I woke up with a slight headache, I call it my travel hangover, always the second day after travelling. I took my time having breakfast and left my accommodation just after nine. I chose to walk and headed towards the city center, grabbing a coffee on the way. By the time I had reached the Botanical park, the headache was gone. The weather was sunny, warm but there was a cool breeze.
The gardens are up high overlooking the bay, on the way up I stopped to take some pictures of the view above Jacobs ladder, locals were walking up and down to get exercise. At the visitors center I got a guide to the birds in the park and then went for a stroll around. Pokémon is still big it seems on Ox, I kept bumping into groups of people tapping away on their phones, sometimes the group was as big as 25.
There were plenty of birds to spot, including a White Ibis pair flying over, whilst I sat in the shade of a large Eucalyptus. I was at the café at 14:00 so I opted for a late lunch, of fish and chips which would save me having to got out in the evening. I had a table with a view across the gardens, the bay and the Perth skyline beyond. Fish was battered Flathead fillets very handy because they form.long fingers which make it easy to eat with your fingers.
Time was getting on so I decided to head back to the apartment via a different route to see some new stuff. I passed thought a very neat area that seemed to contain the Perth parliament buildings, in the trees leading to it were the every present Rainbow Lorikeets. Then I passed through a shopping area which was like any shopping area. Just close to my destination I discovered the Perth Mint which contains the world’s largest gold coin, unfortunately it was to close in 30 minutes, so rather than wasting £10 I chose to leave for another day.
I grabbed some supplies for dinner and retired to my room to watch the Grand Prix and process my photos.
As expected I was awake at some point in the night, my body needed to adjust. I checked my phone, wondering what to do on Saturday, I came across Rottnest island, only a few miles off the coast of Perth. I figured I figured I would probably be up early so getting the 10 o’clock boat would be easy, or so I thought.
I woke up quite sleepy at 07:00 so I forced myself out of bed and had a quick breakfast. The drive to Fremantle where the shortest ferry goes from was straight forward. It was the first view of Perth in daylight, it was just like the promotion photos you see clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight. Luckily once in Fremantle there was signs to the the Rottnest ferry.
I decided my best bet was the days bus pass, with stops all round the island I could get on and off as I pleased. At about stop four, the bus driver mentioned a volunteer was there to talk about the island and walk to the next bus stop. Mimi the volunteer had moved to Australia 44 years ago, and it turns out had lived in the Chilterns around Chartridge, an area I knew well. She was very informative, I spotted Pelicans, Nankeen Kestrel, and even saw a King Skink.
I walked on to another bus stop after Mimi returned to her post. I got a bus to the stop near the lighthouse, where for $10 you could climb the stairs to get a view over the island. The lady doing the tour has a distinct Scottish accent. The building was made of stone from the island, had been built twice each team by aboriginal prisoners, and took 7 years each time.
From the lighthouse I followed a trail to skip a couple of bus stops. I got to the bus stop just after the bus was due so I waited for a while, but realised I must have missed, so I carried on the purple trail, and I was glad I did. The trail eventually runs along the beach at Strickland bay, which is beautiful and with the sun shining the sea was a bright turquoise. At the end of the beach I checked the bus time table, I had 30 minutes to get to the next stop which was close by, so I got a time lapse set.
It was quite hot out, and I think I was a bit jet lagged so I was not up for a lot of walking so I got the bus for a few stops. Whilst waiting I saw three Osprey. The bus had to stop to let a King Skink get out of the way. I got off near a salt lagoon hoping to see some waders, I dipped on the waders but there were some Pacific Shelduck, same shape as the European ones but much darker and brown where I would expect white. A few bus stops down I got back on for the last leg back back to the settlement where I got a cheese and onion sausage roll and a custard tart for lunch. I had to watch out for the Australian Ravens and Silver Gulls from stealing my food, and the very tame Quokka hung about eager for a crumb. My next venue was the small but informative museum which told the human and natural history of the island.
The ferry was due in about an hour so wandered around the settlement, and stopped at the beach for a time lapse. Then headed to the boat with 15 minutes to spare. I managed to get one of the few seats outside being solo makes that easy as you just need one space. The seat was next to Linda the volunteer who had showed me round the lighthouse, which was a stroke of luck, as she put me into a couple of ideas. Beaches in the way home and imminent sunset, and in particular Cettesloe Beach where there is a Rainbow Lorikeet roost very colourful birds but noisy and a nuisance apparently. I had a mission, but before I spotted the migrating whales from the back of the boat.
I parked up at Cottesloe beach and immediately saw groups of Rainbow Lorikeet flying in and I could hear the squabbling in the Norfolk pines. Down at the beach everyone was waiting for the sunset, so I joined them and got some fine shots in the warm light. It was dark when I left, but I navigated my way back to where I started and as a bonus I got a parking space round the corner from the apartment which was free till 08:00 Monday.
I dumped my stuff and headed back to my new favorite Italian restaurant where I had prawn and courgette fettuccine in a light creamy tomato sauce. My Little Creatures pale ale was delivered by the chef, perhaps they consider me a local now! I retired to the apartment just before 20:00 I had some photos to process.
An exciting opportunity came my, a few months back I was on the phone to our FD and he asked me in passing if I could go to Australia to help out with an ERP implementation, “When do I leave?” Was my response. My wife saw it as a great opportunity, although we would miss each other for the couple of months I would be away. It wasn’t long before my departure date came round, I would be flying to Perth on a Qantas flight via Dubai.
I didn’t sleep too week the night before, as is usual when I have to travel the next day, I think it is the anticipation, that makes my mind busy. Helen had the day off so we had a leisurely breakfast together. The driver was early, so it was a quick good by. It would be really strange to be apart for so long, even when Helen was at university most weekends Helen was back.
Did I mention business class? Our company policy is that if your flight over a certain time you can request to go business class, I figured it would be rude not to. The driver was very friendly and we discussed are various hobbies and travel stories. He dropped me off at Heathrow Terminal 3, and I found the Business class check in. Once checked in I was informed that there was a fast security queue as well as access to a lounge.
The lounge had various sections, but it was a strange time to be there between breakfast and dinner so I settled for a coffee and a glass of water. We were called to the gate and I tried a timelapse, but had to balance the camera on a radiator, and the shutter was enough to make the camera move, so it did not work out well. I had a window seat, and luck was on my side as no one was in the seat next to me.
I settled in and sent my last emails and Facebook posts, before airplane mode was required. Champagne was offered but I resisted, settling for a glass of wine with my four course meal. Bread and a small salad starter, followed by a potato cake and salad, followed by some sort of Kufta with dhal and rice, and finally lemon tart. There was still 4 hours to Dubai when I had consumed all that.
The lie flat beds sound very appealing, but in reality in the noisy setting of an aircraft, ear plugs don’t work, so sleep is very difficult. Don’t gete wrong it is nice to be able to lie flat and change postition, but they are quite hard and the gaps between the cushions where the seat articulates are never in the right place. Give me a proper bed any day. With about an hour and a bit to go the lights came on dim, and coffee and more food was distributed around the cabin, thus making the slim chance of sleep even more remote. I sat up and smelled the coffee, and a nice coffee it was too.
The lights came on fully about an hour before we landed slightly early despite hold for a 360. The business class queue through security was short, I had my boarding card so there was no messing about. Apparently the temperature outside in the middle of the night was 35 degrees Celsius, luckily the airport was air conditioned, however you got a sense of how warm and humid it was as we walked up the gangway to the terminal building. Dubai is just like any other airport, but multiplied. The same shops, and food franchises. I had a wander round before heading up to the lounge which was massive. There was plenty of food on offer, as well as drinks you just help yourself. I settled for an apple juice, I did not need any more food.
My fellow passengers and I turned up at gate A9 at the allotted time and hung around for a bit while the airline employee took phone calls. Eventually we were told there would be a delay so we all sat down on the lounge again. There was only about a 30 minute wait and we started to board. Interestingly there was an ad-hoc bag search at the gate, they confiscated my water from the previous flight.
The Emirates business setup is better in my opinion they stagger the seats so you can get in and out with disturbing your neighbor if they are lying flat. You have your own little pod with handy shelves to stow stuff. The TV screen is much larger. I found a film I had been wanting to see for a while, The Founder, about the beginning of the MacDonalds business empire, I enjoyed it. I find it hard to watch films in planes as I am easily distracted.
The air stewards came round with a thin mattress for the seat which seemed to make all the difference, as I although I was not aware of getting any sleep I think I did doze off for a few hours. We were served a breakfast at the beginning of the flight, then the lights were dimmed for about six hours. There was a lot of activity in the cabin as I guess there was always someone who could not sleep or needed a pee.
I got up for a pee just before the lights started to go on, and ventured by accident into first class looking for a vacant WC, I was soon shooed out. I passed the bar in my search, and returned with my camera to get a picture of myself drinking coffee! The bar area is quite roomy, and bright. Sweet and savoury food items are available, as well as nuts and olives. Our lunch order was taken when I got back to my seat.
For lunch I had an Arabic Mezze which included Shanklish which is a traditional cheese, they describe it as stinky cheese. Main course for me was grilled cod with a lentil dahl and vegetables. It was all served on Royal Doulton bone china! I skipped desert, and there was an hour and twenty to go. They came round with the fother and final hot towel of the flight during which I had crossed the equator, and was in the southern hemisphere for the first time.
Getting through immigration and customs was a breeze, I had registered my passport so could use the machines, I told them I had no infectious deseases, and they wavedcme through customs. Perth is quite a big airport with 4 terminals, I would be dropping off the hire car at a different one. The car was automatic and has satnav but I was not impressed, it was already dark and every so often the arrow on the satnav had me off road so it was difficult to determine when I should turn. Eventually after a few wrong turns I found a multi-storey car park close to the apprtment that had been booked for me.
The apartment has a kitchen diner, bathroom (with washing machine and tumble dryer) and bedroom. I dumped my stuff and ventured out to get some food, settling for a really close family run Italian, I had pizza and a beer called One Fifty Lashes on the way back I stopped off at a supermarket for breakfast supplies. Then to bed for a long overdue sleep.
Up slightly earlier than usual as we had an appointment for a bird walk at Holkham at 10:00 and I also had some back exercises to do. My back was improving I’m not sure why but I was determined to do the same each day to ensure what ever was working continued. I had homework from the osteopath, hot and cold packs, walking, driving and stretches I did while walking.
The website said meet at the car parking hut, but it was not clear where it was and it appeared to have lived to make way for a repair to the culvert at the entrance. Helen managed to track down the ranger, and get the complimentary parking ticket included in the £5 walk fee. We were the only real birders so the walk was a bit light on birds but we did learn a lot about the estate, and the warden was very knowledgeable about all the surveys they do and the contributions they make to the national record keeping.
The walk took in both the hides the George Washington and the Jordan tower hide, from where we saw four Spoonbill, one of them flying. The route back was via the beach was became a bit of a slog, and we were glad to be back on hard standing. Back at the car we decided to head to Cley Spy for lunch.
The art cafe does some very nice lunches most of them vegetarian, I had a falafel salad, and Helen home made beans on toast. The reason for heading to Glandford what primarily for lunch, but also to have a browse around Cley Spy and do the Bayfield woodland walk.
After a lovely lunch we headed out on the walk, it was warm and humid so quite energy sapping. The highlight of the walk was Jays and Treecreeper. At Bayfield Hall we stopped off at the wildflower cafe for a quick refreshment then finished off the last mile of the walk back to the Glanford commercial centre where we were happy for a sit down in the comfortable car seats.
Another holiday in North Norfolk! We haven;t been for just over a year. We left the house just before 10 and obeyed the SatNav which took us on the M25 to the A1M then Cambridge way and through Thetford forest via Mildenhall and Lakenheath. We stopped and at the Lakenheath watching area but as promised by the website it was like most weekends, nothing was happening, so we stretched our legs for 5 minutes and carried on to Swaffham where we grabbed supplies at the Waitrose.
The cottage was a bungalow just off Mariner Hill and had a parking space which is very rare for Blakeney. Parking was a challenge but a neighbour put us right, the parking for the cottage was not outside by the other side of the next door neighbour. I would have loved to see the plans for the cluster of houses, because there were parking spaces belonging to houses opposite and orphaned well kept gardens. We unpacked and I did me Osteopath homework to sort out my back, then we went for a walk.
We walked to Cley along the sea wall the weather was warm despite the breeze, and the weather for the week promised more of the same if not warmer. At Cley we got the bus back to Blakeney, had a swift half and booked a table for Sunday evening then retired to the hut for some more back exercises and a salad dinner. We watched Babs on iPlayer which I thought was average and Helen really enjoyed. Helen then watched Graham Norton Show while I went down to the quay to get some pictures of the Sunset.
I got my father in law in the Christmas secret Santa the year and got him a coach trip to the houses of parliament, and I also got tickets for myself and Helen so we could join him. The coach pick up point was in Beaconsfield Old Town, which I chose because it was the last one, so would minimise time on the coach and mean no early start.
Despite a traffic jam on the way we were at the Royal Saracens Head in time for a coffee. The Coach was on on time but a hundred yards down the road opposite the pub. We boarded and were pleased to find we had front row seats, numbers 1, 2, and 3. We set off but no sooner had we got going it was announced that we were stopping at Beaconsfield services, a jewel among service stations. As well as the usual Starbucks and McDonald’s there was the odd shop and even a pub.
The M40 soon became the A40 and an hour later we were dropped off just beyond parliament Square, after negotiating the London traffic. The weather was get and there was a cold wind to boot, so we headed into the visitor entrance. There is airport style security, which given the travelling I had been doing recently was a bit tedious. We were lucky enough to d find a table in the cafe, and whiled away an hour while we waited for our allotted time slot.
The tour starts on the great hall which has been used for special ceremonies, speeches and lying in state. There was a special exhibition for a competition for a proposal to build a memorial to the Holocaust, and another about the latest art piece to be added to the house. The piece is to commemorate women in parliament and the circles of glass light up depending on the tide.
We gathered at the allotted area for the tour to start, whilst our tour guide told us the rules about no phones or taking pictures. The guide was very informative and we started at the Lord’s end and finished in the Commons. It was well worth it, I would so it again and just walk around myself if I had visitors. The tour took longer than expected but we still had time for a coffee before catching the coach back.
Traffic was quite heavy on the way back. We had a great day and I would return again.
September is a traditional late year holiday, and this year unusually the the family get together was not happening so rather than two weeks we are only taking the one. We were off to St Agnes in Cornwall. We have never been there before but we have been further north and further south up the Cornish coat before.
We planned to leave about 08:00 but I was up earlier than anticipated and we got away at 07:30. I had been saving Archers episodes for the journey so we had the hour long special and the 5 following episodes to watch. We weren’t that impressed with the trial episode probably because with the Archers you get to know the characters but this episode was with a jury of unknown characters, even if some of them were familiar actors. We decided taking the A303 because it avoided the M4/M5 junction at Bristol. We were happy with out decision because we got to Killerton National Trust without any traffic issues.
Killerton is a smallish house and had an exhibition around the craft of weaving and making wool, which has links to the property. We had a look around the house then some lunch in the cafe and made our way on to Cornwall our planned destination Trelissick on the south of Cornwall.
Things however did not go to plan when we got to the A30 there was a sign suggesting that we should take the North road to North Cornwall instead. Helen did not feel that that was the best course of action, and convinced me, so I turned back and got on the A30 which looked OK with light traffic. We made good headway until we got to the road works for the new dual carriage way across Bodmin, where we spent 45 minutes in queuing and very slow traffic. It looked like we would nboit be able to take in Trelissick and in fact Helen needed to phone the people and let them know we would be later than anticipated.
We stopped off in Truro for some provisions, we got some great salads from Waitrose Cornish section. Strangely you have to pay for the Cornish stuff in the Cornish section, we did not know that and at the till we were told we needed to go back and pay for it.
We got to the cottage at about 16:45 it was fairly easy to find, and the owners who live next door were very welcoming. We unpacked and then went for a walk down to the sea, where we found a fish and chip shop as well as a pub that sold real ale. There was no beach to see but the tide was fully in. Everything looked good for an excellent week on holiday.
A few months back I booked tickets to look around the newly refurbished Canadian Embassy, it was on a Friday so we had booked a day off. We got the first off peak train from Berkhamsted, which was packed, Helen reckons it was the first time she had had to stand on a train to London, thankfully it was a fast one so we only had to stand for 30 minutes. we arrived and there was lots of police with guns at Euston so we figured out which bus we needed then got a 73 to Buckingham palace.
We arrived at the palace a little early our tickets were for 12 o’clock so we headed away from the tourists and found a cafe full of builders where I had a cherry tart and an americano they were both very nice. When we went back to the palace there was band outside the palace playing the Happy chart hit from a couple of years ago. Back at entrance C we were allowed into an ante tent where we could wait for the security search. It was not a long wait and the security was swift unlike Luton Airport.
Suitably checked out we headed into the one way tour of the palace, for which a commentary iPod/MP3 player was provided. There were a lot of people going round so it was difficult to get close to the exhibits but we saw enough, and I felt that there was plenty to see, and would recommend it to anyone. Eventually we came to the back entrance where we walked out to an area with a cafe and the palace gardens. We were again in a one-way path to the exit, but we were now allowed to take photo’s. At the exit we signed up for the year long pass as I think it may be useful to return in the winter when there may not be so many people.
Just up the road from the exit we got a bus to Piccadilly then walked to but stopped off at an Italian restaurant chain called Prada where I had a half decent Pescatori Pizza and we shared a bottle of water. Whilst eating lunch I checked the tickets it was from 15:00 till 16:00 we both had it in mind that it was at 16:00. Our plans changed instead of going to an exhibition we thought we would be able to go straight from the exhibition and make it to Euston to get the last train before a wait till 19:00 would be required due to the off-peak tickets we had. We headed to Trafalgar Sq, but we were a little early (there is a theme emerging here), so we dropped into the special exhibition about how good Canada were at detecting Neutrinos and cosmic rays. We had to have our bags x-rayed again before we were allowed in.
The exhibition was small and we were finished by 14:40 and headed o the other entrance where we met a woman with a clipboard doing security, she was insistent that our names should be on the list before we could be let in, the trouble was the site where I booked the two tickets did not ask for may name it just used the account details I had previously given them. Helen was not on the list, I tried to explain that there was a column for quantity on the form on her clipboard but she was having none of it. A member of the embassy staff intervened and we were let in and the situation explained to the clipboard monitor. We were then scanned and x-rayed again to get into the building for a second time.
We sat around for a while and the same member of staff came over and started the tour by first giving us a bit of history abut the building which used to be a gentleman’s club before Canada even existed. The tour was very informative there was a lot of art to see, carpets made from art designs and furniture made from Canadian wood, there was at least one room for each Canadian province. We were lucky that there were no conferences or talks going on so we got to see all the rooms, including the ones on the top floor where we sampled honey harvested that day from the roof top bee hive and then we were allowed on the roof terrace to have a look at the view and take picture of Trafalgar Sq.
Once the tour was finished we headed straight for the tube which Helen had agreed to brave to save time. It was very hot but we did make the 1630 train got a seat and had time to stop for a bottle of water. We got home tired but felt we had had a great day out, it beats going to work!
The stretch would be Marlow to Sonning, 15 miles by the time all the walking was done, more than usual but a good test of the effort I have been putting in. I was up at 07:00 and left the house at just before 08:00, time was tight because I thought the bus from Sonning was at 09:00. I got stuck behind lots of Sunday drivers on the way which was frustrating.
I was not sure where to park in Sonning but there was a small parking area just by the river which I spotted straight away. It turned out the bus was at 09:13 but I had a half mile walk to the main road at Playhatch roundabout, I made it with time to spare which was a good job because the bus was 5 minutes early. The one way to Marlow cost £5.10 and would take approximately 45 minutes, not too bad. A few walkers got on the bus getting on at various points, but none as far out as me, I started wonder if I was biting off more than I could chew?
I made short shrift of leaving Marlow, all paths lead to the river they say. For a couple of miles the path was a bit slippery from the recent rain which was tedious and hard walking. It did not take long to get to Hurley lock where I was able to make use of the only reliable facilities until Henley, however the cafe was closed so no coffee. I watched the canoeists enjoying the turbulent water of the weir. We then passed .section 2hixh was fields to one side and steep chalk cliffs on the other, clearly the river was very slowly inching it’s way north.
After leaving the riverside to cross an estate where i saw a herd of deer being fed, many of them in white coat, i got to Aston where the Flower Pot hotel was not yet open so I dipped put again on coffee, however back down at the River I rested for a while on a convenient bench and ate the Pain au raisin I had purchased at Marks and Spencer on Saturday evenigot
After Hambleden lock I a family in bikes were shouting at the family dog because it has dived into the Thames after a couple of mallards, no soon had it got out of the water it was off across the fields chasing some more, much to the dismay of the patents and embarrassment of the children.
There is a big clue that you are approaching Henley the river widens and becomes very straight with a buildings in the distance. As you get closer you can see the rowing clubs and fields for the parking required. My feet were feeling the miles at that point and I was in no mood for extra foot steps so I dipped into the first cafe I found. It was packed but my order was taken and delivered swiftly. The coffee was great and the Haloumi and pesto/tomato sandwiches hit the spot, although it occurred to me that the salty cheese might make me thirsty later.
I soon got away from the crowds of Hnely after passing the national rowing museum, on the riverside on the out skirts. Then it was rural for pretty much all the way to Sonning. Not far out of Henley there was on the far bank a traditional boat house and near by on the same property a very modern house. Although you pass Shiplake on the path you really are no where near the village it self and it’s amenities. As I walked the last few miles I started to feel the length of the walk, mainly because I was suffering from a blister on my right foot, and I think as a result I had changed my gait which was causing leg ache. Add to that my thirst as a result of the salty cheese, it was not an enjoyable 3 miles.
Sonning could not come soon enough, and it did not take long. I found the car again ok, and had to stop for two drinks on the way home to satisfy my thirst. Moral of the story is that 12 miles is the sweet spot not too long but a reasonable distance. Looking at the books when I got home I had almost reached half way, and had less than 100 miles left to do. The next few legs would get closer to home.
Planning further ahead on Saturday evening I realised if I could do the short 5 miles between Cookham and Marlow it would give me better option for the next leg, so I headed off the Marlow to get the train to Cookham. It turned out that the trains were not running, but there was a replacement bus service running, I had a twenty minute wait. Before leaving the have I taped up the blisters on my feet with some non stretch medical tape it seemed to make a world of difference.
It was not clear where the bus would stop, so I positioned myself with a good view of the whole of Station Approach, where the bus was reputed to hang out. A coach turned up and and I asked for a ticket to Cookham, the drive said I’m not taking any money, to the three of us waiting just got on. There are no ticket machines at the station so getting a ticket was going to be a challenge. I sat back and enjoyed what might be a free ride. No one wanted to take my money at the other end and the station was closed, so thanks for the free ride Great Western Railway, if you want your money get in touch.
The weather driving over was very cloudy but turned out to be the overnight rain clouds being dispersed by the sun. I soon found my way to the path and crossed the river on a footbridge at Bourne End, then I came across a sailing club about to start a race. I had a go at a time lapse of the race in progress. It took two goes as most of the race took place down river from the start line where I first started the photo sequence.
Just outside Marlow I found a convenient bench for a chance to rest and take in the Thames silently flowing past. The final leg into Marlow did not take long and you have to head inland a little. There is a church yard right on the river next to the old iron/steel suspension bridge, where I got some photos. I headed up the high street and ended up in a Starbucks where I sampled one of their Peru Piccino which is a double restretto with a small amount of milk and froth, I thought it was very nice, just the right balance of coffee and milk. It was a great day for a walk and set me up nicely for the next leg.