Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Whats Another Year Between Friends ?

Posted: September 5, 2021 in Travel

Spring has sprung and seemed a suitable time to look ahead for future plans and I better get in quick as Summer will be here in Maryhole next week 😦 Of course, at present should have the Bermuda shorts and thongs on and be sitting in a Norway Hotel in Bergen waiting to board our Vikings Homeland 15 days Ocean cruise. I had been in training all winter to get the sluggos out as well

Alas, that too has gone the way of the DoDo bird. We have had more trips planned than a Cameron Munster training run and as each season passes another one is cancelled. #firstworldproblemsstillmatterright? Lets try and update the current situation

Our Ocean Cruise was pretty easy to “cancel” and keep our $1000 deposit from another cruise to be booked by September 2023. Too easy.

NYC Feb 2021 was kinda optimistic maybe but who wasnt optimistic back in January 2020. Hell, the Broncos were still a Top 4 pick then…. Contacted Hotel Beacon (having paid 2 grand upfront for a good , if not refundable, deal) and they graciously agreed to carry it over to Feb 2022 maybe because at that time they had less bookings then The Overlook Hotel. Sweet. Some ice and snow before African sweat and flies. Looking at USA at present they seem to have a relaxed approach to people gathering and thus bookings no longer a problem going by the opening game of college football this weekend! I shall contact the Hotel but dont like my chances and does raise the real problem developing. As one postpones one trip, the new dates clash with another trip planned 18 months previously

Call Me Bwana” 2020 quickly became “Call Me Bwana” 2021. T Shirts were adjusted of course along with mood natch.

March 2022 looked a safe bet right even if “its not a race”! Qantass will maybe start some international flights in a staged process from December. Doesnt look like its alphabetical though with UK and US in December – yeah right, eh ScoMo – but Johannesburg in April 2022. Last time I checked , April comes after March even if by a bee’s dick. Factor in that South Africa has more variants of COVID 19 than a pack of M&Ms and you just know Africa 2022 was never going to happen. Lets push it back one more time to March 2023 given that as we were one day from actually flying out in 2020 we had paid a shitload of money already and despite travel insurance no refunds were coming. Credits are good though and just adjust for price increases each year. What could go wrong?

Ah yes, back in early 2021 we booked a river cruise for my 65th birthday in Feb 2023 to sail down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans in what was officially referred to (but no T Shirts printed – fool me once…..)as “Old Man on Da River” Clever eh. Not so clever, another $1000 deposit paid. Another postponement is called for but running out of room this decade to squeeze in another trip and more importantly actually save up for it.

So, at present we may head to Tasmania for a month next February. I may try and get to USA around October 2022 but probably not NYC. Africa is locked in – that is called humour folks – for March 2023 and we may see if Viking Cruises do a Nile River cruise in an Ocean liner just to use up both of our deposits and tack it on the end.

A lot depends on vaccination rates in Australia I guess and what our leaders have promised us apart from misery and suffering to continue. Not sure even 80% will ensure smooth travels though….

Day 2 Official Wear South African Souvenir Day

Given we never got to South Africa the choice was simple

Today dawned bright and clear only interrupted by the noise of planes taking off nearby. Apparently. Good nights sleep in our luxurious suite . I wondered why CLP was not still sound asleep beside me given it was only 8am 😏 Then I opened the curtains and bugger me if she wasn’t waving from window seat 19E as QF 507 took off . On time of course ….

Then I heard the kettle boil and realised it was of course morning cuppa time and CLP was doing sheila duties . Ouch . The person I saw in the window seat must have been Rita Wilson finally leaving . What will I do now that I can’t follow her daily Instagram on “ What to do when in Isolation”? 🤬

So, today’s plan was rather simple. Don’t get COVID-19 . Leisurely walk into adjacent shopping complex for a hearty breakfast at Coffee Club . We wanted some Vegemite on Toast but fucking Tom Hanks had ordered every jar in Qld to take back with him. We settled for a couple of share plates as you do

Leisurely check out 0930 to move onto next run down detention centre for last night in Brisvegas. Locals call it the Stamford Plaza . All joking aside things are getting serious and we will be very low key today and stay mostly around the hotel. Certainly wont be going to any Irish Pubs. In hindsight we could have gone home today but we are sensible folk and really a night of relaxed comfort not a bad idea after the stress of last week . Some promising news from Safari Sam from two of our 3 booked camps – we can postpone our stay to later . This does indeed mean a return to South Africa between Nov 2020 and March 2021 is still a possibility. Better be 2020 actually as have the T Shirt already . A lot of ducks have to line up – and then hope a Hippo doesn’t swallow them all. Seriously though I fear international flights will not be anywhere near normal for at least 6 months and who knows who will survive that period . It’s a new and different world folks.

In my general relaxed approach at present it is best not to look at Stock Market 😰 First world problems admittedly but let’s face it we could all be living in third world countries soon 😏 We strolled through the “only 24/7 Woolworths “ for a laugh at the DFO megacomplex this morning and of course no toilet rolls, hand sanitiser etc. Aussies buy toilet rolls, Yanks buy guns. After they get their AK 47 do they then go shopping for toilet paper but with attitude 🤔

Arrived at second detention camp – known locally as Stamford Plaza – at 10 am and very pleasantly surprised to see we could get to our room straight away. Time then to hit the pool for a chill and dip

Weather was still pleasant so walked around to our usual haunt at Felons Brewery for a liquid lunch and watch the world go by . Of course there were no cruise ships . I did think it was very thoughtful of the locals to populate the river with some Hippos when they saw our T Shirts. Looked scary but quiet friendly

Time to relax for a few hours this afternoon then . Of course when we walked back into room the message on screen made us sad but ultimately we have made the right decision

Last treat tonight will be dinner at Kabuki Japanese restaurant on site. Will be a unique experience to remember and maybe the last one for a while . Home to Flashman Inc tomorrow before really home to reality – Maryhole – in afternoon . CLP and I will then take a couple of days off the grid and not watch any news or look at any booking sites ! The latest news on Qantas is very grim for everyone, especially staff, for the foreseeable future

In general would say our African Holiday was fun and the locals very friendly . They are sarcastic assholes though. Later dudes

Coronavirus 1 Bwana Boy 0

Posted: March 16, 2020 in Travel

It’s been a stressful 48 hrs and despite many negative signs we were pushing on with South Africa trip until 7 pm on Sunday March 15th. The Ides of March . We looked at each other and both said almost simultaneously I’ve had enough. I thought CLP was talking about the lovely cheese platter but in fact we both meant Call Me Bwana 2020 was dead on arrival or at least before take off. It’s a very serious issue not helped by incompetence at the top and across the world . When Scotty from marketing said around 2 pm that all incoming travellers to Australia would be forced to self imposed exile for 14 days from midnight tonight we knew it was over finally. That and that the guy was a fuckwit – how can you give 10 hrs notice of a drastic measure like that . 48 hrs minimum numbnuts.

We could almost certainly have flown out Tuesday and arrived at Johannesburg. After that who knows and chances of getting home 10 days later very slim. This thing won’t get better in 2 weeks only worse . As the Bishop said to the actress

By then Qantas had finally agreed to fee free change but still waiting for the detail because that is where the Devil lingers . We had to come to Brisbane really as wanted to see Mum , Grandkiddies and also had this non refundable hotel room and 2 weeks airport parking! We thought if we get Qantas refund and have to use by May let’s fly to Melbourne for a few days . Unpack SA gear and repack some Melbourne gear . Not that simple
for us trend setters

Day 1

As we booked with a Travel Agent getting Qantas refund not very easy and certainly not quick. Will never use a TA again for anything . Certainly not getting refund in next 48 hrs so Melbourne off – not necessarily a bad thing . Drove down and saw Mum in basic lockdown and then decided to park at Station and head into city for a couple hours as too early for hotel . Decided to check deals at Stamford Plaza which were good so booked an extra night there for Day 2 and then head home Wednesday . By now the gloom was slowly lifting so naturally we went to the nearest Irish Pub for some luck but still needed to wallow first. Here is one I prepared earlier

Then it was time to imbibe. Didn’t dawn on us yet that it was day before St Paddy’s Day. They had a great deal on for a free hat with 2 pints of Guinness. Still mourning but soldiered on

Sent CLP up to bar to order lunch and she worked her charm so came back with another hat and two caps. Things were looking up

Suitably sated time to head to our hotel. Room was ready and nice room even if on level 1 . Been a rough night and long day so time for a nana nap. 10 mins in and the ruckus started in hallway . Looked outside and 4 young natives in shorts and carrying towels were practising scrums outside ! Rang reception and told them only natives I wanted to see were in Africa and that ain’t happening sweetheart . She was actually brilliant. She changed us from our pleasant room on 1 st floor to a lovely suite on level 3 at end of hall way. Knobber Knobber . Seems the Papua Guinea Rugby League boys were stranded here too

We caught up on FaceTime with our excellent Safari Travel Agent and it appears we may be able to postpone the safari stay in camps and return at a later date to use our “ credit” This may not happen or indeed suit but at least there is light at end of tunnel. We would still lose some money on internal flights etc but nothing like the 30 k the land component has cost. Time to relax then for a few. We usually stay at Novotel Airport before holidays and have two traditions . First one is have a beer in the bar. Second one is catch a plane the next day! Looks like it’s two beers then dear

To Be Continued on Day 2 – Offical Wear African T Shirt Day

Call Me BwanaVirus

Posted: March 9, 2020 in Travel

With 1 week to go now one would normally move into the tad excited phase but we find ourselves in a different world these days. Things are a bit up in the air, lets just hope that includes our Qantas plane next week !

At present, South Africa is one of the better places to visit “risk-wise”. Viewers may be shocked to know that I lean just a bee’s dick toward pessimism on the scale of things so do wonder whether this is a true reflection of situation or reflects limited testing, poor communication etc. This brings into focus then the twin aspects of this situation. Real threat and Perceived threat.

The real threat exists even if overstated at times. Irresponsible reporting abounds but doesnt take away from fact that this is serious. This trip is not only a once in a lifetime type experience though but also celebrates the significant milestone of CLP 60th birthday which we have now waited 10 yrs to celebrate. Apparently 🙂 Ouch. For these and many other reasons we are very keen to go and believe that we can protect ourselves as best as anyone and are in one of the lesser at risk categories. Lets face it, we are not known for our socialising or need to interact with anyone else…… Of course , as Mother use to always say, its not you dear but those other drivers on the road. I see daily evidence of ignorance and a perfect example is our gym. Its not a hotspot of infection of course but is a petri dish waiting to happen. Why you ask? Because people are ignorant assholes. Despite 100 signs up about “wipe down equipment after use” and at least 3 large dispensers of said wipes strategically located the compliance rate is about 30%! I wipe down everything and wash hands at least every 10 minutes trust me. In fact the muscles in my fingers are the only ones getting bigger at present 😦 These are the same idiots who on way home from gym drop into shop for another 100 toilet rolls naturally. Then there is of course blissful ignorance you cant do much about

In a way the perceived threat is more dangerous to our holiday. By this I mean that the decision could be taken out of our hands by the Government, Qantas or both. Both acting in good faith of course and doing what they believe to be the best option. Cynical little me wonders why not total travel ban yet on Italy coming here but then one remembers Ferrari are coming for the F1 GP. If ban is suddenly put in place after GP I rest my case Your Honour. Given how slow the government has moved on such places and the fact there are no such concerns with South Africa at present you would assume the Government is unlikely to ban us in next 7 days. The irony of course would be if South Africa banned entry from Australia. That particular irony would not be met with a smile on this dial by the way

Qantas , on the other hand, deal with two factors. The health risk and the economic risk with the latter of most concern I imagine. This morning they have acted and closed some routes, shifted to smaller planes etc. Interestingly, or of most concern, is these measures are in place until mid-September , although with some flexibility stated. USA has been included which may surprise but seems to reflect reduced bookings more than anything else. They wont send half full planes every day and one can understand this. There is only one daily flight to SA and checking my Expert Flyer app our flight at present is half full and no doubt always some late takers. Hard to get accurate read with so many “blocked seats” still. I suspect USA could be the sleeping giant here given their slow response and incompetence at the top.The stock market has also taken a massive hit but as with these instances previously you just have to ride it out

All in all would say quietly confident of flying out next Tuesday and a little less confident of being able to fly back in 10 days later. Of interest for Theologians specifically but also fans in general is that if hit with a 14 day quarantine on return will arise again on Easter Sunday like that other guy. It seems so right that it is almost depressing in its inevitable likelihood

In other news the US Democratic primaries have certainly been interesting especially the last week. Out of the ashes rose one guy who probably should be dead to duke it out with another one who could easily beat him to the grave

Its a sad state of affairs really. Genuine concerns for Affable Joe’s mental state. Not a betting man but would say early dementia a distinct possibility. The actions of Buffoon Bob are too bizarre and numerous to try and list but I have a “HUNCH” this virus could finish him off electorally.

In good news the Womens World Cup cricket final was brilliant. Great entertainment first up, great crowd and great game – if u r an Aussie. On International Women’s Day Channel 9 chose to punt this game to GEM so as not to interrupt the usual MAFS screening on 9. It was great to see so many young girls in the 86,000 crowd at MCG if for no other reason then it meant they chose to go rather than stay home and watch that detritus MAFS on TV.

Will sign off now and see what the next week brings. For several reasons communication may be limited during our Safari. Lets just hope one reason is I am not stuck on Robben Island with Joe Biden…..

Pack Ya Bags Son

Posted: January 4, 2020 in Travel

2020 has started as expected – on January 1st.

Looking at my calendar the next 13 months is looking rather special on the travel front if not the bank account front. Mind you with Buffoon Bob unleashed in an election year what exactly are we saving up for apart from Armageddon? I suspect the financial markets may be massaged until November rolls around but after that all bets are off methinks. Either he goes full catatonic when he loses or full catatonic when he wins. Imagine him unleashed and not trying to get re elected in 2024. I digress

First up of course is Call Me Bwana aka The African Safari. In March we fly over to South Africa , cuddle some baboons (CLP well trained already) and molest a Meerkat or two in a rather whirlwind 2 weeks. Short expensive holidays are my new mantra this year. Back home just in time to start dreaming of daytime temperatures below 30 degrees in a matter of months only. 😦 There may be a short stay in Melbourne at a short stay apartment in July if for no other reason than I love that symmetry. And cold weather

In mid October ie pre Election, a short trip to USA to finally see Las Vegas and then a few days in Santa Monica. As we know What happens in Santa Monica……. is hardly worth blogging about. Out and back in 2 weeks again so could almost leave the bins out to be honest. Then its back to USA in February 2021 ie Post Election, to fave old haunt of NYC (yes things like minds do change)and an adjacent snowy city most likely Philadelphia. Again 2 weeks max. Its a lot of flying maybe but generally closer to pointy end than fat end if ya get my drift so no great impost. And I may finally snag that Gold FF badge to go with my 25 m Breastroke Certificate.

What is of slight interest/concern with these trips is I have booked most of accommodation already and no flights. Generally not recommended but I live life on the edge – well to be honest I do prefer the aisle as is easier to get to toilet and I have a note from my Urologist who luck would have it am seeing in 2 weeks time for “further investigations” . Getting old aint fun. Unless you still travel a lot. Anyhoo, booking Las Vegas and Santa Monica not a big deal as both are free cancellations up to October. New York is a little different 🙂 The Aussie $ is like petrol prices. Remember how we first complained when petrol went north of $1.30 a litre. Now we rejoice when it stays under $1.50. Its all called conditioning. When Aussie $ first fell into the 60s the sky fell in. Now if it looks like breaking 70c again we start buying shares in Nascar teams. And Apple Pie. In 2019 which seems more like 2017 now stayed at the Hotel Beacon having given up on usual plan of finding a “legal short term rental” in the city that never sleeps…… in short term rentals it appears. Stay away from hotels in general but was very happy with Beacon. You can pay a bit extra for a high floor and corner room. Windows would be nice of course. They have changed their room descriptions a bit and also did not see option for “pay up front , make heap big savings” . As I was a tad bored as it was after 7 am on any given day dropped Chauncey at the front desk at Hotel Beacon a very early gentle enquiry about options 12 months in advance wrt early payment discounts. He assured me they did still offer that and what dates would you like? This was all happening a bit quick but worked out avoid Valentines on 14th and President Day holiday on 15th and fly mid week as that is usual criteria for any good Qantas deals – if they ever release them! Before you could say ScoMo is a Goose an offer was on the table which when all things considered, but mostly the woeful exchange rate, was rather enticing. As in only $100 AUD more then what I paid back in 2019 for same room type and same length stay. So I hooked in and paid up front. Yep, no cancellation possible. At least with the CC you get closer to the going rate of 69.8 c than the 66 c that CBA gouge you with on international money transfers.

So, now just have to wait for some flight deals to arrive at least for October. Not rushing in for Philly accommodation as VRBO still legal there and their prices are actually higher this far out. Should be an exciting and busy 13 months with a variety of destinations spread over time. Of course it will be hard after Feb 2021 and reality kicks in again

Oh thats right we are cruising like a Viking to Russia in September 2021 🙂

Unless Buffoon Bob nukes it first I guess

RtR – Thats a Wrap

Posted: November 12, 2019 in Travel

Our lodgings in Muscle Creek were very good although for a spacious house in pleasant temperatures the bedroom was very warm and needed fan on during night. Never going to be a great sleep with early start but a delicious home cooked meal and no alcohol at least gave us a fighting chance. Woke at 5 and had a very healthy continental breakfast laid out for us which made it easy. On the road at 545 am just as the Sun was considering getting out of bed. On full alert for kangaroos at this time of day but avoided all. Cant say he same for many others. The number of dead animals on side and middle of highways during our drives has been alarming. Not only are many animals killed sadly but also drivers are put at risk and a lot of damage to cars I imagine. We were breaking up the long 11 hr drive in regular breaks and the first one was Tamworth because it had a Maccas:) Next up was Warialda because it was 2 hrs further on and and had a rest stop. There is logic here but not always the same one….

It was starting to get warm as we neared Qld border and as it was 11 am on the 11th of the 11 th we duly observed our 1 mins silence of remembrance on the road. Then we crossed into Qld at Texas , gained an extra hour to live and the temp hit 30 degrees for first time in a few months. My heart did skip a beat but that could have been the Egg and Sausage McMuffin I had a few hrs ago to be fair. Then 20 mins later we observed another minutes silence at 11 am! As Peter Allen would say “But no matter how far or how wide I roam” I doubt I will ever have 2 minutes of remembrance 20 mins apart on Nov 11th again

My sense of direction has never won any awards so had to trust Chief Navigator and Mintie Supplier CLP that while it seemed we may have been heading North West we were getting closer to Brisbane and ultimate destination of Flashman Inc HQ at Sunny Coast. After a good run and clever planning we probably made our only mistake of the trip and thought we would stop at Coffee Club in Warwick for a sit down lunch because had only been sitting down for the previous 7 hrs. It was also time to hand over to Brockie for the final 25 laps. The mistake of expecting quick service for the relatively simple request of 2 x TCTS was compounded by a common theme this holiday. Bloody old farts taking forever to place an order JUST AHEAD OF US. FFS. Then we opted for “just tap water” please and she followed it to a tee. Two unwashed glasses bought out straight from tap! So after wasting 30 mins there back on road for a short detour to Beachmere to see da boys as only briefly glanced them at Wedding.

In 11 hrs on the road plenty of time to talk and change plans if not clothes. Given we would now be home on Monday late arvo the only other appointment on calendar was Martin and Short at Boondall Entertainment Centre on Wednesday Night at 8 pm. This would involve driving down and back same night and then up at 4 am next morning for trip back to Maryhole AKA Reality. Didnt seem such a grand plan heading to Warwick so opted to bail as much as do love Martin and Short. CLP will still go and just hope she can see the stage through the tears of me not being there. So I got up at 4 am on Tuesday instead and drove back home. Did washing, rearranged dust in yard, bought some groceries and started to catch up on the 327 shows I had missed. Back on GC tomorrow and already back at My Barista panting at the door at 5:29 am. Its the simple things that count

So some “Flashies

Best Wedding Attended Small field, clear winner

Best Accomodation Adagio at Kangaroo Island but did come at a price

Best Value Accomodation Araleun at Gundagai. Half a house and great breakfast

Best Bucket List Item Hot Air Balloon at Hunter Valley

Best Meal Cooked by Us Frenchie Cooking at St Kilda

Best Cellar Door Wynns at Coonawarra

Best Family Feed and Free Alcohol Ferguson Windy Hill B&B

Best Fun Had While Drinking Free Alcohol Cards Against Humanity

Best Natural Attraction

Oops – Admirals Arch

Best Drive No real bad ones really. Some boring ones and usually on the best roads. The drive through Victoria from Coonawarra to Harcourt North was probably best. Cool, overcast day. No traffic. Tree lined highways yada yada yada

Worst Sleep Lakeview Motel @ Robe. Hotel and room was fine but ignorant asshole next door kept me up most of night

Most Fun Hitting Golf Balls at Australia from Dudley Wines

Worst Tourist Experience Paddle Steamer on Murray. Dull and Boring

Dullest Town in Australia Barmedman

Daylight Robbery still in 2019 $9 slice of Fruit Cake at Jerilderie

Worst Service Frau Blucher at Das Kaffeehaus, Castlemaine

And so the final tally

Road to Rooin’ 2019 – The Wrap

Klms Travelled ~ 7000 k
Daughters Married – 1
Car accidents – 0
Speeding Fines – 0 ( received by 11.11 anyway…)
Roos hit by us – 0
Roos hit by others – 671 😢
Minutes of Remembrances observed 11.11@11 am – 2 x 1
Love of Daylight Saving – 0
Love of Victorian Weather – 1,000,000
Bottles Wine bought home – 30
Bottles of Wine shipped – 48
Time until plan next holiday – 0.1 sec

RtR – Muscling up at The Creek

Posted: November 10, 2019 in Travel

Not a bad nights sleep at all although did have horrible dreams about an especially ugly Geisha woman molesting me while grinning mischievously . Did wake to a beautiful day and likely the last sub 30 degree day will see until May next year 😰

After the roaring (as in Trucks driving past) success of Little Dullsville last night we decided to go down the small town path again for our last night away. Yes, fans it all ends today as plans have changed and a 12 hr drive home to Sunny (and Hot) Coast tomorrow awaits. It’s been a blast but all things end. And then the next thing starts. 🤓

First though a 6 hr drive to Muscle Creek just outside Tendon Town. Also known as Muswellbrook:) For first half we seem to be following the trail of the poet and didnt know it. Yeowal was the childhood town of Banjo Patterson. It would have been a lonely childhood, no wonder he left. Then we passed through Wellington which is very much Duelling Banjos territory . More heads than hats needed if u get my drift. Had a forgettable coffee but it was a needed 2 hr stop. Finally then it was onto Henry Lawson territory and Gulgong where he spent his childhood. Imagine if Henry and Banjo had hooked up in Wellington? Maybe they did, would explain the townsfolk ….

It was now back on the road and time to decide whether to push on through to Muscle Creek or would it be too much strain? We saw a pub in Merriwa 50 mins out and they had been few and far between so stopped for lunch and a beer. The Royal Hotel was a bit rough but had a separate dining area and toilets so we had a steak sandwich. In the dining area, not the toilets . Very filling and perfect fodder for time of day

One our way through NSW have passed a couple of large open cut Coal Mines but none as “impressive” as the one in the Upper Hunter. The backdrop of the mountains in the background is startling but also distressing in a way

The final push had us at our Air BnB around 230 pm. This host has English Staffys in a closed off area but they seemed friendly enough . It’s a lovely house and plenty of room to spread out in with communal areas. We have opted for the home cooked dinner so basically not going anywhere until 6 am tomorrow morning

After all this driving it must be time for a break. Ah there’s one . Later dudes and dudettes

RtR – Bustling Barmedman

Posted: November 9, 2019 in Travel

Accomodation not too bad noise wise apart from usual hallway cacophony until about 930 pm. You know, 90 mins after bedtime! Today’s plan then was to continue slow march north but to start staying in BnBs rather than “motels” in quiet towns. Ladies and Gentlemen , I present Barmedman – the original one horse town until the horse sadly passed away last year due to boredom . First up though is a short walk back into Echuca for breakfast on a beautiful morning .

We chose the Mediterranean Shebani’s for breakfast on a local recommendation and it was excellent. Great food and good coffee – and then I tried the Arabian version. So strong you could stand your spoon up in it!

Time then to pack up and leave on our way home. It was about a 4.5 hr trip but took us ages to check out as the lifts wouldnt close. Then we realised why!

Only on the road a few minutes and suddenly an air of superiority descended over me and everyone in the streets around looked like zombies – and the really dumb kind. Then I realised why…..

It was a good road but man was it boring. Long and straight through flat, brown land. We stopped after 2 hrs at Jerilderie. This town was famous 150 yrs for a well known robbery by Kelly, Ned. We were hit with the most recent lesser known robbery of $9 for a piece of fruit cake!

Back on the road for the final leg and as we entered Bland Shire we knew we must be close 🤓 Dull and Boring Country wouldnt fit on a sign I guess. We arrived in Barmedman and were wary not to blink. Waiting for the traffic at main intersection was a hassle but we pushed on to the famnous Mineral Springs before the crowds took over. Two great looking pubs on opposite corners and so clean – certainly no humans cluttering up the place. Both closed. In fact the Main Street looked like a scene out of any post apocalypse movie excluding Coppola Classic natch.

Finally we found our Air BnB. Great view but a bitch carrying the bags in

Oops, turned left instead of right. Kortmar Manor was the actual place and looked like an odd little oasis in an odd little town – population 214. It was previously a Convent and so we prayed for a good nights sleep. It is a lovely and comfortable place but despite the fact we are basically in Bumfuck,Idaho we are on the B85 Highway between West Wyalong and Temora and for some reason trucks seem to love it rather than the nearby Newell 🤔 Oh well

Of interest, I guess, is that the owner breeds Shiba dogs which I can only assume is what happens when a Dingo shags a Corgi?

On a serious note the bushfires are devastating at present in parts of NSW and apart from the more important issues to the locals it is also impacting on roads we may travel on in next two days. We should get to Muscle Creek tomorrow near Muswellbrook but after that some decisions may need to be made which may involve a 10 hr driving day. First world problems compared to the suffering of those directly affected by bushfires

RtR – Beer Paddle with Steamer

Posted: November 8, 2019 in Travel

Some heavy rain early in morning raised some concerns but all cleared to a nice morning by 7am. A final breakfast with family had us on the road for a relatively short trip to Echuca. The reason we decided to stop here on way home was to do the Gin, Beer and River Trail on a Paddle Steamer up and down Murray River. As you do. As we may be a tad blotto afterwards are staying at Quest Apartments in Echuca, stumbling distance from Dock.

Good run up had us at Quest in plenty of time for our 11:30 cruise and drinkery. Of course room not ready “but we will ring you” . Yeah right. At least we could park off street under cover so that was main point. Time then to walk the streets of Echuca and get a coffee. Very picturesque town indeed but odd mix of shops, at least near the river port. Heaps of cafes , pubs, eateries and – I shit you not – 3 Xmas shops in same street in less than 100 m. Had a nice coffee and a walk but sadly no beer with Duncan. We were actually in High Street rather than town centre , hence the eclectic mix of shops

Meandered down to Port area and a themed street with quaint and quirk in equal measure. Many companies offer cruises but finally we found ours . It was starting to drizzle a little but mostly passing scuds. Luckily the sun wasn’t out because someone knicked my golf cap!

As 11:30 arrived as did the heavy rain. The SS Rustbucket was moored at dock amongst the other 37 there but easy enough to board. Not a lot of research done apart from beer and Gin being involved but just assumed it would be a group doing the “trail”. Nope, we just caught the Padddle Steamer that happened to leave at 11:30. Have to say glad didn’t fork out the $1000 we contemplated for an overnight cruise. After 5 mins I was bored rigid. The Murray is dull as dishwater and colour to match. Full of other steamers and houseboats. The captain was a handsome devil though and had an authorative presence.

Took 15 mins to reach our next dock and then a short walk to Morrison Winery. Very impressive looking place and as if on cue the sun came out. Well organised and our beer paddle was awaiting us. And only us. The other 2 couples that also got off just had a lunch bought out. We ordered lunch and it was excellent. Then we did a wine tasting as boat was still 30 mins away

Steamer trip back was equally dull even in good weather . The other part of our ticket then was a Gin Tasting. Once again, poor research led us not to know that we had to walk to The Distillery in town for tastings. So we decided to check into Quest as it was after 230 pm. Had I been called as promised? Ah nope. Apartment looks fine for what it is and all we need. Just hope noise isn’t an issue later

About 4 pm we headed out to The Distillery for our Gin tastings and it was excellent. Great presentation and tonic provided. We were a bit shaggus by now so picked up some Fish and Chips for dinner to take back to unit and eat. Have our breakfast cafe selected already and no great rush to leave tomorrow as we are heading to Bonnie Doon or something and place is a one street town south of West Wyalong. Should be quiet and dull. Sweet

RtR – Cavorting in Castlemaine

Posted: November 7, 2019 in Travel

A sensible approach, finally, to the guzzling caper had us refreshed after a good nights sleep. Last full day with family in Harcourt before we head to Echuca tomorrow as we slowly make our way home. The weather forecast is not good but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Here is one I prepared earlier

Before sampling the delights of Castlemaine we did a slight detour to Red Hill to check out an old mining site. Quite interesting and was surprised to find a couple of gold diggers still loitering

Then it was finally time to check out Castlemaine and wander the Main Street looking for quirk and coffee. As is often the way in Victoria there are excellent “food” shops even in relatively small towns. We did stop in at Saffs for our morning coffee and once again the milky weak variety, though totally drinkable, was on offer. Wasn’t going to complain to waiter mind you as looked like he didnt take no shit from anyone. Or sunshine apparently

I had been threatened with 3 laps of the Botanical Gardens but as luck would have it it started to rain. So, we stopped in at a Patisserie on way home to give our diabetes a kick along and then….. it stopped raining. Back to the Gardens then where I was welcomed with open arms and away we go

I made one lap and then remembered that the Shedshaker Coffee Brewery Complex was across the road so bid adieu to The Ladies in Lavender and said would meet them for lunch at Das Kaffeehaus. It’s an Austrian setup and they had certainly mastered the level of service seen in European culture often. I asked Frau Blucher behind counter for a Cortado and she was nonplussed. She asked if I came from Spain and I said no, give me a Flat White. She went away, came back with some streudel and said the Colombian barista knew what a Cortado was, move down. Sweet. Barista then said “Do you come from Spain? “ “Ok yeah sure why not if it is a requirement to actually get a Cortado. Ole “ I went out on Disco floor and drank my coffee

By now the LIL were back and we decided to have our lunch here as well. Apparently there is a little known Austrian tradition that you get a glass of water with any order. Our clown waiter was struggling with our order and I saw Frau Blucher walking past with a bottle of water and glasses. Big mistake …

I asked for some water and her scowl actually got worse than normal. Luckily the horses were back in the stall

Eventually our order of drinks arrived and to be fair they did get 2 out of 3 right . The two beers, one of which was Trump Piss. Go figure. The white wine Lorraine ordered – Grüner Veltliner – was delivered in a warm jug and was red like a mulled wine. Called Fritz over to replace – or you know, actually get order right – so now we had pissed off most of the Service staff. Our work here was done. I got the Weiner Wurstel with kaiser roll and mustard while the LIL had Chicken Schnitzel Toasted sangers. Always say, two sausages are better than one and twice the fun

And so our lovely few days in Harcourt of the North variety was coming to an end with an early start tomorrow to hopefully catch a slow moving Paddle Steamer on way to Winery/Ginery in Echuca. Once again, plan to have a sensible night alcohol wise but with big brother back in the frame chances are slim……