to see me, I throw the ball to him, he chases it, won’t bring it back, waits for me to come and get it to throw again for him to chase and not bring back. Such an exciting game. Gosh, no selfies? Guess we are moving away from that – oh wait! Narda and I have been taking them all along the trip so far (all two days).
We made it for more than an hour – maybe closer to two hours before pulling over on the Dukes Highway, the free campground at Culburra North, which is really a pull over for trucks and the likes of us, but a bit of a ways off the highway as not to be too annoying. We were exhausted, not from driving for two hours – we’re not that old, but 1. Getting up at 4.30 am unable to sleep and began final clean of house and packing caravan 2. Hot – like 38C which is 99F. We slept maybe an hour and awoke sweating. After three and a half minutes we decided it was too hot to stay in the caravan and drove off with the air condition in our car making us feel somewhat alive again.
We had wanted to see all the flooding that is in the news – heard that the Murray was going to crest on Christmas Day but though it looked as if it was higher than usual where we crossed at Murray Bridge was just looking a bit flooded. Not going to camp here.
Later on, in a few weeks, on our return to Adelaide we are doing a ‘silo-arts’ tour in northern Victoria. We passed this silo in the small town of Coonalypn (established 1909, currently 350 people).
We got to Bordertown, which is not really a border town, but not too far from the next state, Victoria, yet still not on the border, at five pm and went to Bordertown Recreation Lake. It is in between being free and not, as there is a donation box on the way out with others on wikicamps saying they left between $5 and $20. We left ten.
Onwards, after some brekkie in town. It was a sizzler today heading for 40 degrees. The car was nice and cool as we drove to Warracknabeal. We signed up for a powered site ($25, not too shabby) and turned the air con on full, together with our Woollies rotating fan. Not much effect. Still, we had an afternoon nap of sorts.
The local talk was that there was an emergency alert of a pending severe storm with lightning. Me, being the always over cautious one, moved the van from a lovely riverside shady spot to a place in the sun, not a tree nearby. I felt very responsible and virtuous. A couple of hours later, the clouds passed. A small pathetic thunder roll and it was all over. Oh well.
The weather had cooled a bit and we found (actually Terrell found) some lovely walks along the local river, which was pretty full, as these rivers are these days. Our mighty Murray has burst its banks in many places, starting with unprecedented rainfalls in the Eastern States, then with massive amounts of water, flooding many of the Murray-side towns all the way down to South Australia, which usually gets bugger all (water I mean)
Anyway, now I’m rambling. Edwin and Jeanine have their holiday home in serious threat to complete flooding. Right now, the water has flooded the first level already.
Below slideshow is not on autoplay so that you can read the stuff in the slides – good luck
A beautiful place – see our bird life clip. https://youtu.be/YaE67Xh3mVc
the birds were very loud – evening and morning.
My favourite signage so far, $187.50 for an expiation fee. Damn, I have a PhD and had to look up what an expiation fee actually was: “An expiation notice alleges that you committed an offence and sets out an expiation fee, which you can pay to expiate the offence rather than being prosecuted.” Okay, got it. Best not to swim in this lake just to avoid getting one of those expiation notices alleging stuff. Don’t wish to spend a night in the Old Bordertown Gaol (jail to Yanks).
By eight am it was already in the mid-30s (closing in on a hundred Fahrenheit so we packed and left @ 8.30.
From Bordertown we went to Dimboola, stopped in Donald for coffee, a beautiful town – some images below…
A long drive still. We stopped at Donald, beautiful old buildings. A young girl cleaning the toilet block explained to me the great rates she was earning because of a shortage of staff, as well as good penalty rates. She was very enthusiastic.
We pulled over a dusty rest stop, which included people’s toilet paper. We spread our tablecloth and had a nice lunch never-the-less. Our next stop was the lovely historic town of St Arnaud, with its beautiful old, preserved buildings along the main street.
Stopped along the highway for brekky…
I was the nominated navigator – a position I take rather seriously sometimes. However, at one particular fork in the road, I was occupied and preoccupied with fast changing narratives on Twitter, and I randomly said go left rather than go right, thrusting us on to a road that after a while became a dirt/gravel road. We bounced along it for about an hour with me not being the most popular person in the car. We have a bit of a clip of it here…https://youtu.be/aPB1hfLZFow
After redeeming myself, forgot how, though I wish I could remember as obviously I will need to later, I am sure, we stopped in St Arnund – this time just for the taking of pictures – see our slideshow below/or not.
What a beautiful village/town; We got to Warracknabeal (we both had a shot at trying to pronounce it, I think Narda came closest but how would we know?) Decided to cough up $25 to stay at the Warracknabeal Caravan Park as it was too bloody hot (past a hundred in the Fahrenheit world) to sleep in the caravan. We plugged in the AC, tried to take a nap but gave up and had a lovely evening with a pasta meal, sitting outside as the temperature dropped and read our books. I am finishing up ‘For whom the bell tolls’ by Hemingway because we are going to Spain for a month next year and I wanted to know more about their civil war. I had already read George Orwell’s (Eric Arthur Blair) account of when he fought in their civil war, Homage to Catalonia, different from Hemingway as Orwell’s is non-fiction and Hemingway’s is fiction (he was a journalist who visited during the war but as far as I know did not fight in it). It is all quite real with what is happening in the Ukraine now.
The houses here as in many of the towns in Victoria are what we would purchase if we were to move to one of these nifty little places.
See our below slideshow of this beautiful town. The singer -+ other stuff, Nick Cave was born here. There is a sign proclaiming this on the way in. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Cave Narda did not know who he was, I knew he was a popular Australian dude though not quite sure why. The issue with being so old as we are. A few weeks later Sacha caught us up on him. Sorry, he does not feature in our slideshow below. Also, I don’t think we ever pronounced it correctly. But you can try – listen here.
We got to our wonderful/beautiful house exchange in Hepburn Springs late afternoon, just in time for a nap. We popped in after our rest to the Visitor’s Centre in Daylesford and had a long chat with a guide or whatever they are called, telling us about all the various springs to visit. We went to our new home and slept for an hour then bought train tickets London to Newcastle as they are on special if bought a few months in advance. Always planning for the next trip during a current trip.
Arriving at 2.30 pm in Hepburn Springs was a decent effort and of course then we needed a nap. The house we are in is beautiful with lots of lovely garden. We have met our hosts Winston and Joy. They came to our house a few days before Christmas and we had a BBQ (was meant to be a gourmet but the gourmet set that we’ve had for many years decided to call it a day) Nice couple, very enjoyable conversation. After dinner we drove them to the Rydges. They left their car at our place and went on a train trip the next morning.
I slept poorly, took a pill, and woke up with a sore back. Oh well. The next night the weather cooled right down, and I slept like a log in the caravan. Always works.
After a nice nap I spent the afternoon practising my drawing.
Doesn’t really look like my grandsons, but it’s a work in progress.
We managed to score some advance purchase senior ticket holders train tickets from London to Newcastle for around $40 each.
Mineral springs are a big thing around here. We met a guy on our walk at Sailors Falls, who recommended this particular spring as the nicest. I like it. The walk was a bit hairy. There were some barriers to it which someone had pulled aside, and we (me reluctantly following Terrell) tromped up the hill. A 15-minute walk turned into an hour’s walk, with a near fall (by me) caused by grasping onto rotten wood making up a bridge at the end. Anyway. It’s over. And it was scenic. Just unpleasant.
We went over to Sailors Falls. Wanting to go for a bit of a hike we followed the trail that said it was a twenty-minute hike back to the start which sounded reasonable to us. We saw a ‘do not enter’ sign and some tape but it was all laying on the ground, no longer over the path, as I pointed out, so we (me) figured it was safe. An hour later, during which time I once again was not the most popular person in our group of two, because I kept wanting to venture further up the steep overgrown path – and she who will not be named, did not. Nevertheless, we did get to the base of the falls only to see the steps to the little bridge to leave the area were not there. Narda managed to get a hold of the bridge and pulled herself up on to it, commenting that the post she tried to use to pull herself up on was rotten and pointing out that there was a gate, which was closed, with a sign on it proclaiming something about danger and do not continue. But that was then and now is now and obviously we survived.
I even have a YouTube footage of this here. https://youtu.be/doGZhcaEkK8
“Gold was discovered in Sailors Creek in 1851 and the area underwent rapid, drastic changes. This was a time of massive growth for Victoria's cities and towns. Agriculture and forestry boomed, and thousands of people crossed the world in search of wealth on Victoria's goldfields. The surrounding hills were denuded of timber to be used for housing, heating, mining, and food production. The park's hillsides are dotted with mining relics including mineshafts and rock-retaining walls; many hidden by forest regrowth. Most of the park's creek-side walking tracks follow historic water-race channels dug by miners to deliver purchased water to work their diggings.” Wikipedia somewhere.
Hepburn Springs Reserve
“The first mineral spring found in the area was by Captain John S. Hepburn. He named this spring, near the Hepburn Pavilion, which you can visit at Hepburn Springs Reserve. It is a short walk from Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, where you can still bathe in the precious source. Following Hepburn‘s discovery, mining commenced in the Argyle Gully Spring Creek Area, and the Soda, Sulphur and Wyuna Springs were revealed, followed later by Liberty, Golden and Argyle Mineral Springs. But the miners didn’t care for the springs, the gold fever had taken hold, and they were willing to demolish everything within their path. We owe a debt of gratitude to Swiss Italian migrants Dr Severino and Dr Rosetti who recognised the significance of these springs and rallied the support of their fellow countrymen (in the 1850s one-tenth of the population spoke Italian). As it panned out, this unity established the above-mentioned Hepburn Springs Reserve in 1865, the first of its kind in Victoria. Since this time, it has become a meeting place to ‘take in the waters’ and experience the benefits of calcium, silica, magnesium and an abundance of other minerals.” A Wikipedia cut and pasted job.
The next day Sacha came to visit (about 2 hours from his place). On his way home he picked up Georgia from the airport. We had a nice day, chatting about lots of stuff and walking to another spring.
We tried the spring water which Sacha thought was reasonable – when he visited us in upstate New York, Saratoga Springs, he tried the water then quickly spit it out as it was too eggy for him. Narda’s three sons all did the same on various visits as well as her sister Helena.
We grooved on the local California type trees.
To clarify Narda’s note – Christine was a woman Narda met whilst looking at pillows in a thrift shop, go figure…life stories swapped…Christine was searching for a bargain at the local Op Shop in Daylesford. I took the pillow which she had planned to buy, she turned around and told me this, and I told her I’d sell it for double the price. Thus started a pleasant conversation with a remarkable woman who travels everywhere, lives in a stay-caravan in Daylesford, got trapped in Kathmandu for 7 months after Covid lockdown and volunteers in Cambodia with children orphaned by Aids. Such an interesting person.
Today we spent some time at the Mills Markets. Huge! I bought some presses for Sofie and the girls.
Amazing Mill Markets Geelong and Daylesford Welcome to The Amazing Mill Markets. The Amazing Mill Markets are located in two locations – Geelong and Daylesford. Because the Amazing Mill Markets lease space to hundreds of different stallholders, each location has a diverse range of wares and new stallholders are always welcome. There is invariably something for everyone who visits with vintage clothes, vintage furniture, memorabilia, art, glass, jewellery, books, antiques and collectables to name a few. Be sure to keep your eyes on our news and events along with the social media accounts to stay updated with new and interesting items that arrive all the time. https://www.millmarkets.com.au/
Supporting the local event, we went to the main street which was closed to traffic. A nice atmosphere, lots of stalls, live music and people milling around. I ordered a meal of friend grated potatoes as a sort of fat pancake, with some relish and salad and a fried egg on top. Yum. We shared one serve and had nice fruity smoothies with it.
The German couple told us they had lived in the area for a long time. It was an interesting conversation. He had been in China and other interesting parts of the world, including a stint (for work) in Uruguay, which he loved.
At 8 pm the parade started. A group from the community garden dressed as veggies, a pipe band playing all the traditional bagpipe songs, then there was the huge semitrailer that just made it around the corner. All very entertaining and local. Afterward we bought a packet of drumsticks at Coles and ate them at home, together with several episodes of Irreverant (Netflix), our current favourite show.
31st December – what a year it has been. We can all say that for each year can we not? In our little world we started off the year 2022 in Washington DC with covid. We had arrived on Christmas Evening – having missed our flight in Istanbul to have arrived Christmas Eve because of the fog in Lahore, Pakistan delaying our flight by several hours. But that was then, here we were at the beginning of 2022 with covid – probably gotten on the way there in Lahore or Istanbul or from Chris when we got to DC on Christmas night, and he probably got it on the way back from Lahore days earlier. Who knows? So that was the first two weeks of 2022 – I test positive for 15 days with no symptoms and every morning we would call United and put off our flight until the next day. Finally mid-January we were on the way to Holland for three months. Then we were home in Adelaide for a bit then September & October in New Zealand, see our previous blogs, November, and December mostly in Adelaide. Left as explained above on Christmas Day for this trip. Here we are in the regional Victoria town of Daylesford New Year’s Eve. What a groovy place to be. We watched their parade and watched some wood chopping contest and had some organic free range pancake thingy dinner. BTW, this is my kind of town. This is where the hippies that dropped out of society – then went back into society to make piles of money to be able to live in Daylesford – now dropping out again to be long haired organic yoga performing new age environmentally conscious folks protesting corporate invasions into their peaceful alternative society. Most of the parade floats had to do with something about being vegan, keeping power companies at bay, blocking companies from marketing their wonderful mineral water.
We did not stay for the fireworks as it was past our bedtime – nine pm – though we persevered and stayed in town until about nine thirty. Got up as usual early next morning, being New Year’s Day and all, and went off to the next town over to share New Years Day with the locals. They had the usual New Years Day activities: wood chopping, world champion mineral water drinking contest (how fast one can drink a glass mineral water, followed by how fast one could drink a litre of mineral water – gut wrenching riveting moments), some horsing around stuff – I think they were trying to jump over some poles, and the event I came to see but didn’t because some of us, in our group of two, were tired and wanted to go home from staying up so late New Years Eve (ten PM) was the women’s gum boot tossing contest. I managed to find a photo from last year’s event in the local newspaper – its in the video above
Jan 1, 2023 New Years Day
The fastest drinker of spring water was the feature of the country show we attended in a town starting with a C. I was a little reluctant, but it was lovely, a very shady location, wood-chopping to watch and a half decent full brass band. Their rendition of the song from The Mission was really great. Lots of folks having a nice day; we pulled out our deck chairs to join them
Jan 2, 2023
Castlemaine is quite the town. There was no one about really, but it’s full of beautiful homes along the main road. It also has a railway station which we decided to check out. We met some colourful locals there and after sharing our waffles with them they gave us the ‘low down’ on Myki cards and how you can use them to your ‘best advantage’. They also told us other stuff, but it was quite difficult to understand them: local dialect or a speech impediment…not sure. Or it’s just me.
The German guy on New Year’s Eve told us that I should go to Creswick to check out the Dutch influence. So, we drove there. The folk at the information centre knew something about it but not really much, though they were very friendly and helpful. So, we drove on to Clunes, which was supposed to be a historic town featured in many movies. I have to say, it was a little disappointing, there was no-one there and certainly not much evidence of movie making. That may have to be further researched.
Monday, which was the day after New Year’s Day we went to another town. Narda was talking to some German folks at the parade event two evenings before (New Year’s Eve) who told her about a town settled by Dutch following WW2 so of course, we had to go. The town of Creswick was once a thriving gold town with 35,000 people that had depopulated when the gold ran out or low – forgot what happened to it but the town was down to a few hundred when following WW2 lots of Dutch were coming to Australia to escape war torn Europe. By 1954 there were heaps of them all over Australia. They were getting passage on ships for ten bucks or so to immigrate to Australia. Narda’s family in 1958, with her and her sister in tow were part of that group so of course Narda wanted to see this town. We read lots about it. It sounded like a cool place. The Germans said the local supermarket had lots of Dutch food. So, we went there. Quite disappointed, not because everything was closed the day after New Years but there did not seem to be any indication of the Dutch who had settled there earlier. The local supermarket had some salty drops – that was about it. They have more Dutch food in our local Aldi back in Adelaide. The next town over from Creswick, Clunes, was more interesting, from a camera angle, as it is the oldest still standing collection of 19th century houses, in Victoria, or Australia or our local galaxy; forgot where, read it somewhere on the internet. The main street was as empty as could be, I suppose no one was ready to begin 2023 here, even though it was two days after the year began. They did something historic here, forgot what, found gold, ate tofu, something. Here are some snapshots we grabbed along the way:
Jan 3 & 4
On the road again. Easy pack up really, we were out the door by a bit past 9 am. First stop: Sailors Falls for a bit more spring water.
Then Terrell drove us onto the M1 (we prebooked our toll payment …$3.30 for a month!) right until we arrived at a huge service station on the other side of Melbourne, parked the van in between the monster trucks and had an afternoon nap.
Next stop Yarragon, a lovely town, for vanilla slice and lemon slice at the bakery. Hit the spot.
where we stopped, Yarragon, there was a group of old Holden enthusiasts from Tasmania parked in front. Of course, we have a photo of their cars.
We must have been this way before – like about twenty-years ago because I have photos of the Latrobe Chimneys. A coal burning non-environmentally friendly place. [Latrobe City Council will continue to standby the community after Energy Australia today announced it would close the Yallourn power station in 2028 – four years earlier than planned.] Probably good news for the environment but bad for the locals who will left out in the coal cold.
Our overnight was in Glengarry, quite a longish drive passing the huge coal burning chimneys in Latrobe Valley. We stayed behind the pub in the nice grassy spot disturbed only by more screeching cockatoos. Free camping.
It was only a short drive from there to Paradise Valley, but it was a difficult one, especially near the end with loose gravel on the road, a very steep incline, and a one-way lane. Very scary with the van. The place is beautiful, and we found a lovely spot the river just as another guy was leaving.
A typical Aussie pub – do not remember where I took this photo but here it is,
Sacha and Georgia turned up about 10 minutes later! It’s his 42nd birthday so we planned to take them out for dinner at the Hayfield Pub. It turned out to be a bit of a mistake….we waited longer than an hour for our meals, though they were very nice, and Georgia did not get hers at all (after waiting 2 hours). So, in the end, she took hers home as a takeaway. Oh well. Nice conversations and catching up.
Sacha and Georgia pitched their tent next to us –
Paradise Valley Camping – bit expensive $290 for four nights, for an unpowered site – probably our most ever for a caravan spot. Beautiful place – they can charge whatever they wish. The place was full. Had great showers but not even a camp kitchen as most places do. We paid $35 for a powered site in Melbourne a week later.
Sheep have a run of the place,
For Sacha’s birthday – 42, I think – gosh how did we get so old? It seems just a moment ago he was born in Hawaii and I was walking him on the beach. We came to Australia in June of 1981 – six months after being born. I drift, for his birthday we went out to dinner at a pub – the only place to eat in the only town nearby.
That was the Railway Pub – give it a miss. I don’t eat meat, there was no vegetarian options left so I tried their fish dish, it was awful. Just give me a piece of kale and I will float off into my finely tuned floaty consciousness.
So great having Sacha and Georgia camping with us. It is the first time we did this. It surely will be the way of the future. Other times we get to catch up with them perhaps once in a year when we stay at an Airbnb in Melbourne – go out to dinner – have not too much interaction. Camping for four days… we sit around a fire at night,
Go for walks every day, have meals together. Talk about how crazy life was with me being a single parent with Sacha and Leigh, travelling once in a RV around Australia with my father, age 87, over from New York, in 1992, our trips to New York (1985 when Sacha was two and a half and Leigh six-months old – yes I travelled via Hawaii (to see friends) and LA (visiting friends) to New York to stay with my parents, with no other adult to assist – try that sometime and tell me how easy being a single parent is) AND AGAIN in 1992 when they were at least old enough to help a bit – Sacha being eleven and Leigh nine. That time we stopped in Hawaii, LA, New York, Baltimore Maryland, Louisiana, (all those people we visited, except for Daniel in LA, have died over the years – including my parents, brother, friends, son…) then onto France then Germany then back home. A massive trip just like I do now with Narda – except then it was with two young children. It was fun though. I digress… so we had lots of conversations about those trips about my eight years of being a tofu manufacturer – Leigh being signed by the LA Dodgers as a pitcher and playing in the States for years. We don’t talk about his death – his decision to leave life a month after he turned twenty. What is there to say? We have good memories of being together – that is what we share now.
Georgia was collecting rocks/stones, all quite beautiful. She is going to polish them. Sacha had no comment. Children rode their rubber things down the river in the raids – just the right size for children. Sacha and Georgia left after three-nights, going back to their working life and Narda and I moved to a further point in the camp where there were less (like none) children for peace and quiet.
We drove to the top of the hill and to a neighbouring lake to get anything happening on our phone. A camping neighbour wondered why we would want to get internet – I said I was a Yank, following the horrible debacle of the republicans attempting to get someone to lead them. It took 15-shots at getting one awful person to lead. So glad I live in Australia.
If only we had a jet ski we could have raced across the lake…Lake Glenmaggie
Jan 5 & 6,
Starting to get into a group camping groove. We shared a meal last night, bought salads from the supermarket, I had my chicken, and we ate cookies and chocolate for dessert! Nothing at all wrong with that. After tea we sat around the campfire gasbagging. There is a decent set of toilets/showers, we are sleeping well, and go on the occasional walk. There is no Telstra or internet, which is a challenge. Yesterday I drove to the top of the hill to see if Bren and Sof had made it back. Turned out that that they had a long stay in Abu Dhabi on the way back from Egypt, but then got upgraded to business for the home stretch. Bren’s 3rd time!!!
Jan 7, 8, 9
Bit of a pack up this morning. Sacha and Georgia left, and we moved to a quieter spot near the entrance of Paradise Valley. I felt a bit crook/exhausted in the afternoon, so we took it easy.
Next morning felt much better and we headed off again. This time I was less freaked out by the steep terrain; we filled up with diesel, and then on to Sale. I had a toasted bacon and egg roll, and Terrell had a quiche in the Sale shopping centre, which was open for business on a Sunday morning (unlike Adelaide which stays closed until 11 am). Sale has changed its name to Port of Sale, with a new canal developed providing a marina, attractive gardens, and an arts complex for the town. Really nice.
Then on the road for another 80 kms or so to a lovely free beach site, amazingly provided for by the previous owner, who sold it with the condition that it remains free for campers, including access to campfires for time immortal! It’s gorgeous. Rough roads, 7 km of corrugations, but worth it. And the weather, despite the mid-summertime of year, is cool and sunny, around 20 C. Yesterday we met a camper travelling alone, who told us some of his stories. Draft dodged the Vietnam war, (no names given!!!) worked in Alaska, northern Afghanistan (back in the good times…. the seventies, when Kabul was a normal city, where folks lived happily regardless of their religion or gender). I love these random interesting encounters with folk. This is one of the things that makes travel so much fun.
I saw two places on the map that looked interesting. Firstly, Welshpool and Port Welshpool just across from Snake Island and Little Snake Island. Sounded intriguing. The first thing of note at Port Welshpool is their jetty. By golly what a sight.
The slideshow below is not autoplay so you can read the signs along the way
We watched a sea rescue – though it could have been just a practice run as they seemed to take a long time or perhaps, they were rescuing more than one person. We were too far away to see, and the zoom lens only goes to 300 mm.
We did not make it to either of the snake islands – maybe next time though we did get to Agnes Falls (see our video) https://youtu.be/B4fW7raQNRM
At 59 metres, Agnes Falls are the highest single span falls in Victoria.
A long drive today, heading for a camp in Poowong, which, after a longish drive though forest, we found no longer existed. A friendly person standing alongside the road waiting for his ex-wife, (we assumed as he had his daughter with him, he was going to deliver the daughter to her for the remainder of the holidays…but who knows.) gravely informed us that the camp was “no longer” The girls was excited about our dusty rig (I think) and asked if we were on our way around Australia. We assured her that we are indeed on our way there, but not quite.
So, upon their instruction we backtracked to a showgrounds site, who wanted $15. We parked on a flat high spot. The wind blew a treat, and during the night I saw that the awning had become quite the flopsy awning and was flapping against the van all night. We slept poorly. I changed the setting from open to close, and together we dropped the pop up, no more noise, and slept soundly (soundlessly:) until 8am.
That was that. We were in great need of a caravan park, and one more phone call (I had deceived many rejections) got us a spot at out old fav Sundowners Caravan Park, ….full of friendly residents and a few small sites. We had great showers, I washed and dried all the clothes for $8. While other parks were charging a gouging price of $60 plus, they charged us $35. We’ll be back.
Our drive into the city was a bit exciting. Despite our best efforts, we missed the turn off to down town and finished up joining the trucks over the bridge in a massive traffic jam. We were also very low on diesel. We finally got ourselves off the freeway and into a servo in Williamstown, where a very friendly local gave us instructions on how to cross back in to Melbourne CBD WITHOUT the bloody Westgate Bridge. A further bonus, Terrell spotted a car park, $14 unlimited at the Vic Markets.
Then there was our CBD adventure. I had obsessively decided I needed new walking sandals. Eccos were my dream. We found a store in central Melbourne, and I bought them. 20% off the very high list price. Nice ones. They tend to last for 5 years of continual walking…at least my last pair (Riekers from Denmark) did. And I found bathers that fit at the Myers store. Had a nice Indian meal at 4.30 pm. Combo of lunch and dinner, mango lassi to top it off.
Returning to the Vic Markets we discovered a huge festival in progress, live music, huge lines for food, that sort of thing. So, we joined the lively crowd, and on our way back to the car, bought some iced coffee at the Asian mini grocery. (no lines) Our server was from Jordan and was chatting to his mum (in Jordan) He handed the phone to me and I started chatting to her, until he told me she ‘no speaka English’. But we smiled at each other a lot.
All in all a good day. I met a woman in the laundry the next morning. She was from SA, and her and her husband had sold their house and decluttered their lives, living semi-permanently in this caravan park. She said they just loved it and were earning “heaven credits” (I do believe that was the term she used) for voluntary work as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Interesting conversation. She was lovely. I can imagine that decluttering your life, doing voluntary work and travelling will indeed be heaven.
The Queen Victoria Nigh Markets – opened on Wednesday evening throughout the summer. See our video https://youtu.be/AUfg28ZwJJM – it was fun.
I am always impressed by Melbourne. The skyline, the people…such a creative city. I can see why Sacha has lived here for the past twenty-years. Adelaide, not so much.