Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200309 England Wales Ireland Australia-Qld

MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2003  – A visit to the Doctor’s reveals that I have got athlete’s foot, probably picked up from showers in Asia.  At the house we get stuck into more decorating and it begins to take shape.  Bev & Norm take a lunch break to sample the pie and peas from the market. 



TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER – Working our way down from the top we manage to get 2 rooms completely finished and the rest well on their way.  We’re not sure whether to carry on renting out the house or to sell so invite several estate agents round to value it.  The figure ranges from £38.000 to an unbelievable £59.000 with the overall opinion being around £40,000.  With this information we decide to have another go a letting it.  Netty has given us some curtains, they are too short but wide enough for me to turn and hang sideways to fit our long but narrow windows.  We’ve found an old Singer hand sewing machine in the cellar and this is put to use as I do the alterations. 



WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER – With the decorating finished and curtains up it’s really starting to look homely.  Steve and Norm do a great job making a sliding door for one of the bedrooms and Bev helps with cleaning and odd jobs.



THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER – The house is looking really good and today we get on with the finishing touches and giving it a final clean through. Fixing the kitchen cupboard doors poses a bit of a problem as they keep falling off again. In the evening Bev & Norm go back to the Balti for a meal, Steve goes out to bowling and I enjoy time alone in the van.



FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER – Bev & Norm are ready and waiting to hit the road when we call round at 8.30am.  Having dropped the keys in to the agents we collect fresh pies from our old butcher before setting off.  All goes well until we join the M62 at Huddersfield and immediately hit a traffic jam.  A lorry has caught fire and our side of the motorway is completely closed.  We sit and wait, and wait for over 2 hours.  Eventually make it to David’s at Prestwich where we pick up fish and chips for lunch.  After spending an hour with David and Donna we head off into WALES.   

Just outside Rhyl we park on a CL at Tan-Y-Bryn Farm



SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER – We’re in Rhyl by 9am and apparently it hasn’t opened.  The place is like a ghost town and we easily park right on the sea front.  Spend an hour strolling round by which time it’s starting to liven up.  Llandudno is extremely busy and we have to be content with just driving round and getting a feel for the place.  Stop in Conwy and stroll around the walls and the town.  Steve is desperate to find a pub showing the England match and despite stopping at lots of places we have no luck until we reach Holyhead.  The Kings Head is showing the match and there is parking nearby on he waters edge.  We take a short stroll to explore the area whilst Norm & Bev continue for a longer exploration.



SUNDAY 7 SEPTEMBER –  Day trip to Dublin with Irish Ferries £9.  Park the van in the port £5 for 24 hours then catch the 9.30am fast ferry over and arrive just after 11am in IRELAND.  Our £8 open top bus tour tickets include the transfer from the port to the city centre.  We do a full circuit on the bus tour hopping off to some of the more interesting attractions.  Intermittent rain means the city does not look it’s best but Bev & Norm enjoy their Irish experience.  Return on the 9.20pm car ferry Ulysses the biggest car ferry in the world.  It’s a slower crossing and we arrive back in WALES just after midnight and spend the night in the van on the ferry car park.



MONDAY 8 SEPTEMBER –  More intermittent rain giving Bev & Norm a taste of more typical British weather than our incredibly hot summer.  After a stroll in Porthmadog we park up at Portmeirion where they while away a good few house looking round.  Heading inland we find nice parking by the decommissioned nuclear fuel plant at the head of Lake Trawsfynydd.  The rain has stopped so we do a few short walks and gather blackberries on the way.



TUESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER – After a planning meeting last night we head to Dolgellau to use the Internet whilst Bev & Norm explore the town.  There are no travel agents in town so we continue to Aberystwyth where we have access to Internet and Travel Agents.  By the time the shops and library shut Bev & Norm have booked a cruise on Thursday morning for 7 nights with a bus from Wolverhampton tomorrow.  We have booked a flight to Australia for 20th September – well you can only put up with the rain for so long!  Find a lovely parking spot just above the seafront to protect us from the sea spray.



WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER – Bev & Norm get up early to go for a stroll along the front at Aberystwyth.  They are catching a bus from Wolverhampton this evening so it’s their last chance.  Stop in Llnadridnod Wells to look at the spa area. Cross the border into sunny ENGLAND and make a stop in the attractive village of Pembridge.  The streets are packed with beautiful old houses not to mention many pubs.  We eat in the Red Lion and Bev & Norm treat us to dinner.  There are lots of quirky local people in the pub and we learn that there is a wooden belfry here, which is one of only 8 in the country so we pay a visit.  In Bewley we park up for me to use the Internet and Bev & Norm to pack.  Arrive in Wolverhampton and park down a side street by the bus shelter for a last minute drink and snack.  We’re sorry to see them go and know they have had a fantastic trip around the British Isles and a good insight into our lifestyles over here.  They catch the 6.30pm bus to take them to Gatwick to connect with their flight to Palma tomorrow where they are joining a 7 day cruise of the Mediterranean.  We continue to Jan & Dave Goughs where we are pleased to find they can offer us storage for Charlie whilst we are away in Australia.



THURSDAY 11 SEPTEMBER – Stay awhile chatting to Jan who wants to know lots about our travels.  In Market Drayton we visit Netty and pick up the key to Mum’s.  Mum will be back on Saturday but we’ve lots that we can be doing concerning our stuff stored in the cellar.  The Brown family from Adelaide are over and mid afternoon George, Paula, Jason and George’s brother call round to visit us in the van.



FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER – We keep ourselves busy at Mum’s doing washing then dealing with the photos in the cellar.  As we now have a digital camera and laptop we are systematically working our way through all our old photo albums recording the pictures on the digital camera then saving them to disc.  It’s amazing how much less space it then takes up – one banana box full of photo albums is reduced to just one small CD.  Baby-sit round at Netty’s in the evening.



SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBEROur 28th Wedding Anniversary.  Claire arrives late afternoon having picked Mum up after her holiday in Wakefield.  They join us for an evening meal and Netty pops round later with Nick.  We all have a good laugh looking at the old photos which I have transferred onto the computer.  Claire staysi n the van with us overnight.



SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER – Back to lovely warm sunny weather so Mum joins us all for lunch outside.  I drive Mum over to Stoke visit John in the City Hospital.  Sadly the hip operation has not been successful. 



MONDAY 15 SEPTEMBER – Continue with jobs packing up the van and also transferring photographs. Mum joins us for tea in the evening.  



TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER – Usual day.  John & Shirley from Stafford join us for a meal in the evening.



WEDNESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER – Return the van to Lazy Days where we had the window seals done.  Since collecting the van we’ve noticed scratches and a bump.  We notified them and when we took it back to show them they said a young lad had done the work on our van and although he doesn’t work there anymore they accepted responsibility. They want the van until 2pm to do the repairs. This works out well as we are taking Mum to visit John in hospital.  He’s been moved into a side ward because he’s picked up the hospital super bug M.R.S.A.  They are still trying to make him more comfortable and to find different ways to tackle his problems and are even considering sending him home with a Macmillan nurse to care for him.  Mum treats us to lunch on the way home.



THURSDAY 18 SEPTEMBER – Take van back for final paint job but they don’t do a great job.   George, Nicole, Paula and baby James call round in the afternoon.  Mum joins us all round at Netty’s for tea. 



FRIDAY 19 SEPTEMBER – Steve’s 49th birthday and being in England he gets lots of cards.  Finish all the last minute jobs including cleaning the inside of the van out.  It’s raining so time we moved on.  After saying Good-bye to Mum we drive over to Dave & Jan Goughs at Houghton.  We get Charlie bedded in before Dave drives us to Hanley to catch the National Express bus to Manchester £4.50.  David and Donna meet us and take us back to their house to spend the night. 



SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER – After a record breaking 16 weeks in England we’re heading off again.  Up at 6.30am and off to the airport at 7.15am for our 9.45am Singapore Airlines flight to Brisbane via Singapore.  We leave on time and settle down for our 13 hour flight.  It’s an unusual design plane with a 3-3-3 seat formation; all the emergency exits by the toilets so no seats with extra legroom.  The service is good, the food tasty (ice cream for dessert), there are over 30 on demand movies (I enjoy “Finding Nemo” plus TV programmes, computer games and quizzes which are interactive with other passengers.  Snacks and drinks are continuously brought round and in addition to your personal toothbrush and flight socks the toilets have a supply of body lotion, mouthwash and cologne. 



SUNDAY 21 SEPTEMBER – We watch 5 movies before landing at Changi airport in Singapore early morning.  We have 4 ½ hours wait and appreciate the quiet area with bed style chairs.  After resting we explore and find many attractive garden areas including the sunflower one that is outside on a balcony.  There are computers for free Internet and desks for you to use your own laptops.  Our next flight is to Brisbane and takes just over 7 hours.  The plane is not quite so sophisticated but we’re tired and just try and rest.  Arrive in Brisbane QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA just before 9pm (now 9 hours ahead of BST, Aus $2.35 = £1).  Wait outside for our friend Steven to pick us up and take us back to his house at 8 Mile Plains where we meet up with his wife Diana and children Adele and Philip.  Stay up chatting until after midnight.



MONDAY 22 SEPTEMBER – We are awakened by sunshine at 5am accompanied by a beautiful chorus of bird song.  It’s the start of 2 weeks school holidays so after Diana has left for work Steven brings Phillip along with us for the journey to Everton Park.  Our New Zealand friends Ray & Lyn are house sitting there and have invited us to stay.  It’s a nice house with a swimming pool that is great for relaxing around.  Spend a nice restful lazy day.



TUESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER – We’re in good company as the news reports that Prince Harry has arrived to spend 3 months in Queensland.  Ray & Lyn take us to the bus stop to catch the 9.00am McCafferty’s bus to Hervey Bay $27 (£12). It arrives just before 9.30am to whisk us on our way. Unfortunately we are seated directly in front of two loud American girls who begin every sentence with “It was like” and drive Steve crazy.  This is the slow bus that takes us along the coast picking up and dropping off passengers so it’s after 4pm when we arrive at Hervey Bay. Billy has been stored at Noel’s but he’s away on holiday, however the people who are house sitting bring the van down to the bus station.  As soon  as we are reunited with Billy we notice things wrong and also can’t find anything inside as stuff has been put back in strange places.  Head straight off up to Bundaberg making our first kangaroo sighting en route.  After picking up a few essential items we continue out to Tegege Farm to visit Gerry & Anne.  It’s getting dark here at around 6.30pm so the first problem we find in the van is that the 12v light doesn’t work.  Once Gerry & Anne realise the problems we have with Billy they invite us to stay inside for the night in one of the spare rooms.



WEDNESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER – We’re both struggling with jet lag and cannot get our time clocks sorted out so as soon as it is daylight at 5.30am we both get up to start work on Billy.  Since we left it in March it has been used by two lots of people so we don’t know for sure who has done what inside.  One thing for sure is that it hasn’t had a thorough clean for some time so we completely empty the van and start from scratch.  By 10am we feel like we’ve done a days work and the sun is beating down on us from the clear blue sky.  After lunch we go to Bundaberg to buy some things to replace broken items. By teatime Billy is looking fine.  Anne cooks us a lovely meal and we finally begin to relax. 



THURSDAY 25 SEPTEMBER – Still not sleeping well, in fact I’m awake long before daylight, a step backwards.  Reckon a lot of it is down to us arriving in the evening after dark whereas we normally arrive in the morning and spend the first day out in the sun.  Set off at 8am heading North up the Queensland coast.  Cross the Tropic of Capricorn as we reach Rockhampton just before lunchtime.  We call in to “The Morning Bulletin” offices to surprise our friend Mike who is Chief of Staff there.  We are passing through and will visit them on the way South but he insists we stay at least for tonight.  They live on the northern outskirts of town at the top of a hill.  The bungalow is shaped like a boomerang to take in the panoramic views.  Cherie is at home as Nathan and Blake are on school holidays this week.  Spend the afternoon in luxury taking cooling dips in the pool and admiring the stunning views.  Mike cooks a delicious roast dinner in the evening after which we sit outside chatting.  I’m not too impressed when Blake starts gathering up some of the many bright green frogs to play with.  They insist we sleep in the spare room and it has a waterbed, something we have always fancied trying.  



FRIDAY 26 SEPTEMBER – Well it was good to experience a waterbed but not one to be repeated by a fidgety light sleeper like myself.  Continue our journey making a change of plans in Sarina when we learn that the platypus sightings at Eungella are good.  We tried to visit 3 years ago but the big American motorhome couldn’t climb the hill and we had to turn back.  At the end of Pioneer Valley Billy does us proud and takes us up to The Chalet for fantastic views.  Over the top of the hill we take the short walk to enjoy even more fabulous views from the “Sky Window”.  At Broken River the campground is full so we use the car park and set out to explore some of the tracks through the rain forest.  The ranger station notice board tells us when (dawn & dusk) and where we are likely to get the best platypus sightings so after a brief bush walk we settle down for a siesta but it is very hot in the van.  At dusk we set out to the platform under the bridge and get our first glimpse of a platypus.  By hopping between viewing points we get to see quite a number of them but they are very difficult to photograph.  The water is murky and the first indication is a circle of bubbles that increases until a bill appears.  The platypus pops up to take air then ducks down and swims off.  In the background we are deafened by the noise of sulphur crested cockatiels.  Bush turkeys pop up all around us and we get warnings from people who have seen snakes.  Yes we’re definitely back in Australia and to complete the experience Steve cooks our food on the BBQ whilst we sit under the stars.  A few other small camper vans join us on the car park along with a big long snake.



SATURDAY 27 SEPTEMBER – We’re up early enough for the dawn viewings.  On the bridge we are joined by a wallaby, maybe he also wants to view the platypus!  We’re lucky to find a pool with 3 baby platypus swimming around.  What a brilliant place this is to combine rain forest walks with lots of wild life.  Make it to Taylorwood naturist resort near Proserpine just before lunch.  Rogin remembers us with the American motorhome and the self-levelling jacks.  We admit that the van has shrunk a bit but say we still have self-levelling, i.e. we level it ourselves using blocks. Of the guests we know Ned & Judy and Pat & Phil so soon feel at home.  Other visitors are Mal & Mary, Lindy & Lindsay, Carol & Tony.  The fees are still low $11 (£4.40) day, $66 (£26.50) week and $216 (£86.50) month for a site with electricity and water. There’s a lovely swimming pool, clubhouse with BBQ area, toilets, and hot showers, free use of twin tub washing machine and free tea and coffee.  No wonder they get full with some guests staying for 8 months at a time.  We relax by the pool taking cooling dips.  In the evening a roast dinner has been organised by Pat & Phil who are leaving.  The area leading to the pool is candlelight and it all looks very romantic.  Everyone gathers around the open fire where the lamb and pork are being cooked on an open fire. After eating in the clubhouse the music maintains a party atmosphere and people stay to chat and drink. 



SUNDAY 28 SEPTEMBER – Steve comes to bed in the early hours having stayed up watching English football. Rogin’s peacocks look attractive in the grounds but drive us crazy through the night with their noise; fortunately we can take a few naps by the pool throughout the day.



MONDAY 29 SEPTEMBER  – We drive down to Airlie Beach for a look around the back packer area.  In Cannonvale we do shopping and pick up things for the van service.  Rogin has a pit, which Steve uses, and with help from Ned he gets the service done.     



TUESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER – Hit the road at 7am.  First stop is the attractive town of Bowen surrounded by numerous beaches.  Horseshoe Bay has a clothing optional section and following the signs painted on rocks we easily locate it.  The beach is sand mixed with areas of broken coral.  Fantastic rock formations surround us and trees provide plenty of much needed shade.  The water is pleasantly warm and we are pleased to learn that the stinger season is not yet upon us so bathing is safe.  Lunch stop at Plantation Park in Ayr where we make use of the BBQ to cook.  Townsville is much bigger than we remembered which means we can attempt to sort out TV and fridge problems but unfortunately without a result.  Thuringowa shire has produced a leaflet telling you places where you can free camp.  Saunders Beach is a great spot with a car park right behind the beach, a covered area with tables and BBQ, fresh water taps, toilets and a children’s playground.  The beach is a long strip of clean soft sand and the fishing is good as there is an estuary at the northern end.  We enjoy our stroll before darkness sets in around 6.30pm.  Suddenly the sky goes black and we hear lots of screaching noise.  Bats are returning home and we are in their flight path which makes an amazing sight.





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