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Dr. Terrell Neuage

Interested in what comes next and not what was. Sole survivor from another place at another time with different outlooks on ‘the way it is' as I am mashing it together as a movie for my next lifetime to view this one so I can do it differently - hopefully on another planet or at least in another realm. For more see http://neuage.org
Dr. Terrell Neuage has written 156 posts for I said WHAT?????

Paradise Valley

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.

On the road

Dec 25 

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.

Nice.

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. 🤔 

driver Narda

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.

Dec 26

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.

for the birds. Also, a slideshow of all we saw whilst in Bordertown, below.

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…

December 27th

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.

Dec 27

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.

  • Sailor's Falls, Hepburn Springs, Victoria, Australia

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.

  • Sailor's Falls, Hepburn Springs, Victoria, Australia

 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.

  • mineral water at Hepburn Springs

 We grooved on the local California type trees.

  • giant redwood in Hepburn Springs
  • giant redwood in Hepburn Springs

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.

Dec 29 

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/

New Year’s Eve 2022

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.

the past in the present - rural life in Victoria

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.

 Holden enthusiasts from Tasmania parked in front of a bakery in Yarragon

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,

typiclal aussie pub

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.

Paradise Valley Campsite
Paradise Valley Campsite

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

  • 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.

  • Sale, Victoria

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.

  • Reeves Beach

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

  • Port Welshpool

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.

  • rescue me

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.

Jan 10,

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.

Queen Victoria Market Wednesday night

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.

Jan 12, 2023

Today we have again found a wonderful free camp. This time on the shores of Lake Meredith, the biggest freshwater lake in Victoria, by all accounts. I slept a solid 8 hours. Amazing. The lake and the sunset last night were speccie, as you will see from Terrell’s fabulous photos. Long after the sun set, the colours kept deepening. The toilets here are modern and clean and you can camp here for up to 28 days for free!

Lots of reading today, nice to catch up. Right now, I’m reading Amitov Ghosh’s book “Field of Poppies”.  Took a little while to get my head around the characters, of which there are many, but now I’m into this rollicking story about the opium trade and the British involvement in it in the mid-1800s. There was also much money made on slaves by the same company. Folks with difficult lives in Bengali, India were offered to be taken to a camp which would give them work, housing and food, and were thus tricked into being virtual slaves.

Lake Meredith images below

  • Lake Meredith

Up at 6 am and on the road at 7 am. We were going to go north but saw that it would be 39C or 102.2F so decided to go along the coast past Warrnambool. Got to Portland. We had stayed at the caravan park there about 15-years ago and liked the port town. This time we went to Sawpit Free Camping in the Mt. Clay National Forest. Amazing place. Lots of walking trails – we did the short loop to a whaler’s lookout that was used by Aboriginals for hundreds of years before we Europeans came – took over – slaughtered the locals then slaughtered the whales. We are so good.

Something I have never seen before in all our camping trips…a horse. I went over and had a good conversation with him but due to a language problem he understood me (“nice horse – good horse – do you come here often?”) but his hee heeing made no sense to me. I thought Narda, who was born in the year of the horse, could assist, but she only understands Dutch and English. The people had a foldout tent thingy attached to the horse trailer and they all seemed to live happily together. I didn’t take a photo of their set up as I am not one of those nosey people that takes photos of everything. I wish I could have a horse.

  • Sawmill Free Camping
all about whale watching
all about whale watching

The walking trails were amazing – even did a video of them – of course, see it here https://youtu.be/2oGViFoHKus.

I had a play with Narda taking a photo – because it was getting hot, I thought I would put her into a snow scene – the sky is fake too – actually, most of the photo is. It is the new neural filter in Photoshop 2023 beta…just testing stuff. However, the other photos are true.

There had been a fire through here – one of the campers said about fifteen-years ago. Hopefully, not another while we are sleeping here deep in the forest.

For tea we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Royal Hotel in Portland. Terrell had a fettucine dish which he described as the “best ever” and I had…. surprise…a very decent chicken parmie. We discovered, on our subsequent walk around the town, a “facility centre”. A very decent block on a corner, with ample chairs, sink, hot showers, toilets, place to change a baby etc …all for free. This was offered to us as local free campers up on the hill at Sawpit Park, and to anyone in the town who needed it. I have never seen such a civilised gesture anywhere. Funded completely by the local council, cleaned regularly. A model for the rest of the world! Giving folks dignity.

The reason this place is called Sawpit is because long ago this was a log cutting place. They even had a wagon from those days and a set up to show how they cut the logs. Read the sign below to  know as much as I do. One of the things we learnt from the sign, probably the only thing, is that there are free showers in Portland which we took advantage of. I think Narda will write about that. Very impressive little town.

We did a final magical walk through the forest then left. No, we were not on acid – gosh! This is not the 1960s – though I do remember a time when forest walks looked this then – go figure – now just a memory – a bit like this.

magical mystery tour - sort of
magical mystery tour – sort of

The next day, which is today, we were up at five am because the awning was banging from some unwanted wind behaviour. In the dark we took it down, didn’t get back to sleep. I have been grouchy all day because of it. Sorry about that. Anyway, we were off to downtown Portland by eight am. Took a free shower. Did some other daily duties. Discovered that the only thing opened on a Sunday morning in Portland are churches, liquor stores, and K-Mart. K-Mart was the ticket to our happiness. Nothing beats getting out of a bad mood from getting up at five am and taking down an awning than shopping. Especially with discounts. I got some groovy hot mat holders for a buck each. Nothing woke about me. Narda, as usual, found some more storage containers, because, of course, everything must live in a container. Me? I am from the school of ‘wherever something happens to be, or land is of course, where it should be’. You know those 1960s philosophies of ‘we are exactly where we are supposed to be’ and I would add, ‘so is everything around us.’

Down at the fishing dock we spoke with some fishermen who had just come in from a week at sea. I asked questions…got answers…see our two-minute video clip https://youtu.be/MMDKoAFkCvA about the true answer of whether the sea is depleted from fishing. Quite a beautiful harbour.

  • Portland Victoria Australia

Believing our weather app, that it would be around 39C tomorrow we rushed off to the coast. I know I said that yesterday too but this time we were really off to the coast – The Limestone Coast. Our first port of call was the resort town of Robe. Population a bit over 2000 – plus thousands of tourists – mostly campers. We thought we were/are smarter than the average family camper, we saw them, huddled up at the expensive caravan park, barely enough room between them to open their door. Then there are the screaming holiday-possessed crazed-children running amuck. No thanks! And their dogs – barking and shitting everywhere. Teenagers groping other teenagers behind trees, parents having stress attacks. Not for us. We drove to Wrights Bay believing it would be free camping. Damn! It wasn’t. $15/person. Come on. That is just stupid. We paid. Grumbled a bit. Walked to the beautiful seaside and watched the sunset.   

  • Wrights Bay Victoria

January 16-20, 2023

This was a long driving day, exacerbated by a wrong turn, and having to drive back into Beachport to get diesel, which required a couple of illegal u turns to get into the filling station. Oh well.

Wright Bay Caravan Park was listed as a free site. It no longer is. It’s on an isolated beach, lots of seaweed, decent toilets, no showers, no power. And it costed us $30.00. That was it. The only saving grace was the enthusiastic high school student, tearing around the park on her 3 wheeled motor bike, greeting newcomers and taking their money in a friendly way. Not an adult in sight!

So off we were the next morning. Ominous weather forecast predicted a sizzler, with temperatures reaching 40. So, we parked outside of the Robe library, ready for the aircon and the internet. It was a pleasant time. We also walked through the main street of Robe, very similar to Grey Town in New Zealand. And the weather was great. Don’t always believe the forecast.

The jetty park at Kingston SE was also listed as a free spot. And yet we were charged $20 at the parking metre which happily took our money. Again no power, just a public loo. The park was full of monster vans, and even some buses.  I think we need to update our sources. A new Camps 12 would go far. Wiki Camp has been a pain to use. I guess expecting a free site on the coast in peak season is a little unrealistic.

The librarian in Kingston’s community library was also the librarian for the school. It was a nice walk there, we had a big coffee (huge) on the way, and I enjoyed chatting with the two ladies “manning” the library.

The best was yet to come. Lake Albert caravan park was lovely, right on the lake, with the best facilities we saw for the whole trip.  We had heard the diabolical warnings of road closures in the area, but we drove straight to Tailem Bend, no delays, bought a sandwich and headed home. Home being Pete and Marion’s place; they kindly allowed us to park our van as our place is still occupied by exchangers.

We left this morning, January 17 – Tuesday, for the big drive to Robe, a good fifteen-minutes away. Watching closely our weather app. To be 39C by 11 am – like for us Yanks that is 100 degrees. Wow. We planned to spend the day at the library in Robe on the internet. The idea of being in an air-con for the day sounded ideal. Plus, we have had little internet for the past couple of weeks. Just some on our phone that we would hotspot to our computer, but not enough to post our wonderful video clips as seen above. Also. Narda was concerned about the predicted 60-kilometre winds that were to arrive with an afternoon storm. By noon we were bored at the library, borrowed a bunch of old movie-CDs that we can leave at our local Adelaide branch of the library, bought one with our last dollar – we rarely have cash, and we gave the rest of it away at the Wright Bay overpriced caravan park – $30 this morning. Going outside we quickly realized it would never be very hot – checked the temperature – it was 22C, and there was no wind. Where do they get their weather reports on these stupid apps anyway? We felt we had seen Robe. I.e.. We drove down the main street. Narda pointed out she went here for her honeymoon to some other guy hundreds of years ago and we went on to Kingston SE where we heard there was free camping next to the jetty. Kingston SE is half an hour away from Robe and we found a place to park, so some stupid thing about paying before driving in, didn’t pay, drove in, slept for an hour, walked to the stupid sign that said pay before entering and paid $20 which is the minimum for two nights. We only want one night. It rained the rest of the day and was about 20 degrees. Narda just finished her book and said, ‘now I have to read book two’. So, we are into the caravan for dinner. See ya tomorrow. Cheers!

We booked into the Meningie Caravan Park. I spoke with the local wildlife. Quite the good place, better than a lot. Here on Lake Albert. We needed electricity as our deep cell battery seems to be losing puff. We looked up info on deep cell battery on good ole google and discovered we were supposed to look after it, like put distilled water in it – what? Batteries need water? Then there is a list of stuff to do. Deep cell batteries are expensive like five – six hundred dollars. We have had ours for more than six years and did no maintenance on it. Apparently, they only last 6 – 7 years anyway. We have been relying on our solar panels but a cloudy day in Kingston SE put us behind, bottom line we had no power, not even enough to put on our radio or LED lights.

We were on the Princes Highway all the way from Melbourne. The word on the street was/is that the road from Meningie to Tailem Bend is/was/could be/should be, closed. Flooding from the Murray – I am sure you saw it all on the news. Been lots of water around the place past month, flooding from New South Wales, Victoria, all going into the Murray and heading into the sea. We stopped in Tailem Bend to look at the Murray and say wow wow wow. Probably difficult to ascertain from this photo but the river is at its banks, some places over – it was much lower when we went past a month ago on the way to this grand adventure, down the road to Victoria.

After a bit of a picnic, we were on our way.

picnic

We have almost three weeks more before we are off to Kuala Lumpur for a week, Lahore, Islamabad – Pakistan for three weeks, UK (Liverpool, Wales, Some other place) for a couple of months – with The Netherlands in between for ten-days, and a groovy overnight ferry from Newcastle UK to Rotterdam – then back ten-days later, with a stop in Thailand for a holiday for a week then home via Hong Kong at the end of May. I am sure we will have a blog or two about those adventures.

In the meantime, we are in Adelaide for two weeks living in our caravan because we did a house-exchange with folks in the UK who are in our house now. So, we are a bit homeless. Not totally homeless – here we are camped out in Narda’s first husband’s granny flat for a week- their son, Stu – turns 40 and there is a massive party here tonight.

For now, Victoria is just a memory in our rear-view mirror. Thanks for coming along on this trip. Without you, I would not have an audience and would be talking to myself – oh wait!!!

the past in the present
the past in the present

and today Narda got her fifth-covid injection, two + 3 boosters – I got mine last month, so we are all up to date for travel. See ya all soon.

A few of my social sites that I post to every hour… being a private person I have only listed a few of ones I am willing to share – what about you? youtube Youtube,  blogs from the past couple of decades
WordPress (blog), would you join me on Facebook? Well why not? Facebook, twitter Twitter , wow we are so trendy Instagram , linkedin - for all you not mes Linkedin, I put so much here you can spend a lifetime sorting - I have
Pinterest, Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon MastodonAustralia Tribel the replacement of FacebookTribel, Post spoutible TikTok WT Social, all the books of Terrell Neuage in one groovy place Amazon by Terrell, myportfolio, Behance travels in and out of Australia physically emotionally metaphysically with two old farts substack, vimeo, deviant art the best of my stuff once upon a time
deviant art, Flilckr Flicker,Leaving Australia now available on Books2Read Books 2 Read, 100% uncensored social media Wimkin,

 

Daily Motion Rocks Daily Motion, e publishingePub, neuage on Polywork Polywork live journalLive Journal, FourSquare Foursquare, Screencast

 

Screencast, one of those caffine type of sites - new social thingy - I will get involved tomorrow Caffeine,

 

Goodreads, this where I write all my code - it is all here to share with you as I am tired of making millions of dollars off of these codescoderwall, github, hacker news Hacker News, Medium,

tumblr,nonsensical right wing alternative to twitter and facebook gab got a question well i had an answer for you - long ago and far away Quora reddit

chat room - always here come on inMeWe, fiverr fiverr, something Japanese Kakao,skyrocket Skyrocket,

MIX, I had forgotten about this one - used it many years ago Pathbrite, books published on the Must RFead platform MustRead,my space used to be great now it is shit MySpace,

what???????/ ZoomInfo, FDNitter really is twitter FDNitter. my daily podcast Spreaker, adobe education exchange

tripod.lycos Tripod I can't believe th weirdos on this site - I come here for the laughter of such idiots - how about you? Parler 9GAG Wiki Tribune Social WikiTribuneSocial Neuage's PBwiki 2.0 MyPBworks Patreon

Mastodon Photog.social Plurk Minds

NZ2

2nd Three Weeks in New Zealand – this time Greytown

Posting this a few weeks after our trip is over and we are back home – mowing lawn, weeding, finding leaks from the rain that visited more than ever whilst away and left our “garden” as an overgrown plot for a Steven King movie. The front yard – wow! – so in a fit of overwhelming embarrassment we have been trying to make our property appear as if someone has once-upon-a-time lived here. Nevertheless, here is our second stay with Narda’s writing in italics and Terrell’s – being me – in whatever is not italics. Cheers.

Sunday 9th – Left our wonderful stay @ Riverpark Drive, Kuratau on Lake Taupo 8.45 am in search of our next house-exchange in Greytown (they say Greytown-Wellington though it is a couple of hours drive through mountains between the two places – perhaps it is a New Zealand thing to lump places together).

This would be our last drive up the hill through the Tongariro Alpine crossing – National Park – where we could see one last time the three andesitic volcanoes at the heart of the park, the mountains Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (the Hobbit’s Mt Doom) and Ruapehu, forming the southern limits of the Taupō Volcanic Zone, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover so the volcanos could barely see us, but we did get glimpses on the way out of the National Park on our journey toward the sea. We stopped at, Manawatū-Whanganui. Of course, we drank the coffee we brought from home at the station café. Such cheap-skates.

We took a box load of photos along the way of Mount Ruapehu, and they all looked about the same – I could zoom in a bit to see snow but for the most part, bloody clouds…

And a six-second YouTube video of Mount Ruapehu in our rear-view mirror. https://youtu.be/m8UqKhLNGq8

We packed up and hit the road again. National Park is actually the name of a snow resort town an hour up the road, literally. A nice spot for coffee.

Our next stop was Whanganui, where Leon’s sister lived. A nice town, with a river through the middle.

We checked into the Grand Hotel, only to find no booking. It turned out to be my fault; I had used the wrong date. But they had room for us, in fact the hotel was just about empty. A shortage of cleaning staff, all the doors to rooms were open and left unserviced. We had to wait a bit, but we got a decent room, old, but the beds were comfy and it was really quiet.

Our dinner was amazing. I had pork ribs, so good.

We popped into the Makatote Rail viaduct rest area beside the highway of life we were exploring. The bridge was built in 1905 which I thought was cool as that is the year my father was born, not that there is much more association with him as he was in New York, and this is not NY otherwise what a synchronicity. Also, (not linked with my father) The Makatote River, below the Makatote Rail viaduct, is home to the Whio (or Blue Duck) which is unique to New Zealand. We did not see any such duck, but I took lots of photos of the bridge.

We even found someone who would take a snapshot of us in front of the Makatote Rail viaduct.

See our 15-second videoclip @ https://youtu.be/LyHB-wNo13g

Makatote Rail viaduct rest area

Our room @ the Grand Hotel was not ready until 4.30 pm so we walked around Wanganui for two hours The Grand Hotel https://thegrandhotel.co.nz/   was once a grand hotel – now it needed more work than our “garden” after a few months away. Walking around the hotel all the room’s doors were open and peeking in we saw they were not cleaned yet. Probably had not been for quite some time. A dude at the desk said they had to get someone in to do our room, apparently it has been difficult to get workers post-covid. We heard this throughout our stay in New Zealand. It is the same in Australia. Not sure why, but there are a lot of jobs out there not filled. We were told that due to the high cost of living in New Zealand – inflation and all (of course, Fox not-news blathers on that it is President Joe Biden’s fault, high-inflation all over the world) folks are looking for the highest paid job available and cleaning probably is down the list. I had a very good pasta dinner and since I am taking a week off from measuring my sugar levels, I do not have diabetes for a week. Yumm! Yippie!!

Found a really neat place to sit – now I want one like this at home – if anyone has one – we will buy it for a nominal fee minus shipping. Thanks.

Some photos from the town of Wanganui. It is a good-looking city at the mouth of the Whanganui River. As you would know, Whanganui is the ancestral home of the Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi and other Whanganui Māori tribes. Slideshow of several wall-art pieces:

Saw this dude – told him he looked cool – he said it was heritage month– sure that was something we should have followed up on, but we didn’t but you can at https://www.whanganui.govt.nz/Your-Council/News-Events/Events/Whanganui-Heritage-Month-2022

Last photo of Whanganui. This alley looked worth exploring but we didn’t, if you do, let us know in the comments below (ha ha as if there was such a place on this blog).

We did the number one tourist thingy in town – The Durie Hill Elevator which is a public transportation elevator. It connects Anzac Parade beside the Whanganui River with the suburb of Durie Hill. It is ranked by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 1 Historic Place and is New Zealand’s only public underground elevator. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durie_Hill_Elevator see our 2-minute video @ https://youtu.be/_rnsR-edVrc  It is actually part of the metro system – like a bus ride to the sky (if going up) or toward the centre of the earth (if headed down). The image below is my photo of their photo of the building of the Durie Hill Elevator. Once at the bottom there is a long tunnel (213 metres) see me in the tunnel below with other captives. Then you get to the elevator door at the inner end, ring the bell and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by an attendant who will press the button that sends the lift shuddering up 66 metres to the top of Durie Hill, where you’ll emerge to wide views all around — and a chance to get even higher. (not by smoking some pot but by climbing to the top of another tower which we did – well I did – Narda is not too keen on heights higher than the top of my hat – see our video).

In the evening after our fine high-carb dinner we went over to the coast to watch the sunset. Parking at Castlecliff Beach (ranked No.16 on Tripadvisor among 37 attractions in Whanganui.) we walked along the shore. The black sand beach was amazing – I suppose it is volcanic rock ground to sand over millions of years. I asked everyone in the room just now, and she didn’t know if that is true, but it seems so. We also learned heaps about what to do if a tsunami came at us as we were grooving upon the shore.

wood drifts up on to the shore where folks gather it and make fires in the evening. Here is what it would look like a few hundred years ago if I were to be burnt at the stake for being a vegetarian.

Our next exchange

Our new house is amazing. Huge. It’s a farm outside of Greytown.

They have a friendly cat called Tilly and six chooks to feed. The chooks can only be accessed through the back paddock which includes close contact with many cows and three bulls. 

Heard on the news on the radio in the car. “Suspected arson attacks on several buildings in the countryside behind Greytown. This happened at 4am yesterday.”

 The next day I am standing in front of the chocolate counter in the local supermarket, eavesdropping. There is a tall bearded scruffy young man nearby talking to an older woman, perhaps his mother. 

“I finally bought a house, it cost me $550,000.”

“Oh wow, that’s really great”

“Hey and did you hear the news about the fires?”

“Yes?”

“That was me. I was trying to put it out with my hose, and I couldn’t. I rang the fire brigade and they sent five appliances”.

NO COMMENT 😆

Little update: we saw in the local paper that they have charged a woman with arson. So much for my story. Moral: you can’t always believe what you hear in the supermarket!

A nice drive yesterday on some unsealed roads using our loaner vehicle, a new Mitsubishi Triton. Drives a treat. We might have to upgrade to one of these.

Behind our property –

This is the bike path leading into Greytown. A nice historical place, Terrell will fill in the details. I bought four books at the second-hand shop which I did not really need but will read. 

Greytown… I am about to add a bit to Narda’s writing – photos. On Greytown. We will come back to her in a moment (if you are a fast reader – or like to scan past my fast pass ramblings.) I recall Narda commenting sometime over the past couple of decades, perhaps more than once; “you’re not as funny as you think you are”. Damn that hurts – well here goes.

Firstly, we were and are surprised that folks around New Zealand have heard of Greytown. Just a very small town, 2500 plus us and Tilly the cat. It was awarded the title of New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Small Town 2017 (pop less than 5,000). After doing a deep dive into how many cities were up for this award, I discovered there were in total, 44 cities in New Zealand – a lot have more than 5,000 – bottom line not too many with less than 5,000. Nevertheless, Greytown is a tidy town. The place claims to have the most complete main street of Victorian architecture in the country, and of being the first planned inland town. It is a fact lots of people flock here on weekends – a very touristy town. We love the place. Not that we spent much time in the actual town; we lived on a farm ten-minute drive away or by bike (which we did once) a half-hour (Google says 12-minutes but what do they know?) – or closer to 45-minutes as we stopped a bit (often) as the bikes were not electric. See slideshow of us doing the one-off one-time only – bike ride into town. Our excuse? The bikes were not the right size.

.

The Cobblestone Museum, Greytown.

Much of Greytown is still as it was in the late 1800s. You can do a heritage walk down main street and the houses (still occupied) have plaques with their history on them. 

The museum itself has a “town” of relocated buildings set up, full sized with buildings, full of furniture and artifacts

My favourite place in Greytown is their little museum, the Cobblestones Early Settler Museum. Many of the original buildings from the 1800s have been dragged into an area with a town square giving a feeling of being in the actual town when it was the actual town. As we were the only ones there, getting there close to closing then asked to leave and returning the next day we had free run of the place. A must see is our 2:49 (that’s minutes not hours) video clip for this https://youtu.be/zn9uDbRwuuQ  with Narda playing an old organ from back when and me teaching a class (Narda being the only student – all the others had left as I was so incoherent – or was it the accent?).

Cobblestones Early Settler Museum. – this is one video you do not want to miss – really!

The old teacher me came out and I had to give a lesson in math –

I tried telling one of my favourite jokes to Narda…though in full transparency – I had forgotten the punch line.

We made a quick stop at the dentist…

And an even quicker stop in the emergency room…

And of course, you are invited for tea with us as we are now preparing it for your special visit.

And that was our visit to the old town museum.

We also caught up with our previous hosts in a coffee shop in Masterton, half an hour up the road. Very nice people who generously let us use their car to get to our new place. We drove the two cars to the coffee shop, and then were able to return theirs. Interesting conversation. It’s always nice to meet our hosts, but often not possible with trying to line up flights. 

On Friday we drove to Bogey Bay to check out the wet-lands.

This is an amazing beach in the town of Pirinoa. Again black sand and lots of timber washed up. The story we heard was that loggers let the unwanted timber wash down rivers into the sea, then it washes up into the beaches with the tides.

Slideshow of the wetlands below

This is an amazing beach in the town of Pirinoa. Again black sand and lots of timber washed up. The story we heard was that loggers let the unwanted timber wash down rivers into the sea, then it washes up into the beaches with the tide.

Friday 14th Boggy Bay (Boggy Pond and Wairio Wetland are on the eastern side of Lake Wairarapa, 22 kilometres out of Featherston. Access is from Parera Road, off Kahutara Road.), Lake Ferry, Okorewa Lagoon, Kaaje Ōnoke, Ōnoke Spit, Palliser Bay, town of Pirinoa, Ruamahanga River, Lake Wairarapa, Western Lake Road to Featherston, Western Lake Road

Ōnoke Spit is a four-kilometre-long stretch of sand infamous for its wild, windy weather. Coupled with the dramatic scenery this makes for an exhilarating visitor experience! 

Named Ōnoke because of the worms found there, it was a significant gathering place of local hapū that were dependant on tuna (eels) for food and their economy. Huge numbers of tuna would gather at the lake mouth between January and April, during the heke tuna (eel migration to the ocean to breed). Around this time Ōnoke Spit would naturally extend to block off the opening to the sea, and the water would back up causing the lake levels to rise. This was known as Hinurangi. 

According to legend, Rakai Uru, a totara log that was the kaitiaki (guardian) of the lake was responsible for this seasonal closing.  When the tuna migration was approaching he travelled out to sea, and the mouth of the lake closed behind him.  

Just west of Lake Ōnoke is Kiriwai lagoon, asmall dune wetland and the site of an early Māori fishing village. Kiriwai is the name of one of the waka belonging to Kahungunu. When Chiefs arrived at South Wairarapa, they gave the waka to Rangitāne in exchange for lands on which to settle. 

Lake Ferry is a cute little settlement on the shores of Lake Ōnoke, with breathtaking panoramic views from the lake out to sea. Sometimes wild and windy, this spectacular spot is the backdrop to a fascinating history. 

Lake Ferry was one of the first places settled by Māori in Wairarapa. Ōkorewa lagoon was a fishing village at the mouth of the Ruamāhanga River, and a significant focal point for the harvesting and trade of tuna (eels) and other fish. Tuna were the backbone of the economy for Wairarapa hapū (sub tribes). Since European settlement, numbers of tuna and other native species have dropped dramatically because of flood protection schemes and changes in land use throughout the Ruamāhanga catchment.

Lake Ferry got its current name from the ferry service set up in 1850 by the owner of the first hotel. He could only get a hotel licence if he provided a ferry service across Lake Ōnoke to enable travellers to journey up the Ruamāhanga River. 

As you walk to nearby Ōkorewa lagoon from Lake Ferry you will see community plantings, led by South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group, designed to increase habitat for native wildlife. Native birds often seen in the area include poaka (pied stilt), matuku moana (white-faced heron), pīhoihoi (pipit), and pūtangitangi (paradise shelduck). 

the internet
Our 2.20-minute clip https://youtu.be/cQnuUIoFO4Y  explains this view of the Tasman Sea from Palliser Bay with the stop at Boggy Bay much better than I can with words – but let me. try.

We were having a lovely drive through the wetlands when suddenly there was an electric line across the road – no warning and we had driven down this narrow road for half an hour or more. Sign said something about cows (the small sign said ‘stock on road STOP’ I saw it afterwards.) So, some farmer decided to rope off an area for his/her – their (etc. pronouns) cows to have a feed without a warning for those of us who had decided to drive around Boggy Pond. Turning around and going back to New Zealand’s concept of a main road (two-narrow lanes – like driving through Ireland on those narrow roads – or Holland or Scotland…we’ve done them too) was OK the issue was that I tried to pick up the wire across the road before realizing it was electric. I did get a shock and having a pacemaker/defibrillator stuck in my chest I was lucky to be here writing this and you are lucky being the reader. We are equal lucky folks.

Beautiful countryside to the bay (Palliser Bay), we stopped at the Pirinoa General Store and bought a bottle of water and had sandwiches made this morning at home (big spenders). A lovely spot in the world.

 The shore is fun to be on – being a windy day, we did not go up to the Cape Palliser Light House. There is a pub but we didn’t go in at Lake Ferry (Situated on the shores of Lake Onoke, overlooking Palliser Bay, the Lake Ferry Hotel is one of the oldest licensed hotels in New Zealand. https://www.lakeferryhotel.co.nz/). Some pics of the lagoon/Lake Ononke – Tasman Sea…

We made lots of short trips from our home on a farm in Greytown. Really different for us being so rural. Aside of feeding the  chooks every day and getting such fresh organic eggs negotiating daily living with a cat that we were a guest of and going for walks we would go and talk to the cows every day. Here is a short click of Narda singing to them ‘Narda serenades the herd’ https://youtu.be/3ngFu4BOoWU

Here is a short click of Narda singing to them ‘Narda serenades the herd’

Just a note about Tilly. Not having a cat together (past 20+ years) and Narda never having a cat (I grew up with lots of them in Clifton Park, New York, and my children and I always had a cat or two in the 1980s and 1990s) we were not used to such a critter. Tilly had her routines and was very strict with them. I left her inside one night thinking that she would like that but somehow, she managed to open doors – get into the bedroom and meow in my ear at two am so I put her outside. She liked to be outside at night – hunting. Her owners said she was a good hunter and would catch a rabbit. So, rabbit-breath would meow loudly to come inside about 7 am beg to be picked up and spoken too for a bit then she would go into a closet in the hallway and sleep amongst towels until noonish when she would spend the rest of the day in a window sleeping until late afternoon when she would follow us around and meow a lot until she was picked up. When we would go away for a day or two, she was quite happy to see us and would talk non-stop probably telling us off for not being there for her.

For those waiting in anticipation of our cat-drop – here is nine-seconds of Rabbit-breath upon our return home

Obviously, they are referring to a shopping cart – or a trolley if you are in Australia. We think.

Train to Wellington

train to Wellington New Zealand

In the next week or so, we took 2 return trips to Wellington by train. We have to go through some pretty serious mountains, but there is a long tunnel when you go by train. On the first leg we visited the Te Te Pa museum and saw an amazing and moving exhibition of the WW1 soldiers storming Gallipoli. The story of the futile battles, the huge loss of life is told through the lives and records of 8 actual New Zealanders who took part. It’s incredibly moving, with huge figures displayed, very life-like. Gallipoli @ Te Papa Tongarewa Museum https://youtu.be/C0RpAyO8J_8

Gallipoli @ Te Papa Tongarewa Museum

It was not all gloom and doom at the museum at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum.

There is a large natural things part. For example, this large whale heart,

We learned about kiwi beaks –

We found a wonderful rain-forest walk – see our video for this place – https://youtu.be/grBA9FWTi24  and I was able to record lots of bird sounds for background noise in my video clips which is fun (for me).

video of of the museum and of the cable car – not to be missed

Narda learned about snails so any questions, she is your source of info –

Then there was the cable car which ended in amazing views of the city – to Mount Victoria. See our wonderful slideshow below

The Cable Car, a funicular railway, between Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, and Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city, rising 120 m over a length of 612 m. The one-way trip takes approximately five minutes. We spent the afternoon wandering around the top – taking selfies as us young people are known to do and saying wow wow wow.

Overall, we enjoyed Wellington. It seems much bigger than Adelaide though the population is about half. Probably because Adelaide is so spread out. A picture containing outdoor, building, sky, street

Description automatically generatedMuch of the dock, Wellington Harbour, seems built in the past twenty-years. I think I even read that somewhere on the internet.  The old dock area is nicely merged with new crap which is good. The Old Government Building (built in 1876) is one of the world’s largest wooden structures. We were there on a market day – which is shown in our video above. Below feel free to groove on our slideshow of a few photos of Wellington from our collection of hundreds.

We had a good smorgasbord @ James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor with a view toward the bay from the 17th floor.

The next day we hoped a ferry over to Picton on the southern island. I think it was about $35 USD each way per person – quite an inexpensive trip – a bit less than four hours. I liked it and took less than a thousand photos – some are in the sllideshow below.

And of course, obviously, https://youtu.be/NJQt3vadLM8 our YouTube clip.

We got to Picton in the afternoon and wandered around the small town (about 4500 folks – twice as many as our hometown Greytown – which as you would know from reading above was neatest or tidiest or grooviest place in all of NZ a few years ago – when Tilly, the cat, was mayor).

 October 2022, Picton ferry

The second train trip, a few days later, was a little more ambitious and included a return ferry ride to Picton on the South Island. A highlight was meeting two young folks, just randomly really, not a couple. One was a girl who looked just like Mau 20 years ago. We started talking and then switched to Dutch which was fun. Good practice. She, a Dutch girl named Neinke, a veterinarian from Nijmegen, was travelling alone, and had arrived in New Zealand after travelling in Korea.  Then another interesting person joined us. Daniel, a software engineer was Ukrainian, living in Israel. We chatted for quite a while, great conversation. We formed a WhatsApp chat group and decided to meet again for a meal in Picton.  

 here is some stuff to help you on your next quiz night

The ferry ride back was late leaving and so we missed our train on the return to Wellington by two minutes!!!!!

Another over-night stay, this time a backpackers near the station. It was fine. Lucky to find it as the hotels are pricey.

No train, only a bus to go home.

They only send buses in the off-peak hours. No tunnel, a really hairy trip through very steep winding roads, shared with logging trucks and very steep sides. Not my favourite, though the scenery is pretty speccie. One-minute clip @ https://youtu.be/-bRPwni9FQ0  

It’s actually much worse than it looks. 😨

The town next to us, they did not make it into the tidy town winning circle as Greytown did – but still the place is OK, Featherston has seven bookstores in a town of 2500. New Zealand’s ‘only’ booktown.

Wow! Was Narda excited. I am sure we got to at least ten of the seven bookstores during our sojourn in Greytown. And of course, we lugged a pile of books home even though we were pushing the allowable weight limit on New Zealand’s skimpy weight allowance.  My favourite bookshop had a bit of a coffee shop too which made me happy as I could sit with my coffee and keep up to date on social media as Narda read the first twelve pages of every book in the store. This particular shop according to Narda was overpriced charging up to six or seven bucks (New Zealand or a bit over $4 USD) – lucky for our weight limit we (she) found books for a buck or two at another shop in a limited fashion.

Featherston had another bonus. It is ranked as the town with the most bookshops in New Zealand. So naturally I bought 5 and a half kilos of books to transport home. Including 2 wonderful books by Amatov Ghosh. We were still within weight on the trip back but only just!

Fell Locomotive Museum

So, what happens when the rail is too steep? In Switzerland they built a cog train. Here in New Zealand a guy called Fell designed and built a locomotive that uses the cogs, but sideways. So, there is an extra engine underneath all the carriages that clamps onto a third rail from two sides, giving the train the ability to ride on a steeper incline.

The brakes are made of soft iron. They would be white hot at the end of each climb and descent and would have to be replaced with new ones each time. Quite the project. It was discontinued in the 1950s. Now there is a long tunnel instead. We saw all this in a museum in Featherston. Really interesting.

According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fell_Locomotive_Museum, The Fell Locomotive Museum in Featherston, New Zealand, exhibits the only remaining steam-powered Fell railway locomotive in the world.  It is all quite impressively really. Before the tunnel, which we had been through a few times taking the train in to Wellington the train had to go up over the mountain range – the same range we went over on a bus a week earlier – we talked about that a few paragraphs earlier.

See 35 seconds of train wheels going around and gasp at the real train sounds I added to the background.

Another one of those things you should know for your next quiz night

Narda has seemed to stop writing. She has gotten into drawing which is nice. I am not permitted to share these drawings (with Narda’s knowledge but meet me in disguise after ten pm in the alley outback and I will share a glimpse.) Saying all that there is not much more to say about our NZ stay except for a couple of other little excursions we took beyond the bookstore town and our local cows and with the non-blessings of Tilly the cat. I will go on about just two of these places. Castlepoint and Waiohine Gorge with NZ’s longest swing bridge high over the Waiohine River which we even crossed (most of the way).

Forget all that she wrote this.

It seems there is white sand on the west coast and black sand on the east. The weather was gorgeous, so we took a drive to Castlepoint Beach, about 1 ½ hours’ drive. Pretty speccie. It has a beach, a lagoon fill by large waves and a huge rock 165 metres tall.  We also saw a fur seal swimming in the shallows. Pretty popular, it was the last day of schools’ holidays and also a sunny weekend.

Here is what we discovered in New Zealand.

  • They call shopping trolleys, trundles.
  • Folks are super friendly and helpful.
  • There is no rubbish on the ground…zilch!
  • The road signs are more gentle, eg,  instead of saying
  • “Drink and drive and you die” the sign says “if you have been drinking it’s better not drive” ….or similar.
  • It’s expensive. 
  • They say cheer instead of chair, sees instead of says, teak instead of tick. Bit confusing really. 😄 
  • It’s basically a huge golf course with many very rugged mountains, weirdly rugged, lots of jagged bits, nothing smoothly predictably rolling.
  • The beaches are covered with firewood.
  • It’s incredibly beautiful. 
  • I have never seen so many landslides! (See photo a bit later in Terrell’s “rambles” – it’s OK, I said that)

I have decided to try to learn to draw. I like a style called Urban Sketching which combines the use of black line sketching with simple watercolour painting. 

This kind of thing. Basically, you draw what you see.  I love the informality of it, and it will be interesting to draw things we see on our travels. 

(Me editing in real time – how modern)

Castlepoint is a small beach side town with a groovy lighthouse. It was about an hour from home. As I say in my video clip, Castlepoint has a fossil-rich limestone reef, safe sandy beaches and features the stunning 162-metre-high Castle Rock, one of the most spectacular sights along the Wairarapa coast.’ See our spectacular or not clip at https://youtu.be/AcsVc_7WWMM

A few of the less than a thousand photos we took:

Perhaps due to a lot of rain or poor road construction, earthquakes, bad drivers – whatever, we found too many roads on our many little trips that had washed away or just fallen off the cliff. What made driving really fun was when coming around a curve and suddenly there was only one lane and for an even greater thrill a logging truck was coming around quickly on the other lane. It was only scary when I was driving as I drive faster than Narda.

The Waiohine Gorge

It was lovely weather, so we took a very scary drive into the nearby mountains to see the nearby gorge. I say scary all the time I know. This time it was a loose gravel, very narrow road, mostly only room for 1 car, and with a significant drop to the left. We didn’t run into anyone, but I did reverse for one soul, and hit a pot-hole on occasion.

I got 67% of the way across before the wind almost blew my hat into the river far below – making me scurry – as I hung on for dear life to get back to some sense of normality which I am almost back to at present several weeks later. See photos below to confirm this tale.

Martinborough

Then there was an impromptu turn off to see a different town, very close to us. It was a bit like the Barossa, lots of wineries (20) and a charming little town with a town square and a nice little pub. We ate dinner there, fish and chips, me with a very impressive cider. Even the local supermarket was very gezellig. We ate at the Pukemanu Pub https://pukemanu.co.nz/ a good feed indeed

Martinborough seemed like a pleasant town – they have less than 2000 inhabitants – and unlike Greytown never got to be tidy town of the year.

One of the last things we did before leaving Greytown to go to Wellington to fly back home was to attend the Carterton Fair. If you don’t watch our other videos, I would suggest watching this one if you want to see a real sheep race at a real rural country New Zealand yearly fair. https://youtu.be/gNEOICnl30Y they had a very fine bagpipe thing happening – it’s on the video above –

the amazing only in New Zealand sheep race

they had a very fine bagpipe thing happening – it’s on the video above –

some old fart played country and western music – quite good I should add and yes it is on the video clip above.

we had a real fun time at the Carterton Fair.  Oh! Almost forgot – it’s in the video above, obviously, I got excited about watching the lawnmower races – really, and the horse jumping. I have heaps of photos of folks jumping around the place these are two I sort of like more than some of the others.

BTW, this dude lost, though I thought he did quite well. I guess it is because his horse knocked over a bunch of those polls. They probably shot him after for being such a fool.

And that is it for Greytown – just wanted to add that at the fair as with all country fairs they had the hall of showoffs – locals showing their flowers, baked goods, stitchings, photos and the like and having them judged. Just between you and me, and I am not bragging or putting myself on another pedestal (beyond the one I have already placed myself upon), or acting like a Yank in another country,  but… my photos are way better than what anyone else showed, the lemons on the tree in our backyard (not really our backyard but the backyard of where we are living at the moment which makes it our backyard as the people whose backyard we are enjoying are in our house in Adelaide with our crappy backyard and dead fruit trees – but that is not the point) are so much better than the stupid dried up little lemons on a plate that won first prize were. This is our lemon tree (if it was truly our backyard)

it has been great – we have had lemon juice everyday – and orange juice too – the orange tree was amazing. And our flowers (if truly they were our flowers) in the yard (our yard if it was truly our yard) are much better than the winners of prizes at the Carterton Show.

see what I mean? BTW here is a shot of their

 and first place flowers –

Thanks for agreeing with me. For a moment there I thought there could possibly be something wrong with my thought patterns.

We will miss our little section of paradise in NZ – when we got home our lawn was terrible – weeds had taken over our home and garden after two-months away – we forgot to hire someone to do anything with our garden the whole time we were away – or maybe we were too cheap – forget which – and it rained in Adelaide most of the time away so the people here wanted to play golf and hike did not get as good a trade as we did in NZ where it was warmer and not many rainy days. Their property was so fantastic – and our friends the cows and Tilly the cat and even the chooks made us feel very relaxed. Our first stay was wonderful too – you have already read all about it in the previous blog. Overall, we loved NZ. A few of the many snapshots of our backyard if it was truly our backyard.

We did the hour and half drive to Wellington over the mountain in five hours – pretty good time for us. We have a video clip of this drive – with all the cliffs and mountain passages included. https://youtu.be/t6Sv2MqBuKY  

We stayed once again at the Brentwood Hotel in Wellington. We were there at the beginning of our trip in NZ and collected the car from the first house-exchange in Taupo. We drove our second car (lovely new Trident 4×4) to Wellington from Greytown and left it at the Brentwood for the people who were at our house to collect when they flew in, the same day as we were leaving. They left our car at the Adelaide Airport which made it easy for us when we got in at midnight to have our car to drive home. At the Brentwood we learned that the Rolling Stones had stayed here too long ago and even wrote one of their songs here. Cool.

GOODBYE WELLINGTON NEW ZEALAND

and this sign we see all over NZ – why?

and this sums up our time in NZ

thanks for coming along with us – our next trip is a month caravan trip to Victoria and within that time a week with my son, Sacha and his partner, Georgia, camping with us – can’t wait

Our next OS trip is Pakistan for February and the UK for two months after – see ya somewhere in the world…cheers Narda and Terrell

New Zealand

Below is our first house-exchange in New Zealand. We are now in Greytown and will post this blog when we get home first week of November. However, to the delight of ourselves…we are continually adding new video clips to our story which can be viewed in our YouTube playlist. We especially like the clip on ‘Wellington to Picton Ferry’, and the one where Narda serenades our cows. Not really our cows but we have befriended them as they live in the paddock next to our house. see these and other amazing New Zealand clips of our stay HERE. Cheers!

Narda’s note are in italics – Terrell’s in whatever that is left. If sometimes our notes sound similar it probably is because they possibly are. Our notes are then tossed up into the air and as they tumble in such random fashions as to confuse the most ardent editor they are embedded into the story below. Good luck!

October 2022 now in New Zealand Our first three weeks at Lake Taupo before our next house exchange back down by Wellington.

Herewego

First things first.

Before diving into this blog – my first story…like how I first saw New Zealand 42 years ago, which led me to having Australian children, getting married a couple of times, both times to an Aussie; 4 years & 22 years and counting and how the reason I first went to Zealand 42 years ago was because I had different beliefs than I do now. Of course, we all should have different beliefs now than we did 42 years ago. Back to that later, or not.

Anyway, returning to first things…lucky me, I am sitting on this Air New Zealand flight typing on my laptop, listening to inflight entertainment (Creedence Clearwater Revival – a great 1960s band) …because I can…Also watched the video Bansky does New York

Ideal watching on flight to New Zealand

Adelaide Airport announcement, “there is a laptop left @ security, collect it now”. Gosh darn, what fool would leave their computer @security. I look down at my bag. Damn! I run off to where we went through security. Yes, we were told to take our laptop out of our bag. I have flown dozens of times around the world, we used to fly New York to Australia every year between 2002 and 2010, China to Australia 2010 – 2014 and many other long-distance flights in the past 22+ years, and yes as an elite flyer (my personal observation) such as me, I know how to get through an airport. Anyway, with fifteen-minutes before boarding I once again had my laptop with me. Maybe it is the ageing process, Narda had a few ‘left behinds’ so far on this trip and we have just started. Though I reckon we are just out of practice – haven’t travelled for five-months. Started off the year OK; DC for New Years, Lahore for Brendan’s and Sofie’s wedding before DC, then Holland for the first three months of this year. Lots of complicated travel, left nothing behind. Maybe we figured New Zealand being so close to home (four-hour flight) we just went off into la la land together. Next year we have six months international travel (Pakistan, UK, USA) so we need to get it sorted. 

Narda’s notes so far…

Narda’s drawing bus with our stuff on the sidewalk – on the right – my bus is on the left…our first time using the pen tool on this laptop…using Adobe ‘sky replacement’ tool for the background – my favourite tool – meaning on a cloudy day I can cheer it up with Adobe.

Leaving our stuff on the footpath.

Off to New Zealand. 

My first time………………….

September 18, 2022

I could have been sitting here in the Riviera Hotel on this rainy Sunday  arvo minus my new back pack. So no kindle, no groovy tablet, and worst of all, no diary. As I stood up to get off, I heard the voice of my beloved  “don’t forget your bag”. I must confess I would have left it on the bloody bus.

Then there was the leaving of the house. We went next door to our neighbours to say goodbye…… keep an eye on our house. We had all our stuff on the front porch to go straight to the bus. Our neighbours were not home. We unlocked the front door and re-entered our house as the bus was not due for another 20 minutes. And here is scary thing number two. The back door was wide open and our new car was unlocked. What the….????

I spend an inordinate amount of time planning, making lists, making lists of lists. I have always thought of myself as a good planner, being organised. My  favourite thing is to plan trips. I am up at 5am full of excitement to continue with my plan, or to start it again because I have just spent half the night thinking about it and have come up with the trip of all trips. I kid you not, I have nearly all of 2023 planned, including flights and budgets and am now working on 2024.

I am reading a very interesting book about ageing. Maybe some tips for me. I must say this whole thing was unsettling. Hopefully not a new modus operandi. I’m only 68 FFS! So much to do, so much to see.

We are on our way to New Zealand. Two house exchanges of three weeks. All on the north island. I have set the bar pretty low. Cold rainy weather, the people are just like Aussies, and everything is expensive. So we’ll see. 
Now the next few days will be telling. This was a trip postponed by covid where Air New Zealand refused to give a refund, despite having cancelled the flights from their end. Here we are ready to use our airline credit.

Terrell on a bus lost already

September 19, 2022

Twenty-five minutes to boarding. Our first time in the new, international, very empty section of the terminal. Last night we had a lovely meal with sisters and brothers-in-law at Marcelina’s. I had the Caesar salad; we had eaten left over cheese all day and this was the only non-cheese option. We both slept well, better than we had for some nights, despite taking turns snoring.

So here’s a nice tried and true exit strategy  from good old Adelaide.

Overnight at the Riviera $90
Dinner with the rels at Marcelinas $51
Brekkie at Macca’s at the end of Hindley St $14

J1 bus at the end of Currie to the airport free 

Could work for the next one.

Wellington Airport lobby – go figure

September 20, 2022

Standing in the rain at Wellington airport waiting for our hotel shuttle. It definitely was a day of delays. Started already in Adelaide, then rolled on to the next two flights as each waited for the previous arrival. We did have brollies though. 

Janie said that her impressions of NZ was it is all still in the 70s. I agree. It’s nice. It’s started with the Brentwood Hotel, which we finally got too, at around at midnight. Our room was large, lots of timber panelling, normal light switches, a regular key to open the door, a very 70s decor, and lots of friendly folk attending a “search and rescue ” conference. So we know who to call when the earthquake starts.

Did you know that the house of a grocer from Virginia was involved in one of the first battles of the American civil war. The grocer then moved to further south to be safe, and 4 years later the final surrender by Robert E Lee occurred in his house again, right on his front porch. What are the odds?

This was the story told to us by Brian Reeve, duty manager of the Brentwod Hotel when he discovered that Terrell was an American! Brian had many similar stories to tell us, as did Terrell, and we were invited to visit him and his wife in a few weeks.

And…….they can both recite Abe Lincoln’s Gettysburg address! “….all men are created equal………”. Men in the widest sense. Of course.

These are things one learns in New Zealand.

Then we got to drive a nice Skoda. Dad would have loved it. Very smooth to drive, and solid….with a CD slot and no beeping alarms!

Another 70s impression was the housing. Nothing new, nothing too square and boxy, with lots of painted wooden slats! Wellington is very nice. Right on the sea with hills rising steeply. Then onto the highway heading north.

A little New Zealand humour – all the trees on this street had one of these witches’ caps on the top –

New Zealand street humour – witch’s cap on a tree top – note: we did not need to use Photoshop ‘Sky replacement’ tool – a perfect day

(Terrell’s part not italicized) Arrived in Auckland – hour late – thought we would miss our flight to Wellington. Auckland International Airport is one of those airports where they do not believe international and domestic should coincide. We had barely half an hour to grab the next flight plus get luggage. The luggage was easy but waiting for a shuttle bus to the next airport made us nervous. Supposed to be every ten-minutes, fifteen minutes later we were impatiently climbing the wall – if there had been one. Slowly one came along we got the domestic airport rushing through letting everyone know we were trying to catch a connecting flight. Folks along the way said it was OK the flight was delayed waiting for the likes of us. We still panicked and let everyone know of the importance of our rushing. Well, it was ten pm and no other flights – the airport shops were all closed. We were starving – well, a bit hungry. Finally, got to our gate. So did everyone else. The flight had been delayed another hour. Bottom line, we got to Wellington after eleven pm. Originally were to arrive about 8 pm. Hungry. Because we did not have a sim card (we were running through Auckland Airport to catch our flight) and all the shops were closed in Wellington Airport we were not able to contact the hotel to send a shuttle to collect our sorry asses. Luckily, Narda spotted a telephone on a wall with some sort of help available notification beneath and got someone to ring our motel which kindly provided a shuttle.

The folks who we are doing our house-exchange with left their car for us at the airport and without future ado we were off looking for food. The hotel-motel manager said all the shops would be closed except for a petrol station he gave us instructions to. Of course, I used my favourite line in these situations when getting a car in a new country, “which side of the road should we drive on?” For some reason I believe that is funny, though Narda doesn’t.

We found said petrol station. We were not allowed inside. A friendly person said through heavy barred window that we can only order from outside. No one is allowed inside after ten pm. Security and all. Nevertheless, the friendly person said that they had food. Pies and sandwiches and sausages. Narda kept asking if we could come inside. “Obviously, we don’t look like we would rob you”. But no. He recited what foods they have. I asked if there was anything vegetarian. That was a showstopper. He basically laughed and wanted to know why. Anyone could look at me and know I don’t eat meat…so I often think. After fifty years on the lamb or not on the lamb I must project a non-meat-eating look. He said he was a Hindu who ate meat, and I was a white person who didn’t. Bottom line Narda had a meat pie, and I had a carrot cake. By then I was too hungry to ask if he had anything low-carb, and already I think he was having a bit of lend of me – hey! How about organic? Narda went to bed full I went to bed hungry. In actual fact I am on a low-carb diet (diabetes), vegetarian forever, and who doesn’t want their intake to be organic?

Narda has talked about the person at the motel who was a civil war buff (my great-grandfather was in the civil war, and I have a whole story about him dying on the battlefield at Gettysburg.) My adopted father, since age three, but still I would say this person was a part of my family. I told the friendly guy I would send him some confederate money when we return to Australia as I have several paper bills. My father collected such things and I have no use for them, and they are not worth as much as I thought they would be, and my son doesn’t want all the boxes of stuff in our shed. Long tale shortened…the buffet breakfast was good, and I got to eat lots.

We bought a sim card for one phone. Realized it did not work and in the next major town, Palmerston North we found a Sparks store, which is our sim card, and a rude dude, who said we ‘were aggressive’ did not take to us blaming him, his company, and half of New Zealand for the failure of our Wi-Fi. After much conversational struggle it seems that we may have not paid for a service in their stupid app that we had downloaded. At the end of it all Narda explained that we are really nice people, and we were not attacking him personally – we just needed some assistance.

After driving all day so far, leaving Wellington at 10 AM – to Palmerston North (142 KM the GPS said two-hours, we took six-hours, go figure) to Feilding – another 20-minutes re. GPS – took us only an hour and a half, where we stopped after our sim card incident, now that we have GPS, we found a nice little overpriced motel. We went shopping at the local New World supermarket and bought fixings for dinner and breakfast and snacks for if we got hungry between dinner and breakfast. We had been upgraded in our overpriced motel, $155 NZD, to a suite with a kitchen and we made full use of it.

A little known fact: Feilding has won the annual New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Town award 15 times https://www.feilding.co.nz/

Next day on our way to our destination of Lake Taupo we saw a windmill alongside the highway. It looked exactly like where we were living the first three-months of this year in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, Holland.

Our first interesting stop was Foxton, sporting a real working windmill. It still grinds and makes flour.  Some homesick dutchies built it 20 years ago. The ground floor is a very respectable Dutch shop with all the necessary stuff on sale. We stocked up, and then did the little tour, climbing the steep ladders and playing a game of sjoelbak. Of course, I won.

Narda starting the windmill on a bit of a windy day
The windmill in Foxton, in case you thought we had skittled back to the Netherlands.
[‘De Molen in Foxton is a full-size replica of a Dutch windmill, completed and opened in 2003. Two Dutch immigrants, Jan Langen and Cor Slobbe, saw their dream realised that year. This working windmill makes stone-ground flour, available for purchase inside the mill’s souvenir shop. Visitors can also view the mechanical workings of the mill, which are an example of traditional Dutch 17th Century craftsmanship.’]

After indulging in Dutch sweets, we took a route 54 up toward Vinegar Hill stopping at the amazing view point of Stormy Point Lookout. … stretching as far as Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu, and the west coast. You’ll also see one of the best-preserved sequences of river terraces in the world.

Our second long drive took us to Palmerston North, where we headed straight to the Spark store to complain about our not-working sim card. The person who was supposed to help us was a dick and told us we had no right to come and demand a refund. After smoothing his ruffled ego, we managed to get him back onside and it’s all good.

Outa there. Still think he’s a dick.

We drove to a nice friendly hotel in the charming town of Feilding. No this is not misspelt, it’s named after some guy (who clearly had some spelling issues 🙄)

 Some lasagne and the like from the grocery and we did our own dinner.

A serious snow-capped mountain on the way impressed us, though  it was not quite K2. There were two more. Around 2,600 metres. Brendan from Pakistan said that this is a baby.

Mount Ruapeh

You can catch a view of this as well as our stop along the Rangitikei River in our video Wellington to Lake Taupo below.

Wellington to Lake Taupo first days in New Zealand
went to Tokaanu Thermal Walk in The Tūrangi area

The local volcano is now filled with the huge lake you see below, Lake Taupo. It has just a few days ago been upgraded from 0 to 1. The locals say they have only ever known it as a category one in their lifetime.

Here is the scale:

Zero is extinct
One is not extinct
Two is pending eruption
Three is actively erupting. 

We have minimal internet, no TV (have not figured it out yet)

So if we disappear under the molten rock, you will know it made it to 3.

Lake Taupo – @ first sight
Omori – the town right before entering Kuratau, with a lot less houses
My husband, Dr Dolittle

September 22, 2022

Can you imagine falling into a puddle and being boiled alive? Well this is possible in the hot springs. If the volcano doesn’t getcha, the hot springs can. They are all over this area. I’m told to be reassured, as this means the pressure for an eruption is somewhat eased. I’m sure Jessica can add a better explanation.


Steaming cliffs of our local active volcano beneath our feet
A devastating landslide obliterated the Ngāti Tūwharetoa village of Te Rapa on the south-west shore of Lake Taupō. Sixty people were killed, including the paramount chief Mananui Te Heuheu Tūkino II. This remains New Zealand’s highest death toll from a landslide.

Te Rapa sat below the volcanic springs of Mt Kākaramea. The missionary Richard Taylor recorded that an ‘unusually rainy season occasioned a large landslip’ on the mountain. The slip dammed a stream which, three days later, ‘burst its barriers, and, with irresistible force, swept rocks, trees and earth with it into the lake’. The avalanche of debris buried Te Rapa and only a few people managed to escape.

In 1910, another landslide killed one person in a new village near the old site of Te Rapa. After this second event, the village was abandoned. The source of the landslides was an unstable geothermal area known as the Hipaua Steaming Cliffs. This still causes problems for engineers working on State Highway 41, which passes between the cliffs and Lake Taupō. Waihī village now stands at the lakeside. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/new-zealands-most-devastating-landslide-at-te-rapa-lake-taupo

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Today is day four that I have tested negative for Covid. Only significant as I am supposed to test for five days in a row because Narda tested positive five days ago. Lucky me so far. Only one day to go then I no longer need to test according to latest New Zealand guidelines. Narda is self-isolating for seven-days which given our nice spot in the world is not bad. I went off and bought oodles of groceries – lots of tempeh, tofu, organic and low-carb stuff and some chunks of meat for Narda. We should be good. I have time to write this silly stuff and learn about our area, such as this is where the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed – 45-minutes away. We are less than an hour to the snow fields and it snowed there yesterday. Chains on tyres are required to go there so we will need to give it all a miss, but we will get as close as we can. I am making lists of all the places we will go to see once out of quarantine.

They are very good about this covid thingy here. Was a two-week quarantine up to a week ago now just one week. At the airport we were given four test kits each. We had to report our situation once arriving and they said we could get more test kits, so I went into town and they gave me five boxes of four each. Now we have like 25 RATS – in Adelaide they wanted like ten bucks per RAT. I was also given a box of 50 good quality masks. Narda has been rung a couple of days – very nice people, wanting to know if we needed anything like food or medicine. Sacha suggested we say we needed wine and cheese, mainly because Narda is Dutch. But we didn’t.

We drove halfway around our Lake Taupo to the town of Taupo and of course the first place we run off to is McDonalds – and on a plane too.

At McDonalds there is a DC3, right there in the carport. You can go inside to eat your burger.

Terrell’s jacket got a taste of my gold texta too. One of my iso projects.

Sidebar: we made a great discovery; Narda asked if they did senior coffee at a McDonald's couple of days past...no to special coffees like latte and crap - but yes to a filtered coffee. So, we are making McDonald stops as we drive around the country getting our free filtered coffee. Seems a bit out of balance we will pay thousands of dollars to go places and look for free coffee but we do.

Knowing that we are a tad bit cultural-ignorant we saw a Māori-Volcano Museum in town. When we realized that the fee for entry was only $6 (seniors) – which translated to $3.60 USD for two we were quick to part with our would have been coffee money. The Taupo Museum https://www.taupodc.govt.nz/community/taupo-museum was both a great museum to learn about Māori culture as well as about the volcanic activity of our local area.

The Taupo Museum

 Narda entering a Māori meeting place, place. Of course, we had profound interest in the idea of caravan camping… and of learning about the volcanic activity in our area – Narda has various thoughts of what we should do if there is a local eruption of one of the volcanic mountains or if the lake goes up as it did once-upon-a-time – like will we get an alert?

And that was our day in Taupo – we didn’t even investigate what the SuperLoo was though I had thoughts about it which I won’t share.

@ home we once again got into our tennis-championship playing mode. We first played tennis when we lived in Noja, Spain https://neuage.me/2019/03/19/spain/ a few years ago. The reason for that then was because our house-exchange for a month had tennis playing equipment i.e. rackets and balls as well as a tennis court – with the special incentive of no one around to watch or see us – it was end of winter and no tourist shuffling about. We played most days for a month. We were so excited about our fastly developing, almost improving, tennis skills that we bought rather expensive (more than ten dollars) rackets and even dozens of tennis balls when back in Adelaide. We drove off to a rather never used tennis court at the end of Perseverance Road (our street and the subtext of our life) and played daily for almost a full week before my elbow began to hurt. Tennis elbow is the unfortunate consequence of us elite tennis players. Then we travelled more, went through the covid thingy and sort of forgot about our world rankings until now. To prove that we were serious, we watched the first ten-minutes of a 20-minute beginner’s guide to how to play tennis then went out and worked on our serve. My return had more bounce that I had expected and went over the very high fence around the tennis court and landed in trees a distance away. I believe in baseball that would be a home run though in tennis probably not. Anyway, because we found tennis rackets and a huge tube of balls, we are playing upwards of 20-minutes a day to work on our world-rankings. (In the low billions at this point but we hope to improve – after watching the rest of the first of the beginner’s video series – if we get around to it)

September 27, 2022

Covid round 2…..done. 

Basically 5 days of tissues and Panadol.

This is a house build for isolating. No-one around.  We were  stocked up with groceries, anticipating living a long was from the supermarket. 

And Terrell never got it! Go figure. Must be those green smoothies.

Pumice is abundant in this place. This is the stuff you can us to sand down the soles of your feet. I think we have found the source. Here’s the story…

Our big day out was driving to Taupo, a nice town, which used to be the “dustiest”,  on the opposite side of the lake. It’s a pleasant drive, following the lake with great views. Lots of scruffy little towns to slow down for. Refreshing to see places that are still not developed to the hilt with million dollar lake front houses. Though in Taupo you do see that too.

We stopped to eat our picnic lunch of sandwiches with cheese and mustard pickles. Not quite the same as the Aussie ones (no gerkins) but still pretty tasty.

view of the steaming cliffs from near our home

Pretty cool huh.

And then there are the extremophiles, microbes that live in the hot springs. The brown ones live in cooler waters, orange and green live in 35 to 65 degree water. The colours come from different chemicals in the rocks. The hard core guys go even hotter, they are white and pink.

1.) Mt Ruapehu is an active stratovolcano located in Tongariro National Park, in the centre of the North Island, New Zealand.
2) Mt Ruapehu is estimated to be about 200,000 years old.
3.) It is the largest volcano in New Zealand and is also the highest point in the North Island.
4.) It has the only major ski fields in the North Island which are the longest ski runs in the country.
5.) An eruption in 1953 caused a lahar which descended on the valley below destroying a rail bridge just as the Wellington – Auckland train was passing which resulted in 151 fatalities.

#MtRuapehu #facts #tongarironationalpark

Mount Ngauruhoe is one of three volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, it is also Mount Doom.

Mt DOOM

September 28, 2022

We have finally figured out that daylight saving has kicked in in this volcano of a country. So the mornings are still darker. My bedroom is pitch dark….I mean black, not a sliver or hint of light. Same with the sound. Nothing. Nada.

Mt Ngauruhoe, elevation, 2,2291 m and featuring as the Mountain of Doom in Lord of the Rings, taken from the car park of the Chateau Hotel where they refused to sell us a buffet brekkie because we were not staying there. Oh well.

Then on the road again to the ski resort at the next mountain, which was mostly still in the clouds, literally. The trip there was strange. Lots of black volcanic rock and no vegetation.

The snow we saw was created by machines, but when there was a break in the clouds you could see the big arsed  mountain with real snow. And a gondola taking folks up to it.

(Mount Doom is a fictional volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is in the northwest of the Black Land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth. [Wikipedia] Other name(s): Orodruin, Amon Amarth, the Fiery Mountain Ruler: Sauron)

Well, let me tell you that is fake news – it is not a fictional volcano but a real one that shoots its load rather often. Maybe today. Mount Tongariro, (the volcano next to mount Ngauruhoe), had a hydrothermal eruption in 2012! Which could have caused a chain eruption of Ngauruhoe. But it hasn’t so far.

(Ngauruhoe first erupted 2,500 years ago, and erupted 45 times in the 20th century, (61 eruptions since 1839) and most recently in 1977. It is one of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes and has the youngest vent in the Tongariro volcanic complex, on the central Plateau of the North Island. 
Explosive and violent ash eruptions took place in January and March in 1974 and February in 1975. The major eruption (which took place on the 19th of February 1975) sent and eruption plume up to a height of 13km above the crater.)

We stopped at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel in Whakapapa Village in the Tongariro National Park. We went in to have breakfast, but it was only available to people staying at the hotel, so we went back to our car and had coffee we brought from home and ate our cheese sandwiches. Probably a bit cheaper. We had hoped to stay at the hotel – looked so fancy and nice but it was booked full – and is booked full for the rest of the time we are here.

Chateau Tongariro Hotel in Whakapapa Village in the Tongariro National Park.

And of course, information on Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is a couple of days of hiking up Mount Ngauruhoe and through craters and scary stuff. I am sure Sacha and Brendan would do it. But not being quite as young and fit as our children Narda and I decided to give it a miss this time.

We drove up to the end of the road, Iwikau Village @ the base of Mt Ruapehu (the largest volcano/mountain) in the range. Thought of hoping on the Sky Waku – gondola, that goes into the now fields but being so much cloud coverage, we gave that a miss too.

Iwikau Village @ the base of Mt Ruapehu

Occasionally the clouds would scoot over and let us get a glimpse of parts of the mountain but nothing to write home about (except here I am doing that).

The area around the base of Mt Ruapehu is pretty rugged filled with volcanic rock and no snow where we were at the bottom. They had the snow blowing machines on for those wanting to have one last ski before the end of the season. There was snow further up and skiing, but my zoom (300 mm) was not quite strong enough to capture it. We had coffee at a nice little café next to the gondolas then went home which is 45-minutes away. If there is a clear day we will come back up but the next week looks quite cloudy until we leave when we will be passing this way on the way to our next house exchange in Greytown.

Tawhai Falls is a 13 metre high waterfall in the Tongariro National Park. The track begins 4km below Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre in Whakapapa Village. It was a fifteen minute hike from the car park – which was a reasonable hike for us in this area, unlike the three – five day hikes people do going up to Mt Doom looking for those bloody Hobbits.

That’s us there in the Cafe. The white stuff at the top is Mt Ruapehu elevation 2,797m

It a big one.

On the way home we took a 15 minute hike 😀 to a lovely  waterfall nearby.

our morning coffee walk along the rain forest along Lake Taupo

One of the more advertised tourist scrambles is the ‘Crater of the Moon‘ caper outside the town of Taupo. We found the free walk around the Thermal Pools near our house more interesting. Still, our video shows our fun time in this area…following the next two or more photos. It was only ten bucks NZ about six Yankee funny money – ten times more than ten free filtered coffees at McDonald, though hotter than their coffee.

Taupo, October 1

Tourists were we. First a tour of “Craters of the moon”. A decent walk through a park with many examples of funicular, which are funnels of hot steam rising up from the hot interior of the earth. It was nice, we were well set up for the constant rain: brollies and rain jackets.

looking for warmth
Craters of the Moon and Huka Falls New Zealand
A large thermal walking area – is saying people are unable to smoke mean? Not like the smoke of a person will interfere with the smoke of all that is around us. Not that I care not having smoked for more than forty years but hey what’s the deal?

Just outside of Taupo, Huka Falls is one of the most visited natural attractions on New Zealand’s North Island. Waikato River’s largest falls are fed by Australasia’s biggest freshwater lake, Lake Taupo.

Next stop was the spectacular water fall called Huka Falls. The picture barely does it justice; the roar of the water needs to be heard!. The river empties into the large lake Taupo. We live on the opposite side an hour’s drive away.

Huka

September 30 and the next couple of days

Lunch at the local Indian restaurant (butter chicken, mali kofta and good naan bread) and we were on our way home.

Those of you who know us know that Terrell, despite his easy going exterior, is actually a meticulous, almost obsessive, keeper of records. He has precise records of all our spending, going back many years. This enables me to make guilt free flight purchases. ✈ . He also keeps records of how much exercise we do. Which means that I get dragged off to do something more often than I really want. So we completed 2 long (hour plus) walks in recent days. Both along a gorgeous track very  close to our new home.

The track follows the lakeside and goes from our town Kuratau and its twin, Omori to Pukawa.

I will let the photos tell the rest.

Magnolias abound, on our walk to the track, everyone has them.

The first walk we took the left turn, and second one we turned right a few days later after a 3″ rainfall over night, so a bit wetter. These days I’m still wearing my crocs, but now I have nifty galoshes to put over them. This is significant in my quest to reduce our luggage. This trip has been the lightest in a long time. Big bags well under 20 kgs and the carry on well under 7. Pretty happy with that. Hence the galoshes  instead of boots.

Trip inside a trip. Rotarua. October 4, 2022

It’s 7am. I’m sitting in the lounge of our little apartment in Rotarua in the charming Victorian style Prince’s Gate Hotel.

Bargain price of around $100 USD for a Tuesday; same room 3 times the price on the school holiday weekend.

We found Hobbitland. Yesterday, a fine sunny day, after 3 days of rain, we got lost (OK,  now you can stop laughing) on our way here, but our hour of extra road miles took us through amazing quirky landscapes that can only be Hobbit country. I would insert a photo here, but his Lordship, the chief taker of photos, is still asleep, despite it being 7.21. I’ve watched the Ukraine  updates, had my first big coffee and caught up on Facebook. What are you going to do?

Yesterday I did a very brave thing. Despite my fear of heights I joined my Terrell on an sky walk through the local, and impressive, Redwood forest. They do have lots of wood here. 90% of the plantations are Radiata Pine, mostly for export. But the old Redwoods have been saved in this charming forest. Not quite the scale of  California, but still rather beautiful.

Pretty scary to not only be on the skywalk, some 30m ( or was it 30 ft?) up, but then to lift ones phone up even higher………

Then there is Eat Street. Quite a civilized town, this.

Eat Street

We had a late brekkie there, Terrell took the bennie (that’s the cool version of eggs benedict) and I wolfed down some bacon with accessories. I’ve been trying to cut down, and I must say, this made me slightly queezy, so maybe cutting down is a reasonable future strategy. I’ve also been cutting down on red wine, a third of a glass max these days ( supported of course by the occasional beer)

We also found some cool geysers, but I’ll spare you more photos of mist plumes.

Local tulips and a bit of a look at the local paper. 

This gorgeous building is very close by. It was a bath house back in the day, now closed for renovations. It’s set in a beautiful  park.

We did go into their thermal pools – actually, pool. There were three pools, each hotter than the one before. We started off in the middle pool and stayed there until we felt cooked – about twenty-minutes. Narda felt a bit faint after. I think it was in the mid-30s (C). The pool above was too hot for us to get into but occasionally someone would come along and go in it and looked still alive by the time we left. Thermal pools -supposed to be of healing quality. The whole city has that rotten egg smell – not bad – just a sulfur odor. Similar to Saratoga Springs, New York, where I grew up (nearby in Clifton Park) – I always love to have Saratoga Vichy water when I am there – very high in minerals –

The springs are the result of a geological fault that allows water trapped in shale layers to surface. Historically, Mohawk and Iroquois tribes drank and bathed in Saratoga waters to celebrate the waters’ supposed strong healing and curative properties. Local lore says that the Mowhawks called the area “Serachtuague” to refer to it as a “place of fast moving water.” Early settlers may have mispronounced this word, leading to the anglicised “Saratoga.” Once discovered by settlers, accounts of its healthful benefits caught on in a big way. Even George Washington was an advocate of its restorative powers…https://www.saratoga.com/waters-of-saratoga/mineral-springs/

We enjoyed our three days in Rotorua – on the drive to there we were excited by the view of Mount Ruapehu in our rear-view mirror. Narda stopped so I could stand in the middle of the road and get a photo

We took the short detour to include the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Well worth the drive. If we were younger and fitter we would have hiked to the crater, an hour down steep terrain – and taken the bus back up – but we didn’t.

and yes, of course, there is a short clip on our trip to Rotorua

Bye for now. Heading back to our little home in Kuratau.

Back home – we have lots of walking areas around Lake Taupo – see our couple of clips –
Our favourite spot is this bench in the deepest part of our little rain forest…

our local daily stroll
our last walk along Lake Taupo before leaving this space

And that is it for our first three weeks in New Zealand. Our second three weeks – here in Greytown (Wellington) we will write up after we return to Australia and have it up by mid-November. Below is a sample of our trip from Lake Taupo to Greytown. We stopped in Whanganui along the way because a three-hour drive is meant to take a few days. There are already stories to tell but the time is yet ripe for them. See ya in November and if anyone actually read this all the way through – wow – good on ya. Cheers Narda and Terrell

The Durie Hill Elevator is a public elevator in Whanganui, on the North Island of New Zealand. It connects Anzac Parade beside the Whanganui River with the suburb of Durie Hill. It is ranked by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 1 Historic Place, and is New Zealand’s only public underground elevator.

Random postscripts – on the way…

Holland 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We introduced ourselves to the chickens (chooks in Australia)

January 17th

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

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

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

These are the shops we went to often. Jumbo was our favourite – a supermarket with all those wonderful Dutch treats. Holland & Barrett was my favourite overpriced health food shop. Kruidvat was like a general shop with shampoos and the like and where I got my low-carbs treats. Hema – always a favourite. They have a cafeteria where we would often get apple pie with a massive dose of whipped cream on top. It was a general store too. We bought our bike helmets there and I got a hemp mask for hair treatment – not that I would tell anyone that. Zeeman was like a dollar store – cheap stuff. (But I bought my now favourite trackie daks from there)
The chook in the photo above is Ruthie – a chicken with a lot of personality and quite friendly though she bit Narda so those two didn’t see eye to eye. We named her after Ruth in the Netflix series, Ozark. Narda says that the words beneath the bike basket says, ‘go and have a lovely bike ride’.

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

one of several bridges we cross to go to town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotterdam Airport

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

Molen Windlust Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel.  A bit of history of our local windmill. Still grinding flour hundreds of years later. In our exciting village it is listed as #1 of 3 things to do in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel on Trip Adviser, #2 is playing golf and #3 is a specialty & gift shop. Of course, for us #1 is riding bikes, #2 talking to designer chickens, #3 checking on the rabbits in their cage in the lounge to see if they are still alive #4 which is often #1 shopping at Jumbo our favourite supermarket #5 & # 6 some other stuff. We often rugged up (an Aussie term for jumpers, multiple layers of other clothing topped by a wintry coat and often I wore ski pants) and rode either on the dyke toward Rotterdam or ride along the Hitland Park which is a nature reserve filled with canals, forest, swamps and meadows. We could go for hours and even as far as Gouda which we did one day when Narda’s friend Mau visited from Hamburg, more below. We would check the weather forecast in the morning to see how windy and or rainy it would be. Our maximum to ride in was 18-20 kilometres wind. We would ride until we could not peddle one more turn then go back with the wind pushing us home. On gym days we would ride bikes for the 20-minutes to there if it were not too windy.

https://youtu.be/bn3hZURj_Cc  Gouda Bike, Mau, ferry, Our bike ride to Gouda – cheese and stuff

https://youtu.be/1ZVm7Rl8OkE  Escher in Het Paleis Escher in Het Paleis is a museum in The Hague, Netherlands, featuring the works of the Dutch graphical artist M. C. Escher. It is housed in the Lange Voorhout Palace since November 2002.

https://youtu.be/O0FnR11cGMI  a day in the Hague home to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Peace Palace, and the International Criminal Court. observing protests for vaccinations – masks – covid restrictions.

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/veabV7mLLck  Hook of Holland at the mouth of the New Waterway shipping canal into the North Sea. Stena Line ferry crossing between The Netherlands and Hull, England.

 I like this photo taken from our car window. It was raining very hard – a ferry that would be going somewhere across the channel if it was on its way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/A474zgsXONs The Hague/Scheveningen Beach

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

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

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

Euromast Rotterdam https://youtu.be/PoW3F2RP_7M

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

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

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

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

These were the streetlights  giving us a quiet area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We looked at some old churches

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bleiswijk bike ride from Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel to Bleiswijk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Els took us to her friend’s home for lunch. The house is amazing, being part of the original wall, couple of stories, lots of rooms.

The husband is an antique book seller and Narda had a wonderful time browsing.

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/m1X126TtFys Leiden

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

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

We went for a wander at night.

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

 Leiden seems to have more canals than any other city I have seen. I reckon there was one every other block.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come on Australia, get with the program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·       HOME

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

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

Thanks for coming along on our trip with us.

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

Narda is at http://narda.us/

Terrell is at https://neuage.org/

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

Covid World Tour 2021

Briefly, Braving the new world order, we left Australia on December 03. Our first stay was in Lahore, Pakistan for the marriage of Brendan. We spent three weeks there. On December 24th we flew Lahore to Istanbul – missed our next flight and spent Christmas Day in Istanbul flying on in the afternoon. We arrived in Washington DC in the evening with not much traffic. Got to Chris’ and family’s house Christmas night. Three days later all five of us tested positive for coronavirus. Four adults, all with three shots including booster, had mild symptoms, and tested negative within a week except for me who was positive for two-weeks, missing a planned trip to New York, missing re-booked flights to Holland three times. The child, age six, tested positive but never felt any symptoms. We are finally off to The Netherlands for two-months before hopefully returning to Adelaide. Narda writing in Italics Terrell whatever else there is. I will try and not tell the same story as Narda – but there could be some overlaps. Read the italics and you will be better informed. I tend to ramble as someone nearby has mentioned. Our last trip to Lahore – way back in 2019 is written up here, https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ December 03, 2021 Departure A new threat to us getting to Brendan’s wedding in Pakistan! Omicron, the latest variant of the corona virus is knocking on Australia’s door. We had decided to isolate for a guaranteed negative test result the at the airport, but we went a step further and moved our flights back a week earlier, leaving Dec 3rd instead of the 9th. Just as well, as there are pockets of the new more infectious strain circulating now in Adelaide. Flights were without incident, despite the additional paperwork. In Melbourne the test was cheaper than we expected ($79 instead of $150 which it was just weeks before) and we had a result in 40 minutes. In Abu Dhabi, a decent enough airport, we had a nice Irish Brekkie (as you do) and only a few hours to wait for the next flight. I think I may have dosed off in the comfort seat. Watched a couple of movies. The next flight was half empty, so I slept for 2 hours like the dead along 5 empty middle seats. We had a very friendly and sympathetic Aussie hostie. Lahore arrival, Bren and Imran waiting for 2 hours while 3 large jets unloaded. But we got there. Great to be back and see Bren. It was a long wait for them, not because of the flight but because it took so bloody long to unload it. Blimey. We checked into the AveriXHotel for 3 nights as Bren’s place was still being painted. A great area, close to some nice eating places where we had tomato soup and salads; safe, easy and yum. The hotel also had an amazing breakfast buffet, a mixture of western and Pakistani fare. —————————————————————————————————— We left Adelaide in the morning getting a ride with Narda’s sister, Caroline to the airport. The big box is Brendan’s wedding present, a coffee machine.
Luggage with the largest piece being Brendan and Sofie’s coffee machine present
Flying to Melbourne we tested there for covid doing the fifteen-minute rapid test. As throughout this trip we worried whether we would test positive and must cancel our trip. When we got the text that our results were negative, we quickly went to the waiting area only to find only one restaurant was open.
restaurant open Melbourne Airport very few people travelling
Due to covid very few were flying. Narda ordered something meaty, and I ate a sandwich I brought along. By 10.45 pm we were in the air on Etihad 461. Somehow, I have forgotten that flight so must not have been very eventful. Probably slept some. In Abu Dhabi we got a ride through the airport in one of those motorized carts they take the old and lame around the airport in. We asked to go to the food court and found a good Irish type of pub place, O’Leary’s, for a big breakfast then got a ride back to our gate. On the flight to Lahore one of the stewardesses let Narda know she too was an Australian. Narda of course pointed out that Australian’s look after each other and sure enough not before long we got moved to a forward section of the plane that had few passengers. Where we were was full. Narda stretched out over several seats and slept most of the three hours to Lahore. I looked out the window and got there exhausted.
Terrell in flight
Terrell in flight
December 04 Lahore Airport is a journey of its own. A remarkable madness for westerns to navigate with eyes wide open. We arrived with another flight or two and probably a thousand people rushing to the customs counters. Trying to find which line to be in is a challenge but after a few pushing into lines that were not moving we were directed to one that probably was for the likes of us. Another hour later our bags arrived on the conveyor belt.
Lahore Airport
Brendan with his driver (and go to for everything), Imran were at the airport when we finally got outside sometime in the middle of the night.
Brendan & Imran
December 05 Brendan was having his house at Swedish Flats painted before the wedding, so we booked the Avari Xpress Hotel. It is listed as a four-star hotel. Perhaps for Lahore but not in western countries – maybe two-stars. The smorgasbord breakfast was good though and our room was quite large. It is also next to a large supermarket and near restaurants and shopping malls. We were not able to work out the TV. We spent our first three nights in Lahore there Every day we would walk to Brendan’s house which is in a gated community – surrounded by high fences, large entrance door and boom gate with two or three guards, usually one with some mean looking weapon on his back. In fact, every shop has a guard with a weapon. Some of the guards look as if they are half asleep or too old to fire their weapon if needed. Shopping centres have more serious looking dudes (always males) with machine guns, and they inspect the boot (trunk), bonnet (hood) as well as beneath cars and have a poke around inside. In the containment area (Lahore Cantonment, a large area under military control) just to drive through on their freeway and better roads we need to show passports and women need to have head coverings. I will come back to this later about when I was asked to delete my video of them stopping us, of course being a good citizen of the world, I did – only to discover when I got home it was saved in another area of my phone – I will show you later but don’t tell the Pakistani authorities as they get quite thingy about such stuff.
view of attempted sunrise from Avari Hotel in the smog.
Lahore Pollution Index
Next to our hotel was a large chaotic supermarket (“Imtiaz Super Market, is the pioneer in the retail industry of Pakistan, providing an ultimate shopping experience to its consumers” https://imtiaz.com.pk/) with everything from clothes kitchenware furniture mixed with groceries so finding anything was always an exploration to behold. And long long lines everywhere. Further along the street we found several good restaurants our favourite coffee place being Mocca Coffee.
Mocca Coffee
We sat outside in the smog because it was a good day at only 257. We manage to survive in the six and seven hundreds later.
Lahore Pollution
December 06
Sofie and Narda
First night out with Brendan’s future wife, Sofie @ Bamboo Union, https://bamboounion.pk/ We sat outdoors, ignored the pollution, and had a good meal. We moved into Brendan’s house after three-nights at Avari Xpress Hotel and began our almost daily shopping at Jalal Sons https://jalalsons.com.pk/ the local supermarket which is not too far removed from what we would be used to. Everything is in English (one of our languages). Mostly imported foods for what we like which makes them expensive. For example, a bag of chips would be six or seven dollars, peanut butter twice what we would pay in Australia. Moving in with Brendan December 7 Heading out for the day, Imran dropped us off at Al Fatah Shopping Mall https://www.alfatah.pk/ so that we could get some decent coffee. The Second Cup across the road insisted on vaccination for entry. Friendly folk and good coffee. So then to find our way to a market. We tried a tuk tuk. I told the driver where we wanted to go and he did not understand. When I tried again his eyes lit up and he said “Oh La Bertie”! So we thought, haven’t heard of that one so off we went. We paid our 100rp which is about double the going rate at a princely 57c USD. We had arrived at Liberty Market, where we had been before. La Bertie…..Liberty. Huh!!! Lunch at Liberty AKA La Bertie was a challenge. We were seated in a basement after having ordered a vegetarian hamburger and something similar with meat for me. 45 minutes later it came….not a sign of vegetarian. We were nice about it, and said we would still pay for it, but they took it upstairs and picked out all the meat…….what are ya gonna do. Nest day headed out with Bren to a western style restaurant with the best food I have EVVA had!!! Bren had pizza, Terrell ordered a cannelloni/spinach/cheese dish (which won first prize!!!!) and I had a dried tomato salad for the gods. We will return, especially as they offered us a free triple choc mousse which we shared (reluctantly) Lahore authorities have a way of dealing with cars that double park or park where they probably should not. A forklift comes along and picks up the car and lifts it high into the air until the owner comes and pays a fine. See our fifteen second clip here
We took an Uber (taking a break from the scary tuk-tuks in almost impossible to maneuver traffic) to Packages Mall, a large western style mall. A slight difference is that there are armed men with machine guns at the gate and to get inside we had to show we were vaccinated – which is becoming the way of the world. Washington DC now has that requirement.
We made a two-minute video showing the ride to the mall, gun totting guards, the mall, [see Packages Mall below].
To Packages Mall
I got some really groovy shoes to wear with my Pakistani outfit.
Terrell’s new shoes
Narda tried on some cosmic looking dresses @ N Junaid Jamshed clothing store https://www.junaidjamshed.com/
Lunch was at Ganache Café at Mall 1, one of Lahore’s most crowded areas. Or as they proclaim “The café has a cosy and a simple ambiance with an indoor and an outdoor sitting area. It serves a range of decadent desserts and other savory items. Mall 94, Main Boulevard Gulberg, Block D1” Our favourite out-in-the-world breakfast place was at Bundu Khan where we would have puri (a deep-fried bread made from unleavened whole-wheat flour)
Puri breakfast
and lassies (those wonderful yogurt drinks). http://www.bundukhan.pk/. 11 December Saturday Off to the International Club initiation. They have done some nice renovation there; it’s very gezellig. We also met Bren’s mate from work, Dustin and his wife. Dustin is quite the personality. He promised to put us in contact with his parents who live in Thunder Bay, Canada for a must-do- because-it-has-lots-of-snow house swap. Nice pizza and beer at the club for me. We had lunch a couple of times at the International Club – I had mashed potatoes with garlic prawns, so yummy. One evening we had a bar-b-que there and met a lot of the expats from around the world; learning about how bad things were in Brazil and several other countries that people came from. All in all, everyone seemed happy to be in Lahore. I brought up the pollution issue, but it was not big in anyone’s mind, they just seemed to love living here. We met people from South Africa, Brazil, UK, Sweden, and places I don’t remember but at the time I thought ‘how cool’ to be from there. Luckily there was enough salads to keep me happy and a very large fish that was caught somewhere nearby. As I started eating fish a year ago due to my doctor’s ‘or else’ recommendations because of my strict veggie diet I reluctantly have fish twice a week – though not farm-raised. Oh! They serve alcohol which is one of the few places in Lahore where it is OK. Christians and non-Muslims can drink there. I haven’t had any alcohol (except in hand wipes which we all have dry skin from) since 2005 (had liver issues but all seems to be OK now) and don’t miss it. Then off we went to Packages Mall. I bought me a fancy schmancy wedding dress for the final night and Terrell found some groovy sandals. Next day we dashed over to a blanket place and bought one for Chris’s bed. Imran at the lead in negotiations. We also managed to get our own sim card, through Imran’s wife Agnes, buying it in her name. It was the only way we could do it. 14 December Sunday Our first family visit. We were invited to dinner with Sofie’s parents. Nighi, Sofie’s mum is a warm, friendly woman and Saquib, her father, an interesting man to talk to, with his views on the world. His resourcefulness and determination helped us get Chris into the country! Dinner was great. There was other family there from the USA, Islamabad, and Dubai. We enjoyed the conversations, the warm welcome and the food. It’s a beautiful house in an affluent area in the containment (army owned) district. The main events of our trip to Pakistan, was seeing Brendan going for the next step in his life. He has known Sofie for a few years, they work together at the same school. She is a kindy teacher, and he is a fifth-grade teacher this year. Sofie was born in the USA and grew up in Lahore. We met her parents and family at their house.
mums
Her brother came over from Dallas and sister from Chicago – so we were quite the international arrivals. We got ourselves looking local for the occasion – here we are standing in Brendan’s lounge before being driven to the family’s home.
We stopped at the flower market along the way [see our one-minute clip Flower Market]
This bouquet of flowers cost about $8 Australian, of course, that was tourist price – in Australia we would pay $50 – $70 for this arrangement. 13 December Monday A new development. Chris still has not got his visa despite the allotted time having been reached and passed. Poor Chris had been phoning and even visiting the Pakistani consulate to no avail. They told him they were waiting for word from Islamabad. I made a few useless phone calls to the embassy in Islamabad but did mange to find out that they are definitely not part of the approval of Pakistani visas in the USA. They only did the permits of extended stays. So! I passed the information on Saquib. He was on to it. His cousin (in charge of National Security) made a phone call to the US consulate, and to cut a long story short, many more moments of anxiety, especially for Chris, the bloody visa was approved. We think there is a bigger picture here, with these visa applications held up deliberately because Pakistan is upset with the USA….over dumping Afghanistan and causing a major refugee crisis. Who knows? I will add, there were several sleepless nights with lots of time on the phone (Skype, Whats App, Messenger) sorting out Chris’ arrival. It really started to look as if he would not get here or if he did, he would miss everything. As it turned out he missed the first of the three-day celebration, the Nikkah, but he did get here on the 20th in time for much-to-do still. Keep on reading… 18th December Nikkah – In Islam, marriage is a legal contract between two people. Both the groom and the bride are to consent to the marriage of their own free wills. A formal, binding contract – verbal or on paper is considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride. Once all the requirements are met anyone can officiate the Nikah ceremony (no they didn’t ask me if I wanted to officiate). The bride and groom repeat the word “qubool” or “I accept” three times. Then the couple and the two male witnesses sign the contract, making the marriage legal according to civil and religious law.
with witnesses
with Sofie her dad and Brendan
Happy Brendan
The vows, the rings all that good stuff
We had a lot of food –even vegetarian plates, seeing how ‘special’ I was/am. The main activity of the evening seemed to be taking photos: here is just a sample of probably a hundred photos:
with Sofie’s parents
Chris made it in time for the main wedding with only 1 hour to spare. Pretty tough on him!!! He was such a trooper and so was Saquib! I went to the hairdresser Toni and Guy. Lovely experience. Had a head massage, on a massage chair and then my hair curled down my back with flowers.
Finally, into the cars and off we go. It was a huge outdoor place filled with flowers and mirrored floors. The “stage” as amazing, Bren and Sofie mainly based there as folks came to congratulate them, though the dancing soon also revved up. This is the main event, a few hundred people, but outdoors. Everyone dressed extravagantly. Several hundred guests I think, many from Sofie’s family but also from Bren and Sofie’s school. I briefly got to meet Nadine again, Bren’s boss, who stayed back so that she could attend. The food was great. Buffet style. The kids were escorted into their going away cars. They will spend 2 nights at the Pearl Continental Hotel, a pretty flash place by all accounts!
Pearl Continental Hotel
Two days after the first event, Chris arrived an hour before the wedding celebration (above was the Nikkah, the actual ‘I am doing ‘of it all or ‘I did it’ – we dressed up for the actual celebration – see below). He got OK’d by one pm in DC got to the airport a few hours later and was on a flight that evening arriving four pm Lahore time with Brendan’s right-hand man, Imram, waiting for him at the airport, having him to Brendan’s home by six pm. The day of Chris’ arrival we went shopping at a very local market. For lots of blocks in all directions sellers had their gear in the middle of the streets and covering the sidewalks. The first few blocks of our wander were sellers of Oppo phones. Oppo seems to be the main phone of Lahore or at least the most advertised and with the most stalls selling them. It is the phone we have, based on Brendan’s recommendation a year ago. Now I see why, he lives in the Oppo town of Lahore. It has worked fine for us and takes good photos/videos, though I just read at least it is in the top 1000. I was told by Brendan that this market was recently bombed a week ago or so. I think 3 people killed and more injured. No one has yet claimed responsibility.
Narda was looking for some earrings or a necklace or some such thing and she found something she like. Brendan found an outfit for Chris to wear to the wedding and I took photos and some video see…[Gone Shopping] I was looking for a fancy handbag and found one.
Market day
Brendan bought Chris his outfit
Chris & Brendan in wedding drag
Narda had many funny memories to share with her children…
and his friends came over to congratulate him before we all went off for the celebration and dancing.
Brendan and friends
Then there was the wedding celebration (day two of the three-day event). Narda had a fitting for dress
and after a few days it arrived at our door in time for the wedding, expensive for us and for a once-off, though she may wear it with jeans back home someday. Not quite sure how often Chris and Brendan will wear their new-found gear. I think Pastor Chris should wear his outfit in his church when he preaches – I suggested that.
Narda Chris Brendan dancing outfits
I will wear mine at some random time/place. Probably to the gym or when I visit you.
A side-note, amongst many side-notes. Narda and Chris shared a car with Brendan I went in a different car with two others. A large SUV, the driver worked for an oil company. I mentioned how shops have men with machine guns in front. They both showed me their handguns – hidden in the car doors and mentioned that there was a machine gun M-14 on the shelf in back of me – I looked, sure enough there was.
Narda Terrell Chris Imran Agnes
marque for dance
Brendan and Sofie held court, so to speak, and everyone at one time or another got in the picture behind them or with them.
My favourite photo of the evening was Narda and her children…
And she had important bits of wisdom for her first married son, Chris, who got married in Tennessee long ago (I think about 2005).
Brendan’s hat and shoes – invite him over for tea – he will surely wear these items to you home…
traditional daily Brendan garb
And there was much dancing. I capture some on this marriage dancing [https://youtu.be/YXoRDebU6Vc] clip.
The Barat
Narda, the social one, spent the evening meeting and dancing whilst I was busy looking for vegetarian food, which I found. At the end of the evening everyone had something to say to the new couple.
The kids were escorted into their going away cars.
Narda being whisked away from the paparazzi and cheering crowds by bodyguard(s)
They will spend 2 nights at the Pearl Continental Hotel, a pretty flash place by all accounts!
The morning after we went to Breakfast with Sofie and Brendan at Pearl Continental Hotel.
And as with any well-respected hotel they have their resident astrologer/card reader.
That is me filling in until someone that is for-real comes along, which I predict will be at any moment. Our minute long clip of the hotel is here [https://youtu.be/NV8sSFHoBzs]
On Sunday morning we took Chris to our favourite brekkie place and had the traditional Pakistani breakfast with puri and a selection of dipping dishes all for the princely total of $3, this included some chai as well. Here is an eleven second clip of Chris eating breakfast https://youtu.be/Fb-I7f2_bG
We watched the parking management system where offenders’ cars are hoisted into the air!!! [car removal 12 seconds https://youtu.be/oxlb2489qkY ] December 19th Wedding part 3, the boy’s side Today we went to the Emporium Mall with Chris and had an American lunch at Big Mo’s. This 3rd event was the parents of the groom hosting and welcoming the bride into their family. Bren asked us to take the part of host, so we were there an hour before. This third and final one was on a rooftop restaurant, more black clothes formal, with about 40 guests. Narda and her probably once-ever-used very expensive dress – I could have flown to the moon and back for the same price. All hand made with each little bead/etc stitched one by one. Then again I am sure we will wear our outfits when bike riding back in Adelaide. PS, not that expensive!
For me, that is what I have worn before – I had the vest made in China when we lived there and wore it on my 15th day (https://neuage.info/html-weekly/Final/15-Lake%20Atitl%C3%A1n.jpg) of my 184 days in covid-lockdown when I wore a different tie every day. And yes, there is a YouTube clip of it.
Ties in isolation
it was a full moon night.
It was a very pleasant evening with spectacular views of the famous old mosque, Badshahi Mosque at the Andaaz Restaurant 2189 A Fort Rd, Shahi Mohallah Walled City of Lahore, https://andaazrestaurant.com/. As the guests arrived, I greeted them, trying some short phrases in Urdu, with mixed success and quit a few laughs. Then they opened the upper mezzanine and soon we had the crowd spread out. Chris and me had some interesting conversation with Saquib about religion and politics; what the religions in the world have in common. Nice.
And of course, we have a clip of the night over at Wedding dinner [https://youtu.be/aYV0vhot20c ]
The Valima
BTW remember at the beginning of our trip we had that big box we dragged around from Adelaide to Melbourne to Lahore? sorry didn’t get a clip of them opening it – oh wait, oh no not another clip! That’s right just this blurred photo of them opening the box at a very rapid rate and the finished product.
luggage with the largest piece being Brendan and Sofie’s coffee machine present
Men’s clothing in Lahore is a bit different than what I am used to in Australia.