Category: TYSIC


On Friday morning we left Edinburgh at 8.30 am to make our way to Northampton. The A407 is a lovely bit of road.

Part of the A407 scenery. Would be lovely on a trike.

We stopped off at Gretna Green Services where Chris went in search of a pastie and came back grinning like a naughty school boy. He hadn’t found a pastie, but he had found sweets. “Car lollies” he proclaimed proudly.

Then we got to the M6 and the scenery got a bit boring and I started to doze off. The journey was longer than the Google Maps lie of six hours, as bad traffic caused us to travel only 16 miles in nearly two hours. We finally got to Den and Sam’s place in Northampton at just gone 6.00 pm. We had a nice time catching up with them and had an early’ish night for a change.

Saturday morning we left Northampton at 8.30am and got to Henley-On-Thames at not long past 10.00am. This was far too early, so we ate the sandwiches Den made us then queued until midday. We bought a souvenier program for seven quid, then went straight to the only stage and made sure we were near the front for Haircut 100 as they were the third act on. But again we had to wait. The acts didn’t start until 2pm. So Chris went and got some noodles for lunch. Then it rained into our noodle boxes, and during most of he first two acts; The Real Thing and Hue and Cry.

Haircut 100 brought the sun with them, with their songs Blue Hat for a Blue Day and their closing song, Fantastic Day. Apart from a bit of feedback at the beginning of Whistle Down the Wind, their set was lovely.

Nick Heyward on stage with Haircut 100

After Haircut 100 we went for a walk around, away from the main stage, and got some afternoon tea. We could hear the sets by Billy Ocean, Fiction Factory and some of Katrina of Katrina and the Waves. We bought two three-legged stools for five quid each so we could rest our feet, then we went back into the crowd at the main stage half way through Katrina’s set. This time we got about half way through the crowd as I couldn’t face being so hemmed in again.

We got The Original Bucks Fizz, who finished with Making Your Mind Up, and ABC, who really rocked the crowd and finished with The Look Of Love. Then there was Bananarama, who were better than I thought they would be, Howard Jones who was brilliant as always, Village People, who performed with backing tracks instead of the band that others had used. And lastly Holly Johnson who sang some Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs and some of his solo songs. He sang Relax of course, everyone was waiting for it and we thought it was last song. But then he sang The Power Of Love, “a song he’d rather be remembered for”, he said. And it was amazing. Then we got some fireworks to end the shows for the night.

We picked our way through the litter to the food outlets and bought pancakes with sugar and lemon, then spent three-quarters of an hour in the car trying to get out of the field so we could get back to our Travelodge in Maidenhead.

I was impressed not only by the performers today, but the people who made an effort and got dressed up. All that fluro, and all those characters. I suspect many of them were drunk. Personally I had a latte and nothing else, the less time spent in Festival portoloos the better. I only used them twice and both times I was thankful for Royal Britannia serviettes in my pocket because there was no loo paper. I saw one lady pull a loo roll from her bag, no doubt a seasoned festival-goer.

Even clowns get stressed and need a massage

Tomorrow we get to do it all again…

Scottish music, a familiar sound during the Edinburgh Festival.

After last night’s shenanigans I had a long lie-in before heading off to the souvenier shops for a last-minute shopping spree. After that we both had a massive cottage pie lunch at BHS. Honestly, the meals were so big they lasted us all day.

In the afternoon we went to the Pleasance Courtyard for Emily Watson-Howes’ show, Seminar. As we were waiting in the courtyard I spied Mark Watson for the second time during our stay here. At first he was talking to someone, then he was chatting on the phone, but I saw him a few minutes later all alone, so I seized the opportunity to have a quick chat… Yes I know, Chris calls me a stalker.

After our quick chat with Mark, we went and watched Emily’s show. At first I was a bit uneasy, but as I got to know the character, I enjoyed it more. Emily played a rather flawed self-help speaker called Kimberly Jane Feldhauseur, all professional at the beginning but gradually unravelling and becoming more unstable as the Seminar played out. The show was engaging and funny and different to the usual comedy.

After Seminar we did a bit more shopping and then we went back to the hotel room, where I caught up with Facebook, Twitter and my blog notes while Chris had a nanna nap watching Terry and June on the TV. Understandable.

We left our room quite late to watch our last show of the fringe, so by the time we got to the venue, the queue for The Boy With Tape on his Face was pretty long, and we ended up sitting three-quarters of the way back. This meant Chris felt quite safe as there’s quite a lot of audience participation in the Boy’s show and Chris is not one to join in: but the people who did join in were great. I was mesmerised by this show, how he can hold the attention of a room without uttering a single word for a whole hour is just amazing. So that was our last show of the Fringe. A good show to end on. More information on the Boy can be found on his website.

The next day we trudged down the 67 steps of our hotel, The York Place and walked along to Princes Street to catch the bus to our car. We had arranged to park in someone’s drive for five quid a day via parkatmyhouse.com, which is much better than nineteen quid a day in the car park near our hotel.

As we left Edinburgh we listed to David Tennant being interviewed on the radio. Listening to his Scottish accent and his choice of song, The Proclaimers, I’m on My Way. I realised how much I’d miss the place, and we hadn’t even left yet.

To be continued…

Chris and a cannon at Edinburgh Castle

On Tuesday we had a nice meal at Olly Bongo’s Cafe Bistro, a Turkish place with a warm and friendly atmosphere, a nice contrast to the busy, wet and cold street outside. It was a bit more expensive than most eateries we’ve been to, but it was a good meal and we wanted to be close to Udderbelly to minimise our time in the rain.

That night we had tickets to see Heath McIvor’s show, Randy is Sober. Randy is a purple puppet, we knew what to expect as we’d seen him before in Rickett’s Lane back home in Brisbane. It is a show so hilarious that we went to see it twice, so I didn’t book it for Edfringe. What I didn’t expect from Randy is Sober, was the fair amount of audience interaction we got. Just because his eyeballs aren’t real, don’t think Randy can’t interact with the audience. In fact I enjoyed those bits best, Heath has a very quick wit, or should I say Randy? Anyway the show was excellent and played to a full house.

Talking of full houses, Tim Minchin tweeted the other day for folks in Edinburgh to go and see Anyone for Tennis? This was very good publicity for them and ensured a well deserved full house for their next show. They rock very hard even when the audience is small like on the night we went to see them, so it’s nice to know they are playing to bigger crowds in their first Edfringe. I bumped into Doody and Jase in the street the other day, and they’re lovely guys.

Anyway, after Randy’s brilliant show we went to see The Horne Section, a shambolic (in a good way) show incorporating the jazz band Horne Section plus other guests, and a large spinning wheel to dictate the elements of the show. We got a game of Top Trumps between audience members, a hilarious Morris Dance by three of the band and then one of them was stripped, yes, all the way to a bare bottom. My favourite guest performer of the night was The Boy With Tape on his Face. We are seeing his full show tomorrow. There was also a funny and talented guitar player, Antonio Forcione, Swedish group Fork, and lastly poet, Tim Key.

Yesterday was quite sunny so we went to Edinburgh Castle and spent three hours wandering around with earphones and audio guides. As usual for Edinburgh there were many hills and steps.

Lang Stairs at Edinburgh Castle. 70 steps.

My overall impression of Edinburgh is oldness, comedy and steps, and to a slightly lesser extent, drizzle. We finished our castle visit with a latte in the coffee shop and by nearly 4.30pm we could see big grey clouds rolling in so we made our way back down the hill while ducking in and out of the many souvenier shops to find presents to take home and to drip dry all over shop floors.

Chris at Edinburgh Castle. Grey clouds coming.

We grabbed a delicious chicken and cheese melt from The Square, just around the corner from our hotel and took it back to our room to have with a cup of tea. Then we went set off into the night to see The Pajama Men’s show, In the Middle of No One.

We saw the Pajama Men’s show last year so we knew we’d probably spend most of the show watching a multitude of different characters played by two men in their pajamas, with only two chairs for props, and wondering what on earth was going on before everything tied up nicely at the end. The show did exactly that, again it was bewildering, funny, clever and silly at the same time. The stand out character for me was what I imagine to be an eagle type of bird with a very unusual cry.

After that, the night took an unexpected turn as we met up with some online forum friends for a drink at the Guilded Balloon. It was brilliant to meet the comedy fans I’ve got to know online for the past couple of years. After a pint and a half of cider and lots of comedy-talk some of us went to a one-off free Sammy J gig, which was also recorded for a DVD. Jase and Doody from AFT? were in the audience, along with lots of venue staff, and a few other people silly enough to still be up this late. We ended up walking back to our hotel room at 3.30 am. I was a very happy fangirl.

We climbed the 67 stairs to our room and eventually rolled into bed at 3.45am. This is exactly how I wanted Edinburgh to be: but not all the time, I’m too old to cope with this much awesomeness every night.

Today the forecast is for rain… all day. A good day to do the laundry and catch up on my blogging duties. This morning Chris and I trudged through the rain for about 25 minutes to Ace Cleaning Services to do our laundry, we had an early lunch at the very friendly and inexpensive Flip! café while our clothes were washed and dried a few doors down the road. We wimped out and took the bus back to our hotel for a very reasonable one pound 30 each.

The past few days have been a blur of Festival Fringe comedy shows and sight-seeing. Two days were spent just wandering around to get our bearings, but mostly getting lost. We were amazed by funny and talented street performers, while we dodged the drizzle and enthusiastic flyer-hander-outers, and spent a fair amount of time finding free toilets. Quite by accident we came across the Elephant House, place of Harry Potter’s birth, well, where JK Rowling wrote the first novels anyway. We had a cuppa in there, it was hot but the ambience was nice.

Tea at the Elephant House, a place full of elephant pictures and ornaments, wood panelling and mis-matched wooden tables and chairs.

By day three our feet were screaming for mercy, so we took three open top bus trips in a row to sight-see while sitting.

The Scott Monument. For 3 quid you can climb all 287 steps to the top, given our fitness level and sore feet, I think this will not be high on our agenda

We got off the Majestic Tour at the Royal Yacht Britannia for a tour of the yacht and afternoon tea.

Chris posing with a pretend pint on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

It felt a bit voyeuristic to be looking at the double bed that Charles and Di slept in, but it was a pretty interesting place to visit and my lemon drizzle cake and Earl Grey tea at the Royal Deck Tea Room was very swish.

Afternoon tea at the Royal Deck Tea Room

We went to the Military Tattoo on Saturday night, there was a little drizzle but it didn’t matter as we wore our shower proof jackets just in case. In fact we have been carrying them around all over Edinburgh and they’ve been very handy. The Tattoo was good, my favourites were the Band of the Royal Netherlands Army Mounted Regiments, they were on bicycles, very funny. They came back later without their bicycles and played something from Harry Potter too: excellent. The night ended with the Massed Pipes and Drums then spectacular fireworks. The DVD will be out in October so we will be ordering that online so we can relive the night.

Military Tattoo massed pipes and drums

On Sunday we spent a few hours wandering around the Scottish National Museum. It’s a massive and grand building. Chris was very happy to see a bubble car and I was amazed to see a ZX81 computer. I remember when they came out, they were 50 quid. There were lots of Christian religious artifacts, a fantastic collection of rocks and a huge amethyst geode. There were stuffed animals, including Dolly the sheep, and dinosaurs bones, fossils and Egyptian coffins, it was all very interesting.

Chris and a bubble car

The comedy shows so far have been extraordinary. I’ve already blogged about Sammy J’s show, Potentially, since then we’ve seen five more shows. Alex Horne’s, Seven Years in the Bathroom was very good, tightly scripted to keep up with the momentum of living a whole life in an hour, but it didn’t feel too rushed. Next up was Melbourne duo, Anyone For Tennis in Prepare to be Tuned. Doody and Jase sang beautiful harmonies about Margherita pizza, that time of month, and finding your one true love (among other things). They rocked very hard with their guitars for a tiny audience of about a dozen people. They so deserve a full house for their first Edinburgh Fringe.

On Tuesday we saw three shows, our first was Chris Cox in Fatal Distraction. A mind-reader who confesses straight away that he can’t read minds, but it doesn’t matter a jot. By the end of the show, I’m sure everyone in the audience was amazed by what they’d just seen. During the show he’d recited a bit of Tim Minchin’s beat poem Storm for me, so I was a very happy fangirl. Next up we saw Asher Treleaven in Matador. We saw him last year in Secret Door so we knew we were in for a slick performance. This show tackled racism in a hilarious way, he’s quite a physical performer and my personal favourite was an impression of a squid. You had to be there. Lastly we saw The Hermitude of Angus, Ecstatic,  quite possibly the most physical and weirdest show of the Fringe. Think of Angus as Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean, but more socially inept and child-like, and wildly changing into other characters along the way. There’s a messy encounter with chocolate cake and some dancing too, this is a show that you think about for a long time after it’s over.

So that’s the story so far. It’s still raining outside but tonight we are seeing the purple puppet Randy in Randy is Sober and Alex Horne again, but this time with jazz comedy band, The Horne Section. Can’t wait.

We are three floors up, in our hotel room in Edinburgh, and after several trips up and down them, I’ve already decided I hate the stairs. However, this lofty room is our home for the next seven nights and I am very happy to be here in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival.

The weather is damp, we’ve had showers on and off all day, but thankfully my cold has gone, although husband Chris is still coughing his guts up.

We have had a look around The Royal Mile, watched some street performance and seen our first comedy show, Sammy J in Potentially. The venue, Underbelly, is an amazing labyrinth of a place, full of character, comedy posters, and I’m sorry to say it, more stairs. Sammy J was in White Belly, one of goodness knows how many rooms in the building.

Tucked in at the back of the tunnel shaped room, sat Bristol comedian, Mark Watson. He caused a buzz among the first couple of rows where we were sat. He wore a bright green T shirt and stood out like the green man you have to wait for before you can cross the road, except he didn’t flash… to my knowledge.

Sammy J, in a natty looking shirt and waistcoat, looked very dapper and performed brilliantly. Potentially is dialogue-heavy, he does sing a few songs to backing tracks but there’s no keyboard in this show. The story-telling incorporates some cute animals, some heartache, a red G-string and a happy ending, just like one of Sammy J’s favourite Disney movies: except maybe the G-string bit.

I’d have liked to have said hello to Sammy J and Mark Watson after the show, but I thought I’d better take Mr Cough-a-lot home to our hotel room for a Lem-Sip: and unfortunately for Chris that’s not a euphemism for anything.

Don't know what this is, but it looked impressive. Will check it out tomorrow in the daylight.

Fellow musical-comedy fan friends have often mentioned Eddie’s work to me, so he’s been on my radar for a while. But money is tight and my comedy dollar has to go a long way, Eddie has never made it onto my schedule until now.

Misanthropology is Eddie Perfect’s latest show and he performed it at the Brisbane Powerhouse from July 20 to July 23. I was there on Saturday the 23rd with some of those aforementioned friends. The room was dark, we were sat around a table to the left of the centre-stage cat-walk. A deep voice echoed in the darkness. “In the beginning… there was nothing, and then our universe was created with a bang, (small noise.) a BIG bang, (bigger noise,) and then lots of stuff happened…”

The ‘lots of stuff’ seems to have slowed down in recent years, and Eddie, resplendent in an 80s looking silvery suit lamented that man has done so much great stuff, but there are always those that let the side down. They betray our humble beginnings as sea animals that happened by some accident of evolution to have crawled to the shore, and then went on to evolve hands and use tools.

As a species we have made great inventions but still manage to do some very stupid things, and think some very stupid thoughts. We have ourselves on a pedestal above all other animals and presume to know what they think, when really we don’t have a clue. And although we should know better by now, we are still doing awful things to the environment, messing up our world, and almost worse than that, awful pretentious things in the name of art.

You wouldn’t think that such a depressing subject would be so funny, but the seven songs with stand-up in between, had the room laughing all the way through. He mocked humanity, with great wit, touching on several examples of how we seem to have hit a glass ceiling in evolution. Having the three-piece backing band on bass guitar, electronic drum kit, and keyboards, left Eddie free to walk about the stage and onto the catwalk. From my vantage point I could clearly see the perspiration on his forehead glistening as he energetically belted out the songs.

He did pop behind the keyboard for a brief stint during his song about a father who bought breast implants for his 22-year-old daughter. That song was my favourite one in the show, full of razzamatazz, brilliant lighting and just a fantastic performance. Be warned, it’s the sort of song you can hum after only one listen.

One of my friends has been watching the Tour de France and she enjoyed ‘Self-Righteous Cyclist’ a lot, the tightly clad in lycra Eddie was enjoyed for other reasons by other members of the audience. Possibly those that watch him on Offspring. He also impersonated a well-known female presenter who seems to think sportsmen who behave appallingly with young girls are OK, and the girls really wanted what they got, which was raped. Another song about how living with a primitive tribe may not be all it’s cracked up to be, saw Eddie wearing a headpiece that would not look amiss on Jay Kay of Jamiroquai.

If it all sounds a bit dark and twisted, well, it is. But it’s dark, twisted and funny.

Me and Eddie after the show on July 23, 2011. Thank you Kim for taking the photo. 😉

The encore was a semi-serious song, performed solo, with just Eddie on the keyboard. I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t get the poignancy of it at first as I was too busy enjoying the performance to actually listen to the words. In fact there were a few instances throughout the show, where I’d hear a laugh around the room and realise I’d missed a punchline during a song because I was too busy enjoying the voice and music without actually listening to the lyrics. But that’s my fault, I tend to drift sometimes when listening to good music.

Thankfully Eddie had CDs of the show, recorded at The Famous Speigeltent, at the Sydney Festival for sale in the foyer for $25.00. And although he had not been well, he still stayed behind after the show for autographs and photos. What a lovely guy.

For more information on Eddie Perfect go to his official website.

My journey from one to five-star camping started in 1986. My husband is an ex-scout so he was used to roughing it while camping, whereas I had never camped in my life. We went camping with friends in an old-fashioned canvas tent. We had hardly any equipment apart from the tent and sleeping bags: I wasn’t impressed. The next time we went away with the same friends, we rented an on-site caravan. Which was fine except they had the bedroom and we had the makeshift bed at the other end of the caravan. We couldn’t sleep for the sound of bottles chinking in the cupboard and ornaments falling off the shelves and onto our heads. Lesson learned: never share a caravan with a frisky couple. I give my first camping experiences one star.

In 1988 we left our frisky friends in the UK and emigrated to Australia. This time we went camping with relatives, again we spent the night in a canvas tent. It leaked, and I didn’t sleep a wink. After that we decided to stay away from canvas and my husband rigged up a false floor in our Liteace van. Simple: mattress on top and storage underneath. This, although cramped, was dry and a step up from sleeping on the ground. Two stars.

In 1990 we started to grow our own small humans and the van was not practical for a growing family. So we stopped camping for a few years. Then came the second-hand camper-trailer, very generously given to us by the rellies. We used it with tarps to protect the canvas from rain and give us an undercover area. This was a huge step up, (literally, a ladder was needed as the bed was on top of the trailer). As our children grew up, they graduated to erecting their own small, dome tents outside of the main trailer tent. With three overlapping tarps to cover everything it was an ace set up. Over the years the list of essentials grew, including a bar fridge and a small portable TV. This configuration evolved from three to four star camping. One star deducted for lengthy set-up and pack down times.

Later on, during the ‘naughties’ our teenage children no longer thought it was cool to camp, and wanted to do their own thing. My husband had a brief dalliance with the idea of renovating a decrepit old caravan, the hideous thing sat in our garden with its insides gutted for a couple of years before we gave it away.

As our children became adults, we decided to go camping as a couple. The trailer tent seemed too big, and putting up tarps too tiresome for quick weekend getaways. Our budget put buying a motor home out of the picture, so we decided to go smaller, my very clever husband built a Teardrop Camper. We now tow it behind our trike or my small car and pop an Event 14 canopy over the top for an undercover area if it’s needed. It only takes about 15 minutes to put up the canopy. Advances in Technology have given us a plug-in that can turn our laptop into a TV, and a stick that gives us mobile Internet. ‘Roughing it’ now means taking an Esky instead of a fridge. Delicate flower that I am, this set up makes me a happy camper. I give it five stars.

Easter at Tawonga 2011. We had a 'lean-to garage' added on to the dome to protect DACAT from the rain.

Whether you want a few weekends away outback with your 4WD, or you plan to cycle around Australia with a swag, there’s something out there to suit your needs. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. It took me 25 years to get to five-star camping but if you want to rough it by bathing in rivers, and digging your own toilet, then that’s fine. If you can’t survive without your hair straightener, that’s fine too. Personally I think it makes no difference whether your hair is straight or frizzy when marveling at the milky way on your way back from the toilet block. In camping there is room for everyone: except Winnebagos and converted coaches. And I mean that literally. Often they have to book ahead as most sites are too small. The only thing funnier than watching someone trying to back a huge vehicle into an awkwardly small site, is watching someone put up a tent for the first time. I highly recommend having a practice run in your garden first. Make it the front garden if you like to entertain your neighbours.

Shisha in the Islamic section.

The Abbey Tournament is the biggest  medieval festival in the Southern hemisphere. Last year we went for one day, there was so much to see that this year we went for the weekend.

Queensland lived up to its old pre-flood and pre-cyclone Yasi tag of ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next.’ The winter mornings were cold, but they soon warmed up and we had two days of perfect, sunny weather.

March practice at the Janissary Barracks.

Fortune Teller caravan at the Shuvani Romani Kumpania campsite.

As I’ve been learning to belly dance for the past 18 months, and Chris had no special interest in any particular era, I ended up dragging him to lots of Turkish/Middle Eastern things at the Janissary Barracks, and we visited the beautiful and colourful campsite of the Shuvani Romani Kumpania several times. I love all the colours, drumming, music and dance of the Romanis, and the Kazuri Tribe, and danced in both of their workshops. It was basic beginners folk-step, and shimmies and things like that: a lot of fun. Unfortunately they didn’t trust us to dance with their veils or swords.

 

 

 

Poor Chris had to endure watching a lot of belly dancing over the weekend, but he didn’t complain. To balance things out, I made sure we watched some oiled-up men demonstrating Turkish oil wrestling: OK, so that was really for my benefit. The oil wrestling was one of the things I wanted to see last year but we didn’t have time. It was very physical and fun to watch, but I do hope they put sunscreen on before the oil, I’d hate to think they were dehydrating and frying in the heat. The lovely Kazuri Tribe ladies belly danced for us in between bouts, so there was no escape for Chris… again.

Kazuri Tribe ladies dancing.

I did sometimes manage to drag myself away from the belly dancers, (although distant drumming usually called me back). I mixed it up a bit with other eras and cultures so Chris wouldn’t get bored. One of the things we had to see was the jousting, which although very entertaining, was almost out-shone by the witty commentary. It’s worth the extra $2.00 on top of the entry fee to watch one bout of jousting, and they joust three times a day so it’s easy to work it around other reenactments of other eras in other areas.

Jousters

We also managed to fit in knights and other gentlemen (and women,) fighting and fencing.

Fighting knights

Practicing swordplay

Other weapon demonstrations included; cannons, trebuchets, and archery. There were people performing Celtic songs, a harpist, and music on interesting instruments like the hurdy gurdy. We watched funny juggling jesters and graceful stilt-walkers, morris-dancers, and medieval dancers. There were henna artists, palm readers, coffee readers, furriers, weavers, blacksmiths, and people making chain-maille and jewellery.  We ate venison pie at the Stag Inn, (sorry Bambi) and I found out what chevron pie is, (it’s goat.) I also had my first taste of Strongbow Pear Cider. Yes I know that’s not strictly in keeping with medieval times, but still, it was nice.

One of the two tree-lady stilt-walkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t see much of the birds of prey, they are on our list for next year, and so is having a camel ride and trying honey mead and mulled wine. There is a lot going on, and with 37 groups all doing their thing, plus food, and stalls, even two days wasn’t enough time to see everything.

We did have a go at shooting targets with a bow and five arrows, I did quite well, but I also took longer than everyone else in my line: sorry to the people waiting behind us.

I did the henna workshop at the Kazuri Tribe tents. The history and the way they make henna was really interesting, but I soon found out my decorating skills are not that great. Again, I was the last to leave, and now I have really dodgy doodles on my left hand and arm for the next couple of weeks. But I’m not complaining, it’s a nice reminder of a wonderful weekend.

Shuvani Romani dancers

That’s me, dressed up.

Shuvani Romani Kumpania ladies, and me back in my jeans and Tshirt.

For more information on the Shuvani Romani Kumpania visit  http://www.souldance.com.au/

For more information on the Kazuri  Tribe,  http://www.kazuritribe.com.au/

Stats:

  • Kilometres traveled: 3,620
  • Litres of petrol: 371.49
  • Cost of petrol: $602.08
  • Lattes consumed: too many

Things I missed:

  • During the couple of times we were without it, I missed the Internet.
  • Our en-suite toilet: the cold walk to the toilets at midnight is not fun, although the night sky is lovely.
  • 2 ply toilet paper: it was always a nice surprise to get 2 ply loo paper at a public or campsite toilet.
  • Chris missed roast dinners.
  • The royal wedding. Although to tell the truth we missed that on purpose.

Things I didn’t miss:

  • Housework, particularly ironing, floor sweeping, and picking up bath towels.
  • Job hunting.

What we will do differently next time:

  • If going to a cold climate we will take a thicker duvet, a hot water bottle, and an electric blanket: I’m only half-joking.
  • If going to a cold climate, I won’t be so optimistic, I will take less summer clothing.
  • A slow cooker is a good idea, a few other campers had them, we could cook a roast in it.
  • Rig up something to strap wet stuff to the Teardrop chassis. Wet things stored on the bed while traveling is not a good idea.
  • Make sure we have enough coins for the washing machines and dryers.
  • Stock up on tea bags before we go. Items bought at campsite kiosks are expensive.
  • If time permits, spend more than one night at each place, especially if long distances are traveled between camps.

Consequences of holiday:

  • Food and drink: I gained half a kilo, Chris managed to lose a kilo. How on earth did that happen?
  • Leaving our son and daughter alone for two weeks: None, they didn’t starve and they managed perfectly well without us.
  • Leaving our cats alone with our son and daughter: None, they didn’t starve, and I don’t think they even noticed we were gone.
  • Furry tea bags in our tea-pot.
  • We are now broke.

It’ll be a while before we do another trip like this one, the next Easter Teardrop gathering is mooted to be in Forbes, and one day we’d like to go to Tasmania. But until then we will have to look forward to our next weekend trip in July. This time it will be in a B&B much closer to home. We are going to our second Abbey Medieval Tournament. Last year we went for one day and it wasn’t enough so this year we are going for the weekend. I will be joining in with the belly dancing again. Fun.

Saturday, 30th April, 2011. Glen Aplin to Capalaba via Boonah.

Kilometers traveled: 285

Weather: Warm in the sun, low 20’s. A couple of showers.

After our breakfast of jam on toast, we took the cover off the dome frame and draped it over the sunny end so it would dry before we packed it back in the Teardrop.

It didn’t take long to dry. We’re in QLD now, we had taken our jackets off by 8.00am.

As soon as the cover was dry, Chris packed it and all the other gear into the Teardrop. I let him do it, he knows where it all goes so there’s not too much weight on the tow ball. We don’t want any accidental wheelies.

We took one last walk down to the camp site’s river, then we went back to the trike and left for the Granite Belt Dairy for a spot of cheese tasting. When we got there we found they didn’t open until 10.00am, it was only about 9.30am but the door was open, so we popped in to ask if they were open yet. The owner very kindly set up early for us and we tried a few different cheeses, relishes, jams and chutneys. We ordered a couple of lattes to have in the courtyard and took some photos of their very furry dog.

Rex at the Cheese Shop

We left the shop with a couple of cheeses, a bottle of Summit wine, a jar of dried fig and apple chutney and a jar of lemon butter.

Our next stop was just after Warwick, where we did a bit of a detour to visit Mark at Travelbug Teardrop campers. He lives on a very rocky and bumpy dirt road, Chris drove the trike very slowly. Chris and Mark talked shop for a while, it’s good to compare different ideas incorporated into Teardrop campers. I like the idea of cup holders inside. We might put those in our Teardrop later as our shelf is always full of DVDs, laptop and iPhone chargers, and other assorted stuff like brochures and our torch for midnight walks to the toilet.

When we left Mark, we went home via Cunningham’s Gap and Boonah. The Gap would have been lovely if it wasn’t full of road works. The scenery is beautiful between Cunningham’s Gap and Boonah, you’ll have to take my word for it as I didn’t take any photos. We stopped at Boonah to have lunch at the Flavours Café, a bike friendly café that does lovely meals, this was our third visit, and as it was just before 2pm we were in time for the $10.00 lunch specials. We both had the Hawaiian wrap with salad. It was delicious. We also had another latte. Chris suggested putting a coffee machine in back of our Teardrop. I’m not entirely sure he was joking.

From Boonah we were going to go straight home, but we decided to stop in at Aussie Teardrop Campers to see Reiner and Sam, and return Reiner’s video camera so he could see all the Teardrops he missed at the Tawonga Teardrop Gathering. As soon as we arrived, it started to rain. We stayed and talked about traveling and Teardrops for about an hour, and soon it was time to do the last leg of our journey home: just as it started to rain again.

We arrived home just before dark, (around 5.00pm). The kids hadn’t missed us much, and the cats seemed indifferent, but the pool missed us, it’s gone a bit green.

And that’s it: the holiday is over. On the way home I did say to Chris, “we could stop somewhere else, you don’t have to be at work until Tuesday” but I think he thought I was joking… I’m not sure that I was.

Friday, 29th April, 2011 – Tamworth to Glen Aplin

Kilometres traveled: 363

Weather: Started sunny, but stayed cold and we had a few showers in NSW. It got a bit warmer by the time we got to QLD.

We left Tamworth 8.45ish so Chris could take a photo of DACAT at the Big Golden Guitar, and from there we set off for our next camp site at Glen Aplin. We had a lot of stops on this trip. Our first stop was at Moonbi Lookout.

Two big caravans had parked up there overnight, it was a pretty spot, but the toilet looked like a set for a horror movie. Rustic is an understatement: it was downright scary.

There were several more wee stops, (must be the cold weather and all the tea we drink). We were going to stop at the Celtic Festival in Glen Innes, but when we stopped there for petrol the wind was bitterly cold, so we decided to keep going. At about 2pm we stopped at Bluffs Rock for a cup of tea and the chicken sandwiches I prepared last night. Our Glen Aplin camp was less than an hour away.

At first I was very disappointed, with our Glen Aplin camp site, it looked like a caravan graveyard, where all the old caravans go to die. All our neighbouring caravans had broken and taped up windows, they were not a pretty sight. But we put up the dome and two side walls so we wouldn’t have to look at them, and because it looked like rain. We were right, it rained just after the dome went up.

Considering the run down state of the caravans, the amenities were good, they even had 2 ply loo paper! The loos and showers were all on river water, there were a couple of taps for drinking water, but everything else was river water.

I went to check out the unpowered camping area down at the Severn River, and it was lovely.

The owners were very helpful, and the on site security man was very friendly and talkative. In the end I was glad to be there, a good reminder not to always trust first impressions.

While I was taking photos down at the River, Chris was trying to get on the Internet.

Chris trying to get the Internet on my little computer, and looking up tomorrow's trip on the GPS.

It was frustratingly slow so he shut the computer down. We contemplated putting up the TV aerial so we could watch TV on the laptop, but we knew that the royal wedding would be all over it, so we opted for DVDs instead. I’m sure I’ll be able to see wedding highlights later on when I’m at home: if I wanted.

It was very cold tonight so we had a tinned and dinged meal, (two tins of braised beef and onions and a tin of peas, carrots and corn cooked in the microwave,) it made a sort of beef stew, it tasted pretty good. I suggested Chris enter it for next year’s Teardrop cook-off: he laughed. I don’t think he took it seriously, but if he serves up beef stew next year, check our rubbish bag for tins.

A couple of times during the evening, when walking to the amenities, I had to stop and marvel at the night sky. It is just amazing how the stars seem so bright out here away from city lights. I’m even more in awe of the night sky since visiting the Parkes Observatory this week.

Chris found my missing hairbrush in the top box of the trike today, it marks the return to civilisation, tomorrow we are going back home. We made plans for a couple of stops on the way, then went to bed and watched Danny Bhoy and Josh Thomas DVDs. Wedding? What wedding?

Thursday, 28th April, 2011 – Dubbo to Tamworth

Kilometers traveled: 350.

Weather: Cool, mostly sunny.

This morning Chris cooked up the last of the bacon and eggs for breakfast. All this fatty food has done me no good at all, and my jeans have felt a bit tight all this week. Or I could blame the tracky daks I’ve been wearing under my jeans to keep my legs warm.

Talking of legs, I haven’t shaved them for two weeks, nor have I worn make-up. Add to that the fact that I lost my hair brush about a week ago, and I’ve been finger combing my hair ever since, and you might conclude I’ve become a bit feral. Well, that’s camping for you.

We left Dubbo at about 8.15am and rode through the beautiful countryside to the country music capital of Australia, Tamworth. We stopped at Mullaley Park for a wee and cuppa, when Keith from the Teardrop gathering appeared from nowhere. Small world. We also  had a chat with a guy who pulled up beside us in a huge RV, towing an enclosed trailer. It turned out that the trailer had an Oztrike in it.

We took another hour to get to Tamworth and arrived at the camp site at about 1.00pm. Not being huge country music fans, we didn’t really do very much in Tamworth. We went to the visitor centre to find out where the big golden guitar was so we could visit it tomorrow, then we bought a Red Rooster chook for sandwiches and for butter chicken and rice for dinner tonight.

The campsite is nice, there’s plenty of shade and no rain was forecast so we didn’t put up any shelter. We watched a couple of movies on TV and confirmed our booking for Glen Alpin tomorrow.

Today it suddenly occurred to me that in less than 48 hours we will be back home. Kids, you’d better start tidying up.

Wednesday, 27th April, 2011 – Forbes to Dubbo via Parkes Observatory

Kilometers traveled: 168

Weather: lovely, cool start, warm day, about 20 degrees C.

Today’s post was to be called Chris And Sue Go To The Zoo, as the plan was to have a couple of hours ride straight through from Forbes to Dubbo. and then go to Western Plains Zoo just up the road: but that didn’t happen.

Instead, we stopped about half way to Dubbo, at the Parkes Observatory and decided to spend some time there instead, then have an easy afternoon at our Dubbo campsite.

The Parkes Observatory Visitor Centre was fascinating, we had a good look around and watched four short documentaries, three of them in 3D.

The dish had a huge role in televising Neil Armstrong’s moon walk in 1969: the event partially fictionalised in the movie, The Dish, which we bought from the gift shop to watch later.

The dish makes me look small. Thinking about the ever-expanding universe makes me feel small.

We had a delicious Devonshire tea in the superb Dish Cafe. The scones were light and dusted with icing sugar, with generous portions of strawberry jam and cream. I’m sure our doctor would disapprove of all that fat and sugar, but I won’t tell him if you don’t.

My view from Dish Cafe

Chris' view, me and Devonshire tea.

We left the dish behind and rode the rest of the way to Dubbo. The scenery was gorgeous.

Road to Dubbo.

Road to Dubbo

We got to camp at about 1.oopm, we didn’t put up any extra shelter as we had a shady site and rain has not been forecast.

When we unpacked the Teardrop and dried the dewy shelter we’d packed this morning, we found a grasshopper who had hitched a ride with us all the way from Forbes. Poor bugger, I wonder if he misses his hundreds of mates in Forbes.

We got some laundry tokens and washed our clothes, had showers and watched some TV. The amenities here are very good, they even have 2 ply toilet paper. Gee I’ve missed that.

For dinner I cooked up some pasta with bacon and cheese sauce, and we started our last bottle of wine. Unlike last night, I managed not to trip over anything today, so our meal stayed intact.

Tonight we sat outside and watched a DVD Chris borrowed from the kiosk, then we watched The Dish on the player inside the Teardrop. Or I did anyway: Chris fell asleep and saw the last five minutes.

Tuesday, 26th April, 2011 – Tawonga to Forbes

Kilometres traveled: 482

Weather: Cold morning, warming to about 20 degrees C by midday.

This morning was our last morning at the Teardrop gathering in Tawonga. Once again it was very cold. This climate has brought back some happy childhood memories; making conkers from chestnuts, playing hide and seek in a weeping willow, and of course playing in all those red, yellow and brown autumn leaves. But I still don’t like being cold.

We had our brekky of tea and toast, then Chris packed all our gear into the Teardrop and started the trike, it stalled twice while reversing… it doesn’t like the cold either.

Before we knew it, the rumble of the trike had drawn a crowd of Teardroppers and other campers, so we said our goodbyes, then did a lap of honour around the park to farewell the Teardroppers on the other side of the green. I always feel like a one float parade when we leave a camp site.

The fields around Tawonga were misty and cold, we lasted about 20 minutes then we had to put our wet weather trousers on, not to repel rain, but to stop the cold wind biting us through our jeans. My body was fine, one shirt and three jackets including my black leather one makes me look like a goth Michelin man, but I don’t care.

We had only three stops on the way to Forbes, a wee break, at Uranquinty, where there was an unexpectedly beautiful mosaic on the toilet wall. A brunch break, at Gerogery rest stop, for a gourmet cheese and chippie sandwich. And a fuel stop, somewhere I can’t remember.

As we rode, the scenery gradually changed from green, lush and hilly to dry wide grasslands,  and the closer we got to Forbes the wider the landscape got: we could see for miles around. It was very different to the winding mountain roads around Mt Beauty. The sky seemed huge and the cloud formations were amazing.

The speedo on the trike has been dodgy for the past few days, first it was reading 20 over, then 30, 40, 50 and so on. I was going to take a photo of the speedo doing 180 (really 100) but today the needle fell off. It’ll have to be fixed when we get back to Brisbane.

We got to our Forbes camp site around 3.00pm. Instead of our dome, we decided to put the lean-to tent (our ex-garage) behind the kitchen. It took twice as long to put up as our dome, I think the dome is better.

Once we were set up, Chris went on a fact-finding mission for possible camp sites for next year’s Teardrop gathering, he was most impressed by the Apex Riverside Tourist Park. We are not camping at that park, but I’m happy with where we are, our site is right outside the amenities, and would be perfect but for the midges and brown grasshoppers: they are everywhere!

Later on I cooked some ravioli for our dinner and as I was about to drain it, I tripped over a cable and rushed headlong through the kitchen, out the other side and fell like a sack of spuds on the grass. Half the ravioli was scattered and some of the hot water splashed on my face but luckily the most damage was to my pride. Chris made some noodles to eke out what ravioli was left in the saucepan.

I felt a bit sorry for myself, but then we had the laptop TV on and the news showed two stories of  little kids attacked by wasps and dingoes. By comparison I got mildly annoyed by midges and slightly scared by grasshoppers, ambushed by a cable and attacked by ravioli. Some people have it worse than me.

After the ravioli incident, Chris decided I needed a port, so between us we finished Ken’s port that he’d been carrying around in his Teardrop for two years. It was a gift and he doesn’t drink it, so thank you Ken. Your port was much appreciated. For medicinal purposes of course.

Monday, 25th April, 2011 – To Bogong High Plains and back to camp, 90km round trip,

Weather: Sunny and warm in Tawonga, and much colder as we rode higher.

This morning we both had a lie-in until 9.00am. That is unheard of for Chris, all the cooking yesterday must have worn him out. We had the last of the toasted muffins for breakfast and said goodbye to the few Teardroppers that would be leaving us today.

We’ve been chatting to Teardrop owners about condensation, we’ve found that in the mornings there is a lot of condensation inside the Teardrop due to the cold weather and it is quite damp underneath the mattress although it is not wet enough to feel it on top. Others have had the same problem in the past, and put down rubber camping mats under their mattress to keep it off the floor. We will do that when we get back to Brisbane. Today we just propped up the mattress up to let the air get to it while we took the trike out for a spin to the Bogong High Plains.

Our first stop was 30km up the mountain at Falls Creek where we had a latte at the ski resort.  Our drinks were served in what looked like ostrich sized egg cups. The road was winding and forested much like the road to Bright on Saturday, but a bit greener, wetter and more mossy looking. There were lots of trees and ferns, a dinosaur wouldn’t have looked out-of-place. Then we went a couple of kilometers up the road to Rocky Valley Dam: It was stunning. The water looked so blue. We stayed there for a while before heading higher into the Bogong High Plains.

The countryside up there was rugged and desolate, lots of rocks and dry-looking grass, and it was very cold. There quite a few hikers and cyclists, in fact I couldn’t believe how many cyclists we saw coming up the mountain, they must all be super-fit.

We rode for about 15km after the dam, then turned around at the Raspberry Hill camping area and headed back home stopping off several times for photos from Falls Creek back to Tawonga.

When we got back to camp we packed up our site so we wouldn’t have to deal with too much dewy, wet stuff tomorrow morning.

Happy hour was at 4.00pm, this time it was held around the fire behind us. The guys are still talking about the Keith’s prestigious cook-off award, it is not-so-secretly coveted by all the guys, especially Ken.

Everyone disappeared for their dinners then came back to the fire again for more warmth and banter until about 9.00pm, after that we had the fire to ourselves. We weren’t alone for long though, we had three visitors come to ask about the trike and Teardrop and we finally got to bed at about 11.30pm.

It’s a long day tomorrow. Tawonga to Forbes, the first leg of our journey back home.

Chris And Sue Win A Prize

Sunday, 24th April, 2011

Weather: warm and sunny. About 20 degrees C.

Today was Easter Sunday. The bunny came and left a few eggs around the place as bunnies usually do. His tell-tale foot prints were all over the campsite this morning.

The trike stayed in the garage as we decided to have a lazy day at home and go to Falls Creek tomorrow instead.

We had toasted muffins for breakfast, and then wandered around the grounds having a nosey at all the Teardrops and chatting to other Teardroppers. We took some photos and some video for our friend Reiner as he couldn’t make it this year. There ended up being eleven Teardrops here altogether, although one or two had gone by the afternoon. Every Teardrop was home-built and is unique. They are like dogs, they match the personality and needs of their owners.

The sun was so hot this afternoon, that I actually put on sunscreen and wore a T-shirt and jeans. We had a cheese sandwich for lunch as tonight we had the cook-off to look forward to, it was all very top-secret, no one told anyone else what they planned to cook. I sat in the sunshine and had a couple of glasses of wine after lunch and supervised Chris’ lamb stew. This is how camping should be ALL the time.

We spent a lot of today just sitting around and chatting. I think I’ve convinced Robyn next door to take up belly dancing.

The cook-off tonight was lovely. We started with a happy hour at 4.00pm and all the food the guys had made for the cooking competition arrived around 6.00pm. There were two stews, one beef and one lamb with dumplings, chilli con carne, chicken curry, minestrone soup, chicken, roast pork and stir-fried veggies, damper, and caramel dumplings. It was all delicious. Everyone remarked how high the standard was this year.

The ladies all got together to vote and the winner of the cook-off was Keith with his minestrone soup. He was very pleased. There was some talk amongst the guys of phone in votes and postal votes, and there was a lot of joking going on. I think the cooking competition is taken more seriously than the other two trophies.

The winner of  the Best Home Built Teardrop was Mike…

… and we won the Best Camp Set Up because we were the only site with a garage!

After dinner a lot of us went back to the camp fire behind our site. There was more joking around about the cook-off and some techie talk about building Teardrops. Most people left around 9.45pm.

After that, Chris and I watched a DVD in our Teardrop, the Adam Hills stand-up show Inflatable, or at least I did, Chris fell asleep half way through.

Chris and Sue Go To Market

Saturday, 23 April, 2011 – A trip to the markets at Bright, about 30km away.

Weather: beautiful, sunny and 20 degrees.

Last night was SO COLD, our neighbours have a thermometer and they said it was 2 degrees C last night. I ended up wearing a tracksuit and dressing gown to bed and putting our jackets and a towel on top of our thin doona. Next door have an electric blanket: that’s not such a bad idea.

This morning Chris cooked us a bacon and egg breakfast. Then we had some Teardrop stalkers drop by to check out a few Teardrops. By the time they left us it was gone 10.00am so we set off to the big markets at Bright about 30km away.

The drive to Bright was beautiful. We went over the windy mountain road stopping at Sullivan’s Lookout on the way for some photos. The view was stunning.

The markets at Bright were very busy, we had a look around for an hour or so and had a pie for lunch. It was a tasty steak and mushroom pie, but it was only luke warm. Never mind, it filled the hole.

Bright. Close to the markets.

At the end our visit we did a bit of wine tasting from one of the wine stalls and bought 3 bottles for $40.00 to take back to camp.

I took a few photos on the way back down the mountain (from the back of the trike) and we also stopped at the S.E.C. Lookout.

The road out of Bright going back to Tawonga.

Chris at the S.E.C. Lookout.

Going down the mountain from Bright towards Tawonga.

At the bottom of the mountain there’s another lookout, not far from our camp. We stopped there and met the Teardrop stalkers again, and had another chat for a while before heading back to camp.

Tonight we all went to the local hotel for a meal. Unfortunately we couldn’t all sit together. Chris and I sat with Keith. The place was really busy and the servings were massive. I nicknamed Keith’s rare steak Uluru. Michael brought his guitar and performed three Spanish songs after dinner. He is a professional musician. Someone bought him a glass of red for his payment.

We had all taken the courtesy bus up to the pub but Chris and I decided to walk back to camp. We were glad of the flashlight app on the iPhone as it was a pretty dark 1km walk. It was worth it though as the night sky was amazing: so clear and so many stars.

We got back to camp at about 10.10pm and had a cup of tea then rugged up ready for bed. Tomorrow we are going to ride to Falls Creek, it is very high up and very cold. The cook-off is tomorrow too… exciting stuff.

Friday, 22nd April, 2011 – We only went from Tawonga to Mt Beauty and back again today: not very far.

Weather: mostly fine, occasional showers. Very cold.

Today was our first full day in Tawonga. I got up at about 8.30am and had a warming cup of tea and toast, then we went out to Mt Beauty on the trike.

Chris left the garage doors open, and let in all the cold air.

Today’s mission was to get fresh provisions for the next few days. Although it is Easter Friday, the shops at Mt Beauty were open so we picked up some fresh veggies, meat, eggs, milk and bread, and ingredients for the cook-off on Sunday. The cook-off is a men-only cooking competition, and all the women judge the best dish. Chris was going to go all out and make pineapple and cheese on sticks, but decided to do something better suited to the alpine environment.

We’ve gained another Teardrop beside us, it turns out our new neighbours, Daryl and Robyn live about 20 minutes away from us in Brisbane: small world.

New neighbours

We also got more tenants in the static caravans and cabins behind us. They are an excitable lot, and very interested in the Teardrops, they’d never seen them before and they’d been coming here for about 25 years. One lady jumped onto the bed beside me to have her photo taken! I was trying to catch up on my blogging as we only got the Internet back this afternoon.

Tonight we had spaghetti bolognese for tea, then it was time to gather around the fire again. Bruce and Kirk, two of the other Teardroppers tried to set up their telescopes, but it was too dewy on the lens to see properly. The air was very cold and a little misty, just like last night.

The caravan-dwellers behind us were having a bit of a party and played loud music until about 9.30pm, but thankfully the music wasn’t bad so it was quite nice to have it in the background.

Ken brought over a bottle of port that he’d had knocking around for a couple of years, so we had some of that, it warmed us up on the inside as the fire warmed us on the outside, and we all chatted around the fire until about 10.30pm.

Tonight it is so cold I had to put on an extra layer in bed. It must be close to freezing out there.

Thursday, 21st April, 2011 – Florey to Tawonga

Kilometres traveled, 426.

1782km traveled altogether so far.

Weather: Cold, grey, foggy. Then colder, greyer and foggier. Then sunny spells.

We rugged up nice and warm and said our goodbyes to Cilla and the girls and left Florey just before 8am. It was cold and a bit foggy. About an hour later it got very foggy, visibility was about 5 or 6 metres. It was like riding through a cloud. After about an hour of this we stopped at Jugiong Roadside Cafe for a food and wee break. We each had a coffee and an egg and bacon burger. It was a welcome break, they seemed like the best coffee and burger we’d ever had! ­­There was a chalkboard over the doorway and the message on it said “Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” Too true I thought.

The fog lifted after Jugiong, and the grey clouds changed to white ones, then eventually we actually got some sunny spells. The scenery was nice; brownish grass, and a few trees, sheep, and some cows.

While admiring the countryside I also noticed a sign saying “Need direction? Follow Jesus” Hmmm, I thought, not unless his voice is on the GPS, and even then I wouldn’t trust him. We’ve learned to not totally trust the GPS.

We went through Holbrook which had a big submarine set in the middle of it, and for some reason there were mini mokes parked everywhere. If we’d had more time we would have stopped, but we were on a mission to get to our campsite before it rained.

As we came off the Hume Highway and onto the road to Mt Beauty, the grass suddenly changed from brownish to green and there were more cows than sheep. The scenery was very pretty, all hilly and lush, with European trees of all the colours of autumn.

Autumn leaves.

We finally got to our campsite mid-afternoon, the weather was quite warm and sunny so my outer layers soon came off. We set up the dome over the Teardrop very quickly as we’re well-practiced now. Chris also attached a lean-to type tent to the dome, I thought it might be to make a kitchen/diner on the back, but he put it on the front of the dome to make a garage for DACAT. Just as well as not long after we were set up it rained for about an hour.

This long weekend there should be 15 Teardrops scattered around the grounds, I think there are about 7 here today. We had a wander around the grounds to find the amenities blocks and see a few Teardrops and owners. We also got some necessary supplies from the kiosk, (chippies and chocolate). Then had a light tea of pumpkin soup and toast.

We have a Teardrop behind us which is more like a Romany caravan. So cute. That’s the thing about home-built Teardrops, they are all so personal and full of character. Its owners (Michael and Lisa) set up a fire between our sites where they cooked their chops and sausages, they shared the sausages with us, they were very spicy. I’m sure they helped clear my sinuses. Eleven Teardroppers gathered around the fire tonight for a chat, trailing off to bed at about 10.30pm, we were also visited by a brush-tailed possum.

The good thing about tomorrow is we don’t have to pack up again to go somewhere else tomorrow. This is it for a few days now. Bliss.

All set up for the next few days.

Wednesday, 20th April, 2011 – Canberra – Parliament House and The War Memorial

Kilometres traveled: 49

Weather: Cold and grey (about 15 degrees C) and it rained on and off all day.
Us and Cilla.

We didn’t have to go anywhere today, so we spent the morning reminiscing with Cilla, and Chris took Milla out for a couple of little joy rides on the trike.

Milla going for a ride.

Cilla told me I woke her up last night using the loo, and in her groggy half-asleep state she thought I was a burglar. I’m lucky I didn’t get bopped on the head with a broom. If I come in to use the loo tonight, I’m going to wear my helmet.
­­­­­
­­This afternoon we braved the weather and went to the City, or as it’s known around here, ‘the Civic’. Our first stop was Parliament House. There only seemed to be drop off zones around so Chris quickly jumped off, took the photo, then reprogrammed the GPS and we set off again. A security guard walked past us but he didn’t say anything. Well, our mode of transport is hardly inconspicuous, so I guess he figured we weren’t a threat to national security.

DACAT at Parliament House.

The nice lady on the GPS didn’t get us lost today and we were soon in the underground car park at the War Memorial. Outside everything was all set up for the ANZAC day dawn ceremony on Monday. The memorial itself was very impressive, as was the museum. I was deeply moved by all the personal artifacts, dioramas and paintings. It was a huge building, they even had fighter planes on show inside. We spent a couple of hours looking around and that was really only a flying visit. You could easily spend all day there if you wanted.

Chris with Parliament House in the distance.

Then we came back to Cilla’s, where we were greeted by the smell of simmering bolognese that the girls had made for tea. Well done Milla and Anna, if you are reading this… it was lovely.

We have an early start and a long ride ahead of us tomorrow, our next camp is at Tawonga where we’ll meet up with the some other Teardrop owners at the annual Teardrop gathering. This means no lie-in for me tomorrow… and it’s supposed to be cold and wet too. Brrrrrrr!

Tuesday, 19th April, 2011 – Bowral to Canberra

Kilometres traveled: 183

Weather: Perfect. Blue sky and cotton wool ball clouds. High of 21 degrees C.

We had a very easy day today. I had a lie-in and Gerry spoiled us with a cooked breakfast to set us up for the day.

I can’t think how, but I forgot to mention on my blog post yesterday that Roy and Gerry have a puppy… his name is Rubin and he is gorgeous. He likes having his belly scratched.

We set off late at 10.15am and had a very short run to Berrima where we stopped and went walkabout around the town. Every shop seemed to sell some kind of cottage industry product; jams, relishes, woollen items, and gifts of all sorts: all the other shops were restaurants or cafes.

Wooden geese in boots.

Oldest pub in Australia with continuous license.

The Quarry Path, Berrima. This was a lovely little walk.

We left Berrima after a chat about trikes with a Swiss gent. That’s the thing about trikes and Teardrops, they both draw a crowd whenever we stop.

The scenery on the way to Canberra was mostly flat, very dry-looking. There were a few more golden coloured trees, they look really pretty. Then we had hills to the right and flat ground to the left for a long time. We stopped at a rest spot for a cup of tea and wee break and Chris took photos of a wind farm in the distance.

Then we got on the road again and went straight through to our friend Cilla’s house in Florey where we’ll be camping in her back garden.

We arrived at about 2.00pm and had a late lunch, and talked all afternoon and into the night. The girls made chicken, chips and salad for tea. Thank you  girls if you are reading this, you did a good job. 🙂

We had a lot of laughs and sang along to the 80’s music on Cilla’s favourite radio station. Apologies to the neighbours. We were only drinking tea. Honest.

At the moment it’s about 10.00pm, we are warm and cosy in the Teardrop and the temperature outside is about 12 degrees C. Freezing!

By the sound of it, Chris is going to do some trike joy rides tomorrow and we are going to visit Canberra. Exciting.

Monday, 18th April, 2011 – Port Stephens To Bowral

Kilometers traveled: 324

Weather: Perfect.

The day started well; a cup of tea in bed, a bit of a lie-in, birds singing, and best of all a blue sky. We took our life in our hands and went for a little stroll among the hoards of small children on bikes and scooters and made the most of the water view until it was time to leave.

Our first stop was to get petrol. There was a Caltex not far down the road so we pulled in there. Chris had a bit of an accident with the nozzle and sprayed petrol everywhere. I declared my jeans a fire hazard, but I waited until later to change out of them.

About 20km before our Gosford stop, we pulled in for a trouser change, a cappuccino and wee stop at a service station. The toilets were unusual, there were magic eyes that dispensed soap and water at the sinks. We also met a gaggle of grannies out on a day trip and spent a bit of time with them talking about our trike and Teardrop. They loved the Teardrop, we had the kitchen open where we’d made our cappuccinos.

Little and large. We were soon surrounded by grannies.

Then we left the grannies behind and went to Panther Trikes in Gosford, where DACAT was born and said hello to the owners Josef and Riza and picked up some spare parts for DACAT. The workshop was smaller than I imagined, there were two Panther skeletons in the workshop, they looked weird with no body on them.

Our next stop was Bowral, where we were to stay with the parents of Adam, (a friend of ours). We were led a merry dance by the GPS and went around in circles for a while, it was pretty stressful. The traffic was horrible and the GPS was very confused. We stopped at two service stations for directions, got on the right road, swore at the GPS a lot and then we were right.

Apart from being sprayed with petrol and getting lost in Sydney, the day was really nice. It’s amazing how much difference good weather makes: and today’s weather was perfect.

As we went through Mittagong, I noticed autumn colours in the trees. We don’t get much of that in Queensland. All those reds and yellows looked really pretty. Bowral was not much further on and we arrived at about 4.00pm and were treated to a cup of tea and a lovely ham, cheese and home-made tomato relish sandwich.

Roy and Gerry have a beautiful home, all vaulted wooden ceilings and wood-paneling, like a large scale English cottage.

Our accomodation for tonight: bit of an upgrade from the Teardrop.

They were perfect hosts. Later we drank wine and ate a sumptuous dinner of home-made chicken pie, garden grown broccoli, some carrots, sprouts and roast potatoes. I could only just squeeze in the apple sponge cake and cream dessert… it was a welcome change to the nuked tinned delights we’ve had for the past two nights.

Dinner and wine and good conversation.

So, now I’m in a nice wide bed, full of dinner and Cabernet Sauvignon and ready for sleep. Tomorrow we are off to visit our friend Cilla and her two girls in Canberra.

I’m sorry there are no photos today, the Internet is a bit iffy here and I’ve tried to upload photos but it’s just not working. I’ll try to put some on here tomorrow.

UPDATE: Photos are up!

Sunday, 17th April, 2011 – Coffs Harbour to Port Stephens

Kilometres traveled: 400 kilometres

Weather: Mostly wet morning, mostly dry afternoon.

We packed up our Coffs Harbour campsite far too early this morning: I am not a morning person, especially when it’s cold. It was also still sprinkling with rain as we packed away our wet gear. I wrapped up in four layers of clothing and got ready to ride to Port Stephens. We set off at about 7.45am and we’d been on the road for about 45 minutes and it tipped down with rain… again.

Yummy cheese and chippie sandwich.

After soldiering on for quite a while, the rain eased so we pulled in at Kempsey for a cheese and chippie sandwich for brunch, then we had batten down the hatch and run to the shelter with our cappuccinos as it bucketed down again.

As we rode I tried to imagine the scenery with blue sky and without a rain-speckled visor. I imagine it is quite pretty. I also noticed a lot of cows, ironically one field of cows had a billboard for McDonalds in it, with a picture of a big juicy burger on it. How insensitive.

It seemed that the rain would be set in for the day, but eventually it stopped and we even got some blue sky. So, on a whim we decided to visit the National Motorcycle Museum.

I thought it was only a small place, but it was like the Tardis. Much bigger on the inside.

The Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac

We had a nosey around at the hundreds of motorbikes, and hundreds more toy bikes in glass cases. Chris was amused to see Puch bikes in there, apparently they used to be used by English posties.

English Panthers and side-cars

One for our son Steven. Basically a motorised push-bike.

Depeche Mode Fan in-joke.

Chris and a few of the 700+ motorbikes on show.

Indians

After resisting the temptations of the museum’s gift shop, we headed off into the sunshine for afternoon tea at our next rest stop. We quickly polished off the pikelets I made last night. This was our first stop with composting toilets, I warned Chris, “it stinks and only the first loo has paper in it. Only use it if you have to,” and unfortunately, I had to.

So with the rather unsavoury toilets behind us we headed to Port Stephens and almost immediately had to stop again. There was a huge traffic jam tailing back from an accident at Bulahdelah, Chris was worried we’d get to Port Stephens late and have to set up in the dark. There was no need to panic though, after about half an hour the traffic cleared and we got to the park at about 3.30pm.

The kookaburra were laughing at us as we entered the park. When we unpacked the Teardrop we understood why: our mattress was wet, right in the middle. The mattress is only 4 ft wide, that’s one hell of a damp patch to try to avoid. So we got everything out to air and thankfully it was fine after an hour or two.

When everthing was set up, Chris was so stressed out he had to have two chocolate Digestive biscuits with his cup of tea. He also complained that it was miles to walk to the amenities block, but how can you complain and be stressed with views like this?

Chris  had a look at the Teardrop’s hatch where we’d had leaks before, but it was as dry as a bone. The cause of the wet mattress was our shoddy loading this morning. We should have taken more care to get things if not dry, then at least securely plastic-bagged before loading them in the Teardrop.

Until 8.30pm tonight the entertainment was provided by a kids disco held in the park not far from our site. Of course Chris had to go and check it out and see what sort of gear the DJ had, (BPM Studio). The music was pretty good, and very useful as a sonic beacon when making my way back in the dark from the showers to our site.

Tomorrow we are off to Bowral, via Gosford to visit DACAT’s birthplace… hopefully I will also have a lie-in.

Saturday, 16th April, 2011 – Brisbane to Coffs Harbour

Kilometres traveled: 400

Weather: Started cloudy, then rained, and rained, and rained.

Today was the first day of our two-week road-trip. Early this morning we hooked up the Teardrop to the trike and put on our water-resistant gear. We left home at about 7.45am. It was cloudy but we were quietly confident that at worst we might hit a couple of showers. We were on the road for a couple of hours before our luck ran out.

We stopped at a free ‘stop, revive and survive’ place where two beaming ladies served us tea and biscuits, it was lovely. We took off our wet weather gear as we didn’t think we’d need it any more. But of course as soon as we set off for the next leg of the journey, ominous grey clouds appeared over the horizon.

Trike and Teardrop before the downpour. We are having tea and biscuits.

We stopped to change clothes again, in case we hit a shower or two, and it rained almost non-stop for the rest of the journey.

We had the umbilical cord connecting our helmets and sometimes this is not a good thing. Chris worried me when he kept saying, “I can’t see a thing… my visors fogged up… the tinted visor is too dark in the rain… I can’t see properly.” Eventually he pulled over and changed over to a clear visor. No scary commentary after that, thank goodness.

Eventually there was a break in the weather, but not for long. We took the opportunity to pull over at a rest stop for a tuna sandwich and a cup of tea. And a visit to the delightful (not) rest stop toilet.

As soon as we set off it rained again, this trip was two-thirds wet and one-third dry. I hope the ratio is less than that for the rest of the trip.

More skins on than an onion.We got to the camp site at Coffs Harbour at about 2.30pm. It didn’t take long to set up camp, and after getting out of my damp jeans and into some tracky daks we settled down to some chocolate Digestive biscuits and a cup of tea. Then the layers started going on, first a jacket, then another jacket, then a beanie. I felt freezing, and this is only Coffs! It’s going to be a lot colder than this in Victoria.

Ducks making themselves at home. Chris checked the temperature, it was 16 degrees C. That’s freezing to me.

Although the ducks waddling through our campsite didn’t seem to mind it: it’s good weather for them.

Of course, Chris soon got bored. He can’t sit still for two minutes, so after a bit of faffing around he turned his Macbook Pro into a TV. Clever git.

TV and Internet. Five star camping.

Not long before the sun went down, it actually stopped raining and it stayed dry the rest of the night. We had a rather ungourmet meal of a packet of chips (entrée) and tinned beef stew cooked in the microwave (dinner). Later I sent Chris out to forage at the local petrol station and he came back with butter, strawberry jam and cheese. I made some pikelets for supper and we had them with the butter and jam.

The end of a rather damp day saw us both cosy and warm in the Teardrop, me doing this blog and Chris watching TV on his Macbook. Just like home really. 🙂

Tim Minchin – Storm

The first time I saw Tim Minchin perform Storm was at the Brisbane Powerhouse on March 18, 2009. I sat in the first row, directly in front of him. He towered above me, all tight black trousers and frilly white shirt, wineglass in hand and spittle floating in the spotlight: I was mesmerised. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, except of course for the laughter during the lighter moments.

In this educational beat poem Tim argues with a young, female dinner guest, (Storm), trying to make the point that things that are not scientifically and empirically proven are unlikely to be true. His observations are funny because they’re true; the facts cleverly sugar-coated by his comedic facial expressions and body language.

His performance is spot on, at first subdued and mildly irritated and gradually becoming more animated as the story unfolds into rant mode, stamping his bare foot to “Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex wonderfully unfathomable, natural world?”

 

I’ve always loved Tim’s other ‘spoken word’ pieces, Angry (Feet) and Mitsubishi Colt, but Storm was new to me, and I briefly toyed with the idea of learning all the words. That idea didn’t last long, Tim is very wordy and nine minutes is a long time.

Thanks to the merchandise queue after this first show, I got to meet Tim and talk to him. He was just as I imagined him to be; lovely, attentive to his fans, and very generous with his time and his hugs. It was the first of six shows and six merchandise queues in a row, and before long Tim recognised me and knew my name.

Marveling at my ‘old school’ black canvas bag kindly sent to me by Tim’s webmistress, Linzy in return for Tim Tams. Tim says, “she’s too nice for her own good.”

Myself and daughter, Sarah, March 18, 2009. The bunny ears are being made by Sarah, they are not on Tim’s poster.

Fast forward to April 2011. Tim has become more famous over the past two years. He can’t always stick around after shows, especially if it’s a long run and he has to save his voice.

But he’s not been resting on his laurels, Tim’s been very busy. He wrote some new material and has toured the UK and Australia with a new orchestra show. On top of that he has created music and lyrics to the RSC’s production of Roald Dahl’s, Matilda, (mooted to move to London’s West End around October or November, 2011.) And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also narrated the Oscar winning short film The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan.

But he’s not been the only one busy creating over the past two years. Some other very talented people have made an animated movie to accompany Tim’s words.

And without further ado, here it is, Tim Minchin’s masterpiece, Storm and the amazing animation and typography of DC Turner and his cohorts.

It has only been on Youtube for four days, and already there are close to 290,000 views. I hope there will be millions more.

The Storm Movie website has information and merchandise for all things relating to this new animation.

For more information on Tim Minchin go to timminchin.com, and to be the best informed stalker you can be, go to angry-feet.com.