A Travellerspoint blog

March 2012 - Departure Minus 8


'A woman must be two things: classy and fabulous' - Coco Chanel

My last month has been filled with writing strategic plans and international management uni text books, leaving very little time to further our planning for our Grand Adventure. In those rare quiet moments though - when it's just me and my laptop - the cloud of work over my head dissipates as I earnestly search online to ensure probably the most important aspect of our trip is ready. It's the element without which any images of our time away will not be the same. It's the One Thing I simply must have.

Perfect clothes.

Because I'm going to Paris. To Rome. To England.

It's Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and my friend Miia (think Grace Kelly).

It's art galleries, museums, theatres.

It's Monet, Rembrandt, Da Vinci (the artist, not the code).

...A girl can't be traipsing through the Louvre in just anything. She can't walk through Chatsworth House (aka Pemberley) scraping food off her hoodie. And she most certainly can't have a beanie/scarfe/jacket combo that doesn't match.

Even with my extensive and committed research, I haven't chosen any fabulous and classy clothes yet, but I have discovered where to shop in Paris (what did people do before the internet???). I may go with Mark's recommendation to fly in wearing 'comfortable' clothes (which will of course still have to meet my Minimum Requirements), pack light and shop on arrival. Quite apart from reducing my pre-trip stress, it means I'm buying clothes for a European winter from Europe - probably a good thing one of us is practical.

Here's the thing I've finally come to accept about myself - I care passionately about people doing The Right Thing, about good ethics and integrity driving our choices, and about the fact that volunteering is the most powerful force for social change we have....I also care that I look good while I'm caring about these things.

For all my complexities I'm quite a simple creature.

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 05:49 Archived in Australia Tagged paris england shopping rome preparation vanity grace_kelly coco_chanel da_vinci Comments (0)

It's a Star Trek kind of life...

.kobi (age eleven)

I'm a fan of Star Trek. In Star Trek, they go into the unknown, together discovering new worlds, and they have adventures.

To me, this holiday is an adventure - a dream come true. We have been talking of doing this for 2 years, but when we booked the tickets with Mim everything became real.

We did a Happy Dance.

After years of watching very English shows, reading books like Sherlock Holmes, and watching Les Miserables on DVD, I have always imagined going to France and England.

I have also always deeply admired the Scottish accent, which, although not exactly a romance language, has a sort of rhythmic feel to it.

I think that this experience will be a brilliant one that will cause us all to 'ooh' and 'aah' many times.

We anticipate breathtaking moments when we sip coffee on the Champs-Élysées, walk through the Colosseum, and let's not forget visiting the hotel in Torquay that was the inspiration for Faulty Towers.

Dad says we don't understand how cold it will be. But will the cold and the weather slow us down? No. We will prevail and valiantly embrace the weather until our holiday is done, and we shall never stop till our venturing souls are satisfied.

We will boldly go where we have not gone before.

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 02:38 Archived in Australia Tagged and preparation planning... Comments (5)

The Once and Future thing


So, after a few days of researching I have found the street we used to live on in Darlington. It is still standing, and looks almost as I remember it. Some of the houses have been re-vamped and it looks a lot cleaner now that no one burns coal, but the memories are all still there.


It was, from memory, like living in matchboxes. I don't think there is much in Australia that can compare to the cramped quarters and close proximity of neighbors. Your bedroom wall was their bedroom wall, their fireplace heated one half of your living space. When I was there everyone burnt coal for heat and there was soot over everything. I gave the place a grey tone, and quite frankly a fairly dismal outlook.

I remember running up and down that street, (avoiding the house across the road with the crazy people in it and their lice infested kids) jumping over the cracks in the pavement. There were no cars back then, not many people had a car in that area. I can still see images of people sitting out on the doorsteps in the sunshine.. for the few days a year such a thing existed.

I am looking forward to going back, to see again the street that figures so prominently in my early memory. We were not allowed to go any further than the end of the street, and never out onto the main road. So that street was my playground, exercise yard and battlefield all in one. Wars were waged with the kids over the road, games invented and battles fought. More battles than games I will admit.. the boy over the road had it coming...

On that street I learnt what real pain was, not just the scuffed knee or odd bruise, but being gashed to the bone, having my head cracked and being completely betrayed by a relative. (my cousin held me from behind while the boy over the road punched me rotten). Of course I also learnt what it feels like to hurt someone else, the horror that comes from seeing the damage that can be inflicted on another person out of anger or pain. The boy from across the road felt the need to re-establish his place without the assistance of my cousin, He grabbed me from behind around the neck and tried to choke me... I flipped out a little.. This ended with him landing on his head after I threw him over my shoulder... I'm not sure what I felt more, the satisfaction of truly being able to defend myself, or the horror that came from seeing the pain he was in and knowing "I did that"...

Hmmm.. I think the preparations for this trip may dig up a few things for me... I can honestly say I have not thought about that street or what memories it holds for many many years. Amazing what one image can do..

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 21:02 Comments (0)

A Very New Adventure


So. we're heading off to Europe for Christmas/New Years... awesome..

I can't say that I've always dreamed of being in France, sipping coffee on the Champs-Élysées while looking wistfully off into the distance like a certain someone I love... And I have just been corrected; I should be looking wistfully at her, while she sips coffee and rekindles her teenage fantasy. Never write a blog while your partner is reading as you type...

I can't even confess to having a long standing dream of seeing some of the wonders of history scattered throughout the European continent, nor of re visiting childhood haunts and memories. I will however say that I am looking forward to this a great deal. I want to experience Europe and the UK with an adult's eyes, to see for myself the things I have read about or watched on TV. Not to mention give a new context to the vague half formed images flashing up from 40 years ago..

I have vague memories of living in the UK.. I was there from ages three and a half to seven and a half.. I think. We moved there as a family to go back to my mothers home town. My father wanted to live in the UK, it being a dream of his for a long time... What I do remember is that after about 18 months in the UK it was time to start saving to return to Australia..

Some of my earliest memories are from that time. Living in Darlington, going to school in the local Anglican School...

I remember school in winter, going to school in the dark, coming home again in the dark. The cobblestones in the school yard being frozen over with a sheet of ice like slick glass. running at full pelt toward said cobbles and trying to slide all the way into the classroom. I remember the school lunches, cooked lunches in the school cafeteria every day, we all had to march over in line, and sit at large round tables to have our roast meat and three veg lunches.. The bottles of milk every morning that we got to drink at morning break.

I remember our dogs, Caesar and Beauty, two wonderful German shepherds, and a pug eyed something that I can't quite recall properly. I remember Caesar's favorite game was to jump up and pin me to the wall, biting and licking my ear every time I had to make the trek down the back of the yard to the toilet. Yes the toilet was outside, at the bottom of the back yard.. that is the patch of cobblestones that was bordered by a very large wall topped with broken glass...

I remember the Train Station, a large old clock on the platform...
I remember slicing my leg open with a bottle of lemonade and having stitches, said stitches were performed sans anesthetic, three nurses and a doctor to hold down a 7 yr old who is screaming in absolute agony while one doctor casually sews up a leg gash. Oh yes, I remember that...

I would like to find my old school. I would like to find my old street (although i think it was demolished years ago). I would like to see the train Station again... and I would like to find that doctor....

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 05:57 Comments (1)

February 2012 - Departure minus 9


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” (Henry David Thoreau)

When I was in high school I had vivid images of me in Paris, drinking coffee & strolling along the Champs-Élysées with the man I loved (who in my adolescent romanticism I had envisioned akin to Jane Austen's Mr Darcy, or the slightly less eloquent but equally appealling 'Johnny' from Dirty Dancing).

20 years later, with the man I love (who is more Shrek than Mr Darcy) and our son, I am going confidently in the direction of my dreams, as we plan an adventure which includes the city that caught my teenage fancy.

Each month before we go we'll update the travel blog, because part of the enjoyment of the journey is in the planning and preparation.

It's a journey that will take us to France, Italy, England, Wales & Scotland. We'll meet new friends and be reunited with old ones, stand before buildings whose stories have echoed through the ages, learn (the very basics) of other languages, discover new things about ourselves, have our expectations exceeded, be occasionally disappointed, understand our heritage, get on each other's nerves, draw closer together as a family...

...and maybe, just maybe, we'll have a coffee or two in Paris.

Posted by mark.kalie.kobi 03:41 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (2)

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