Travelling With Integrity

This is my new view…



Not too shabby is it?! Carnarvon so far is a very peaceful place. Not too big, not too noisy, beside the water, with a breeze in the air, I am very much enjoying the change from Sydney's busyness. My first few days of settling in very much reminding of starting at the roadhouse in Renner Springs, where I worked every back shift, I didn't know quite what to do with myself when 5pm rolled round and I could finish and have a drink poured by someone still working…! Perhaps Renner has made me inherently nocturnal…! Made me not a day shift person… Maybe I just need to get used to it ;-). But I digress, let me first share with you the story of getting to Carnarvon including an interesting journey with integrity bus lines…

I got to Sydney airport. My bag very heavy, I asked the man on the bag drop desk what weight it was. Only 19kg… I felt sure I'd gained weight… He looked at me and smiled and joked about me putting on weight… I smiled back and said that carrying the bag alone had helped me lose weight! Looking for a chai latte, some Tia Maria was found by my feet first :-). I settled down with some wifi. Not to be caught out as I was last time with Virgin, my virgin entertainment app was installed and ready for action for the flight. A few options, toying between the never seen Casablanca and wanting to watch again Romeo and Juliet, I ended up opting for the internship, a film that I hadn't seen. Not too bad though most predictable… An easy watch on a plane. We reached Perth 45 minutes early… Waiting for the bus to my hostel, I really wasn't too sure about being back at all…

Having a pretty awesome sleep I woke up at 7 and decided to make the most of the day. Some sad memories associated with Perth for me, I decided it was important to tread some new happy footprints… I headed to Leederville farmers market to meet a Scottish friend for lunch. We ate in the dome, talking about Edinburgh's own dome. I also met a friend made on the chicken farm for coffee and a mcdonalds. We had a lot of catching up to do! I can't believe how much has happened and changed over the last six months… She gave me a gift… I am most touched by what she gave me.

Agreeing to skydive together later in the year in Cairns, we said our goodbyes and I headed for some last wifi before I got on the bus. Using time to Skype, I didn't have enough time to give my phone a lot of charge… Sitting trying to charge it as much as I could, my backpack and small rucksack beside me, I heard the hostel receptionist warn a boy carrying a small green rucksack 'not to look like a tourist'; that people would steal his bag because it looks like it contains valuables… I was already worried about my walk along to the bus. I'm genuinely carrying all my belongings… Not that many valuables, just carrying a lot of stuff, I asked him if I should be worried about carrying my entire belongings to the bus station… His response was genuinely that I would be ok because I spoke English… Not sure if that would stop someone that had their hands on your backpack and heard you say 'get your hands off my backpack' in English rather than any other spoken language…! Setting off with the fear of death in me, but pretty sure I could use either as a weapon due to their heaviness, I safely walked the three blocks to the bus stop. Phew. A little sceptical the bus was even going to turn up I was pleasantly surprised when it rolled past…

I got on the bus and sat in my allocated seat. Our welcoming message was a novel list of rules and regulations for our time on board:

  • No smoking or drinking on board (seems fair)
  • That the toilet is for emergency use only… We were asked to close the lid and flush using a pedal in front of the toilet which we needed to press four times… We were then told not to make too much noise as the second driver bunk was just behind it… I think we can safely assume that if you have decided it's an emergency toilet situation you perhaps might not be the quietest…
  • We were then told to keep our bags and body parts out of the aisle!!! To clarify, he then stated that heads, arms and legs should be kept on your side of the aisle… Just as well I'm little and can curl up quite comfortably on two chairs :-).
  • No hot food, milk or fruit juice was to be brought aboard. There were to be no cans or cartons on board. He then said if you have a water bottle to not consume it on board the coach…. I think I must have misheard this one though… 11 and a half hours… You're going to be a bit thirsty!! What can you do? Just sleep?!

There was no mention of seat belts… Which incidentally were not even present on the coach… Ah well. Thus educated on the rules and regulations, we began our 11 and a half hour journey… Asked to turn off our reading lights if not using them, the whole bus was in darkness… I watched out of my window. The driver went to put a movie on… I heard the opening tones of the chipmunks… Surely not I thought, reaching into my bag for my headphones… Apparently he didn't think so either… He went for an Elvis movie instead… I zoned in and out of it. We reached a '25 hour' diner in Cataby… Don't even get me started on this one… My phone one with amazingly held charge was nearly dead. I spent time at the next two roadhouses giving it a boost cursing myself that I chose it over the htc… It died about ten minutes later…

People sleeping, I decided to read on kindle rather than wake anyone with a light for my book. With tired eyes, I then joined the sleeping masses… Not very comfortably I might add… Knowing I had a pillow case and a whole heap of clothes that I could have utilised to fashion into a pillow in the luggage container, and even more that I could put on and wear (word up if you are doing this journey… The bus is pretty cold…), I was more than a little bit jealous of the woman across the aisle with a pillow and blanket… She had obviously done this journey before…! Reaching Carnarvon at 7am, meeting my new boss, introduced to the bar, I then promptly crawled into bed for a few hours nap before I got up to explore. I'm sure there will be many an interesting tale to tell from here for sure :-). Until next time! 🙂

Travel Theme: Possibility

With access to a computer, Ailsa’s new travel theme of possibility appeared in my reader. This is a well timed theme for me. Possibilities… 2013 for me held so many possibilities. Kangaroo Island or Kangaroo Valley last january; whether to stay in Adelaide or road trip the Great Ocean Road; Uluru or Tasmania from Melbourne; what farmwork to do; east, west or south in Katherine then what on earth to do in Perth. Some of these decisions were taken out of my hands. Various things were important at different times – cost, achievement, needing to work and wanting to be warm! I made the decision to be in Sydney exactly because of the possibilities it offered. The fact that it offered a window of possibility the same day a door shut…

Port Arthur's Windows

I love that travelling lets you have many possibilities. What you will find when you take those initial first steps… Finding a road to have a journey on and the directions and possibilities you will find along the way… North or south? East or West? Whether to stop a little longer than planned? The people who you meet that will inspire… Perhaps getting on a plane to another country… Perhaps a coin toss, the help of a map or the words of a friend to help you decide… Of course I wonder what could have happened with possibilities gone away, but having a choice is the best thing about travelling on your own. Sometimes they come back around :). Working out the best way can make it seem all the more rewarding when you eventually get there but if it doesn’t work you can just move on :-). I am lucky to have had so many possibilities. I have loved where my journey has taken me and what I’ve found along the way. I am already thinking of the possibilities 2014 offers me. There are so many possibilities everywhere around us. What will you choose?

A Bit of an Aussie Christmas

Deciding I couldn’t be overly productive jobhunting between Christmas and New Year I hopped across Australia to visit my relatives in Brisbane. When I got to Brisbane last year, I found it pretty hot.  This year, not quite as hot as I remember, perhaps I am just beginning to get accustomed to this weather… :-). Christmas Eve a relatively cool 34 degrees, I sat in the pool watching the kids playing catch and enjoyed a beer in the sun :-).   Not feeling particularly Christmassy at all, a night helping prepare food whilst listening to Christmas songs helped me get into the christmas spirit and surrounded by the envelope of darkness outside, the warm inside temperature could easily have been mistaken for central heating!  ‘An Aussie Night Before Christmas’ by Yvonne Morrison read to the boys, reindeers replaced with kangaroos, the sleigh by a ute and with a sunburned Santa wearing thongs and a last word of ‘goodonya mates’ this story made me smile :-). Certainly a different story than the one I remember about mice and to all a good night ;-).

The morn of Christmas Day, I was woken by the sounds of the kids at 6am.  It started even earlier for one little person who so excited about Santa delivering the presents announced this to his mum and dad at 1.45am and then updated them at regular intervals throughout the night ;-).  With the arrival of Grandy and Poppa, we sat around the tree, watched the kids open their presents and shared our own gifts.   A very Aussie christmas, I received thongs, a beach bag and a sarong.  I actually love the sarong :-). Also given nail polish, you have no idea how exciting it is to now be wearing a new colour ;-).

Spending the rest of the day with friends of the family we ate arancini and sushi sandwiches, turkey and ham, king prawns and Morton Bay bugs, pavlova and banoffee pie and had cobb loaf for supper :-).  Warm but not as hot as last year’s christmas, we all jumped in the pool to cool off and had fun with the kids.  A nice christmas call from a friend, some plans throwing me off a return to Perth were discussed ;-).  Ending the night sleeping camp/dorm style sharing a room with the kids, my second cousin and her husband it was a warm christmas day night ;-).   Awoken early on Boxing Day by the kids and a very persistent fly, returning home, I lay down on my bed and had the most epic nap ever :-).

If I had a crystal ball to tell me how my journey was going to unfold, I would have been on my return flight home for Christmas… Who knows where that path would have led me… Spending it here, enjoying spending it with family, with some help with a direction, I’ve decided not to go back to Perth.  With friends in Sydney, I have decided that a New Year there can’t be all that bad and might just make up for not getting on that plane… ;-).  Life is indeed a journey and I think seeing 2014 in with a new background and new opportunities should be just the right start to the year :-).

A Christmas Seat To Savour

A Seat To Savour

There is currently a memorial called 'A seat to Savour' in Perth's cultural centre in tribute to those in Western Australia who have died in road accidents in the last year. Who will not make it to Christmas lunch. One hundred and fifty four seats surround a long table at its centre. These seats represent the people who have died this year. Western Australia has the worst fatality rate of all Australian states. I walk past this table everyday. It is guarded by security guards 24 hours a day… To stop people taking chairs, plates, forks or knives. A hard task I imagine at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night. I have chatted to more than one of the guards. They find it a hard thing to watch but it will be there 24 hours a day until christmas to serve as a memorial and a reminder to drive safely.

As a Scottish person, used to cold, snow, frost, ice and darkness, it very much does not feel like Christmas. Christmas for me is being wrapped up in a big winter's jacket, many layers, gloves, hat and scarf, your breath appearing in front of you as you walk through Princes St Gardens and browse the German market; perhaps ride the big wheel or go ice skating. To meet your friends or family at the dome and have a club sandwich and look at the Christmas lights. To have to walk to the end of your street to get the bus into town because you can't get the car out of the drive due to a foot of snow! That keeps falling every time you clear it! For it to be warmer inside than it is outside! To smell the warming scent of mulled wine on a cold winter's eve. To have Christmas Eve Eve celebrations. To visit family friends on Christmas Eve. It is one of the only times of the year I will make it to a church… Stopped by a woman in the street the other day, she asked what christmas means to me. I didn't even have to think about this. I wrote snow and family on her board :-). What does Christmas mean to you?

It took until today for the symbolism of this memorial to fully sink in. To realise that many people around the world and in other circumstances will not make it to Christmas lunch. Many who i'm sure would be more excited to see it than me. It has served as a humbling reminder that two family members will not be sitting at any Christmas table. That Christmas this year for some is going to be very hard… For other family members they will be sitting at a different, new table for the first time! Starting a new christmas story. I have been genuinely touched at the offers of christmas tables I have had. Who is sitting at your table this year…?

A Seat to Savour at Christmas

Captain Robert James Meade

Today, I woke up in a pretty unhappy mood. Unsure of a direction, my head was battling between logic and reason or whether a change would be good… Having had this feeling a couple of times previously on my travels, I decided the first thing to do was to fuel up on nutrition and buy some fruit from the supermarket (I find a full stomach is more conducive for a sound mind). My feet then wandered Fremantle's pathways. Unsurprisingly they took me to the water. The power of the waves and the water should not be underestimated. A hot day, I sought shade under the boardwalk. I noticed a man sitting at the end. I lay down and shut my eyes…

He started to talk to me. He asked where I was from. “Scotland” I said. “I've been there” he said. He wanted to know more about it. I told him of our cities, the people and spoke of whisky and haggis. He told me he'd been in the navy and the army. That he sailed into Aberdeen. That he slept with a barmaid there called Mary! He spoke of flying war planes. He told me he did a bad thing; that he missed a target… That he dropped a bomb on a church instead of an army base in Croatia. That he didn't realise until after he landed. He shed a tear as he spoke of this tale. He was only 17 when it happened. He spoke of his friends in Scotland. That are now gone away. That out of five of his friends that left Australia, only two returned. He was one of them. Shot three times, he also had a bad knee.

Throughout our conversation he called me Scotty. He told me his name was Robert James Meade. He called himself 'Captain'. He politely answered my questions with a 'yes ma'am' or a 'no ma'am'. Similarly to me he sometimes uttered a 'whaaaat' and quite a few 'aww man's'. These made me smile. We talked about Perth and about the water. Sitting on bathers beach, he told me it is his favourite beach. He pointed out the lighthouse. I told him I'd walked to this previously. I asked if he knew the lighthouse's signal. He did. We spoke of sunsets and sunrises and agreed that if you managed to see one its usually been a good day :-). We spoke about respect and being nice. He said “if you love someone treat them with respect.” “If they don't respect you does that mean they don't love you?” I asked back. “That's right. They no good” he responded. I asked whether I should stay in Perth or try Sydney. He told me I would work it out and then added that I shouldn't worry so much.

I left him on the beach, walked to harbour's end, sat atop a rock and wrote about him. I was actually about to give up blogging for a while… This man inspired me to write. To share his story. I went and got some fish and chips. I had promised to watch the sunset with him. The sun was below the horizon by the time I got back but it was still nice and pink. I hope that was enough… I said thank you to him. That he had inspired me to write. He asked me not to forget him. I definitely won't.

I have no idea if his story is true or whether only parts of it are but it certainly provided me with an interesting afternoon. A story that certainly puts travelling dilemmas into perspective. I loved playing tell me your story. I love meeting new people with new stories. I could have sat anywhere else on the beach and would have missed this tale. This man not only entertained me, but with the combined help of the waves and the water relaxed me and helped me find my happy place. This feeling has made me decide to stay in Perth. Thank you Captain Meade :-).




Yesterday I saw Passenger play a gig in Perth. It is the first gig I have seen in another country. He has very much become part of my Australia soundtrack. He has witnessed a lot over the past year and been associated with many emotions. A lot happening, friends gone away and some since broken friendships, I thought I would be sad hearing his words. Instead he made me feel happy. I remembered the happy memories. I learnt the sad ones are not linked to his music.

Playing some that I knew, some that I didn't, he certainly put on a show. In the introduction to Feather on the Clyde, he spoke of Glasgow. It was amazing to hear him sing words of a song that means so much to me. That makes me think of home. As the soundtrack to my zucchini picking, it evoked happy memories of walking the rows. He sang a song called 'Blind Love' with the support act. You could genuinely feel the comradery. 'Scare away the dark' before the encore with the oh oh oh chorus actually gave me goosebumps. The atmosphere was amazing.

I would have loved to have been there with someone that the music meant as much as it did for me. Instead his music confirmed that a current relationship is not quite right… Having made plans with this person which now are not going to happen, I am back to somewhat of an indecisive juncture… Sydney? (The lure of a city not seen), give Perth some more time or use it as an impetus to try pastures new? Hmm Australia I am not too sure ;-). What do you reckon?!