Author: theangrypolemicist

Ripperoo Mate

Ripperoo Mate

I think that Susie Dent from Countdown would be able to confirm this for me, but I am sure there is a special word to describe that feeling you have the morning after you have spent the day on a hot beach on holiday.  Whatever that word is, I had it on the morning of our fourth day of the holiday.  I was tired and happy going to bed but I had a better night’s sleep as the jet lag began to subside.  Having said that, I was still up early and wide awake at 7am due to the traffic noise.

I sat in the kitchen, made a coffee and nibbled on some toast.  I suddenly felt a bit sad when I realised that the living room table was exactly the same Ikea table that we have in our games room back home.  We are on the other side of the world yet we have the same furniture, it shouldn’t be that way.  One of the reasons I like to travel so much is to see how people do things in different cultures and witness different ways of life.  It cannot be a good thing that half a world away people have exactly the same table, it was all a little bit sad in my eyes.

Kangaroo Tails

While we were galavanting at the beach the previous day, Titchy’s cousin had dropped off the keys to her car so that we could take it out on a day trip.   Once we were all washed and ready we all squeezed into the tiny Hyundai Getz, affectionately called Getzy,  and headed out towards McLaren Vale.  This was around a 45 minute drive outside of Adelaide centre and it was a world away from the busy and modern city.  Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t pass through a single area that looked untidy or rough, but it was rural and sparse and very obviously at the end of a very dry spell.   Imagine driving through rural England, but if it hadn’t rained for 4 months, then you wouldn’t be too far off.  Rather than lush greens and colours, it was all yellows and browns.  The big difference was the trees; they looked very different and many of them were without bark, as if it was too hot for even the trees to wear a jacket.

Our first stop was Woodstock Wine Estate, a vineyard with an exciting twist.  We skidded into the car park in a ball of dust as we were told that the main event was due to start at 11.30 and we arrived at 11.29.50 and we didn’t want to miss it!  It turns out that things were a little more relaxed than we thought and the show started whenever everyone was ready.  So we waited in a very modern and airy room where you could sample wine from the vineyards.  My eye was drawn to what looked like a WW2 flight helmet on a display behind the counter. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask about it but I have done my research back in Blighty instead.

G’day mate!

The helmet belonged to the ‘father’ of the vineyard, Doug Collett A.M., who served with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.  Towards the end of the war he flew over Europe and was inspired by the vast vineyards in Italy.  He was captivated so when he returned to Australia after the war, he studied and set up the vineyard.  It is a fascinating story and a reminder of how far the roots of war spread around the world but also a reminder of the good that could come out of wartime experiences as well as the bad. More of that later in the holiday, but read more here if you want to find out more about it.

So, what was the main event that I mentioned?  I’ll tell you what it was…… was amazing.  We walked two minutes around the corner and though a metal gate in a four meter tall mesh fence.  In front of us was a huge field in which stood around a dozen kangaroos, joeys and a bloody great big emu.  The chap that was showing us around had a tray with around a dozen plastic drinks bottles which had been filled with milk and adapted with a rubber feeding teat like that on a baby bottle.  That’s right…..we got to feed the kangaroos!  They stood about four foot tall and were the nicest natured things you could wish for.  They were very obviously domesticated to a certain degree and used to human feeding, but they were lovely.  You could stroke them and, although they looked soft and fluffy, they were actually covered in very coarse, almost spiny hairs.  The best was yet to come though.  The guide, once the milk bottles had been emptied out, turned over to the solids.  What do you think they fed the kangaroos?  I’m going to guess that your guess was wrong here as they were handed dry Weetabix.  You should have seen their little cute faces as they held the biscuit in their little hands and gnawed away at the dry dullness.  Amazing memories that will last forever.

Milky milky 

According to Titchy’s relative, who was our guide for the day, the wine here was not the very best and so we headed to the next stop for the day.  It wasn’t until we were driving into the next vineyard did I realise that we had fed some kangaroos, petted a joey or two and got up close to an emu.  We had used their toilets and listened to their stories and had not spent a single penny.  I felt bad, but promised that the next time I had the chance, I would buy one of their bottles of wine to make amends.

The next stop was the Coriole Vineyards.  Those members of our party (which had swelled by meeting up with a group of Titchy’s Scottish clan) who were into their wine spent some time at the sampling station while I looked after the kids and the childish adults on the lawn where we kicked around a football in the roasting midday sun.  There were beautiful gardens and it was an idyllic setting.  We sort of spoiled it for the ‘proper’ guests with footballs bouncing around and the air filled with childish laughing and giggles.  I felt bad, but not bad enough to try and keep a load of kids interested in wine tasting as an alternative.

Next stop on Getzy’s tour was the Goodieson Brewery.    Again, the ‘proper’ adults in the party partook in a range of testing sized samples as we took delivery of a load of family sized, and quite perfect, pizzas that had been made offsite and shipped in with the owner’s consent. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, they were stone baked, fresh and topped with amazing flavours and sauces that an authentic Italian restaurant would have been proud of.

The lads started kicking a football around and, within 10 minutes, my boy had kicked the ball into a 3 meter deep ditch.  Our host, Titchy’s cousin’s groom-to-be, went to his car to pull out a cricket set.  Again, within 5 minutes the ball was at the bottom of the same ditch and so that was game over.  When they told me what had happened (there was left over pizza so I wasn’t in any mood to play sport), I strode over to the ditch ready to climb down to get the missing balls back.  I was warned not to and I thought that people were just being polite and didn’t want me to graze my knee or dirty my hands but when they said ’There might be snakes down there’ I very quickly turned tail and wrote them both off as a bad loss!  It really is a different world down there, I’d rather be safe in the cold than permanently terrified in the heat!

Leaving the sports equipment in the snake pit, we left the brewery and headed home in Getzy.  This time the phone gave us a route home on the motorway rather than the back roads that we arrived on which wasn’t as pretty but we got home little faster.  What we did notice was that each road bridge over the motorway carried a name tag and there were lovely names such as ‘Peppermint Road’ and “Honey Pot Lane”.

As we had the car, we decided to pop into the supermarket on the way home to pick up some basics.   When I say basics we cleared out Coles (their Tesco) of chocolates and treats to take home for friends.  We also picked up two pots of Pringles just because of their crazy flavour; “Mystery’ and ‘Buttered Popcorn’.  The idea with the mystery flavour was that you had to guess what it was as part of a competition and I have to remind myself to find out what the heck it was!  I’m not sure that ‘generic meat’ would be the right guess but it’s all I had.

Unpacked and back home I had time to kill and energy to spare.  I decided that I would go for a quick run around the area.  I didn’t get too far as running in that heat is bloody hard work, it was like running inside a sauna.  I did run past a most impressive building, St Peter’s College.  It looked like a watered down Hogwarts with lawns that looked like they were cut with nan scissors.  I wouldn’t like to guess how much that place cost per term.

For our evening entertainment we headed over to the bride and groom-to-be’s house to return Getzy and to enjoy a family get together and barbecue.  My little boy was desperate to throw another shrimp on a barbie but it wasn’t to be!  It was a lovely house in the suburbs and was really cool and stylish inside.  We settled at the big table in the back garden and chatted with strangers that quickly became friends.  The food was excellent, the drinks flowed and the company was superb.

The kids ran around on the lawn playing cricket, tag and generally larking about.  Of course my boy kept up his record of punting balls out of bounds and hit a glass with a stray throw that drenched a guest, but that’s just part of his charm.  Apparently.  I couldn’t get too upset with him as, later that night, I knocked over a glass and smashed it, much to his amusement.

Without the trusty Getz to get us home we ordered an Uber and had a good old chat with the driver on the way home.  Another day and the smiles were getting bigger and brighter day by day.

Glenelg. The longest palindromic named seaside town?

Glenelg. The longest palindromic named seaside town?

The Australian beer consumed the night before was meant to get me tired enough to sleep through anything.  A combination of the world’s nosiest road and the world’s worst bedroom window had other plans for me.  I was up around 6am and decided that left over baklava and instant coffee would be my best route to a good day.  It certainly wasn’t the worst start to a day!  It was weird sitting in the dark waiting for the family to wake up while listening to the evening news on the BBC.
As the rest of the gang woke up and made their way down for breakfast, the junior team members sat and watched YouTube on my daughter’s laptop while, at the same time, looking at whatever they were playing on their phones.  It’s weird how the young ones seem to be unable to focus on one single device for more than about 2 minutes. The only thing stranger than this is their reactions if you try to highlight it.  I wouldn’t bother if I were you, it’s not safe.  To be fair to them, it kept them quiet on the plane for 24 hours and I wasn’t complaining so maybe it wasn’t the best time to start now.

Washed and dressed, we were heading to the beach today.  We walked into town and picked up the tram from the first stop but, as we were heading all the way through to Glenelg on the coast, we had to pay for the tickets.  As with most public transport systems, apart from the Newcastle Metro I am quick to add, you were not able to purchase multiple tickets for your party in one transaction.  I ended up buying five separate day tickets in what became a marathon of button pressing and debit card tapping.

A kind old gent got on as I was part way through this and told us that we had to validate the tickets too.  This involved pushing the ticket into a validating machine whereupon a large clunking sound was made and that was us validated.  There was no visible sign on the ticket and so I wasn’t sure how they knew how long the ticket was valid for, but it all seemed pretty easy.  We got chatting to the kindly chap, who I would have been sure was the author Bill Bryson if it weren’t for his accent, and he had spent a number of years living in Hampshire.  Titchy got cornered by a lady who jumped onto the seat next to her.  She was, to put it politely, ‘relaxed’ and had obviously been up late or very early.  You could say that she was as relaxed as a newt.

The tram passed through dozens of stops and each place looked lovely. There were no rough areas that I could see and the suburbs looked a nice place to be with large, detached houses and neatly tended gardens.  The majority of the houses seemed to be single story and we never worked out what the reason for this was.  Someone, an Uber driver I think, suggested that it was was due to being on the flight path for the airport but I think he was guessing as it didn’t feel like a good reason to me.

As the tram pulled into Glenelg, the end of the line unless you wanted to drop into the Southern Ocean, my first impressions were that it was a lovely little coastal town.  The main street was split by the tram line but full of hip cafes and tourist shops and bars.  It was like Blackpool but without the scum.  We walked across the pedestrian area towards the sea and picked a lovely cafe called Boomers on the Beach with a view of the ocean and pier.

Once fed and watered we made our way to The Beachhouse.  This was a big attraction and made up of water slides, a railway, crazy golf, a soft play area, dodgems and arcades.  It all sounded great but this is where it got complicated and awkward.  Why awkward?  Because the guy that was there to help explain the process had arms that looked like they were chilled from granite with veins bulging out like a Mr Universe competitor.  That in itself wasn’t too awkward but me pointing out to him that his arms were amazing was and resulted in me feeling terrible and so I had to wander off a bit to give him the chance to compose himself.   That made the complex set up even worse as I couldn’t quite work out what he was saying from the distance I was stood way from him.

Essentially, there were different pricing models that were based on credits that you bought and put onto a credit card type system, or you could buy unlimited by count but limited by time vouchers and to be honest it was bloody hard work trying to work out who wanted to do what when and for how long and so where the best pricing would be set.  They need to think about that as it blew my mind and put us all off.  We ended up agreeing that we would play a round of mini golf to avoid the midday sun and then head down to the beach.

The course was small, poorly maintained and didn’t exactly put the ‘crazy’ into Crazy Golf.  The only saving grace was that we didn’t go on the train that looked like it went for about 50 meters in a loop around the golf course and would have been a huge disappointment.  Anyway, I won’t dwell on that as we didn’t go on it! We bought some water and headed down onto the beach and our first dip into the Southern Ocean.

The water wasn’t as warm as it looked but the sand was golden and fine and the water clear, and a refreshing break from the 28 degrees heat of the sun. I was so glad we were not there the week before when it was 40 plus degrees as I would have caught fire I think.  The weird part about the sea was how terribly localised the hot and cold spots were.  You could literally take a step in any direction and the temperate would rise or drop markedly. I think the heating was broken or something.

It was a great afternoon relaxing in the sun on the golden beach, idyllic in fact.  My boy soon got bored and fidgety so we wandered into the town to pick up a ball for him to kick around over the Volleyball courts of which there were plenty to pick from. As we walked off the beach we noticed a bag that had been next to us the whole time we had been there, a pink backpack.  We were nearly the last ones off the beach and there was no one around us that obviously owned it.  I reported it to two policemen who were on the public walkway and they told us that they would deal with it.

There is a heart shaped monument next to the beach that is obviously a great picture point and we had loads of photos taken on and around it.  As we packed up the bags ready to move on I was approached by two pretty young ladies and a guy.  ‘Hey, do you mind taking a picture for us, we are in a threesome relationship’.   I wasn’t, and I am still not, 100% sure why I needed to know this additional information, I was happy to take a snap no matter how they spent their evenings but I like to think that by not asking more questions or looking shocked it ruined their day slightly.

We headed into town where we had the choice of all four corners of the Earth in terms of eating options.  We picked a lovely little Mexican called Gringo’s Cantina that seemed to be staffed by two lasses that were about 15 years old.  We placed our food and drinks order at the bar and sat in the now cooling late afternoon and watched the world go by.  As the young lass placed the last drink on the table she turned to walk off and, as she did so, she caught the youngest member of our group, who had just returned from the toilet, under the eye with her metal tray.  It made the most comedic ‘ba-doing’ sound like a slapstick movie and made everyone laugh apart from the waitress who was beside herself.  It came up in a cracking bruise on his face but no long term damage.  That didn’t stop us pulling the legs of the girls behind the counter by saying that he could no longer count to ten such was his brain damage.  Maybe not the most sensitive of jokes to play on them but they quickly worked out the joke and laughed about it with us.  The worst part of all was they offered a free round of drinks for the table but the little bruised warrior rejected it on our behalf!

Stuffed to the gills on nachos and liquified cheese, we realised that it was getting close to sunset.  We picked up some ice creams and walked down to the pier to watch the sun drop below the horizon.  There must have been four groups of Chinese fishermen throwing crab nets off the end of the pier using what appeared to be a huge chuck of tuna steak as bait.  They were hauling the nets back up with blue crabs attached to the meat.  I am no expert in eating seafood, but I would have though that the tuna looked better than the crabs!


It was a stunning view and we watched the sun dip down below the horizon at what seemed like an artificially rapid rate, it genuinely felt like you were watching a motion capture video the speed that it dropped out of the sky.  All of this seemed ever more strange as a mermaid swam past the end of the pier.  I kid you not.  A young lady with blue hair and a long fishes tail from the waist down swam past us and waved up at the curious onlookers.  It really did make me think that someone had slipped some mind altering substances into my nachos, but I checked with Titchy and she confirmed that it was all real!

Well fed and watered and with amazing memories burnt into our minds, we walked back to the tram to begin our trek home.  I’m not sure exactly what the odds were, but a family had joined us on the same tram and were carrying the ‘missing’ pink bag from the beach.   It’s a small world.  We rode the tram all the way back into town and, using Google as our guide, we went to catch the bus up to our accommodation as we were too tired for the walk back after a long day in the sun.  It turns out that we hadn’t ‘bonked’ the ticket properly at all on the way out and so we were barred from travel on his bus.  A few confused looks and terrified faces and he let us on but warned us that we should know better next time; we couldn’t travel on the bus without tickets that had been validated on the tram.

We shared that 15 minutes on the bus with a very excited young man that was a little bit on the drunk side but desperately trying to impress two young ladies with his intelligent stories and, frankly, piss poor banter.  Even my 14 year old daughter could see that he just needed to shut up and enjoy the ride home as the girls, and everyone else within earshot were monumentally bored of him.  I blocked him out and tried to work out if we could use the tickets for another day or if that might lead us to be deported.  If you get deported from Australia for petty crimes, then where is the convicts’ convict colony…..the mind boggles and so I was happy when our stop jumped out on us to break my train of thought.  I didn’t want to think about the convicts’ convicts’ convict colony and beyond.

It had been a lovely day, I was beginning to fall in love with Adelaide.

Finding our feet

Finding our feet

It didn’t take long to work out what the problem with the Air BnB was, the master bedroom was about 10 meters away from a major road into and out of the city and the windows appeared to be made out of tissue paper.  In many ways the ambient sound of Australia is like the US, the big V8 and V12 engines being markedly different to the engine sound of the UK.  Mix those up with the frequent ambulance sirens that seemed to go on all night and it was far from a solid night’s sleep.

I think we all got up at around 10am and I took middle child for a walk to suss out the area and see if we could pick up some provisions for breakfast.  Once we stepped outside of the house you get a very clear appreciation of just how hard the air-con had been working, it was like stepping into the mid-day heat on a Greek island but at 10am.   The weird thing was that the chauffeurs from the previous evening had asked if we knew how to operate the ‘central cooling system’.   It was as if everything on the other side of the world was the other way around like we were in a Mr Men story.

My boy and I walked around the local area that was made up of a hot potch of commercial buildings, none of which sold anything edible or drinkable.  Eventually we ended up finding a little clump of shops at St. Peters where we picked up a takeaway pizza menu from Dominoes.  I chatted to the guy and started a theme that would continue for the rest of the holiday.  Everyone we spoke to had, at some stage, lived or worked in England.  Typically they seemed to head for Brighton or London, but never further north than Nottingham.

‘Chef Dong’ stuck in my mind for some reason

Still lacking food, we tried the place next door called ‘Hello Dolly’ that was a Lebanese cafe.  We picked up a few bottles of fruit juice from the fridge and four pieces of Baklava from under the counter and that came to £18.  I was worried that this holiday might bankrupt me!   By the way, when I say that the Baklava was ‘under the counter’, I meant that it was in the refrigerated section rather than illegal contraband that wasn’t on display.

What made the world’s most expensive baklava all the more annoying was that no one wanted to eat it when we got back. Apparently our little walkabout had taken longer than expected so we returned to frosty faces and empty breakfast dishes.  We made ourselves scarce and then got ready for the day ahead. We got dressed and walked through the park and into the city centre.  On the way down we passed the festival site that was packing up having finished, typically, at almost exactly the same time that we landed the previous night.

We wandered through the town and the streets were wide with no litter or graffiti.  There were, of course, the usual high street shops and eateries that you would expect to see but there were also a wide range of independent shops and cafes that made it a very nice wander for us all.  We stopped off at a bar to cool down and, ignoring the lovely independent cafes, we decided to try out the Belgian Beer Cafe.  The two people behind the bar were lovely and chatty and made us feel most welcome.  We sipped our chilled drinks and watched the world go by for a while before wandering down to the pedestrianised shopping street for a wander.

As we had a few fussy and complex eaters in the party, we settled on a food court underneath a shopping centre so that we could all pick what we wanted. We arrived just before 5 o’clock and everything was starting to close down and so the choices were limited. We sat and ate our meals with Australian sparrows darting around all over the place to pinch our crumbs.  A procession of sporty and fit looking professionals walked past us on the way to the gym after work and I was quickly getting a feel that Adelaide was a lovely place to live and work.  I liked it.

The transport options were plentiful and snazzy.  There were lots of busses zipping through town that we would come to try out in the coming days and a tram system that was free for the majority of trips around the centre of town and we used that as a hop on hop off system.  It was cool, frequent and safe and led to lots of conversations with people eager to find out where our ‘cool’ accents were from.  The coolest way to get around town was obviously a company that is trying to be the next billion dollar start up, Lime.  For less than a quid you could unlock an electric scooter and whizz around town with a skinny flat white in your hand and the wind blowing through your hipster moustache. They were dumped all over town and came with a snazzy free safety helmet. I did try one out as they didn’t seem to be locked up but after a meter or two a piercing alarm went off so I scurried off looking guilty.

As the shops were beginning to close and the night shift was beginning to start we set off for home.  As we walked to the tram station we started to follow a family up the road that had obviously been out for a very nice dinner.  What looked like the mother and a younger couple in their early forties were walking to the taxi that had pulled up at the side of the road and the father, a fragile but very upright and professional looking follow in his early seventies I would guess, had cleverly delayed his walk to the car to put some space between him and the rest of the party.

Our group were walking much faster than him and were about to pass him on either side.  Just as we were getting on his shoulder he let out the longest and satisfyingly bubbly sounding fart that I think I have ever heard.  The juxtaposition between the very high class family dinner that had been enjoyed with one assumes sparkling, witty and serious conversation and this farting old chancer was hilarious and it took everything that we had not to collapse in a heap laughing.  We held it together until we were a safe distance away, made eye contact with each other and said in unison, “did you hear that?” in disbelief.

We rode the tram to the far end of the free ride section and all the way back to ‘home’ just so that we could see more of the town and take in the lovely sunset.  At the end of the line the tram driver had a good chat with us.  We told him where we were staying and he gave us directions, up to the Maid and the Magpie then take a left.  He then explain that his parents had been the owners of the pub many years ago and it was a place we should check out.

A Magical Evening 

It was too early to sit in the house all night and so we stopped off at the iconic pub.  It first opened in 1896 but had, very obviously, been renovated a few times since as it was modern and fresh inside.  We sat and watched reruns of English Premier League football matches and EPL cricket in one of the oldest licensed premises in Australia.

The ladies of the group soon got bored and so we asked if they had any playing cards.  We were given a promotional pack from a box behind the bar and told that they were ours to keep.  That summed up Australia so far for me, yet again, people were so kind and happy to help that it was a pleasure to be there.

Going underground

Going underground

It had been a busy week in the run up to departure.  I had been to Manchester for work and had been running around sorting out last minute holiday shopping and phone repairs.  Titchy had spent most of that week either writing packing lists or actually packing.  Seriously, four days of preparation and planning to fill a case with underpants and shorts.  Rather than worrying about the packing, I was more worried about the practicalities.  We had booked a car to get us from Adelaide down to the ferry to Kangaroo Island and all that I could focus on was what we would do if we couldn’t fit the 5 of us and the suitcases into the car.

I didn’t have too much time to think about the holiday as Titchy had been the organiser more so than me.  Truth be told, I wasn’t that excited about going to Adelaide.  If you go to Paris, you see the Eiffel Tower. Go to Rome and you see the Colosseum.  Go to Egypt and you see the Pyramids.  But what do you go to Adelaide for?  All of the research that I had done suggested that there were vineyards and pretty gardens to look at, but no focal point.  I was looking forward to the break and the warm weather, but not really sure that Adelaide would be the place for me.

On departure day, we said goodbye to the cats and set off for the airport.  It had rained heavily overnight and the roads were flooded, the perfect way to depart for warmer weather I think….leaving the folks at home in the rain and the cold for maximum social media smugness.  We were at the airport in plenty of time, as you might expect, and as it was outside of term time for the schools and a Saturday, it was remarkably quiet and stress free.

It wouldn’t be a trip to the airport without it!

It was to the the first time that I had flown with Emirates and my expectations were very high.  I don’t know huge amounts about international airlines and so all of my expectations have to be down to Emirates marketing efforts.  They  sponsor the big sporting teams and venues and, to me, were a luxury brand that would be a nice little treat.  How wrong I was.  Maybe my expectations having been built up was always going to lead to a disappointment for economy travel but it was all a bit drab and tired.
My daughter wanted to get some homework done on the plane to get it out of the way but it wasn’t possible as the internal lights didn’t work for our seats.  The hostesses were perfectly pleasant about it but nothing could be done about this or the USB charging point that didn’t work at all.  I was also disappointed with the entertainment choices, there were no films that really caught my fancy and the TV shows on offer were not great either.  Having said that, as we flew on a Saturday we had a live stream of the Premier League fixtures and that provided a few hours of fun.  It might actually be cheaper to fly back and forth to Dubai every weekend than it would be to pay for a Sky subscription.  The live football was slightly offset by the kid behind me repeatedly kicking me up the arse, but what can one do?

The lack of entertainment did, however, leave me with lots of time to focus on my other hobby, people watching.  Despite checking in pretty early, we had not been able to get a window seat which is always a shame as the plane often flies over our house as you come out of Newcastle Airport.  What made this all the more disappointing was that the person, who was travelling alone and sitting in the window seat spent the entire flight with the window shutter down and not taking any interest in the world below.  The swine.

Despite requesting the adult meal options for my 11 year old boy on check in, he was given children’s meals with big old plastic cutlery.  He wasn’t happy but, in all honesty, you couldn’t have made a decent dinner by picking the best out of the adult and child options.  As there were a few picky eaters in the party, I was able to enjoy about three meals in each sitting but wouldn’t say any of them were truly actually enjoyed and to ask for Coke and receiving Pepsi, it pretty much cemented the none-premium brand in my mind!

After some disappointing sandwiches, which seemed to have a filling of ‘more dry bread’ we arrived into Dubai a little later than planned.  This resulted in a quick run across the airport and didn’t really give us the chance to take too much in before we got our connection to Adelaide.  What I did see was a lot of classless bling, perfectly summarised by a huge golden palm tree in the middle of the terminal.  I think that was pretty much all I wanted to see of Dubai…it was all fur coat and no knickers.

The twelve hour flight to Adelaide passed without too much excitement.  My only worry being that we had some English chocolates in our hand luggage that contained fruit and nuts.  I wasn’t sure if we could get that past the very strict Australian customs.  I couldn’t just eat it as it had melted, despite the Twirls that we had with us being perfectly fine.  To save us appearing on the next episode of Border Force being escorted to a side room, we just ditched it in a bin once we landed and walked past a very friendly customs check. I said hello to the three border force guys watching over us and got my first authentic ‘How ya going mate?’ In response and was as happy as Larry to be down under.

As we walked into the airport, there were a lot of people waiting to greet relatives or friends. A young girl had a huge poster with ‘Welcome to Oz’ written on it, despite not having a clue who she was, I thanked her very much for the welcome.  She looked very confused and as if she was going to burst into tears so I kept going and spotted our very own welcoming party further down the way.  To see Titchy’s Australian relatives together for the first time in over a year was amazing, to do it in Adelaide seemed surreal, especially after a long journey across so many time zones!

We hugged and greeted each other and then they offered to drive us to our Air BnB diggs on the other side of town.  We split into two cars and drove across town taking in the sights.  Titchy’s Aunt and Uncle explained that the main centre of the town was a mile square and that it was skirted on all sides by parks and greens with the suburbs taking over from there.  It looked very clean and smart and the first impressions of the city were great. I couldn’t wait to get in to have a look around, but only after some sleep!  I had applied 36 hour deodorant twice since I had last slept and it was time to catch up but the journey had been fine, and the kids had been amazing considering their age and addiction to WiFi.

The Air BnB was outside of the centre, on the East side of the city near College Park.  It was a very modern and clean building on Payneham Road. We had no idea what was around us but we did know that there was a bed upstairs and that’s all that we could focus on.  We were on the other side of the world, we had had a good journey and we were ready to begin the adventure!

Don’t look back in anger

Don’t look back in anger

I remember someone once saying to me ‘Don’t look back, you’re not going that way’.  Thinking about it, it was probably a ‘motivational’ poster on LinkedIn.  It is something that has stuck in my mind none the less.  No matter what decisions you make, assuming that you make them with the best of intentions, at least you got to the wrong place for the right reason.

My teenage daughter was at an event in Manchester earlier this week, a city where I worked for just over a year back in 2014 to 2015 and, for those of you that are not parents, that means that I had a trip to Manchester too.  I spent an hour walking around the city centre, retracing my steps and looking up some of my old haunts.

I remember chatting with the guys in the office down there a few times about what I thought of Manchester compared to Newcastle.  My response was always the same, ‘Manchester will be nice when it’s finished’.

Well, I was very pleased to see that in the four years since my last trip, it seems to have been finished off quite nicely thank you very much.  I was always quite shocked by the number of homeless people in Manchester, it was always very noticeable compared to Newcastle City centre and that didn’t appear to be any different.  What was new was the tram lines running up the Main Street past the Arndale centre.  The Northern Quarter was still so hip that that whole part of town should be perched on a penny farthing and sport a waxed moustache.

In a round about way, and linking back to my motivational quote, I guess what I am trying to say it that you shouldn’t look back too often, but it can be a good idea every now and then to stop and reflect.  If you don’t know where you came from, you can’t tell how far you have come.  Every week I would get off the bone shaking trans pennine express and walk to the office and it felt like nothing was changing, no progress was being made, but it was, slowly but surely.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a travel blog so let me bring it back on point.  In just over a week we will be heading over to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.  Accommodation, travel and hire cars are all booked, we have a list of things we would like to take in while we are there and we have got to the nitty gritty stages or working out which travel adapters we need to buy and which pants we will be most comfortable travelling in.  The excitement is building and I cant wait to get moving again.

Travel is the ‘hot-chocolate-and-a-warm-blanket-in-front-of-a-fire-on-a-cold-day’ to my soul.  The number of days I have had to fight the urge to just jump in a car or a plane and get away from everything are too many to count.  When I get the chance to be on the other side of this piece of rock flying through space, I will grab it and I will wring every second of enjoyment out of it.  I hope Australia is ready for me, I am ready for it!







Time for reflection

Time for reflection

Back in November, I walked out of my job.  The plan was to take some time off over Christmas and then focus on New Year, new me.  It turns out that the job market isn’t what I though it was, or maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was, and so here were are ticking towards March and still no job on the horizon.

I have spent my time talking to pretty much every recruitment agency in town and talking to anyone and everyone in my network to try and get my name and availability out on the street, but all to no avail.

It hurts. Feeling as if no-one wants you and that you are not adding value when all you want to do is your job that you happen to think you are pretty good at, but you have to keep your chin up and keep searching and believing that something is out there.

I have been trying to do all of the things that I dreamed of while sitting at my desk in employment but couldn’t due to lack of time.  I have been running, looking after myself a little better and, now that it is a little warmer, I have been out again with my camera.

I am hoping that the rebirth of spring is a good metaphor for me, that the shoots of new life are starting to burst through and flower and that a job is just around the corner.  I thought that 2019 would be my year, there is time yet!


Golden Sands
Rock Stars
The light of my life
Next stop, Holland.
Taking time to reflect
Blue skies, time to reflect and relax.
Surrey Bound

Surrey Bound

Having recently quit my job, I needed some time to think and to work out next steps.  No company in their right mind would employ someone in December, unless it was in desperation and I really didn’t fancy an emergency appointment at this time of year.

So I booked a train and headed down to Surrey, via London, to meet up with my good friend from the South that regular readers (both of you) will remember.  He questions me, he challenges me and he understands me and so is the best mentor and life coach that I could wish for, exactly what I needed right now.

It won’t surprise you to hear that I was at the station an hour early for my train and so I was all relaxed and calm.  My man in the South had been trying to pin me down on what I wanted to do but I didn’t want to drive the agenda, I wanted to let him show me around.  No doubt this annoyed him intensely but I wanted to be taken for a journey, do something different and see new things.

He met me with a huge smile and a hug at Kings Cross and we took a walk through Saint Pancras and we had a coffee and a croissant at the British Library.  We were surrounded by intellectual types and bow ties while we caught up and I gave him the lowdown on my jobless situation and my recent travels.


We then jumped onto the tube and headed to the Royal Academy Of Arts. To say that this was something new and different for me is an understatement.  Left to my own devices I would more likely jump over the moon before paying £18 to see an exhibition about the art of the Oceanic Islands.  I was so glad that we did though.

We walked through a dozen rooms filled with amazing displays that came to life with eh audio books and I think it took us around 2-3 hours to make our way through the whole thing.


We walked around amazing art and cultures that had been ‘traded’ from the locals and brought back over the years in exchange for various diseases, wars, beatings and murders that we gave them as compensation.  Incredible but flimsy looking rafts that were used to navigate hundreds of miles between islands that traded with other, I wouldn’t like to go out on a perfect flat waist deep boating pond on them.  Having said that, I am such a terrible swimmer that I am maybe not the best to judge!

The whicker framed pictures above were not decorative, they were maps that showed trade routes between the hundreds of islands and, to the trained eye, could be used to navigate the safe waters and avoid the wrong rocks and dangerous currents.

Their fascination with penises was a fascinating confirmation that young boys never grow up, even over 250 years.

The highlight of the show was a panoramic video called ‘In pursuit of Venus – Infected‘ which is on youtube in the above link.  It really was an incredibly interesting display that had a good hundred people absolutely spellbound on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

Both very satisfied we made out way through some very posh shops and shopping arcades that seemed to be ignoring any Brexit concerns about economic slowdown with thousands of shoppers starting the Christmas rush at prices that made this Northern boy blush.

We had dinner in a fine restaurant called Cicchetti which is a San Carlo establishment.  You order your Italian food with a Tapas feel, sharing the plates as they arrive in any old order.  It was very lively with tables crammed close together and the food was superb.

We got chatting to the two ladies sat next to us, well it was pretty much on top of us the tables were so close, as we had been drawn to their ice cream that was served in a plant pot container that would have fed an entire orphanage.  She was a lively old bird and was on her second 4 week trip of the year from the US where she ate out every night in some the finest establishments in the capital.  You couldn’t tell as she must have weighed about 9 stone wet through.  It’s a tough life for some.

All fed and watered we made our way back to Woking and spend an hour drinking tea and putting the world to rights.

I woke up the next day after a very welcome lie in and lazy morning and headed to Mercedes world which, in my mind was going to be a museum and interactive displays that would get the teenage boy inside me very excited.  I have to say I was a bit disappointed.  The staff looked either bored or down their noses at me, I couldn’t tell which but I didn’t like the idea of either.  It was, in effect, a huge sale room for Mercedes with a massively expensive test track stuck on the side where a legion of London corporate goons were guffawing and ‘yar-yar-yarring’ themselves into their bosses backsides.

My host could tell I wasn’t enjoying it massively and so we headed off.  To be fair, there were some lovely old cars on display and the deconstructed and floating Formula One car was very interesting but, overall, it was worth every penny of the free admission.

We headed around the corner to the Brooklands museum.  Now this was more my thing, gritty, honest and real life.  There were a few different sections from motorbikes, race cars, planes and, most importantly a cafe!

We literally walked through a history of flight that went from the flimsiest of early flying machines through to passenger planes flying over the Atlantic faster than a bullet from a rifle and all of this was within the space of 60 or so years.  It was incredible.

The place was staffed by incredibly eager volunteers that were infectiously excited where they were and what they were showing off.  Every one of them over the age of 65 and without doubt able to repair anything that you put in front of them from a jet engine to a child’s bike.

It was an incredible contract to the ultra sleek and modern Mercedes showroom over the room but a million time more engaging.  I loved every second of being there.  I think it closed at 4pm but the guy that showed us around told us to hurry into the next hanger if we wanted to see the WW2 bomber that was my planned highlight of the day.

We had the place to ourselves and spent a good while exploring the place top to bottom before heading out to car park.  We were pretty much locked in and there was three guys at the gift shop tapping their watches as we gingerly crept out of the gates.  I couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.

We headed back to Woking where my hosts wife had made a delicious meal for us and the conversation flowed and, yet again, we put the world to rights. The most important thing that I learned was that I was to be served a pudding as I was Northern, the lighter and more refined desserts were saved for the Southern types!

I was glad of this as I gorged on a delicious bread and butter pudding with Baileys.  I was so blown away by it I was given a Tupperware put to take home and couldn’t be certain I wouldn’t eat on the train on the way home!

I headed back home the next day after a very wet and miserable walk through London, picking up some Christmas shopping in the London boutiques. My mind was clearer and I knew what direction I was going in, professionally, personally and physically.  I was going North.  I was going home.