Monthly Archives: September 2012

20120923 – Cedar Falls

Sunday – hot and sunny yet again. Abandon breakfast on the deck as it’s too hot – mind you we’ll have the same problem on my new decking back in Belthorn no doubt:-7.

Nip to the Sunday fruit and veg market. All of one table selling some rather ropy looking veg and no fruit.

Never mind next stop the Tamborine historical society is open today so that’s the next stop. A tad disappointing so we don’t bother.

Watch the hang gliders.

Next stop Cedar Falls, thats if we can find it. Finally track it down. Take our lavish picnic but all picnic tables are occupied. It seems like there’s some Germans around, no it’s not

towels, but picnic table ready set and no one around. Bugger that we go and use it.

The walk down to the falls and the pools has some lovely views and  youngster are out enjoying themselves. Another lovely little National Park in the rain forest. Wendy just loved the lizard lumbering bow legged down the path, testicle dragging along.

Why do we and the USA keep sending billions in aid to these tripe hounds in Pakistan.

“As Obama runs ads in Pakistan apologizing for free speech, Pakistan Minister offers $100,000 reward for death of US filmmaker”.

If our politicians can’t stop frittering away money we don’t have then I suggest we send them to Pakistan to calm the rioters – it’s just goldfish for jam jars.

More Oz sayings:

Man’s not a camel. = Get me a beer.

Let’s hope the Ozzies don’t throw a muslim and get offended by my Oz jokes:

“If it takes an IQ of 60 to tie shoelaces, why do so many Australians wear thongs”?

“Why do so many Australian men suffer premature ejaculation? Because they have to rush back to the pub to tell their mates what happened”!

Monday – hot and sunny.

Breakfast on the balcony. All the Gold Coast is under a blanket of cloud but up here we’re above it all and it’s
clear blue sky.

 

Drive down to pick Pam up and it’s off to the Gold Coast Wild Life park. Visit a few beaches on the way. By the time we get there the mists lifted and it’s a hot sunny day.

 


The parks great. Allows you to interact with animals such aKangaroo’s and for a small fee you get to have a picture with a Koala Bear. Although they seem a tad reluctant to let you pet their 5 Metre salt water crocodile. The Kangaroos are amazingly friendly and they don’t even seem to get upset with people petting their Joey in their pouch. I think I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves. A great day and we just manage to leave before a thunderstorm rolls in.

Enlightened:

On September 18, 2012, Muhib Ru’yat Al-Rahman, a senior writer on leading jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam, suggested that Muslims living in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S. kill Westerners and display their decapitated heads along roads with a statement reading: “This is the punishment of those who insult our prophet.” 

Thank Allah the UK’s escaped.

Good news, only salt water crocodiles consumes humans. Bad news, salt water crocodile – can grow up to 6 metres log – are not just found in salt water and can be found inland. Good news, remember the “15 15” rule keep at least 15 metres away from water and don’t stay for more than 15 minutes.

Short-beaked Echidna http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-beaked_echidna.

Why do people go to other countries and expect that country to change to accommodate them? If what they want was so good why don’t they stay where they were?

“Today in New York City was the Muslim Day Parade, where Muslims protested against blasphemy and for the imposition of the sharia in America”.

Tuesday – warm and sunny.

Drive down to Pam’s for our first Ozzie barbie. They have these free barbie units in the apartment block so you don’t need to light a fire and suffer the smoke and flames.

A very pleasant afternoon with Pam and Peter and of course Misha enjoying every minute of it. It’s a Cavapoo or in Ozzie lingo a Cavoodle, sounds a bit kinder on your carpets. Wendy wants one.

Wendy and Pam go off to the ladies afternoon while I manage to do a bit of work – boohoo:-(.

Meanwhile:

“The Maldives has moved to ban dancing in public between men and women, an official and a report said, confirming the influence of the nation’s extremist muslims”.

Never mind perhaps homosexuals dancing together is to be promoted. Now there’s a muslim world first. Notice the lower case m do you think this will cause more riots in the muslim world?

Now for some more Oz language lessons:

“The cook and I had a fair suck of the sav, ropeable and were just spewin when we made a blue and vegged out to watch  “The Estate”, about these dole bludgers, rorting the system, chucking sickies all just a load of mongrels not a days yakka between them. Made me want to chunkier. We were rapt to see one guy stand out like a shag on a rock as a bastard battler”.

And now for something  Non PC:

 

A tourist is driving along in the outback when he hits two Abos who are crossing the road.  One crashes through the windshield and into the car, while the other bounces off the fender and staggers off into the bush. A local cop turns up and calms down the hysterical tourist. “Don’t worry mate. We’ll have the one that came through your windshield arrested for breaking and entering, and the other bloke arrested for leaving the scene of an accident.”

Wednesday – warm and sunny.

Up at the crack of dawn; drive to station and catch the express train into Brisbane. I think express has a different meaning in Oz.  Only 100 minutes to travel 40 miles – thank god  we missed the slow train – I think they must have an on board funeral service.

 

Pass on the Brisbane hop on off bus tour and do a free walking tour. Very interesting all the history, information and stories about Brisbane. 3 hours and amazing it was free.

Have a walk around south bank and a late lunch there. Very pleasant and vibrant.

After 5 hours “our dogs were barking”, we’ve seen  enough. Catch our 2nd express train back along with all the commuters and iPhone brigade. If you can’t beat them join them so I get my blog done but somehow I really can’t seem to master this thumb tie pin. Must be an age thing.

Brisbane was ok. Glad we’ve seen it but one days enough of any big city is enough.

Long drive back up the mountain, yet again. Nice bottle of Oz Merlot to finish the day.

More Ozzie taunts:

An abo goes into a pub with a parrot on his head.
The bartender looks at him and says, “Where did you get that?”
The parrot said, “There’s plenty of ’em out in the bush!

Q: What do you call an Abo with dandruff?

A: A Lamington (Australia’s famous squares of sponge cake dipped in chocolate glaze and then in coconut)!

This ones a bit deep:

While waiting to finalise their Australian residental status, two Afghanistani men start chatting. As they part, they agree to meet in a years time and see who has adapted better to the Australian way of life.
True to their word, they meet after the year is up. The first says to the second “We have integrated so well…yesterday, I ate a meat pie and drank a VB while watching my son play Aussie rules”
The second man replies “F**k off, towelhead”

Translation:

“The wife and I were outraged, annoyed and ready to throw up when we made the mistake and sat and watched the TV programme “The Estate”, about these scroungers on the dole, ripping off and exploiting the  benefit system, skiving all just a load of scrots with not a days work between them. Made us want to throw up. We were pleased to see on guy who was the exception, a good guy working hard for very little pay”.


20120922 – Supermarket & Coffee

Saturday – warm and sunny.

Life is good. Wendy gets her weekly treat in the supermarket and I get a coffee at the local cafe, with free wifi of course. Nice thing here is that the library is next to the supermarket – now that’s what I call civilised.

After lunch we pop down to the highlight of the year in Tamborine – the annual show. Pig racing and fireworks. Sadly not worth the £7 admission fee, so we give it a miss.

Back home for afternoon tea and a leisurely read.

20120915 – Tamborine Mountains

Sunday – warm and sunny.

Lazy day around the house.  Settle down to read the Steve Jobs biography – Doug has it in hardback form so I needn’t have bought the Kindle edition.

The house and views are stunning.

In the mornings as we have breakfast on the deck we get to listen to the laughing Kookabora http://www.freesound.org/people/pocket/sounds/44554/,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il98W12WqH4&feature=youtube_gdata_player.

Who needs an iPhone when the house is equipped with the latest communication systems uses that new fangled thing called electricity. Apple watch out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening we can keep ourselves entertained with music from our state of the art hifi system. 

Great to just relax after all those hotels and travelling. Manage to do a bit of work in the afternoon.

To improve my Oz beyond the Teach Your Self Oz level and give you an example I’ve constructed a typical Oz sentence.

“A larrikin digger one arvo sees a spunk nuddy Sheila with a great mappa tassie and so fancies having a naughty, but alas he has no franger for his old fella so he’s spewin”. Translation at the end of this blog.

How have they got the brass balls:

“Calls in Pakistan for the producer and all those involved in the production and release of the movie must be hanged publicly and that:

The US must make a law against blasphemy — or we will not let the US consulates in Pakistan function”.

Let’s hope they make the same threat to the UK and we ignore it. Then the UK and the US can save Billions in foreign aid – although our dhimi politicians will probably act on it and double the foreign aid.

 

Monday – warm and rain.

Day starts off fine so we drive down to the tourist info in the village. Did plan on doing a walk but it starts to rain.

Pop in at the Polish place for a drink. Try a Polish coffee. The coffee grinds are still in the cup and you pour cream on it to settle the grinds to sludge in the bottom.  Strong – I don’t think I’ll sleep for a week.

They have parrots galore their. They’ll come and eat the food off your table whilst you’re having lunch. and we get our first glimpse of a Kookabura. What a beautiful cuddly looking bird.

Wifi in the house is great 4.5Meg. I think this is what it must be like in heaven.

Techy talk – ignore this paragraph. Regrettably once I switch my VPN it deteriorates to 450K. Ping is 400m – is that realistic given the distance to the UK? I wonder whether it’s the latency that’s causing so many retries and hence attenuating the speed. Or is it just the usual VPN service degrading as they get too many customers. I did warn you but you couldn’t resist could you. Don’t you just love dirty talk!

Meanwhile more censorship:

“A screening of a controversial documentary on the history of Islam has been cancelled on security advice after its presenter was threatened. Holland was threatened online with a torrent of abusive messages on Twitter.

Historian Tom Holland’s Channel 4 film Islam: The Untold Story sparked more than 1,000 complaints when it was broadcast.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: Having taken security advice, we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film which is still available to view on 4oD.

There appears to be no mention of the police following up the violent threats, perhaps they are too busy with following up trivial un-PC insults to worry about a violent attack on free expression”.

 

Tuesday – rain but warm.

No breakfast on the patio today it’s raining.

Drive down to Southport to have a look around. High rises everywhere. Not really all that attractive but clean.

Try to get some coffee but such an abysmal choice. They must all live on Nescafe and instant coffee. Finally track down a Dan Murphy’s – cheap liquor store. £60 later we’re stocked up on wine, beer and Bacardi.

Get some serious SQL programming done in the evening. Work, it’s that four letter word.

Meanwhile:

“An Iranian religious group has increased a reward offered for the murder of British author Salman Rushdie after managing to blame him for The Innocence of Muslims film”.

 

Wednesday – hot and sunny. Normal breakfast service on the patio is resumed. Just look at those awesome views.

“Ughh, snake, snake” goes the cry from Wendy as she goes into the downstairs laundry room. Excitement. False alarm it’s just a very thin lizard.

Politicians, there just bloody useless. Sat here on the balcony looking out onto the Gold Coast makes you start to think.

It was the bloody politicians who sent the criminals here to this country. If they’d had an ounce of common sense they’d have left the scrots in the UK and let the rest of us go to Oz or the USA.

Two fantastic countries lost and what are we left with? A near bankrupt country paying out billions to a load of lazy scrots. I’ve no problem with the concept of a welfare state to help people on hard times but what’s wrong with workfare. If you get welfare then you should earn it, when will the politicians fix this, its not rocket science. Rant over.

Birds here are amazing, in our garden we have all sorts of parrots, magpie, kookaboro and new species that no one else has discovered. Never mind Wendy’s iPhone app will help solve that. Then there’s the bird cries. Just like you imagine in the jungle a real cacophony of eerie and sometimes scary sounds. Fantastic! Yes I keep mentioning the iPhone. If she’s really lucky I might give her an iPhone 4 in excellent condition – did anyone mention the new iPhone 5’s been released.

Go down to the Botanical Gardens in Tamborine. This is a first for us. Better not let the kids know. What with bird watching and gardens they’ll be having us committed. They’re absolutely amazing and what’s more they’re free. Great birds also. See that picnic table, it’s been superbly varnished, a glass like finish.

Oz definition of foreplay – “you awake”?

Then go down to the Curtis Falls in the midst of a tropical rain forest. A very enjoyable afternoon.

Here we go again a French magazine has had the audacity to publish some cartoons of Mohamed. This could get interesting. They’re just cartoons for gods sake:

France in lockdown over Moe-toons, French gov’t orders 20 embassies, schools to close

Earlier today a kosher store in the Paris suburbs were bombed. Despite the West’s delusion and denial, we are at war. Freedom of speech in the age of  jihad. Stand up, fight back. Do not sacrifice freedom so as not to offend savages.

“Charlie Hebdo’s chief editor, who goes by the name of Charb and has been under police protection for a year, defended the cartoons.”I’m not the one going into the streets with stones and Kalashnikovs,” he said”.

 

Thursday – hot and sunny.

Breakfast on the deck. Not only are the views and birds awesome but the smells from the plants are just lovely.

Reasons why a beer is better than a women:

            If you pour a beer right you always get a good head.

            You can have a beer in public.

Then we drive down to Tamborine National Park – it’s on our doorstep. Queenslands first National Park founded in 1908.  Have our lunch at a picnic spot. Can you believe it they even have free barbecues set up in all the parks? Do a 5k walk to Witches Falls. A tad disappointing as it’s only a trickle when you get there despite the recent rain, but the  walk through the rain forest was worth it. It’s 28C today but is nice and cooler in the rain forest.

Splash out and have a leisurely coffee at the Bavaria House complete with typical German music. Brings back good memories of our German trips.

How can we be so lucky? Tamborine Mountain and the house is awesome. Seems so much nicer than the coast and oh so relaxing. It’s certainly on a par with Sedona.

You know you’ve arrived in Oz when your car has Roo bars.

Everyone you meet is so friendly. I’m sure it’s the sunshine brings out the best in people and makes them happy.

“Crack Jenny’s teapot” to spend a night in a brothel.

Some useless facts from the Oz bureau of statistics:

             31 Ozzies have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree lights whilst they’re plugged in.


Don’t you just love it:

“GENEVA | Wed Sep 19, 2012

(Reuters) – A leading Islamic organization signaled on Wednesday that it will revive long-standing attempts to make insults against religions an international criminal offence.

The bid follows uproar across the Muslim world over a crude Internet video clip filmed in the United States and cartoons in a French satirical magazine that lampoon the Prophet Mohammad.”

 

Friday – overcast but warm.

Drive down to Broad beach on the Gold Coast to visit Pam who we’ve not seen in 20 years. Have a pleasant afternoon in her lovely apartment, then take a stroll around Broad Beach. As we’ve missed lunch we have “Lunner” in a Bavarian Café. I think I must have died and gone to heaven. As well as a lovely German meal I have a pint – well 500ml, even better – of draught Hof Brau followed by draught Lowenbrau – sorry about the missing umlaut. And to top it all both were served in the correct barrel glass. Proper beer in proper jugs. Not a bloody flower vase, but then comes the bill £8 a 500ml – what a great way to end the day, it’s only money!

And here’s the two of them are deciding on what to eat – how would I ever get a word in edgeways

 

Then Wendy has the long dark drive back up the mountain. Fortunately we didn’t need the Roo bars or splat a Koala.

 

Meanwhile it’s good to know that the UK has it own band of religious fruitcakes:

 

“Fashion chain Next has been slammed by Christian nutters over a Sinners T-shirt which depicts a woman in underwear coupled with Bible references.

The T-shirt carries the headline Sinners and strap line The Night Before above the seductive image of a woman in black underwear lying on a bed. Below the image is the slogan Live for the Day. Finally, there is a long smallprint passage which carries a number of definitions of sin including one from the Bible from epistle to the Romans, chapter seven”.

If any body missed the controversial video thats caused the Muslim world to throw its tows out the pram yet again, here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAiOEV0v2RM&feature=youtube_gdata_player.

 

It’s not really all that good and would probably have withered on the vine if the savages hadn’t, yet again, and rioted, slaughtered and killed in order to try and get their own way. In the name of all those on the receiving end of this senseless savage violence and free speech I feel compelled to watch it and promote it.

 

Well I don’t know about anyone else but I’m just totally brassed off with religion. What a bunch of savage superstitious hypocrites most of them are. As that great atheist Pat Condell says “If Jesus or Mohamed – assuming they ever existed – came back now they be appalled at what is being done in their name”. I think we should take any of these religious fruit cakes and deport them to a spare continent. I suggest Africa might be a good choice. It’s already heavily populated with a goodly smattering of nutters. Then these savages can all terrorise, rape, pillage, fight, kill, stone, decapitate, flog, crucify, torture and persecute one another until Armageddon.

Did we have similar riots and violence when “The Life of Brian” and the “Holy Grail” were launched?

 

Never mind having a international blasphemy law, what about an international intolerance law that sends to Africa anyone who tries to cripple free speech or spouts religious bolox.

 

Answer to the translation exercise:

 

“A cheeky chappy soldier one afternoon sees a lovely nude women with a great pubic region and so fancies having sex with her, but alas he has no condom for his penis so he’s very annoyed”.

 

Great news if my house is a place of worship then you don’t pay council tax. Well I’ve just had an epiphany. Every morning the Kookaburo wakes me with its infectious laughter, it tells the sky people to light the great fire in the sky that warms the earth, and it’s spirit revealed to me a vision to cease my wicked ways and go forth and enjoy the full fruits of Mother Earth (Hedonism) and henceforth start a new religion called Tonylim. I can tell you it was a very spiritual moment. I’m therefore declaring 18 Rydal Mount, Belthorn a place of worship for Tonylim. Open house and all welcome to worship in the zen garden every Monday at 21:44 when the Grand Elder Tony is present – bring your own wine.

 

20120907 – Cairns

Friday – clear blue sky and sunny.

Overnight flight from Singapore gets us into Sydney for 05:00. Clear customs in record time, no messing about.

I know I was ashamed of Heathrows buses etc but Sydney is even worse. You have to produce your boarding card; sit in lounge for 20 minutes; then catch a bus to the domestic terminal.  Yes, that’s right you need a boarding card to get on the bus!

Despite my best efforts at Teach Yourself Aus I still can’t understand a word of the announcements – perhaps they’re all ex British Rail announcers who have emigrated to Oz.


Pleasant 3 hour flight up to Cairns.

Pick up Hertz and by 13:00 we’re settled in our executive room in the All Seasons hotel. Lovely big room, bathroom ad small balcony, but come on at least one picture on those bare walls would be nice.

Have a walk down to the Harbour and visit Wolworths – yes they’re still alive and prospering over here – to pick up some food for dinner.

 

 

 

Saturday – warm and sunny.

Up early for breakfast and walk to the harbour to board the 09:00 Reef Magic catamaran out to their platform on the lagoon at Moore Reef. Manage to part with some of my breakfast before we get to the reef platform.

Have a fantastic dive on the Great Barrier Reef. I’m the only certified diver this morning so it’s just me and the guide.

 

 

My dive had some great swims through fairly tight coral canyons. With the current these were tricky to negotiate but managed without major incident or damaging any coral. Awesome and the coral canyons really made the dive. At one stage I  just touched a piece of coral with my left hand. Razor sharp results in 3 minor scratches. Moral is have some gloves, no wonder my guide is fully covered from head to finger tips to toes.

 

It seems like another good reason to be well covered is the delightful Box Jellyfish. One sting and you can be dead in 90 seconds. Impressive eh!

Pleasant lunch on the platform, followed by some snorkelling. By now its getting a tad rougher. Reef is quite shallow in the snorkelling area, only 2 – 3 feet deep. Waves can easily drop you very close to the coral. It would be so easy to end up shredded. Wet suits are a great idea for swimming with razor blades but quite a few people have no protection at all.

Coral and fish aren’t as impressive when snorkelling. Makes scuba with all that kit, training and weight (for future reference I need 6 weights with 3mm wet suite in salt water) well worth it.

This is my sort of diving, warm water; gorgeous coral; pretty fish and less than 40 feet deep.

Wendy braves the semi-submersible sub so I go on the the trip with her. Gives a glimpse of what Scuba is all about. Thankfully we’ve both invested in some Qualms which seem to keep the sea sickness of the sub and the return journey at bay.

Wendy asks some deep metaphysical questions. What do fish do with themselves all day? Do they have a day out to pop and visit parents and friends?  What’s their purpose in life? Who knows!

On the way back we have the advantage of a spot of whale watching. I would post a photo of the whale leaping out but at those distances it’s just a few pixels.

After an fantastic bucket list day we stroll back to the hotel for a mediocre dinner in the hotel followed by a pleasant but expensive bottle of wine, an expensive Aussie beer and an exhausted sleep.

That’s one more ticked off the bucket list. Need to consider some additions.

Sunday – warm, sunny with clouds.

Leisurely breakfast and morning.


Drive up the picturesque coast road to Port Douglas. Joy, just like any French town, there’s a market – how can I be so lucky. Try a real coconut drink then have the contents of the coconut with a banana. This guy really knows how to crack open a coconut. One tap with an iron bar and it’s perfectly cracked in two.  Not really to my liking as the young coconut produces more milk but the flesh which isn’t as nice as the less creamy and drier mature coconut. Interesting how they scoop out the flesh though with what can best be described as a rotating grater on the end of a power drill. Makes it so easy.

Wander down the high street. Pick up a BLT for Wendy. Then view the 4 mile beach. PD is a typical “seaside resort”. Thankfully not a Blackpool but not nearly as nice as Cairns despite everybody else’s opinion to the contrary.

Drive back to Cairns and call in at Palm Cove. Another pleasant beach resort.

Then as a treat for Wendy we call in at the Mall and visit Coles – no they don’t sell ski gear – for some fruit and supplies for our long drive down to Tamborine Mountains. Also manage to pick up some nice Oz wines and Lowenbrau – heaven. Thankfully wine in the big liquor stores is quite cheap, wish we could say the same fore the food – each trip to the supermarket needs another 2nd mortgage.

Call in to a Subway to pick up a sandwich. Subway and wine for dinner, not a chopstick in sight.

Monday – cloudy but warm.

Drive up to sky rail to go up to Kuranda. Closed for maintenance. Train to Kuranda, closed for maintenance. Aboriginal village – yes you’ve spotted the pattern. Co-ordinated customer care!

Drive up to Kuranda. Another World Heritage site – Wet Tropics – tropical rain forest. Kuranda is a quaint village full of shops selling all sort of knick knacks that you neither need nor probably even want – nothing new there then. Of course there are plenty of cafes and restaurants.

Go for a pleasant 3K rain forest walk. Pleasant and not too hot. Good to see that job creation schemes are live and kicking over here. There’s a guy cutting grass in the rain forest!

 

 

Take a drive down to Barron Falls and enjoy our lavish lunch of a banana and trail bar by the falls.  Actually the falls look a bit insipid. That’s because the majority of the water is now piped underground to drive a hydro electric scheme. In their hey day they looked pretty powerful.

 

Back to the hotel for afternoon tea and then take a leisurely stroll, complete with tourist sized camera, around Cairns. It’s a very pleasant and relaxing place.


 

 

 

 

For dinner this evening we have the pleasure of a MacDonalds, ginger beer and wine. A welcome relief after all that chopstick tucker of last week.

Remember those 3 little coral scratches fron Saturday? Well they’re still showing no sign of healing. Only trivial little scratches. Hardly noticeable but apparently coral scratches need immediate attention and can need anti-biotic cream and tablets. Try some anti-septic stuff – looks like iodine.

It seems like they’re a tad concerned about Electric ants around here – I think they’re the same as the American Fire ants, but of course I’m sure the American ones are bigger and have a better sting.

Interesting sign on the roadside “Gay men – rip and roll”. Don’t get it? Safe sex advert, rip open the condom packet and roll it on your “old fella”.

The Oz “No Entry” sign is “Wrong way go back” – perverse.

Tuesday – torrential down pour, but what can you expect we are in a tropical rainforest.

Leave Cairns and drive about 450 miles down to Airlie Beach. Pleasant little seaside resort. Very picturesque and tropical. Stay in a pleasant Best Western hotel. Very modern and trendy. Manage a enjoyable stroll around the beach. Pick up a Pepperoni pizza for dinner. Real food.

Good to see that it’s not just the UK that suffers from an excess of trivial and stupid laws. How’s this one “It is illegal to drink any alcohol around the pool that was not purchased in the Hotel”. Firstly I hope it’s just a pack of marketing lies. If it’s not then I despair. If whoever passed this law was a full shilling then he would have turned around to the proposer and told them to go fourth and multiply your profits without wasting the laws time. The law is not an extension of your marketing department.

Don’t I just love Oz wine, especially now I’ve found a cheap BWS shop. There’s just no pretensions, unlike the French. Sensible screw top and lovely smooth blended Merlots and Pinot Noir.

Wednesday – hot and sunny.

Drive down to Rockhampton. Road works every 5 minutes.

Rockhampton is a tad disappointing, not really much there although there is a lovely park with waterfalls. It’s main claim to fame seems to be the most protected old buildings on one street in the whole of Oz.

Comfort Inn hotel was interesting. Wifi is free. That’s if you can get on the network and then cope with a blistering 356 Bytes per second. Asked the guy on reception to solve the problem. “No use asking me mate I don’t even know or want to know how to turn a PC on”. Wait until the evening and speak to the owner. Usual fob stories. “Have you put the password in”. “it was ok last night”. Finally convince her to try it and she can’t get on. Conversation the deteriorates. “What do you expect me to do about it?”. “Get onot your support and get it fixed”. “They’ll not come out in the evening”. “There’s nothing I can do”. “You offered me a service and now you’re not delivering”. “Wifi’s free”. “there’s nothing I can do. They’ll charge a fortune. We’re always having problems”. “Ah so there is something you can do”. “Theres nothing I can do”.

At which point she says I can have the room for free. I say no a $20 refund is more than fair. “No you’ll have the room for nothing”. Who am I to argue with stropy Sheila with bad customer service attitude.

Devastated I miss the iPhone 5 announcement.

Thursday – hot and sunny.

More road works as we drive down to Hervey Bay. Arrive around lunch time. Another Comfort Suite. Very comfortable suite for just $99.

Have a pleasant walk down the sea front and a coffee on the beach. All very pleasant. Lovely bay. Flying foxes hang from the trees. For dinner it’s Ned Kelly pie and a Lamington – a dessert of Australian origin. It consists of squares of sponge cake coated first in a layer of traditionally chocolate icing, then in desiccated coconut. All very tasty washed down by a beer and some excellent Merlot.

Unusually breakfast is delivered to your room. Another stroppy Sheila tells us we should have pre-ordered . Do they have a special customer service and  charm school for all these Sheila’s to attend before they’re let loose on those delusional people who think they’re a customer? But alas no one told us we had to pre-order. Moral here seems to be deal with a bloke!

Friday – hot and Sunny.

Last leg of our journey down to Brisbane and onto the Tamborine mountains and our home exchange for the next 19 days.

A little travel quiz to pass away the 1,200 mile journey from Cairns to Brisbane.

What is the biggest industry in Queensland?
Mining. Well thats the Wiki answer but I’m afraid it’s wrong.
Sugar cane. Wrong.
Tourism. Wrong again.
The correct answer is road works. If you don’t believe me try driving the 1,200 miles from Cairns to Brisbane and I’m sure you’ll agree. There are even more road works than in the UK. Unbelievable and unimaginable but true.
Anyway as I just got so fed up with this every 5 minutes that I decided the best solution is if you can’t beat them join them – see picture. Minimum wage, but just think how much misery you are inflicting.

Finally make it to our home exchange. We’re in the midst of a national park and tropical rain forest, all very pleasant and cool – no I’ve not lost the plot and started using such bastardised words. Being 1,500 feet up it’s that bit cooler than on the gold coast.

The house is awesome; fantastic views over the gold coast from our bedroom, office, lounge and Wendy tells me even the kitchen; vaulted ceilings; massive deck; giant barbecue, puts even the Americans to shame; fantastic birds and parrots on the garden. So far no snakes or black spiders!




 

 

 

Went out for dinner with our hosts to a lively Irish bar with  great atmosphere and typical music.

Saturday – hot and sunny.

Our host leave early so we now have this massive house all to our selves. It’s really nice to meet up with the host and have a handover, it’s amazing how much we all have in common.

Breakfast on the deck admiring the views and birds.

Then we drive down to Coolangata – Gold Coast airport – don’t you just love those town names. Car was due to be dropped off at Brisbane Airport  as we have the use of a car with the home exchange. But Hertz are so flexible. Give them and ring and of course sir it’s no problem just drop it off at Coolangata – now that’s what I call service and no extra cost.

Then it’s the dreaded supermarket. Well I wanted to loose some weight, it’s certainly going to be easy here in Oz. Foods that expensive we can’t afford to eat.  Red cross food parcels would be greatly appreciated.

Fortunately there’s plenty of calories in red wine, that’s cheap, along with avos (advacados) – yuk!

Give Pam a ring and set up to visit her down on the Gold Coast on Tuesday.

 

 

20120902 – Singapore

Oh dear, how sad we’re leaving. the  drizzle and mist of Belthorn for 10 weeks.

Don’t you just love Heathrow. One of the top airports in the World – allegedly – the UK’s top airport and terminal 5 is their latest flagship terminal; complete with 10 minute walk, not that I mind walking but there are people less able, with not a travellator anywhere; then the ultimate shame for the UK, you have to catch a bus to terminal 3; no monorail; no underground train; a 12 minute journey with the delightful whiff of spent diesel fumes – joy.

2 hours into our journey and only 2 arguments – not bad going, even Victor would be proud. At Heathrow we follow the sign to take laptop out, but being consistent with Manchester and all other American airports I leave Wendy’s iPad in – note Wendy’s not mine. Then get my bag turned upside down, inside out and sniffed for explosives – Manchester were happy with it. Bear in mind we’ve been airside all the time.  This all takes 15 minutes as there’s a queue for the sniffer geezer. Mind you two of his colleagues are, as you would expect, keeping a watching eye out for suspicious activities, well they will be when they’ve finished discussing their recent holidays – should have stuck around as I’m sure the lurid details of their sex lives would have been next. Then sniffer geezer uses the term “you people”. Well that goes down really well. Complain to supervisor.

When will we get airport security that is consistent, has a smidgen of common sense and most important of all uses profiling .
Second discussion is with BA who are still powerless to organise isle seats for Wendy on the Singapore to Sydney flight – there I go again having this delusion that I’m a customer.

 

Great flight to Singapore with 4 seats to ourselves so we get to spread out and catch some sleep. All this way and we arrive on time – lesson for our trains there.

 

Singapore airport is superb, spotless, modern and no queue at immigration. Time for the American Singapore skyline from our balconyimmigration officials to pay a visit – no repeated scan of all fingers yet again, no stamp, stamp, stamp and no staples. The place looks spotless.

 

Our Hotel is the The Residence at The Singapore Recreation club very swish. Full gym and great pool. Rooms very well kitted out with a lovely balcony overlooking rugby fields and the Singapore sky line. It’s like a old gentlemens club but with up to date facilities. I just love the 2 notice boards that list members who are DEFAULTERS and IN ARREARS – the shame of it.

 

We venture out for some lunch or dinner or whatever it is. Find a great food plaza and try some Japanese. Wendy nearly starves to death as they only have chop sticks, but she eventually gives up and uses the giant pottery soup spoon.

 

Then pop into a supermarket for some water and milk. Amazing isn’t it, in Britain they stack sweets up near the checkout to tempt kiddies. Here they stack up different condoms! Cigarettes packets are horrifying. Not just a government health warning. Oh no. Each pack has horrific colour pictures of the various illnesses caused by smoking – gruesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well today we get to go on the “topless bus tour”. Wendy says she’s having none of it but I’m quite looking forward to it. Tad disappointed for topless read “open top” – I can feel a trades description claim coming on.

Do two bus tours and the river tour. Great way to get an overview of the city. Very impressive. By 15:00 we’ve had enough and head back  to relax and have a swim in their fabulous indoor, subterranean, swimming pool.






In the evening we venture onto the MRT (subway) to China town. Wander around all the food stalls and finally settle on a restaurant. I have to try the famous Singapore Chilli Crab. Comes with the main body crab meat in a chilli sauce but you also get the claws as well. All very nice but it does push your chop stick skills trying to tease out crabmeat from the claws. Adventurous I may be but I pass on Bull Frog, Jelly Fish and Boneless Chickens feet. I often wondered what happened to all the chickens feet when you bought a chicken in the UK. Well now I know. I wonder whether they take the bones out to reduce shipping weight?

 

During my swim I came upon the idea for two business opportunity. Export chest hair rugs to all these chest follicly  challenged baldy Orientals  and secondly create a Boneless Turkey Feet dish then we could export them as well.

 

They’re such an enterprising, friendly and helpful people. No wonder the place seems to prosper, todays headline reads “Ministry of Education to improve spoken English in primary schools. Unlike the bloody Welsh who seem to think it’s agreat idea to ram the Welsh language down childrens throats – that’ll prepare Welsh kids for a place in the 21st century world market place.

 

The network of underground stalls, shops, shops, shops, more shops, retaurants, eateries, cafes, food stalls and MRT stations is amazing. It’s a wonder all the locals are not stony broke; waddling around like a duck like Billy Bunter; suffering from rickets through lack of sunlight. Not that there isn’t plent of sun but it’s just so hot and very humid that you really don’t want to be walking. Given time, I think they’ll all become the equivalent of HG Wells’ Morlocks. With the exception that they all have smart phones permanently in their hands like some intrepid explorer and of course ear plugs in.

After a leisurely breakfast we pick up the free bus out to Sentosa. Pleasure island complete with beaches, bars, rides, Universal Studios and more ways to extract the last cent out of you than there are chop sticks in Singapore.

Have a pleasant walk around and decide on a gourmet meal at MacDonalds – at least there’s no chop sticks nor Chinese food.

 

Bus back to Suntec where we pick up the Red Bus tour and call off at Little India, dirty and seedy not a bit like the rest of Singapore. Visit the Hindu Temple for a bit of coconut throwing and watch some bananas and coconuts being taken for a walk around. All very strange; very gruesome statues; dark and dingy; dirty; another religion to be avoided.

 

 

 


Then we hope back on the bus to Raffles. Nothing dark and dingy here. It’s a toss up between tiffin or a Singapore Sling in the long bar. Certainly a hotel from another era. The Long Bar wins – free peanuts, chuck the shells on the floor. Meanwhile Original Singapore Sling for me and Tropical Sling for Wendy is a quick way of frittering away the kids inheritance – about £33 for two – and to top it all Wendy doesn’t like hers, mines great. Both have enough alcohol in them to top the Government weekly units limit. A real experience with the atmosphere of our colonial past. A tad disappointed though to find that the ceiling fans – see picture – are operated by a motor and not a Punkah Wallah – standards are obviously slipping.


Then it’s a 50 yard walk, almost stagger, back to our hotel – very convenient.

 

After a brief pause at our hotel we venture out for an evening meal in the underground Mall just across the road. More Asian cuisine, but I get to try the famous Laksa Chicken Noodle, a very hot Thai curry. Does some serious damage to taste buds, gets the sweat and endorphins flowing. One of the best curries I’ve had but another mission impossible trying to eat noodles with chop sticks.

Another leisurely breakfast and get packed ready for our overnight flight to Sydney and then onto Cairns. Decide to catch the MRT. All very fast and efficient and only S$2 each.

Well what do we like about Singapore:

Very clean; vibrant; no graffiti; no litter; no chewing gum; no scrots; modern; colourful city and roads with plants and flowers everywhere; very friendly; cosmopolitan; great hotel in an ideal location; fast and efficient MRT system; good choice of places to eat although mostly Asian; eating out seemed cheap; no traffic jams; didn’t seem overly expensive for a major city.

What do we dislike:

MRT ticket machines are a disaster; hot you expect and can cope with but the humidity is debilitating; expensive wine. Not much to dislike really.