Last day – Friday 25th May 2012


The bay last night was incredibly quiet. Even when two tiny fishing boats pottered round us, we could hardly hear their engines. Breakfast was beautiful. Tinkling spoons in mugs of steaming coffee, contented murmurs from the crew, were the only sounds above the harmonious bells from a row of sheep as they walked up a distant hill.

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It was only ten miles to Lemnos capital, Myrina. One of the least tourist capitals- low key with a mild military presence, a wide variety of shops and lots and lots of roadworks.
We ate lunch just off the harbour in a small taverna, then walked round. It was quite a surprise to find 6 supermarkets and 4 bread shops. I mean big supermarkets with more than four isles!
We bought our water in a delightful shop. Quite large, rather dark, sells everything from broom handles to seeds with the odd tin thrown in. There was no one to serve us, despite our coughing and calling. Eventually, a young boy about 7 crept out of a store room and looked at us. I began my six phrases of Greek. “kalamera, endaxsi, yassas, ephraisto, parakalo.”. Mostly meaning hello, pease thank you. Whilst I amused the boy with this, I pointed with animation at the water bottles, the till, some coins we had in our hand. Nothing! So I tried again. Pointing to tills, money, pen and paper to request the price of the water. Nothing!!
The boy seemed overwhelmed by our presence and simply looked at us. He did not smile or show any sign of understanding at all. Eventually John counted out, what felt a suitable, average price for water and offered this to him. He took the handful of coins and notes and nodded.
Back on board, we cleaned the yacht, scrubbing and polishing with a will. The next crew turn up tomorrow mid day on the same plane that we will need to fly out. I know one of the couples and Louise knows the other, so we want them to feel comfortable.

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We have time to walk around the town at leisure and find an Internet cafe. Whilst on our travels, we come across the road works. Many roads are closed for this but pedestrians can walk by. Down a hole I spot two umbrellas sheltering the workmen from the sun. What a contrast to yesterday!
Our last meal is lovely. We have enjoyed each others company. We eagerly discuss the memories of the sailing and the many villages we have seen.
Tomorrow we need to leave by 10.30.
It’s a strange thing that I have been retired now for 10 months. Six and a half of these we have been traveling! I can honestly say that I have not been bored for one moment. Retirement seems to have given me a new lease of life. I feel much more centred, comfortable about me. I thought I would miss being a head teacher so much, but no. Sometimes, I think about the hundreds of children I taught or cared for. They made my life fulfilled and occupied my thoughts almost exclusively. I am happy for the involvement I had with each and everyone of them. But I cannot say I miss them. I am happy for them. They move on from class to class, from school to school. I move on to other things.
So
Moving house next!

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A night in a bay – Wednesday 16th May 2012


It’s a lovely town, Pythagorio. Clearly used to tourists, but, as it is early in the season, there are many glimpses of everyday life.

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Captain has a few arrangements to complete, including buying a suitable SIM for Internet and phone now he is in Greece. We all take a taxi to the capital of the island, buy a few more fresh ingredients to boost our culinary endeavour, prior to sailing off again for a night in a remote bay.
It’s good sailing weather. The wind takes us to the Northern shore. We eat lunch as we sail.
We anchor in a pretty bay. Our friends volunteer to lead the cooking.
It’s a beautiful evening, clear stars, good food, wine and great conversation.

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Last one night stand – Wednesday 11th April 2012


One week to go!!
Next Wednesday we take the plane back to London and its the end of 6 months travel.
Today is also, thankfully the last pit-stop we make on our drive from Adelaide to Sydney: our last one night stand!

There’s a change in energy within us: less narrowness in vision. We are no longer just pushing on, we allow ourselves to enjoy it all again.

Tilba Tilba attracts us with a signpost offering a “National Trust Village” and a cheese factory. We love cheese. Cheese therefore becomes our lunch, a cheese platter of various flavours: olive, chilli, cracked pepper. Then we explore the village around the corner. Nearly every residence has turned itself into a shop with cafe. Offering leather good, jewelry, clothes, it makes an interesting stop. We buy some glass rings for our daughters.

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Mosquito Bay did not draw us with its name! However I had heard about the Jervis Bay Marine Park and I did notice that sign. Where we stopped was clearly a favourite fishing beach, with houses overlooking the bay.
“That’s the kind of house we need to buy in England,” we agree. Whether we could ever find the like, I have no idea.

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Our cabin in Clyde View Holiday Park is slightly more modern than last night, but still has a spartan air. The best thing about it is the location: absolute beach front! It’s a strange sand, fine silt pretending to be golden sand, but the firm quality makes it very good to walk along. We walk its length, and return via the town of Batehaven: a simple row of shops, several caravan parks and a feature of a rather run down looking bird and wildlife park.

Long beach and Devonport – Wednesday 18th January 2012


I think I am getting addicted to outings! It is such a pleasure to have someone else decide where is best to go and then taking you there.
I had loved taking the dogs out, so today we set off for Long Bay Beach, reasonably early because they close the beach to dogs after 10 o’clock. It’s a broad beach when the tide is out and full of dogs!

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They all seem to love the social event as much as the chance to run free. I think Tyler got a little confused after she had run off excitedly greeting every dog she came to. When she joined a group of adults talking with their dogs, we thought at first that she was still being sociable. Although we called, she took no notice; our voices blown from her by the wind. But as we got closer she greeted Lianne with such joy and bounce that it was obvious, even to a non dog person, like me that she had been asking the group if they knew where her mum was, and no one was listening! She stayed a little closer after that.

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After admiring the view we went round the local school. I never tire of seeing other people’s schools, especially those in other countries. For a little while, just before I retired, I had been an advisor, helping other heads with their school development. This school had such fabulous grounds and so much space, but in essence I felt it mirrored many features of British schools.
Then we went back for a little lunch before going to see Devonport.

20120122-190556.jpg We found the prettiest coffee which also tasted good!
Devonport has a good range of shops, with some interesting galleries. Sadly, the thing I loved most was a 7 foot sculpture in black granite, selling at $8000 and not really easy to pack in the suitcase. However, there were several good shops for gifts including a fabulous material shop.
The rest of the afternoon we begin to plan our next steps for travel.

Last day in Brisbane and the big push South continues 28/29th November 2011


My friend from Melbourne phoned up today to confirm the details of our stay in his house while he visits London: a whole month, such luxury!
Brisbane is the kind of city that just grows on you more and more.

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For the first time I feel a little Christmassy. But in this heat it is still foreign and out of place. Christmas trees a going up everywhere but some are hardly realistic, even though they are fun.

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We look at children’s clothing for our grandson but are horrified by the prices. A well known, international brand gives the price tag in many currencies. Whilst it is £15 in UK they have converted it to $AU 35 when we feel a closer match should be $22 at the current exchange rate. Crazy! How do young families live out here?
There seems to be a reasonable low end range of any goods you choose to mention and a large upper, luxury end but nothing in the middle.
So we abandon our first ideas for more fun typical tourist stuff with kangaroos, surfboards and koalas printed on.
The Brisbane Post Office is worth a mention as it has just been renovated and was fantastic. As well as selling sturdy boxes, wrapping, tape etc they were so friendly and helpful. I admit the whole present cost as much to send to UK as it did to buy but I loved the clean layout and well presented goods alongside the lovely lady who served us. Thank upon mystery lady!

Next stop is Byron Bay. we have secured a grown up version of a YHA. It is a bedroom to ourselves and a shared lounge, kitchen, bathroom but no-one under 25 is accepted. The photos are all white. “Schoolies” still take up lots of accommodation and are rainy attracted to Byron Bay. We are hit twice by them as last week it was Queensland schools, this week New South Wales and we have crossed the boundary.

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People and shopping in Australia – Tuesday 8th November 2011


I like chemists and pharmacies in Australia. Mostly because it’s one place where we can actually buy things! You see, when traveling, there is only a very limited amount you can carry. We started with nearly the limit in weight for a plane and have no wish to incur additional fees, besides which I cannot carry much more and the bags cannot hold much more. So clothes, electrical, furniture(!) etc are out. And this makes it very frustrating to go round such shops because there is no point!

But medicines and toiletries count as essentials, and are light. Besides which the pharmacist seems very knowledgable. So today I present him with my sneezing and runny nose. It leads me to thinking about the shopping experience in Oz.

There are only two major chains of supermarket, Woolworths and Coles. The IGA are independents and often very small but local. I wonder what happened to competition here to limit the big boys. Who controls freemarket conflicts I wonder.

Shop assistants seem genuinely friendly. An example: a lady in Coles saw us paused at the end of an isle and asked if she could help locate an item. We laughed and explained that we had actually forgotten what we were needing so ‘no’! She moved on. At the check out the same lady was now behind the counter, scanning. She asked, “have you remembered what you needed?” when we answered ‘muesli’ she promptly replied we had already passed that isle. Fancy remembering who we were and where we had been!

“We’re from England,” we said (is that an excuse, I wonder?). So when we went on to buy a phone voucher and pay she stopped herself from the normal patter about club cards. You see she really listened. Small things but …

It’s all very clean too. There is very little litter or graffiti. People seem to obey rules; they only swim in stinger nets, partly because it is too dangerous not to, but I mean, they don’t even paddle!

Bus drivers talk with you, stop the bus exactly where you need to be rather than only at the bus stop. It’s very friendly and coming from London I am not used to this, it’s brilliant!