For the first time since we started land-sailing in New Zealand and Australia in September, we have a little time to settle and behave like locals.
We are familiar now with our local area of Epsom, routes to supermarkets, buses to the city, nearest bank, etc. We have even found a few open air concerts in the local park which we have penciled in, as well as, the Chinese lantern parade for the Chinese New Year which evidently has a massive firework display at the end of the evening. Hopefully the weather will brighten up for that. How dare we complain about the weather I hear you say! Well I am not. The daytime temperatures are humid but in the last 4 or 5 days the downpours have been in biblical proportions. All a result of cyclone Winston in the Pacific. Hopefully all dried up for the weekend though, so no soggy lanterns and damp fireworks.
Wet Weather Plan
We had put a wet weather plan in place and intended to go clothes shopping. Neither of us have bought anything much since leaving Blighty in June. I think the purchases total 4 T-shirts, a swimming costume and a bra – and those are just for Jon – parp parp! We decided we may need a few thicker items for our return to the UK in March (and JWalking2 – but not giving anything away just yet!). The expedition turned out to be a total disaster. We got as far as the impressive Art Gallery in the city, Albert Park next door for a damp ham roll (as God intended says Jon with no mustard or tomato!), then a walk down to the Queen’s Wharf to see the P&O Cruise liner the Pacific Pearl.
In my very amateur opinion, cruises just don’t seem to be what they used to be, ie an exclusive 5* experience. Everything just seemed a bit casual. If we had spent what some of these people have to cruise the pacific, I would want to feel a bit special. A red carpet and few smartly dressed crew members wouldn’t go amiss. Maybe even a glass of champagne at check in and someone to meet me at my car and take my bags on board. I must have been born in the wrong generation. I am sure (and hope) that my Grandma was treated must better in the 60s when she cruised to New Zealand.
To avoid another of those biblical rainfalls we dived into an events centre on the wharf next to the shiny Pacific Pearl. It was empty, apart from a table tennis table, badminton net and rackets and a giant set of Connect 4 and Jenga. Connect 4 was free so we had 3 or 4 games. No prizes for who won every time! When the skies cleared a little we headed for a Belgian cafe/bar we had seen. It was so typically Belgian and made us realise that the majority of European settler history/architecture and so on is all British. Not a trace of other European influences. So we may have to regularly support the Belgian cafe just to compensate! Who needs new clothes anyway?
One purchase that was made, however, was a much needed hair cut for Jon. He located “Mr Barber” in our local parade of shops and I located Coffee, Tea & Co as a good place to wait. One trim, extra hot, naked (no topping) cappuccino later, I could admire the handiwork of “Mr Barber”. Jon found it so stressful that he persuaded the waitress to bring him eggs and bacon on toast with no eggs but more bacon. It did the trick – one happy coiffured land-sailor. If you are wondering, I just had the standard eggs and bacon on toast and the usual bad hair day.
Thirteen Memorable Meetings
Reminiscing over our bacon and eggs (or just bacon!), we reminded ourselves of the top 13 memorable meetings of our adventure so far. You may have seen some of these on previous blogs but too bad. Just enjoy reading them again. Here goes:
- Cardboard coffee holder man – Heathrow Airport – the elderly gentleman who approached us for the cardboard coffee rings on our Cafe Nero take away coffees. After some discussion we found out they were to used to keep the cuffs of his shirts clean. Recycling at it’s best
- Solo Spanish cyclist – Holland – stayed overnight in our airbnb. He explained that he had cycled from Spain to Holland to “find the beach”. Too much sun and Sangria?
- Karaoke Peter – Austria – brother of our hostess Eva and drunk performer of a very Austrian version of ‘Hotel California’ especially for us. The whole song! Unforgettable.
- Fleishi – Austria – groom-to-be dressed as a big pink rabbit in Gross St Florian and taken along to the girls football match by his so-called mates. Verbally abused and very very drunk by the end of the game.
- Wacky lady at the WACA – Perth – mature cricket museum helper type that Jon moved a box for and then proceeded to tell every single visitor what a ‘lovely young man’ he was and flirted aggressively for the rest of our stay (with Jon obviously …).
- Non-swimmers on the Barrier Reef – Cairns – nice Irish couple we met on the Boat trip who sprung the news once we’d reached the Reef and changed into our wetsuits that neither of them could swim a single stroke! Still went out to their credit but we’re wrapped in flotation rings and lifebelts. Bizarre.
- Top Gear Kevin – Tasmania – the crazy driver of the minibus we took from Hobart to Port Arthur (and back). Didn’t shut up for the 90 minute drive, thought it was some sort of high speed race, and delivered ‘funny’ joke after ‘funny’ joke all day long. We loved him.
- Melbourne Moaners – Milford Sound – Jon is still irritated by the memory of the Aussie couple who had a go at him for Gallipoli and the First World War! Finger pointing and raised voices as they blamed him for the loss of the Anzac troops in that battle. He’s desperate to run into them again on a dark night somewhere!
- Korean Flooders – Queenstown – the other guests at our Airbnb. A young couple from Korea who seemed to have to completely flood the bathroom every single time they used it. No idea what went on in there. All we know is it was very wet!
- Intercity Claude – Nelson – our delightfully friendly driver of the Intercity coach who had a story about every stream, every tree, and every house. Everything had been in Lord of the Rings and he slowed constantly to point us scene after scene. Oh, and he kept stalling the coach until it broke down. Worrying and hilarious in equal amounts.
- Seadog Jock McDuff – Picton – the jolly old sailor that cornered us for 25 minutes just as the Interislander ferry was about to sail to give us his life story and details of every boat and trip he’d ever made. Why did he pick on us? There were so many other ‘targets’.
- Portaloo Pete – Taupo – perhaps the most unpleasant, unfortunate individual we’ve met. Stopped us by the harbour to talk about toilets and the dangerous toxic waste that he was pumping out. We couldn’t really concentrate though as we tried not to stare at his scarred, skin-peeled arms and hands. Dreadful.
- Johnny ” Auckland” Cash busker – waiting at the bus stop in downtown Auckland with a crowd of other bystanders as Johnny, in his cowboy hat, entertained us all with barely-audible, out-of-key, mumbled versions of classic country hits. Unfortunately we made eye-contact, a classic error, and he seemed to be playing specially to us and even said ‘bye, I’ll be back next Wednesday’ as he left. Yee-hah.
Hope these made you smile. For us the land-sailing will end one day but our memories will be forever. However, if we both go doolally in our formative years, we will have this blog which may shine some light on what we got up to. Of course, I could end up the wacky lady at the WACA and my choice for Jon would be Karaoke Jonno singing ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane in the pub landlord style we know and love with maybe just the one coffee holder ring around each wrist.
16.2 – 20.2.2016