Sunday, 12 May 2019

2018 Part 2

The weather continued to be kind as we made our way up the Leicester arm of the Grand Union Canal to Leicester. Sharyn was lucky as we were able to ‘pair up’ with other boats which makes for easier going as there are double locks which take two narrowboats on this stretch of the canal system.  


Another hot day

At Leicester our usual mooring outside the Castle Gardens was taken so we moored up at the new mooring just after the King Richard Road bridge.  Sharyn enjoyed touring the city which has heaps of history including Richard III whose body was found under a carpark that was being excavated when we visited the city a few years ago.

Next day we moved along to Burstall where we had previously found a nice pub for a meal.  However this time we went to a different one.  Very old and used more by the locals than us ‘tourists’.  Incredible thing was that a very large German Shepherd dog lived there and his job was obviously to welcome all the other visiting dogs - at one stage there were 8 dogs in the small bar with their owners.   

All very well behaved and quite used to being there - the dogs I mean.  Food was good so that was the main thing.   

Headed off next morning til we reached Loughborough moorings which are right in the centre of town. 

Sharyn was with us for two weeks so we decided we would have time to reach Nottingham.  Next day we travelled along the River Soar until we made the junction of the Soar, the Derwent River and the mighty Trent River then turned into Nottingham city.    

Moored up just near Nottingham Castle which unfortunately is closed for renovations.  Still there are lots of other things to see in the famous Robin Hood city. 

 During the Summer months a huge beach area is set up in the City Square with heaps of sand, pools, deck chairs and spurting fountains to amuse the little ones (and bigger ones too).  It’s a very popular spot particularly this year having such a hot Summer.

On the Saturday night there was a river festival on the banks of the Trent River.  It didn’t seem to be very well advertised so we didn’t expect too much.  We caught an Uber cab there and what a surprise- the whole of Nottingham must have turned up.   Lots of carnival rides somehow set up between the huge old trees lining the bank as well as many eating/drinking vendors.  After walking along seeing the sights we found a seat on the riverbank and stayed put until the fireworks started when it was dark.  Very impressive show so we were not disappointed at all.   

Bit of excitement during the night back on the boat as when we were sleeping some fool decided to climb up on our roof and run along it.  Made so much noise it sounded like he was wearing footy boots but he jumped down and ran off quickly so no damage done.

Next morning we started our return journey to the marina.   Again, lucky for Sharyn, there were boats to pair up with and at one point all the locks were set in our favour.  It’s never happened on the other occasions we have been doing the same trip by ourselves.  Stopped at The Rose & Crown hotel right on the canal for a traditional Sunday Roast dinner. 

Stayed a night at Loughborough again - it’s usually a lovely mooring and very quiet but we had a few youngies who were in a party mood and made a bit of a din but not too bad.   Moored up at the Castle Gardens in Leicester so Sharyn explored the vast number of shops and came back with a few ‘must-have’ treasures.  The city has undergone a big upgrade since we were there two years ago when there were lots of streets/footpaths barricaded off while work was being undertaken.   

The Soar River and canals near Leicester are notorious for having rubbish dumped which can cause boat propellers to jam.  This year we were thinking we were lucky and had missed out but, sure enough, just south of Leicester we came to a grinding halt.  Terry had to get down in the hatch to free the propeller which had a Hi-Vis coat wrapped tightly around it.  Really tough fabric so it took a fair bit of hacking with a sharp knife before it came away.

Luckily we managed to sell the campervan on ebay to a fellow called Kevin  from Argyll in Scotland.  He was absolutely tickled with it as he has other classic cars and because our van had a towbar attached he planned on transporting his other cars on a trailer to Classic Car Shows and then being able to sleep in his ‘classic’ van while at the show.  He caught the train down from Scotland to the marina then drove the van back.  Said it ran perfectly all the way there.

We reached our marina on Friday so had time to pack up on the boat before we caught the train down to London on Saturday morning.   Sooz suggested we could meet them at Ruskin Park which was near where we caught the bus to their home.   Turns out, Ten and the two girls were booked in for a trapeze class.  The girls, on ‘big’ school holidays, had just spent a week at Circus School, learning juggling, acrobatics and silk rope climbing etc so this was just an ‘add on’ to that.   Sharyn was talked into having a go (she had already done a session in Melbourne a few years ago). It was just amazing - a proper trapeze set up - sooo high and scary for the onlookers - but with safety ropes and a net of course.   In no time at all they were all able to hang by their legs on the swing.  Ten, Olive and Iris were chosen, with a few others, to do the final ‘catch’ which meant swinging by their legs, then letting go and being caught by the ‘catcher’ swinging on another trapeze.  It turned out Olive was the only one who managed to be ‘caught’.   She was so proud.

Sharyn flew back to Melbourne on Sunday night and we left London by train on Tuesday bound for Glasgow.  The trip took more than 4 hours and when we arrived we caught a taxi to our airbnb which was in the West End, apparently the ‘better’ end of town with lots of large terrace houses built in the 1800s by rich tobacco merchants.  Our ‘cottage’ was down a long spiral staircase off the main hallway, but it was actually on ground level at the back of the building so we came and went through the back garden gateway out onto a cobblestoned laneway which was quite close to shops and transport.

We went on the ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus which is a great way to see a new city.  We saw the Glasgow cathedral which was impressive inside but the outside was covered in 100s of years of industrial smoke/soot so it would look a lot better if cleaned up.   Glasgow was packing up after hosting the huge sporting European Championships as well as preparing for the World Championship  Highland Pipe Bands the next weekend.   Lots of people walking around wearing full highland dress, kilts etc, and also groups practising their tunes on bagpipes in parks.  We also visited the quite new Riverside Transport Museum which had some great displays including the Glasgow Underground which was driven by a cable system and built in 1896 making it the the third underground in the world.  We also visited the Kelvinside Art Museum.   Amazing Victorian building with a very ornate roof outside and beautiful features inside.

After 3 nights in Glasgow it was time to collect our hired campervan.   We thought we were picking it up from somewhere in Glasgow but it turned out to be quite a few miles out of town at a little village called Kelty so we had to catch an Uber taxi there.  The driver was lovely and even detoured to show us the Falkirk Wheel on the Caledonian Canal which carries boats up/down the canal, rather like the Anderton Lift near Cheshire we used a few years ago.  Couldn’t pick up the van til after 4.00pm so only made it to the Canoustie Caravan park, just past Dundee, the first night.  The British Open Golf Championships were held there last month and it’s not far from the famous St Andrews Golf Course.

Falkirk Wheel

Found our way around the van - it’s a lot smaller than being on our boat - but quite comfortable.  We ate at the on-site restaurant that night which was nice and handy.

Next morning we set out along the coast road and had lunch at a little fishing village called Gourdan.  Funny thing - most of the fish shops were closed and boarded up even though the boats came in with large catches each day.  We decided to by-pass Aberdeen as we’d been told it was just another “big city”.    We continued on to Petershead Caravan site where we had a great spot right on the beach.  It’s a busy harbour so we were able to watch the pilot boat steer the huge ships, mostly connected with the oil industry, through the gap in the harbour wall.  More than a dozen ships came and went during the evening and early the next morning making it quite a busy little harbour. 

We set out to explore the old Petershead Prison Museum just near the caravan park.  It was built back in the grim Victorian days and known as the toughest jail in Scotland.  It was used from 1888 right up to 2013.  Huge place but most of the displays, the kitchen, laundry, etc were fitted with modern equipment.  We thought it would have been better to show how life was back in the 1800s.  There were only a couple of cells that showed this - consisting of just a hammock, one blanket and a bucket.   It would have been freezing as the prison is built right on the shore of the North Sea and would have been snowed under in the wintertime.  

Continued along the coast until we got to Fraserburgh where we visited a lighthouse museum.   Very interesting to learn that Robert Louis Stevenson’s family was responsible for building most of the lighthouses in the UK and developing the lenses which could magnify quite small lights in the late 1800s (as well as the family being involved in working with steam engines).  Robert was the only one really not interested in that side of things and was a family disappointment as a result even though he became famous as a writer.

k Next we came to Banff where we had another lovely caravan site right on the sandy white beach.   Would have been lovely if it had been a bit warmer.  Around this area it is known as the driest and warmest part of Scotland but there was a chilly breeze blowing when we were there.

We visited Duff House, a imposing Georgian mansion near Banff, which has many famous paintings on display from the National Galleries of Scotland.   It’s a five storey building which had a lift installed in the early 1900s for the wife of one of the owners.  This is still in working order so I was able to to use this to get to the top floor.   The ceilings in the staterooms are 18 feet high so the staircases are quite a bit of work too.   The Duff family gifted the House to the nearby towns of Banff and Macduff in 1907.  It has been used as a hotel, a sanatorium and during the Second World War was used as a POW camp.  It was actually hit during a bombing raid which killed 8 and damaged the house.  By the 1950s, the house had fallen into disrepair and was taken into State care with restoration of many original features being undertaken to bring it back to its former glory.

Next morning we decided to go inland to Fyvie Castle, a National Trust property dating from the 13th century.  Charles I lived there as a child and Robert the Bruce also lived there. It has featured in many films and TV series.  One of the Trust guides, a young fellow but very knowledgeable, took us around the castle and told us about some of the haunted rooms.  ‘The Green Lady’ regularly appears. Seems she bore her husband 3 daughters but he wanted a son so he locked her in a tiny room where she eventually starved to death.  Some of her family members who came to rescue her were killed outside her room and there are still bloodstains on the wooden floor.  The Earl married a much younger girl but on their wedding night they heard scraping noises and in the morning the former wife’s name was clearly engraved on the stone window cill.  The new wife died in childbirth so a new heir never eventuated.   Also during some renovations in 1920 a woman’s skeleton was discovered behind a wall.  The Laird at the time had the remains moved to the Fyvie Cemetery but strange happenings at the castle followed so the Laird, fearing he had offended the dead woman, had her skeleton replaced behind the bedroom wall.  The spooky noises stopped after this.

We stopped at the site of the Battle of Culloden where a large tourist centre has been set up to explain what happened at the Battle in 1746.  The Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie were no match for the British army.  The Battle only lasted an hour but nearly 2,000 Jacobites were killed and Charlie fled the country never to return.  The British General who led the British Army was firstly called a hero but later was called ‘the butcher’ because of his treatment of the losing Scottish troops.

We also visited the nearby Clava Cairns which is the site of a well preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns built some 4,000 years ago.  The Bronze Age cemetery has numerous standing stones, and the remains of a chapel.  The site is claimed to be the inspiration for the author of the ‘Outlander’ TV series.

Next we had an overnight stop at Inverness then headed north up the coast.  Our first stop was Dunrobin Castle - absolutely beautiful looking like something out of Disneyland.  It was built on a rocky outcrop so we negotiated the many steps down to the formal garden.  Here there was a small museum filled with trophies from hunting trips from all round the world (mostly Africa) by the various Dukes and Duchesses in the 1800s.  So many different animals - they obviously shot anything that moved!

We then watched a falconry demonstration with a Golden Eagle, a Peregrine Falcon and an Eagle Owl showing their different flight patterns and techniques to get their food.  The falconer stood in the middle of the crowd and each bird swooped down to get its ‘treat’.    So fast and accurate!   Falconry was originally developed to hunt fast or difficult prey as food for the table and is still used in some countries today.

We climbed the stairs back up to the Castle which was commenced back in the 1300s and has had many additions added over the centuries, particularly by Sir Charles Barry (who was the architect for the Houses of Parliament in London) in the 1800s.  The Castle has 189 rooms and was used as a naval hospital during the First World War and as a boys’ boarding school from 1965 to 1972.  It still is a home of the family of the Earl of Sunderland.

Continued up the east coast towards John O’Groats.  Never seen so many wind turbines, both out to sea and on the land as well.   Each farmhouse seemed to have its own tower.   We eventually came to Wick, a busy fishing village where we found another great park to spend the night.   Only trouble was a very low overhead railway line just before the entrance.   We couldn’t fit under so had to go around to the alternative entrance which was down a very narrow track beside a river.  

There was a notice by reception that was advertising a Highland Pipe Variety Night at the local Pipe Band Hall that night.  Terry decided that we wouldn’t be coming home down ‘that track’ but the caravan park owner offered to drive us into town.  “Get there early as it’s the last night and will be crowded.”  We did that but still ended up centre of the front row which were the only seats left.  Great concert.   Local ladies choir, a ten year old girl who danced the Highland Fling, a nine year old girl who played the violin (quite well too) and then the Wick Pipe Band.  It was a tiny hall so eight bagpipers with four drummers made quite an impression!  At interval we were served scones/jam & cream and shortbreads with our cup of tea.  After interval there was more of the same with the addition of a  fellow from the audience who was invited to sing a couple of ballads.  We caught a taxi back to the park after a really enjoyable evening.   Everyone was so friendly, especially when they found out we were “all the way from Australia”.

Next morning we decided to go on an adventure ride on a Zodiac craft along the coast.   “Wear something warm” we were told and when we arrived at the port we were kitted out with full wet weather gear - pants, jacket as well as a life jacket because we were told the boat went ‘really fast’ and we would get sprayed.   Started out along the coast which had some interesting rock formations then suddenly we were in a huge cave - roof must have been 100 feet up.  The walls which were covered in mosses were all different shades - pink, yellow, green and red rocks - so pretty.  Outside the cliff faces were covered in bird droppings but apart from one or two late ones, all the young chicks had flown off.  During the breeding there are lots of comical puffins as well as varieties of seagulls covering the cliff faces.  We went into many more caves during the 90 minute trip - all slightly different.  Back in the 1800s lots of smuggling went on along this stretch of coastline and the caves were ideal places for the smugglers to hide from the customs officers.

We made it to John O’Groats which is supposed to be the most northernly part of the British mainland (it isn’t really - just along the coast is a higher bit!).  It’s mainly a ferry terminal to the Orkney and Shetland islands.  Not much here apart from busloads of tourists taking photos of a rather tatty signpost.  We decided not to spend the night here so went further across the top of the coast until we stopped at Thurso.  There was a brief shower of rain just after we arrived and suddenly there was a magnificent rainbow across the bay in front of the park.  Everyone was out of their vans with cameras to capture the amazing sight. 

Next morning we headed south along a different route and stopped at the same Inverness caravan park again.  There was a Highland Games happening at nearby Drumnadrochit on the banks of Loch Ness next day so we thought that would be fun.   When we arrived there were lots of pipers, Highland dancing, running events and the Heavy Events - caber throwing, shot putting, hammer throwing etc.   So many people wearing kilts (with cold knees!) and one race having the rule that all contestants must be wearing a kilt.

The scenery in the Highlands is magnificent- and we were so lucky to have mainly sunny days so that we could enjoy the views.  Locals say it's usually raining or misty even in the summertime.  

Made it to Fort William which must be the hikers’ capital of Scotland.   Our caravan park, which was surrounded by towering mountains, was right at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK.   From early morning til evening it had a continuous stream of walkers going along the track to the summit which apparently takes nearly 4 hours. 

We decided to go on the famous Jacobite steam train ride from Fort William to Mallaig on the west coast.  However, it was completely booked out for more than two weeks ahead so we caught the normal train which does the same route (and slows down for photos when going over the viaduct made famous in one of the Harry Potter films).  It was the only really rainy day we had in Scotland so it was probably a good thing that we were on the train.  Mallaig was another charming fishing village although it was a bit too wet to explore much but we did have a lovely seafood lunch there.

Sunny next morning so we drove to Oban - a very picturesque large town on the West coast - also with bus loads of tourists.  Lots of ferries leave from here for the Isle of Skye and the many other nearby islands but we were running out of remaining days in the van so had to give the ferries a miss.  

We called into Inverary Castle built between 1745 and 1790 on the shores of Loch Fyne.  It is still the family home of the Duke of Argyll and base of the Campbell Clan.  It has a massive display of weapons - muskets, axes and broadswords in the entrance hall and magnificent French tapestries in the Staterooms as well as a huge collection of china, silver and family heirlooms.

Next morning the sun was shining again so we could enjoy the rugged scenery of the heather-covered mountains rising out of the many lochs we drove along including the famous Loch Lomond.

We drove to Falkirk where The Kelpies, two striking 30 metre high horse head sculptures made of 300 tonnes of stainless steel each overlook a new section of the canal.   (A kelpie apparently is a shape-changing aquatic spirit of Scottish legend which haunts rivers and streams and usually is in the shape of a horse but The Kelpies also commemorated the horses which used to pull the narrowboats along the canals.)

We visited the Falkirk Wheel again and arrived just in time to catch the tour boat which goes onto the wheel and is raised 79 feet and gives great views of the surrounding countryside.  The Wheel is a rotating boat lift (the only one in the world) connecting the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.  The guide  on the boat gave an amusing talk with facts and figures about the wheel including it only using the power of 6  electric kettles to drive it.

Found a lovely caravan park, again with mountains surrounding - getting quite used to the views now - and next morning drove to Culross, a 16th century village which is being restored by the National Trust.  Narrow cobblestone streets with houses still in their original forms add to the character of the village. We climbed up a hill to the ruins of the Abbey and then visited Culross Palace which has been restored to its original distinctive yellowish colour.  It was completed in 1611 and although it was not really a ‘palace’ it was visited by James IV in 1617.  The National Trust has also restored the large 17th century walled garden at the back of the Palace.

Culross has been used in a number of films and TV series, including the popular ‘Outlander’ series.

Next day we returned the campervan and moved into a B&B in Edinburgh for 3 nights.  Our friendly hosts, Mark and Jeana, were a wealth of local knowledge.  Their lovely home was at Queensferry - near the base of the famous iron rail bridge and near the other two famous bridges across the Firth of Forth.  

Went into Edinburgh next morning.  A very busy city with hoards of tourists.   Visited the Edinburgh Portrait Gallery and then realised that Terry didn’t have his wallet.   At first we thought it might have been pick-pocketed but then he thought it may have fallen out of his pocket in the toilets at the John Lewis Department Store where we had been a couple of hours earlier.  We backtracked a few blocks but it was worth it.  Some honest person had handed the wallet into the Lost Property office.  Lucky for us! 

We caught the Hop on-Hop Off bus for a tour around Edinburgh.  Decided we couldn’t face the hoards at Edinburgh Castle but we did see it back in the 1990s so it probably hasn’t changed much since then!  Later that afternoon we caught the light rail out to the airport to pick up our hire car. 

Next day we visited Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II.  It was started in the 16th century with various bits being added over the next couple of hundred years.  The Queen spends the first week of summer at the palace carrying out official engagements and ceremonies. 

So we spent 3 wonderful weeks in Scotland - a beautiful place which we really enjoyed - even if we did have a bit of trouble understanding some of the locals with their strong Highland accents!

We left our B&B in Edinburgh on a very drizzly morning.  Decided we should catch the train which went across the large Iron Firth of Forth bridge.  Unfortunately it was so overcast that we missed out on most of the views - the bridge is a serious engineering feat - it’s built so high above the little villages on each side of the water.
We continued south crossing the border of Scotland and England til we came to Hadrian’s Wall.  Somehow we had missed it completely when we were in the area about 30 years ago.  The wall was built by the Romans back in AD122 during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.  It’s 73 miles long with forts built every 5 miles or so where the Roman soldiers could live and defend England against the Picts (from Scotland).  The wall is a ruin now but it was massive when built.  Made out of squared stones it measured 10 feet wide and up to 20 feet high in some places.  It also had a ditch along the bottom of the wall just to make it a bit harder to get across.  Lots of walkers do the trek along the path beside the wall.

We stayed at a B&B nearby that night and the next day headed for Whitby on the eastern coast.  This is the village near where Captain Cook was born and there’s lots of places named after him - Captain Cook School, Hall, Road, etc plus a Museum in the house where he lived.  When we last visited Whitby it was just a quiet village but all that has changed.  Heaps of tourists and new  buildings and just about every house is now a B&B.   We went for a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway historic steam train from Whitby to Pickering.  It was a 24 mile trip but we only had time for a cup of tea at the Pickering station before we had to board the train for the return journey.

We stayed that night at the nearby very elegant Dunsley Country House where we had a lovely room right up in the attic.   A very old ‘guest house’ type of place but food and surroundings were beautiful.  
Next morning we drove along the coast to Scarborough, a very busy seaside resort town.  About 5 miles out of town we found ‘Scarborough Fair’ - which has a magnificent working collection of vintage fairground rides, mechanical organs, hall of mirrors, vintage cars, tractors and steam engines all of which have been collected by a fellow who owns the caravan park next door.   He was encouraged to open the exhibition to the public a few years ago and as he’s still collecting has to had to extend the buildings a number of times.

There was a huge merry-go-round which went quite fast - we had to really hold on tight!  All the visitors at the Fair were in the ‘slightly older’ age group and when the merry-go-round stopped some of the horses were way up off the ground so the attendant had to move it around until the horses came down and the passengers could get off.  We also went on the Ghost Train and the Dodge-em Cars.  Great fun acting like kids again.  The rides only cost £1 each and went on and on for ages - much better value than the present day rides we’re sure.   Some of the huge mechanical organs were started up and sounded fantastic with lots of bibs and bobs moving along with the music. 

It was the day of the weekly ‘tea dance’ in the ballroom with music provided by a fellow playing one of the magnificent Wurlitzer organs.   Soon the room was filled with dancers - all very professional with dancing shoes and very serious steps being done on the dance floor.  We were content to just sit and watch (luckily we hadn’t brought our dancing shoes so had an excuse not to get out on the dance floor!)

We then drove down to York - just in time for afternoon tea.  A friend had recommended that we find Miss Bettys Tearooms which has been a York tradition for nearly 100 years.  Apparently we were not the only ones interested in Bettys.  There was a queue along the footpath (with a lot of Asian visitors waiting).   The line moved fairly quickly and we were soon sitting down to a ‘traditional afternoon tea - scrumptious!

Next morning we drove to Leicester where we dropped off the hire car and caught the train back to the boat.   We left for London by train the next day.   Andrew was arriving from Hong Kong that morning and the next afternoon it was a surprise 70th birthday for Rita (Ten’s mum).   We spent the day decorating the house and garden and after all the guests had arrived, Rita arrived thinking she was being taken out to dinner for a family birthday party.  Amazingly, it was a complete surprise for her - the girls had managed to keep the secret for the last few months.  Rita worked at the Belgium Embassy in Mozambique for many years and guests came from all over Africa, France, Belgium and the US.  Some great organising by Ten and Sooz to get everyone there.

Just to add to the weekend, Iris had a Swimming Party at a nearby local college to celebrate her 7th birthday.  The actual date was a few weeks earlier when they were on holidays in Italy.  It was a joint party with her best friend and quite easy as we just made a birthday cake, some cup cakes, ‘fairy bread’ and some sandwiches.   All went well until one latecomer’s mum omitted to tell Sooz that her little darling couldn’t swim.  He jumped in the pool and promptly sank to the bottom.  The lifeguard on duty (fully clothed) quickly dived in and rescued him so no damage done although Sooz was a bit annoyed with the mother for being so irresponsible.

Next morning we (including Andrew) caught the train up to Market Harborough then a taxi out to the marina.  Andrew spent a few nights with us on the boat  and we ‘sailed’ up to Market Harborough where we showed him around the lovely market town.   He left on the Thursday to spend another night with Sooz before flying out to Switzerland to catch up with an old work friend.

We spent the last week back at the Marina.  The last winter was apparently really severe and some of the boat’s paintwork was starting to show a little wear.  We have teed up with a boat painter who actually lives at the marina to repaint the whole exterior of the boat which involves sandblasting it back to bare metal and then applying 7 or 8 coats of paint which gives a mirror finish.  He’s booked up until April 2020 so Terry gave the boat a couple of coats of acrylic paint to keep things looking shipshape until then.

The last weekend we caught a bus to Kelmarsh Hall near Market Harborough.  The Hall was built in 1730 and American Nancy Lancaster is responsible for much of the decoration to the Hall in the 1930s.  She loved using fresh flowers in the house year round and so inspired much of the garden’s design with dahlias being used extensively.  A Dahlia Festival was being held the weekend we visited. 

Spent the last weekend with Sooz, Ten and the girls in London.  It was a rainy weekend so we just relaxed inside.  The UK has been having a mini drought with some areas having ‘hose-pipe’ restrictions on watering gardens so the rain was very welcome.   We flew out on Monday afternoon, flying Royal Brunei airlines again.

Had a two night stopover in Brunei - this time staying at The Empire Resort on the coast.  Brunei is quite small and we had seen all the touristy things on our previous two stopovers so this year was spent just relaxing by the pools.   The Empire, a magnificent complex with more than 500 rooms, has the most incredible staff.  Everyone, from the gardeners to the cleaners, have the most genuine smiles and greeting every time they see you. 

We arrived back in Oz last Friday morning before 5 a.m.  The temperature was a bit of a shock after Brunei’s tropical heat.

So......only 3 months away this year and although we only spent a short time on the boat we seemed to fit in quite a lot of sightseeing - London, Maastricht (for Andre’s concert), Amsterdam and Brussels, then 3 weeks discovering Scotland’s beauty driving around in a campervan which was a new experience.
Til ne