A Travellerspoint blog

Australia...re-entry

.kalie

sunny 40 °C

'Oh Australia...it's the land of golden beaches, bright blue sky and crystal sea. Oh Australia, oh Australia - if you just ignore the bushfires, deadly spiders, poisonous snakes, vicious crocodiles and stingrays, lethal jellyfish and sharks it's the place to be.' from Australia, by Folk On.

We arrived in Perth early Friday morning. The sky was Western Australia's usual vast summer blue, it was 20 degrees Celsius (at 5.30am), and the coffee was expensive. Yep, we were back.

As we drove the road home I had a sense of returning to everything familiar which was now different...but it wasn't...but it was :).

Three days later Kobi and I meandered around the streets of York (York, Western Australia not York, UK) in an attempt to a) manage the jet lag (that didn't work) and b) re-adjust to our surroundings (that worked - a bit).

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While I'm still wishing we didn't have to come home, I'm also dreaming about the next overseas adventure and mentally preparing for my return to work.

I've decided to be happy to be back.

We first heard the song 'Australia' by Folk On while we were in the UK. It's like a new romance; we feel the need to share how clever, witty and fabulous we think they are with anyone who shows a passing interest - and in fact even with those who don't.

Australia (the song) and Dorothea McKellar's My Country (a poem almost every Australian school kid had to read at least once) make me smile and make me kinda proud. I love the classic poem and the funny-cos-it's-true song because both capture what I love about Australia.

I love that this is a country of contradictions and contrasts; what makes it difficult is what makes it beautiful (and vice versa, etc etc and so forth).

I have returned with an appetite for more travel overseas. Oh yes, there will be more family adventuring. There will be more exploring in countries near and far.

Until then - I'll continue to blog about travelling local, here in Australia...because it is, as the song says, the place to be :).

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Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 03:12 Archived in Australia Tagged australia york perth return jet_lag folk_on Comments (0)

London - theatre, chocolate, and more theatre...

.kalie

overcast 10 °C

'I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being' - Oscar Wilde

London was always going to be - for me at least - all about the theatre.

It was our last stop on this fantastic adventure before we return to Australia, and I wanted to end on a high....I actually didn't want it to end at all...people said after six weeks I'd be ready to go home. I wasn't:)

We did make an effort to do the other touristy things; we did a 'hop on, hop off' bus tour (next time, we'll skip that and just use the Underground to get around), we did a Thames cruise and we saw the Museum of Natural History (where there were far too many small children in one place for my liking - visiting, obviously, not as exhibits).

The museum building was impressive
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...and the Thames cruise was a mellow way to spend an hour
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But that was the side salad. Dessert was the West End (skipped main course, and went straight for the good stuff).

We stayed in the Covent Gardens where we found Hotel Chocolat...ethical growers of cocoa, makers of outstanding chocolate and coffee, and a lovely place to spend an hour or three...

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We were within waking distance to the theatres and cafes of my teenage dreams. Like Paris, the West End delivered on those dreams.

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I first saw Les Miserables live in Adelaide, when it came to Australia in 1992. I'd already fallen in love with the theatre as a kid, but seeing Les Mis as a teenager deepened my infatuation with live theatre to True and Lasting Love:) . It was inevitable, therefore, that while in London we experience it. Thankfully, Mark and Kobi love it too, so no arm-twisting was required.

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No matter the situation, there is something about theatre which can inspire me, challenge me, entertain me and create in me a new perspective.

I didn't want the trip to end...but at least it ended in a place which provided me with the most effective soul-soother I know of.

Les Mis is a powerful story of love, hope and redemption. It always moves me. Rock of Ages is an intentionally cheesy, rollicking good musical adventure. It makes me want to wear bad 80s clothes and listen to music I didn't even like in the 80s (but somehow I love in this show).

I'd had a couple of grumpy moments while we're in London because I wasn't ready to return home. I can't stay grumpy when I'm at the theatre (I know this, because I've tried). And I really couldn't stay grumpy while I was watching live shows in London's West End:).

I realised there's no need to be sad this adventure is over because the journey (big picture, capital 'J' Journey) goes on - and there'll always be theatre...

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 04:58 Archived in England Tagged london theatre west_end les_mis rock_of_ages covent_gardens Comments (0)

York - chocolatey wandering

.Kalie

semi-overcast 11 °C

'It is a great art, to saunter.' Henry David Thoreau

It is a well-established fact in our family that I'm the impatient one, the driven one, the one with lists of things to do and times by which they must be done....however...when the muse descends I can happily spend hours sitting in a cafe, reading a book, or meandering someplace interesting outdoors.

The last two days have been spent in York, and it appears the muse of meandering has indeed descended.

The Shambles is a narrow cobbled street with other narrow cobbled streets intersecting it, dating back to the 14th century. Today the area is home to jewellery shops, clothes boutiques, cafes, bakeries, souvenir shops...it's a meanderer's delight.

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Any accomplished wanderer (suddenly there are levels of proficiency in wandering?) knows lingering over good coffee is part of the experience. On our first day in York, we stopped here for smooth coffee and amazing chocolatey goodness.

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We bought this fantastic hot chocolate pot for Mark & Kobi. I don't generally like hot chocolate (I can't get past powdered chocolate mix being the chocolate equivalent of instant coffee), but this pot uses real chocolate and milk, which is then heated on a stove. It's the same concept as a stove-top coffee pot.

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I feel like a whole new world of chocolate has just opened up...plus, it's red and shiny and will go nicely with the coffee pot we bought for 5 euros in a Marseille market:).

Today Kobi and I enjoyed a leisurely stoll along York's wall.

(Mark is one of the strongest, bravest men I know...until confonted with having to scale heights in any form. Then he's reduced to an immovable, inarticulate mass. I'm not a particularly compassionate wife, so rather than try to coax him to join us we left him on the street.)

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We ambled across the York Museum gardens and basked in the cool sunshine. We were treated to an old abbey which we agreed was splendid.

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We experienced pleasure in small things today and were super-excited to see our first ever hedgehog and squirrel.

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In York, I did not hurry, rush or charge anywhere with haste.

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York lends itself to wander, meander and stroll. To linger over coffee and luxuriate in gardens.

It's the place to rediscover the art of the saunter.

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Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 10:38 Archived in England Tagged chocolate england walking york garden wall coffee shambles meander Comments (0)

Scotland - bold, fearless and inspiring

.kalie

overcast 5 °C

'If you have men who will only come if there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all' - David Livingstone

While in Edinburgh we visited the exhibition on Dr Livingstone at the National Museum of Scotland. I'm not one to linger in museums, so I was done in about fifteen minutes. While the boys perused other exhibits I pondered Dr Livingstone, Scotland, and generally basked in the lightness and brightness inside.

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Livingstone embodies a spirit of determination of which the Scots are (rightly) proud.

Our tour guide to Loch Ness (finally, a tour which was outstanding; well worth the time and money we spent!) shared about Scotland's turbulent history and optimistic future with an interesting brew of resolve, irreverent humour and pride.

(On a slight tangent, here's some information you may find useful one day for a trivia/quiz night or a crossword puzzle: our guide told us that Mary, Queen of Scots and Scotty (Starship Enterprise) were both born in Linlithgow...or in Scotty's case will be born in 200 years-ish. Just in case you were wondering. :) )

Loch Ness itself was peaceful and eerie, giving the impression of restrained power.

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Loch Ness

Edinburgh itself is ancient and vibrant, and seems to be going in to the future with a strong sense of identity drawn from the past.

To say 'I loved Scotland' seems a grossly inadequate phrase to capture my experience there. I was at times frustrated, intrigued, inspired, cold, peaceful, and motivated.

Edinburgh Zoo was - well, just fun. Most of my fun came from watching Mark and Kobi enjoy themselves (I approach zoos much like I approach museums - swiftly... Unless there's coffee involved, and them I'm all for lingering).

When we viewed the giant pandas, however, I was happy to stop as long as possible. Pandas generally sleep for 16 hours a day...they just happened to wake up when we were there.

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My biggest frustration (and in the greater scheme of life, it really wasn't that life-shattering...quite minor, in fact) came from the differences in our accommodation. The staff at Alba Hills Guest House were warm and friendly. The reception at our castle stay was not quite so. It was on the list of 'things we've always wanted to do' and was considerably more expensive per night than a bed & breakfast; we expected the service to be on par with the cost. The building and grounds were stunning, but (apart from one staff member) it lacked the hospitality and warmth we had experienced thus far in all our interactions in Edinburgh.

However, in Scotland people don't let things get them down. They just get determined, and get on with it. So I rallied, and after a slight stamping-of-the-foot rant in our room about what constitutes good customer service, made the most of the beauty.

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Meandering through the grounds at the castle.

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The view from our window

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Border country

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But back to my pondering about Livingstone.....He was a pioneer.

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The Scots have a rich history of being bold and fearless. They saw places with no roads and went there anyway.

I'm inspired to do the same.

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 09:50 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland edinburgh borders zoo castle panda star_trek pioneer livingstone loch_ness alba_hills Comments (0)

Devon - delightful and delicious

.kalie

semi-overcast 7 °C

"Try to imagine a life without time-keeping. You probably can't. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or on the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar...Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check it's watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour." - from 'The Timekeeper', by Mitch Albom.

I'm a time keeper. When I'm not on holidays, I have an 'old school' paper diary, a wall full-year calendar, as well as diaries and alarms in my phone, iPad and laptop.

My professional life requires a high level of organisation...however (she admits rather unwillingly), it's a teensy bit possible I'm occasionally too focussed on aforementioned schedules and diaries.

While I did most of the organising for this adventure before we left, I took my hands off the reigns the day we flew out and left the rest to Mark.
Because I secretly believe I should be in charge of everything, some might argue this has been good for me - the same way taking medicine is good for a cold...not necessarily pleasant, but useful and important for recovery.

Our week in Devon taught me the following important things about time:

1. When I'm not busy 'being productive' with my time, I appreciate stillness, and notice colour more

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(Shaldon, Devon)

2. More time on the planet hasn't necessarily made me braver (I had to pretend I wasn't afraid of climbing these slippery rocks on the windy, wintry moors)

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(Hay Tor, Dartmoor)

3. There is always time for high tea, a pint in an English pub (in my case, a coffee), and a good book

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(Angel Tea Rooms, Torquay)

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(London Inn, Shaldon)

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(Castle Drogo, Exeter)

4. Time with people you love is well-used

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4. Moments like this can't be 'scheduled in'...
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(Hay Tor, Dartmoor)

...they happen regardless of whether we're marking time or not:).

Devon was as delicious as the clotted cream I tasted there - it's a meal in itself, one to be be savoured and luxuriated in; definitely not rushed through.

A perfect place to spend time.

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 00:57 Archived in England Tagged castle time devon dartmoor exeter teignmouth torquay shaldon angel_tea_rooms drogo Comments (4)

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