Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200006 New Zealand-S Australia-NSW Qld England

Thursday 1 June 2000  Rain, rain and more bloody rain.  Not a bit of help when I need to get all the bedding washed.  We hear news that a twister passed through nearby Richmond this morning but caused minimal damage.  Pop up to see the new motorhome which Tony & Heather have just bought then Walter & Nissa invite us up for a mid morning glass of champagne.  Afternoon tea in the club house where Paula produces freshly baked scones and cream. Back to Nelson to stay with Rod & Ruth overnight.  Prompted by us they have just bought themselves a small motorhome.  They live in a superb house which they designed themselves to make the most of the magnificent views over the bay.  We are on the bottom of the 3 levels and have a bed with a canopy and our own bathroom – real luxury.  After a tasty meal we have a laugh playing cards and Pictionary.  The rain gets worse accompanied by thunder and lightening and sounds like hail stones beating down.
NELSON, ROD & RUTHS
Friday 2 June  Park the motorhome at the airport where Chris & Marion’s friends are collecting it.  Our Air New Zealand flight takes a bumpy 30 minutes to get to Wellington.  Transfer to the Sydney flight which just over 3 hours later descends over the vast expanse of city lights.   Land in Sydney, New South Wales AUSTRALIA at 5.30pm local time (9 hours ahead of BST).  Mike said he would be waiting to meet us with a name sign but there is no sign of him.  We walk around looking and make enquiries to no avail.  Shortly before 7.00pm he finds us, he’s been waiting at the wrong arrivals hall and only just noticed.  Mike & Toni are in their mid 50’s and took early retirement.  They live in the suburb of Sutherland and we spend time getting to know them before being shown their motorhome.  "The Belmont" is a Gulfstream the same as ours but bus style and although only 3 foot longer looks much bigger.  Mike has made numerous additions to it including about 20 clocks and thermometers, umpteen compasses and mirrors, a sophisticated solar power system and a midi system linked to the video which runs through both televisions.  Will try and ignore the clocks as normally we just rely on our body clock.  Unpack and acquaint ourselves with our home for the next 6 months.  The cab seats swivel round to be part of the lounge along with an arm chair and settee.  Behind that the kitchen is opposite the dinette and the fridge/freezer behind that.  The small wardrobe is opposite the small bathroom with the whole of the back being a proper bedroom with full sized bed.  I prefer the lounge, bedroom and hydraulic levelling ramps in this but our bathroom, wardrobe, kitchen and dinette.  Just goes to show that even in a 27′ vehicle you still have to make compromises.   
SYDNEY, SUTHERLAND
Saturday 3 June   It’s a beautiful sunny morning and after breakfast we learn how some of the motorhome things operate and are relieved that many are identical to ours.  Out for a big shop which quickly relieves us of $200 (£80 assuming we get $2.50 = £1).   Steve has a practise driving the bus which is also much higher than ours and has a strange swaying sensation on corners.  The reversing camera may take a bit of getting used to –  or we may just use our normal system of me getting out and looking.  As a passenger I feel like ducking when we get near trees as I am seated right at the edge of the vehicle unlike ours where the cab is narrower.  Fuel prices have gone up and the diesel costs 86.7c litre (35p) as opposed to 76.9c (31p) last December which is a shame as this bus only does 12mpg. 
SYDNEY 2, SUTHERLAND
Sunday 4 June  The motorhome has huge storage compartments underneath like the luggage area on a coach.  Mike spends the morning instructing Steve as he loads them up with even more gadgets including a car washing system.  By 1.00pm we are fully briefed and ready to leave.  Mike acts as motorcycle escort to get us around Sydney and onto the motorway North.  There’s quite a lot of traffic and the lanes are narrow so we are glad of the help as we can concentrate on the driving.  Get our first glimpse of the Olympic area at Homebush as we drive over a new flyover.  After 1 hour we reach Hornsby where Mike waves us off as we join highway 1.  It’s an amazing road hewn out of sheer rock in many places.  Pull over at Mooney Mooney rest area on the Hawkesbury River to settle for the night.  With the hydraulic ramps in place Steve relaxes to tune in the televisions to watch the Grand Prix.  No reception but as I have read about a Postman’s mail boat from nearby Brooklyn we head there.  Still no television which is ironic as normally we don’t even know what we are missing but here we are with a superb system and no picture!  Anyway it’s a nice spot by the boat ramp where the pelicans are feasting on the fisherman’s scraps.  Steve goes to the public toilets and I panic when I realise I haven’t told him to look under the seat for funnel web or red back spiders.  Not a problem as there wasn’t a seat!
HAWKESBURY RIVER
Monday 5 June   Woken at 6.30am by a rendition of the "Dawn Chorus" by the laughing kookaburras and backing group.  One thing we love about Australia is the wildlife and really missed it in New Zealand.  A bright but chilly morning as we walk to check out the boat.  It’s $30 for under 4 hours and as you only go 30km upstream we pass.  Back on the motorway we see a sign telling vehicles over 4 tons to pull into the weigh station.  We turn off but are a little worried.  We have 7.5 ton licences the same as the motorhome weight.  However we think that when Mike replaced work tops etc with marble, added lots of wood panelling and filled the van up with gadgets we may be over.  Before we get to the check point different lights signal that we are not required to stop and to divert back to the motorway.  Maybe for the moment ignorance is bliss?  In Gosford we drive up to Rumbalara Reserve which is a bit of a challenge on steep winding roads.  Larger than life size statues of heroes Charles Kingsford-Smith and Matthew Flinders can be seen admiring the views.  Out to the coast with white sandy beaches and lots of holiday resorts.  Lunch at The Entrance the world pelican capital and we see loads.  Inland to Cessnock in the Hunter Valley wine area.  First stop Drayton wines reminding us of our family in Market Drayton.  Drayton is the original family name but a family tree shows that in 1956 a descendent called Christine Marsh was born – bit of a coincidence as I was born Glenys Marsh in 1956.  We go our separate ways at the next stop with Steve tasting the cheeses and me the fudge.  Had picked out the Marsh Estate for a visit until we read that it only has top quality wine sold by the case.  At the Royal Hotel in Muswellbrook we park up to visit Gayleen and Lee.  They took a year out travelling and we spent a night together near Ayers Rock then met by chance in Darwin and Perth.  Between customers we manage to have a meal together in the pub and look through their photos.
MUSSELWELLBROOK
Tuesday 6 June   Heading north on the New England highway the first town is Scone the world’s second largest thoroughbred and horse-breeding centre (2nd to Kentucky).  Many impressive studs with Emirates Park Stud having a Dallas South Fork style entrance.  Just North of Wingen is the curious Burning Mountain.  Originally thought to be a volcano it has now been proved to be a very deep coal seam steadily burning away for over 5000 years working it’s way 6km along the valley.  As we walk we see crevices where the seam has completely burned away underneath causing the land to cave in.  At the top of the mountain you can see smoke and a heat haze amongst the ash.  It’s lovely to be walking in the Australian bush again admiring the many colourful birds and keeping an eye out for snakes (never thought I would miss them!).  Tamworth is the country music capital of Australia and just South of the town is a 12 metre golden guitar perfect replica of the famous Country Music Awards Golden Guitar trophies.  The Longyard Hotel is just behind and we get permission to stay on their car park overnight.
TAMWORTH
Wednesday 7 June  Wake to ice on the front windows and frost outside, our first since January 1999.  The radio reports overnight lows of -9C but we had plenty of love to keep us warm (plus blown air central heating!).  Pause to look at the Country Music Hands of Fame cornerstone in the park and recognise Ted Egan, John Williamson and Pixie Jenkins whom we saw in Alice Springs. Armidale has a free 2 1/4 hour bus tour departing at 10.15am.  We see many blue stone impressive buildings, learn about the history then pause for tea & coffee at the railway station.  Only two trains a day pass through, the evening one recently brought forward to 6.00pm.  Sadly an elderly lady either didn’t know or forgot and ignored the flashing lights last night and got hit by the train.  Her vehicle was pushed for 8 metres before falling down a bank.  Luckily she is alive and making satisfactory progress.  Up to the University of New England with the impressive historic Booloominbah homestead with a famous "Gordon" stained glass window.  A Pizza Hut Lunch Works at $6.95 (£2.80) then off to explore the city on foot as it is now a pleasantly warm sunny clear day.  Had forgotten that in Australia most libraries offer 1 hour free use of the Internet.  Return to the information centre car park and are surprised to see a motorhome parked next to ours with a faded GB sticker and "Travelworld Wolverhampton" label, the company we bought ours from – bit of a mystery.  Leave a note on the window for the owners.  Continue North stopping at Black Mountain BP station for the night.  The mystery motorhome pulls up and we chat to the owners who brought it from someone who shipped it over from England.
BLACK MOUNTAIN        
Thursday 8 June  Another very cold and frosty morning as we head into Glen Innes.  The main street is lined with interesting old buildings and we pause to wander round.  In the nearby park we find the Australian Standing Stones a national monument of Australian Celtic pioneers.  Opened in 1992 it’s the first stone circle built anywhere in the world for over 3,500 years. Why didn’t they build it at the place called Stonehenge just south of the town?  In Tenterfield we make a small detour to walk in Ghost Gully.  A typical example of what wind erosion can do leaving dip sandstone peaks, ridges and gullies at the edge of the river bed.  Sadly we also see a couple of dead sheep in the area.  Pressing on we make the short walk to Thunderbolts hideout.  It’s an area of large granite boulders which form caves where Thunderbolt the ranger camped.  Boonoo Boonoo (pronounced bunna b’noo) national park is our turn off.  Back on the dirt tracks of Australia which Steve just loves, sorry I misheard him should be loathes.  At two tourist offices we asked about the road explaining we had a large and valuable motorhome.  Not a worry they said, it’s dirt road but smooth and wide – they lied.  14 gruelling km later having seen dozens of brush tailed wallabies we are at the falls.  A short walk to view the waterfall cascading 210 metres into the gorge below with delightful  pools above the falls surrounded by granite cliffs enhanced by a magnificent red sky.
BOONOO BOONOO NATIONAL PARK    
Friday 9  June    Nearby Bald Rock National park holds Australia’s largest monolith.  The dome is 750m long, 500m wide and rises over 200m above the surrounding bush making it the largest exposed granite type rock in Australia.  The Bungoona walk gradually climbs up the rock passing impressive granite boulders, wind sculptured rocks, old gold mine shafts, wildflowers and green forest.  Approaching the summit we merge with the steep track to follow the white painted dots.  Magnificent colours can be seen where rain has tumbled down the rock face and it reminds us of our climb up Ayers Rock.  Sign the visitors book at the summit where we are rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views.  Down the very steep face and just short of 2 hours later we are back at the car park, what a brilliant place.  Steve sits on the step whilst I cook toast and before it’s ready Magpies have smelled it and gather round.  They are very tame and Steve hand feeds one.  Kookaburras also come close and we have to laugh when one sits on the "Exit" road sign above the direction arrow and proceeds to do a poo – shame we didn’t catch it on video.  At noon we cross into QUEENSLAND proclaimed "The Sunshine State" on the number plates.  Through Warwick and on to Ipswich on the outskirts of Brisbane.  Last year we met "The Old Fossils" two couples going round Australia in caravans and they live here.  Stop at Ian & Cecile’s parked on neighbour Hilton’s lawn.  Cecile insists on us joining them for an evening meal and then Jack & Irene call round to join us for a chat.
IPSWICH 
Saturday 10 June  Jack & Irene call to take us on a tour starting with panoramic views over Brisbane from Mount Coot-tha.  At the Botanical Gardens there’s an impressive Bonsai Tree display with over 100 unusual specimens.  Opposite the main city centre the South Bank held Expo 1988 and is now a lovely area of gardens, cafes, walkways, sculptures etc.  We are most impressed with the Nepalese Pagoda and a lagoon swimming pool with sandy beaches.   Lunch at Jack & Irene’s house where Jack has an aviary full of brightly coloured finches.  Back to Ian & Cecile’s for our second tour.  Visit Wivenhoe Dam and then tour around Ipswich which doesn’t quite work out due to rain and darkness setting in.  Hilton joins us for an evening BBQ.
IPSWICH 2
Sunday 11 June  Leave at 8.30am to skirt around Brisbane heading North.  Arrive on the Sunshine Coast in pouring rain.  Steve & Rebecca (Greece March 1998) live at Golden Beach Caloundra and we call for lunch.  Further north at Mooloolaba live Ken & Kay (Carnarvon W.A. September 1999).  They have a unit with a back garden leading to a sandy beach on the canal  where you can moor your own boat.  We park in the nearby car park with our own canal view and beach beside the van.  They take us for a drive around the area taking in the famous "Loo with a View" before stopping at the Surf Club for a few drinks.  Again I get out of the cooking as Kay prepares a lovely meal.
MOOLOOLABA
Monday 12 June  Wake up to our lovely view enhanced by a rainbow at the end of the canal – magic.  It’s a brighter day and after a cooked breakfast at Ken & Kay’s they drive us up into the mountains.  Montville is a pretty village full of interesting craft and gift shops.  Amble up and down and buy a few nick nacks then head to Mapleton where the tavern has been recommended for lunch.  Sit on the balcony with fabulous views out to the coast whilst sipping wine and sharing a fish platter and cheese and fruit platter between us.  Continue to Tewantin to Keith & Diana’s (Darwin July 1999) to do a recce for our visit tomorrow and to introduce Ken & Kay.  On sight they realise they have met previously but the trip is not wasted as the drive to "Farview" property has too many low trees for us to gain access.  Keith assures us all will be rectified by tomorrow.  Spoilt again with Kay cooking tea followed by a card session.
MOOLOOLABA 2
Tuesday 13 June  Drive up the coast but with poor visibility of the beaches as the road runs too far inland.  We are surprised how touristy many of the areas are with high rise apartments.  At "Farview" we find the Texas Chain Saw Massacre has taken place, a gate post has been removed and there is enough access for a 56 seater coach!  We settle ourselves in by the miniten court with our own toilet and water tank.  Back to Noosa for Diana’s Mah-jong afternoon whilst we go with Keith to the coastguard headquarters.  He is a volunteer and many of them meet up to eat their sandwiches and play pool on their days off.  We join them and appreciate the good views.  Spend a considerable time on the internet and at the travel agents trying to sort out a flight back to England.  Pick up Diana and fish and chips to take home and eat before sitting out on the deck in the hot spa tub.
BOROREEN POINT
Wednesday 14 June  Steve jogs down the drive to the mail box to be surprised to see a man hovering near it but turns out to be a big grey kangaroo.  We join Keith & Diana for a walk around their 21 acres which includes a small lake, canals and lots of native bush full of wildlife.  By phone we book our trip back to England departing next Wednesday from Brisbane.  Enjoying an afternoon spa the heavens open up and we return to the van watched by a couple of big kangaroos.  Keith & Diana join us for a meal after which we watch more of "Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Australia" on video.
BOROREEN POINT 2     
Thursday 15 June  Back into Noosa with Keith & Diana to tie up more lose ends.  Booking the flight was only the start of it as we now have to organise getting ourselves to Brisbane airport, from Heathrow in England and the possible purchase of a new video camera duty free.  Steve nearly trips over a large toad as we walk back home in the dark in the rain yet again. 
BOREEN POINT 3, KEITH & DIANAS
Friday 16 June  Keith’s going in to coastguard so I go into town with Diana to buy some suitable clothes for our England trip.  Not sure reef sandals, shorts and T-shirts would be suitable for every event!  4pm we set out again via nearby Boreen Point on the edge of Lake Cootharaba the largest inland lake in Australia.  It’s a lovely place and still undeveloped.  In Noosa we park by the yacht club to pick our spot to watch the Olympic torch.  80% of all Australians will travel less than 1 hour to see the torch relay.  Geoff & Joan join us and they have brought wine, beer and snacks which go down well.  Special flags are handed out and we find a spot where there is going to be a hand over. The new runner is dropped off and we get a chance of a photo holding the unlit torch.  The tension builds as police cars clear the road then special police on Olympic 2000 Harley Davidsons lead the procession.  We recognise the Maui motorhome with cameramen in the back which runs infront of the torch bearer.  Geoff & Joan know runner Bob Clark a past citizen of the year.  He’s the 312th runner of the day although runner is a bit of an exaggeration as he trots up to light the next torch.  Maybe that’s why it’s all running 1/2 hour late.  There’s a big cheer as the torch is lit and the next runner sets off.  We retire to the Yacht Club for a meal and ex mayor Noel and wife Diana join us.  Bob with his wife Roma & family also squeeze onto our table bringing bottles of champagne to celebrate.  We hear he is fondly know as Bob Bollinger Clark!   We learn that he gets his running shirt and shorts free but has to pay $320 (£128) to keep the torch – people running after 1st July will have to pay nearer $350 (£140) as the new G.S.T. will have been added!  Most meals are under $10 (£4) and the food is excellent.  Didn’t realise that as visitors from overseas we are allowed into private clubs in Australia without a sponsor.  Stand on the balcony watching the fireworks in the park where the torch relay finishes for the day.   Return to Geoff & Jeans for coffee to round off a very special evening.
BOREEN POINT 4, KEITH & DIANAS
Saturday 17 June  I get stuck into a big wash using Diana’s twin tub.  Steve joins Keith for a ride out with the trailer to collect gravel.    From the roadside stock you are allowed to take the scrapings which is the layer the machinery can’t pick up.  Manage brief spells sitting out sunbathing and notice the kangaroos have gathered to sunbake together on the lawn.  Diana tries to teach us mah-jong then we go back to cards.
BOREEN POINT 5, KEITH & DIANAS
Sunday 18 June  More rain through the night.  Thought we were known as whinging poms but at the moment everyone is whinging about the poor weather.  Geoff & Joan come for lunch which is preceded by a spell in the hot tub sipping bubbly. 
BOREEN POINT 6, KEITH & DIANAS
Monday 19 June  Take the motorhome into Noosa and park to walk along the famous Hastings Street strewn with fashion shops and pavement cafes.  Could easily be in one of many European resorts.  Back in Noosaville we book a rental car for 2 weeks (£153 + £15 airport pick up + 95p road tax per day + VAT) using the Internet and then in Tewantin our shuttle bus to Brisbane airport $22 (£9) one way.  Glad we don’t make trips like this every day.
BOREEN POINT 7, KEITH & DIANAS
Tuesday 20 June  Begin packing.  Keith and Diana join us for a last meal in the van.
BOREEN POINT 8, KEITH & DIANAS
Wednesday 21 June Absolutely typical that this should be the hottest day so far!  At least we have read that England is in the middle of a heatwave.  At 11.15am Keith & Diana run us into Tewantin to catch the 12.00 Suncoast Pacific bus to Brisbane Airport.  We are the only passengers at this stage and pass comment on how hot the bus is.  The air conditioner is not working so 10 minutes down the road in Noosa we change to another coach.   Arrive at 2.30pm and sit out in the sun until our flight leaves at 5.00pm.  Notice that the Ansett stewardesses are all rather old but the service is good and we eat our first plane meal before arriving in Sydney at 6.30pm.  Boarding our Air Sri Lanka flight we are greeted by an attractive stewardess in a sari with her hands together in prayer style.  Hope that is just their tradition and not a reflection on the flight safety standards!  9.00pm and we are taking off on the almost new A340 airbus heading to Colombo.  It’s a superb plane with individual T.V. screens offering over 40 channels plus connection to cameras on the nose of the plane and underneath.  It feels like a computer simulated game as we taxi down the runway and take off, amazing.
FLIGHT SYDNEY, COLUMBO, LONDON
Thursday 22 June  5 hours and one meal (including a small bar of Cadbury’s chocolate) later we clear the coast of Australia over Broome.  A total of 11 hours, 2 meals, one round of sandwiches and umpteen drinks later we land in Colombo, Sri Lanka at 4.00am local time (5 hours ahead of BST and 4 hours behind Sydney). The heat hits us as we disembark and it looks, sounds and smells like India.   Two hours later we are off again on an older more basic plane heading for Heathrow.   It dawns on me that we have just left Australia in winter on the shortest day of the year to head to England in summer on the longest day of the year.  Refuse the first meal in favour of a sleep.  At the back of the plane they continually serve sandwiches and drinks which we think is excellent.  For breakfast Steve has curry and I a double Gin & Tonic.  After 10 hours flight we land in Heathrow at 12.30pm where it is cool and drizzly.  Much hassle when we collect the pre-booked Alamo rental car.  Having confirmed an inclusive price of £213 we end up with a bill for £421.80 with £300 excess!  After numerous phone calls we leave with a smaller car and the price still in contention.  Heavy rain starts as soon as we join the M40 and we notice considerably more traffic using it than before.  Stop for a shower and change of clothing at the service area before getting held up in a traffic jam on the M5.  Finally get to Market Drayton early evening  41 hours after leaving Tewantin!  Claire is gob smacked when we knock on the door as no one had any idea we were coming.  We meet Natasha for the first time and she is absolutely gorgeous with the most incredible copper coloured hair.  She takes to us immediately and we enjoy a cuddle whilst trying to get a word out of Daniel.  After 17 months he knows of us but doesn’t really remember us and is a bit shy.  Call into the swimming baths to surprise my sister Netty in the showers and then drive round to her house.  Crack open a bottle of Asti on her return and catch up on the news.  Notice quite a change in Bobby and Nick who have both grown a lot.  Back to Claire’s to crash out on the sofa bed.
MARKET DRAYTON
Friday 23 June  Both awake around 4.00am so I get stuck into the mountain of paperwork.  Netty calls for Daniel and I go with her to drop him at playgroup and am surprised to find that some of the Mums look a similar age to me – perish the thought.  Continue ploughing through the mound of paperwork and trying to make plans to visit people.  Drive to Telford in the afternoon. Mavis & Trevor haven’t changed and we take them out to the "Cuckoo Oak" where we are joined by Netty, Alan and Lauren.  The food is plentiful with 17" platters, refillable soft drinks, tea and coffee and reasonable prices.  Stay overnight at Mavis & Trevor’s but still wake at 4.00am
TELFORD
Saturday 24 June   Join Mavis for a brief trip up to Telford.  Had forgotten just how busy everywhere was and feel convinced that the person was not joking when he told us England was full.  Make our way to Netty & Alan’s new house to see Stuart, Stacey, Lauren and boyfriend "Maca".  A couple of hours later it’s on to Newport to Pete & Carol’s where we notice the biggest change of all in Rob who is not the boy we left but quite the young man.  Paul & Elaine call round and together we go to Goldstone Wharf.  Feel quite homesick when we spot lots of motorhomes behind the pub holding a rally!  Good food, good company and lots and lots of laughs.  Back to Claire’s for overnight.
MARKET DRAYTON
Sunday 25 June  Mum arrived back from Canada yesterday but mid morning her curtains are still closed so I go straight round to Netty’s.  Call back to Mum’s late morning and hear she had a good trip and Auntie Joan is well but getting forgetful.  It’s the first time we’ve seen Mum since her heart operation and she’s looking good.  Re locate to Mum’s giving me chance to spread my paperwork out without interruptions!  Take Claire and family, Netty and family and Mum & John to the Swan with Two Necks for an evening meal.  The kids love the play barn and I am surprised how independent Daniel is.  He’s soon got to know us and has heaps to tell even if we don’t quite understand everything.  Natasha is a little darling and so contented you never hear her cry.  She will happily be passed to anyone but we do get our fair share of cuddles.  After coffee at Netty’s we return to Mum’s.
MARKET DRAYTON
Monday 26 June  Steve’s sore throat and cold are even worse.  At Mum’s I look after Natasha whilst Daniel has a swimming lesson and pop over to watch.  Claire heads to work and leaves me baby-sitting alone as Steve has taken to his bed.   I take the twin buggy up to town which is major exercise going up Phoenix Bank hill.  Daniel informs me that he usually has a Gingerbread man and points out which shop!  Shortly after they are both fast asleep – nothing to this baby-sitting lark!  Return to Claire’s house and enjoy really getting to know the kids.  It’s John’s birthday and he joins us for a meal at Mum’s complete with mini cake and candle.  Up until after midnight still plodding through the paperwork.  I’ve already made a lot of phone calls but people don’t seem good at following things up and calling back.
MARKET DRAYTON
Tuesday 27 June  Manage to sleep until 6.00am.  It’s a beautiful morning and I get stuck into my plan of action for the day.  Steve takes Claire and the kids up to Telford for the bank whilst I find the light at the end of the tunnel on the business front.  Netty & David’s for tea.
MARKET DRAYTON
Wednesday 28 June  8.00am start to drive up to Preston where Peter stores and looks after "Charlie".  The New Zealand people Marion & Chris have stayed there overnight and we are getting together to sort out some problems.  "Charlie" is not too bad and mainly just showing signs of wear and tear most of which can be put right with a bit of TLC (and money).  Manage to resolve things amicably then set off to Blackpool.  Visit Auntie Barbara & Uncle Ken in Thornton for a couple of hours before driving to Yeadon.  Lisa & Mick now live here and we visit their new house.  Sian bounds down the drive to meet us and we all go to the world famous Harry Ramsdens for tea.  It’s much the same as we remember and very elegant with chandeliers everywhere and a pianist playing background music.  Steve & Mick have the "Harrys Challenge" which is an enormous fish with chips, peas or beans plus free desert and a certificate if you eat it all.  Crack up laughing when Steve’s arrives as it looks like a leg of fish with a huge chunk sticking out of the side!  Return with Steve & Mick both certified.
YEADEN
Thursday 29 July  Drive to Keighley and call to see Richard & Sharon en route to Sandra’s. The family are well but unsettled and considering business opportunities abroad.  Rendezvous with David at high noon in McDonalds.  He looks well and is very clean and smart.  After eating like he’s not been fed for weeks we walk to the library which offers free Internet access.  Instruct David on the use of his new E-mail address before he goes off with Steve to play snooker.  It takes some time for me to do my business about town as I keep running into people I know who want to chat.  A long steady walk back to Sandra’s amidst drizzle.  I have a 5.50pm appointment with Doctor Wilson to discuss my nasal problem and my 15 minute appointment lasts 45 minutes.  5 minutes discussing my problems and 40 chatting about New Zealand where he used to live!  At one stage the receptionist phones him up to subtly remind him he has another patient so he asks if he can meet up with us one evening when we are back in December.  I leave with a long prescription and phone numbers for the local private clinic on a chance that I may get a cancellation consultation tomorrow instead of waiting for an appointment in December.  Sandra cooks us a meal and we are joined by her son Aide.  Whilst Steve goes off to bowling I get chance to look at Aide’s new house in Oakworth and then spend the rest of the evening at Sandra’s chin wagging about her trip with us last year and her subsequent holidays including a cruise as the captain’s VIP guest.  Steve returns just before midnight but can’t get in. I get out of bed to open the door which is stuck but not locked.  Good job I grab a T-shirt or Ray would be seeing rather more of me than expected!  He’s going to Australia in November to visit his son in Sydney for a month and wants to meet up with us which will be great.
KEIGHLEY
Friday 30 July  Meet with our accountant at 11.00am to sign our tax returns and receive the good news that we should not be getting a bill this year – of course the down side of that is that it means we have not earned enough!  At our old butchers Stanley’s the pies taste as good as ever, Steve does miss the English pork pies which you don’t seem to get abroad.  Stop at Broomhill Post Office and get stalled chatting to a number of customers.  The outside of the shop looks in need of a paint job but inside they have some new fixtures and fittings but the shelves are far from well stocked, however Mike & Judy who bought it from us seem happy with things despite the uncertainty of the Post Office’s future. In Wilsden we visit Rod & Nancy and it is good to hear Rod is looking to take early retirement in 5 years with the possibility of spending a year touring Australia.  At the Yorkshire clinic I have been lucky to get an appointment with Mr Comerford at 3.30pm.  I saw him back in 1993 when he correctly diagnosed my benign positional vertigo.  This time he anaesthetises my nose to examine it with a camera on the end of a narrow tube.  He has to use the children’s one as my nose if so narrow.  He declares my nose riddled with polyps aggravated by my allergies and narrow bridge.  The old system of operating is no longer used as they prefer to treat it with medication.  I leave armed with antibiotic tablets to take for a month, steroid tablets to take for 10 days and 9 bottles of nasal spray to use for 3 months followed by a prescription for 8 bottles of a different sort which I must use for ever!   The bad news is £100 for the consultation, £30 for the first lot of medication with the last 8 bottles running at almost £9 each.   The good news is that once the polyps have shrunk I should be able to breathe properly through my nose which should cure my asthma problem also.  Check on our property on Parkwood Street which is in need of TLC but overall not too bad, just wish we had time to go in there for a day and tart it up.  Take Sandra out for a meal at the Old Silent Pub but take ages getting there as we cut down the country lanes to save time but get stuck behind a slow moving wide load going our way. 
KEIGHLEY 2
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