Friday, 8 July 2016


Firstly apologies for not posting for some time dear reader, this has been due to various health and other problems which I will not bore you with here. After all, this is supposed to be a fun place to be!
So, read on and enjoy........

This will frighten you! It will, dear reader, I promise you! Now, let me ask a very simple question, for those of you that have been in their present home for a good while......

If you had to move home in two months time, would you be able to do so without panic, consternation, apprehension and despair? No, I thought not. Because, and this is the real stumbling block, there is that terrible and awesome place called the loft, attic or whatever. It is of course, the place that all those things, bits and pieces that will come in handy one day, just in case, (Oh, those terrible words) are stored. But not in an orderly manner, oh no, they were just placed there with a dismissive "I will sort that out a bit later", (Oh, those even more terrible words). The thing is, you never do. So that storage space is a complete and utter mess, full of random items, those that should be stored together but have magically found themselves dispersed across the available area, (gets smaller the more you put there, doesn't it?). This normally continues until there is so little space to move that it is almost impossible to sort or tidy anything. You know what I am talking about here, don't you dear reader.

I shall now enter smug mode before I continue, please give me a moment....

Smug mode has been achieved.

My loft is looking rather good at the moment and getting better by the day. Why? How? You ask,
well read on and I will tell you. Sons have left home for their own place. Therefore, all their stuff that they wanted to keep is now out of our loft and either with them (in their garage or other spaces that get filled with things that really shouldn't be stored there) or has been thrown away or given to charity. This means that we can clear out as much as possible, put holiday items together, get rid of nearly all the old Christmas decorations and lights (except for a few essential bits) and generally keep what is really necessary in cardboard boxes that are labelled with their contents!

Now, what is really necessary? Well, there are simple rules which we have applied. not just to the loft items, but to the rest of the house as well. Ask yourself these questions......
Do I like the item? Do I need it? When did I last use it? If you haven't needed to use the item in the past year then you probably don't need it or like it. So...... list it on e-Bay/give it to someone else/give it to charity/recycle it and lastly if you can't do any of those then throw it away! The trick here is to be ruthless in your decision to eliminate it. This is of paramount importance and you must not weaken. Many a stout hearted fellow has weakened and put back that which clutters. I have made and heard many excuses to retain the item(s) that are cluttering everywhere, but these must be ignored, trust me on this dear reader, you will not regret it I assure you.

By getting rid of the useless clutter in your loft and home you are not only making it a better and easier place in which to live, you are also de-cluttering your mind at the same time. You will be able to find the things that you need for a change, instead of spending ages looking for something that you think is "around here somewhere" because you will know where it is now won't you? Then you can assume smug mode, you have my permission. I wish you well and a tidy loft.

Thank you once again for following and reading my musings, until the next time.........

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Seafood, Shelly Beach, Swimming, Snorkelling, Stingrays, Spaghetti!

Well dear reader, the title sums up one of the best days we have had here. Yesterday, Saturday 18/01/2014, we planned to go to Sydney Fish Market. For those of you that have no knowledge of this amazing place, allow me to enlighten you. It is large, very large. Fish of all kinds, most of which I have never seen or heard of before, many different stalls selling raw, cooked and packaged seafood, so fresh the darn things are still gasping. Live lobsters, crabs, blue swimmers, mussels, etc, etc. On arrival, courtesy of my son James's girlfriend Sijia's driving skills, we parked in the shade, (always wise here if you want to be able to touch the car metalwork later) and proceeded to inspect the wares for the second time in a few weeks.

Having now had some little experience, we selected our oysters and I duly purchased a dozen. No, I am not going to mention the time old joke of  "only ten of them worked". Blast, I just did!

For those of you that have never tried oysters in their shell, a little advice. Do not, under any circumstances have them tampered with in any way. By this I mean having cheese put on them and grilled (known as "Mornay"). Nor any other flavourings as some Asian sellers would do. This is totally unacceptable to the true oyster connoisseur such as myself and a measure of their disrespect for such a fine and natural food. Yes, a little fresh lemon juice squeezed over the delightful bi-valve mollusc is most acceptable, but nothing else. Oysters should be brought to the mouth, the shell tipped slightly upwards and the oyster itself allowed to slide gently on to the tongue, together with the accompanying juices. In this way, the texture, taste and salty tang of the sea can be fully appreciated. The oyster can be bitten, chewed lightly or swallowed whole, according to preference. Yum! Having finished our starter so to speak, we moved on to other delights.

Soft shell crab, squid, octopus, noodles, chips and other fish were consumed. Having satisfied our appetite, we returned to the car and made our way to Shelly beach, near Manly beach. Shelly is a lovely secluded bay, the "sand" consisting of finely crushed shells which gives the beach its name. Beach shelter put up, swimming togs on, down to the sea then!

Ah, the water, delightfully warm, calm in the shallows, a great way of cooling down. But, an added and indispensable bonus, I have my mask and snorkel. Donning these, I made my way with James and another friend that we met up with at the beach to the outskirts of the bay and to a rocky area nearby. There, we swam for a long time, alongside and above large stingrays, diving, to try to touch them without letting their tails whip around and cause injury, saw huge schools of fish of various sizes and colours, zebra striped, those with iridescent blue and green colouring, some that had fins that made them look like dragons and others like streamlined eels. Best of all though was spotting a large grouper, just laying side up on the rocks and allowing itself to be "cleaned" by other fish. At first it seemed dead, but then I saw the eye move and knew what was happening. I dived towards it and it moved off. Following, I was able to almost hold it in my hands, but only succeeded in being able to hold it by the tail- fin which in itself was as large as both of my spread hands. The grouper was a beautiful dark blue in colour and after I had touched it, then it swam to deeper water and once again settled itself on the sandy bed awaiting the cleaning by other fish to resume. A sight and experience that I will never forget and treasure for all of my days.

Returning to the shallows and the sunny beach, we all chatted for a while before packing up and heading for the car. Driving back, we decided to stop at a suburban "China town" area to get a take away. Well, all except for me, as I had decided that I wanted to make a simple pasta dish that I love so much.
(My wonderful lifelong friend Kev knows the one I mean). We arrived back, enjoyed a wonderful evening together, watching old video's of Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies, before retiring for the night and a well earned sleep.

A magic day? Yes. There are some that you will never forget. This is one of them for me, thank you Lord.

 Perhaps you might like to look at the following link‎.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Hello again dear readers!

As you will know, it has been a while since I have posted. The reason for this is simple. I have been having the time of my life, driving around Australia, different states, different terrain, great motels/hotels, great people and the most amazing views and places that I have ever seen in my entire life. Thank you Lord for letting me see your fantastic works and for taking care of us on our travels.

The last post was about Christmas day on the beach. That seems like years ago now, as we have done so much and seen so many astounding places in the last few weeks it seems like a dream. A wonderful dream. Australia is the most stunning country, diverse, immense, wonderful, unforgiving in places, dangerous, beautiful, green, brown, with forests, flat plains, open country, rocky coastal areas, superb beaches, surf, sand and it is just such a privilege to be here.

Wherever we have been or stayed, the people have been friendly, welcoming and just downright good eggs all round, with just a couple of exceptions, but more on that later ;)

We have been swimming in many small coves and large beaches, the water so clear it looks like a gin and tonic but without the ice! Sand everywhere and yes, it does get in those important little places, so a shower afterwards is always welcome, haha.

We travelled the entire length of the Great Ocean Road. Now, an amazing fact for you. This road is actually an Australian National Heritage listed 243 kilometres (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world's largest war memorial. Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the road is an important tourist attraction in the region.

So, we have actually travelled on a war memorial. Try that one in a pub quiz! 

The above description does not do it justice. Both my lady wife and I were reduced to tears by the sheer beauty of the area. We also stayed the night at Apollo Bay, described as paradise by the sea. It is true. Paradise as I would imagine it to be, we actually did not want to leave this place, it is that perfect, If perfection is here on earth, then this is the place. All of my readers know that I am not easily impressed by any means, but I am still in awe, just with the memories implanted in my mind. I will never forget this experience, nor would I want to, ever.

Until the next time, very soon dear readers, take care of each other, all the best, Grandad......

Thursday, 26 December 2013


Yes, that's right, I spent Christmas morning on the beach with my wife, eldest son and his girlfriend. We got up early and were on the train just after 8a.m. a quick change at Central station and then on to the ferry to Manly beach. A short walk along the main shopping parade, lots of cafes and food shops already open and of course, St. Matthew's church, just a little way from the beach. I just had to go in and say a prayer and talk to God for a moment, giving thanks for all the things he provides in my life. The important things. Family, health, food, shelter and the ability to enjoy all of those things.

The weather when we left was uncharacteristically cloudy and threatening rain. Yes, honestly!
Well, I have travelled half way around the earth, to another continent and I am going to be on the beach on Christmas day no matter what chummy. It was amazing, when it did rain we were either on the train or the ferry. Then when we were walking, it stopped! Magic!

After reaching Manly beach we went on the short walk to Shelly beach, a lovely spot and one of our favourites. Beach shelter set up, down to swim gear, snorkelling equipment sorted, into the water. At first it seemed quite cool, but we soon got used to it and were so glad we did. We saw loads of fish, many different species and colours. The best of all though, were the three huge flatfish that we saw. They have the absolute perfect disguise, blending in so well with the sand that they are almost impossible to spot until they move. When they did, they provided the wow factor of the day.

We eventually returned to the beach shelter and dried off. Lovely sausage sandwiches, both pork and kangaroo, some chicken and lamb. the weather then started to look like rain again, so we packed up and started the walk back to the ferry. Lucky or what? It started to rain, but not heavily, we timed our visit to perfection. Back on the ferry and a half hour trip to Circular Quay, the hub of Sydney's ferries.
Back to our Australian home, happy to have done another "first", Christmas day on the beach.

In the evening, a wonderful Skype conversation with our youngest son and his girlfriend. That was so lovely to talk "face to face" with them again after being here over a month. The time seems to have whizzed by as we have done so much already. Still lots of time to enjoy this marvellous place, lots to do and see.

Until the next time, take care of each other, all the best, Grandad.......

Friday, 20 December 2013

Bondi Beach

Well, it is one of those places that you have to visit if you are in NSW Australia, near Sydney. You can't travel half way around the world and not go there now can you? It is an easy train ride from where we are staying (change once) then a bus ride. Now, the train rides go well, but the buses are quite crowded, no one really queues, but pushes in, (I can do that with the best of them chummy, drawing pins secured to elbows a bonus) in a free for all to get on the bus. Once on, a shortish trip to Bondi beach ensues, the travellers are then deposited on the road opposite the beach.

Bondi beach is probably known throughout most of the civilised world it seems. Iconic? Well it would be described by some as such I suppose. The best beach? Debatable at the very least. Visited by tens of thousands of people each year without a doubt. Now the truth about it all dear reader, from a beach lover and connoisseur of the same. Read on........

Bondi beach is a lot smaller than you might imagine. It is also crowded, (even on most weekdays) but not overly so, unless of course you are foolish enough to go there on Christmas day when all the tourists and locals descend upon that patch of sand, just to say they were there on that wonderful day.
I hasten to add that I will be some distance away, on a beach where I can go snorkelling and see fish swimming around the rocks and be with some of my family on that very day, the 25th of December.

Having had the great good fortune to have travelled around the east coast of New Zealand's north island, I can honestly say that any of their beaches and coves are far superior to Bondi beach in just about every way. They are bigger, longer, with far fewer people to spoil the place and with water just as clean and clear. Whilst the weather in New Zealand may not be as reliable as Australia, when the sun shines, (which was a great deal of the time when we were there) the beaches are absolutely splendid.

Now, more on Bondi beach itself. As I said previously, it is smaller than I expected, but no worries. However, the shops and cafes and bars abound, usually patronised by young people, all trying to look nonchalant whilst desperate to be seen in the right attire. Thankfully, due to my mature years, I no longer have to present myself in such a manner, can wear what I wish and behave in a way only the over 60's can do and get away with it! Compared to Manly beach, Bondi is found wanting in my humble opinion. Manly, not suffering from the "look at me everybody" style of patron is a real bonus, also the nearby Shelly beach (just a short, pleasant walk away from Manly) is great for snorkelling as there are rocks nearby, therefore fish to see and it is also good for youngsters as long as they are supervised because the  beach shelves fairly steeply after the first few yards.

To summarise, Bondi, been there, took the photo's. Would I go back again? No, in all honesty, there are far better beaches, one of which I will be gracing with my presence on Christmas day. Smug mode assumed until further notice.

Until the next time, take care of each other, all the best, Grandad.........

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Hello again dear reader!

I can not believe that it is only a week until Christmas day. Being over the other side of the world at this time of year is amazing. perplexing, unusual, a real first (definitely not the last time), and a little disorientating if that is not too strong a word. I am sitting here in just a pair of swimming trunks after preparing the evening meal for everyone to come home to after work and for us all to enjoy, the weather is fine, sunny and really warm. We went for a lovely walk along the shoreline this afternoon, bought supplies and goodies from the shop (ALDI rules!) however we also went to the local shopping mall to get superb veg, great ham and other bits. Supplies over here are so much better that the stuff that is supplied in our "supermarkets". Prices aren't that much different either, but you get much better quality, and dare I say it, really good friendly service everywhere. Try that one in England?

Tomorrow, BONDI BEACH! We are getting a travel card that we can use on buses,trains, light railways and ferries, all for about 5 to 6 quid in old fashioned money per day! Brighton council take note, as it is half price for retired/pensioners. Try that one in England as well? Takes about 1&1/2 hours to get there. Picnic packed, backpack sorted, breakfast tomorrow and then sun, sand, sea and total relaxation as it will be devoid of people as they will all be at work still!

The best part about being here at Christmas, no mad people trying to get that perfect gift for someone. No-one really acting differently to the rest of the year. No decorations everywhere  you go, no carols everywhere you go, just a subtle background noise in various places. Absolutely blooming marvelous! What does happen is subtle decorations/lights on people's balconies and around the shopping areas. Me? I am spending Christmas morning on a remote beach somewhere, swimming, sunbathing and just being bloody smug about it all.

Until next time, if I can be bothered, take care of each other, all the best, Grandad......

Thursday, 12 December 2013


Well dear reader, Grandad is back from his excursion to New Zealand, now returned safely to Sydney. New Zealand, what a place! Fabulous countryside and coast, easy roads to drive on, the friendliest people I have ever met and a terrific place to visit, live and love. We only had time to explore some of the north land in the north island, to see this country would take at least three months for each part, even then you might only touch upon the surface.

The beaches are plentiful, sandy, not crowded and the sea beautiful both in colour and temperature. Parking nearly everywhere is entirely free and easy to find. All in all I suppose I drove not very far in local's terms, doing 1,106 Km in total, which is about 687 miles in real money over 8 days. Don't forget, Grandad has a lazy breakfast, usually followed by a swim in a cove/beach somewhere and then explores the area a bit more.

We have seen glow-worms, (they only exist in New Zealand and Australia), been kayaking up to raging waterfalls, down rivers and back again. Walked through forests, mangroves and seen herons nesting in trees and an owl just sitting on a branch while we took its photograph. Been swimming in the Pacific ocean, body surfing in the waves on a surf beach, driving through tropical forests and also saw a large pod of whales off the coast of Hokianga harbour from a vantage point at Pakia Hill, just before descending the road to Oponomi. There we saw wonderful sunsets and rainbows, all viewed from our verandah and the beach a few yards away, before enjoying dinner and a glass of wine or three.

Apologies to all those avid readers of my blogs, but we are so busy enjoying ourselves that I hardly have time to paint or draw, let alone write a blog for you to share our journey. Do I feel guilty? Not a bit chummy!

Until the next time, take care of each other, all the best, Grandad.......