My Travels / 31.03.2019

Have just got back from my annual visit to Longreach, staying with Simon and Nicole who are flourishing. For the entire flight, the ground was obliterated by clouds. Light rain was falling when I arrived. I have never experienced wet weather in 32 years of travelling to the town. The next day Nicole recorded 28 mm of rain and we heard two claps of thunder. We were all thrilled. I started the day going to the cattle sale, the second in a week after years of inactivity at the yard. We slopped through mire generated by hundreds of bovine hooves and had to beat a hasty retreat, ahead of a mob of steers on their way to being weighed, before we could get anywhere near the action. I counted myself lucky that my shoes hadn’t stuck fast in the mud.  

Poor Pepper, Simon and Nicole’s adorable cattle dog, had a dewclaw removed on the day of my arrival and stayed in the house overnight, while I was there. Yesterday the rain had gone elsewhere to be replaced by a dust storm blown in from New South Wales. The bird feeder in the back yard attracted numerous crested… Read Complete Text


My Travels / 27.09.2018

Simon was in Brisbane for a week to spend time with his mum and celebrate her birthday with her. The idea of a whale watching jaunt to Hervey Bay, a 3 ½ drive from Brisbane, was proposed and I was eager to join in. Simon has been whale watching there five times. The first close to thirty years ago with me. The most recent with his wife Nicole, two years ago. I’m not sure if this was Kathy’s first trip. It was my second.

Humpback whales occur in the northern and southern hemispheres. There is even an isolated population in the Arabian Sea. When the Australian whaling  industry ended in 1963, it was thought that the east coast population of humpbacks had been reduced to a little over 100 individuals. Now it is reckoned that 20,000 or more migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctic waters, so that the females can give birth in the tropical and subtropical waters of Queensland’s coast.

Hervey Bay is a whale watching hot spot. It is the home of a flourishing and valuable industry during a season which extends from late July to November. It is sheltered by Fraser Island, the… Read Complete Text


My Travels / 07.05.2018

This year’s stay with Simon & Nicole,  brief as it was, had everything – inter alia, being licked and nuzzled by their cattle dog Pepper; a convivial gathering for Simon’s birthday dinner at the Wellshot hotel in Ilfracombe (a standout being the brilliant birthday cake featuring Shaun the sheep, a present from a professional baker friend of theirs); seeing the Qantas Founders Museum’s Super Constellation being restored, thanks to Nicole (the four impressive engines, lined up on pallets, looked brand new in their shiny grey cowlings, but are not airworthy); attending Pepper’s dog training class, which was a hoot and going on walks with her and swarming flies; binging on minced beef (a keema curry and spaghetti bolognese cooked by Simon) and watching the new 65” telly which was just brilliant. The weather was cloudy, with warm day and night temperatures. I couldn’t have envisaged a more enjoyable time.

The highlight was a grand day out organised by Nicole, touring Noonbah, a working cattle station 160 km south west of Longreach, the final 60 km on well-graded dirt roads. Even before we arrived, I was thrilled to see two wedge-tailed eagles at a road kill. The station is… Read Complete Text


My Travels / 19.02.2018

For the past little while I have been checking deals for flights to Longreach in the second half of April ahead of my annual visit to Simon and Nicole, but drew a blank. Today  I found an attractive deal for early May, which I was close to booking until I was floored by a request to complete the travel insurance and global warming mitigation options which I had ignored and now couldn’t find. I gave up and tried again, only the price had significantly increased for the return leg and I gave up again. Fortunately Qantas sent me an email requesting me to finalise the original booking by midnight. The uncompleted items were on the same page as the payment details and were quickly dealt with.


My Travels / 08.10.2017

In ‘Double Whammy’, (20 October 2017) I lamented the loss of my original write-up of the trip (which lasted from September the 23rd to October the 8th) because my computer died and the hard drive containing the first 1,300 words, proved to be irretrievable. I am not game to attempt to recreate the original account, partly because of the other disaster mentioned, namely having to close down the website, which only came back on line two weeks ago (24 February 2018). Instead, I shall try and communicate the essence of the journey. It is a relief and a delight to be able to upload blog posts again.   

It took me nearly 76 years to visit every continent other than Antarctica, having touched down in Santiago on Sunday September 24. I was travelling with my son Simon, whose announcement earlier in the year that he wanted to go on holiday with his Dad was as unexpected as it was heart-warming. His wife Nicole, stayed home to look after their newly acquired cattle dog puppy, Pepper. Simon had never been to South America either. I happened to glance out of the window of the rear door of the 747… Read Complete Text


My Travels / 11.04.2017

This morning I booked our flights to Easter Island and beyond and paid the deposit on resort accommodation there. Simon is joining me on my trip and wanted to include Buenos Aires. We shall also be overnighting in Santiago between destinations. I want to go to Easter Island because of its remoteness, having been inspired by a tv series about Britain’s overseas territories which include 3 of the remotest inhabited spots on earth. Easter Island, although it belongs to Chile, is in that august company. At Art School in the ‘60s I created a totem poll inspired by a moai in the British Museum. Little did I imagine then, that I would have the prospect of visiting its place of origin more than five decades later.


My Travels / 04.04.2017

I got back from a brief stay with Simon and Nicole (my son and daughter-in-law) in Longreach late yesterday. I missed the drenching this part of the world received from ex tropical cyclone Debbie. Alas, so did Longreach which needs the rain, whereas south east Queensland doesn’t. A friend who lives near my place recorded 345 mm of rain over two days. I fell in love with Pepper, a four month old cattle dog puppy who is the latest addition to the household. Numerous birds visit the garden, including a Little Kingfisher which I had seen last year.

On the second evening we had a convivial dinner at a noted outback pub and pulled off the road to drink in the night sky in all its glory, aided by a uniformly flat horizon and the absence of any moonlight. Shadowy kangaroos, illuminated by the headlights, lined both sides of the road home.

Next day we drove to a town in the neighbouring shire with a pub and perhaps three dozen dwellings, seeing some emus as well as cattle and sheep along the way, also visiting an abandoned sheep station which has been made into a national park…. Read Complete Text


My Travels, Other / 11.02.2017

I have long thought I arrived in Australia at the end of February thirty years ago, but couldn’t remember the date. Wanting to mark the occasion here, I ferreted around to see what I could find and came across an old UK passport which unfortunately replaced the one I arrived with, the following year.

Happily, my old metal document case yielded the key paperwork relating to my move, including the Qantas ticket for my flight from Heathrow to the Gold Coast. I landed at Sydney on February 11. I remember over-nighting at the airport hotel, scarcely believing I was actually in Australia and only a relatively short distance and a matter of hours away from folding Simon, my beloved five year old son, in my arms. He had preceded me to Australia with his mother and her partner nearly a year before.

I was forty five years old when I came to Australia, straight from London to Tamborine Mountain, where I have lived ever since; my longest ever sojourn in the same place. Australia has been extremely good to me, allowing me to live a better life than I ever could in the UK, both materially and,… Read Complete Text


My Travels / 25.07.2016

I left home on June 24 and returned on July 25, spending an ideal four weeks on the other side of the world. My hope for a happy landing in London was shattered during my stop-over in Singapore, when I learned that the UK had voted to leave the EU in the previous day’s referendum, casting the nation’s public and political life into shock and turmoil. The vote dominated conversation with family, friends and strangers. To me it was an own goal. Mercifully, before I flew to Germany, Theresa May had filled  what seemed an agonisingly protracted governmental void by becoming Prime Minister. But all the while life around me continued as usual.

The focus of my journey was to be with family and friends, fitting in sightseeing, the subject of this post, between engagements in London and combining sightseeing and staying with Clive in Somerset and with Peter and Gaby (my cousin Leila’s younger son and his wife) in Germany. I had the unique pleasure of spending time with Jaap and his partner Elisabeth in Holland, (his country of birth which he only left when he was in his forties) where I also met his elder sister… Read Complete Text


My Travels / 21.03.2016

Got back from staying with Simon and Nicole (my son and daughter-in-law) in Longreach for a few days. They have just bought their first house which is spacious and welcoming. The evaporative air conditioning system is brilliant, keeping the house cool and fresh while allowing windows to remain open to benefit from any breezes. This post is mainly about natural history and the land. One feature which delighted me was the abundant bird life in their small garden. 

The birds are attracted to a feeder and a bath under the overhanging branches of a substantial tree. Crucially there is a small clump of bushes on the other side of the boundary fence providing shade and perches for all comers. Crested Pigeons and Yellow-throated Miners were the dominant species with a variety of smaller birds, including Diamond Doves and a Little Kingfisher.

Simon showed me a bottle tree sapling which Nicole had given him as a wedding anniversary present. While taken with the beauty of the thought behind the gift, I was thrown by the proportions of the leaves which made me doubt if it was a bottle tree at all, so unlike the narrow, tapering leaves of… Read Complete Text