Sunday, 22 April 2018

When I first thought to set up a blog it was with the intention of keeping in touch with my ex work mates who I may say are some of the nicest people I have ever met . The  blog was a means of keeping a record of my life post work in part for my colleagues but also for me as I dont know what is going to happen. My main concerns and the concerns of my friends approaching what used to be retirement age is twofold , can I afford to retire and what will I do with my time?
I thought by now I might have the answer to those questions , I dont.
My time so far has been spent travelling. I saved for a year to pay for the travelling. I have spent that money and more and I have come 'home'. So the answer to those questions is still unanswered. . I am pretty sure I can fill my time , always been a dabbler so there is painting drawing photography. The advent of digital photography and photo shop has given every wannabee photographer , but money , aye there's the rub.
If you decide to do something like this and you want to do it cheap then you have to be prepared for discomfort. The cheaper you do it the more uncomfortable you will be.
If you dont like discomfort then you need money
There is a direct correlation between the two.
As in all things there isnt a type of person who becomes a Backpacker I meet a retired musician who has 5 Backpacker establishments around the world he continously visits , funding himself by renting his house out , I met some couple like ourselves trying to see all that they could by careful budgeting and I met what I suppose we would call the stereotypical backpacker , young people , itimerant workers , living rough mostly and using backpackers for the seasonal wash . Most in NZ anyway bought station wagon style cars and slept in them often constructing a bed in them , Some cycled some hitched they used the communal dorms . You have to be pretty thick skinned for this, you are mixing with people where standing back and saying no after you old chap results in going without. You are dealing with people who live rough most times , in other countries they would be tramps , you have to be assertive and accommodating to get by. You have to be prepared to clean up after other people in the kitchen . There is no privacy in the dorms and as I have said all types in there , smell can be pretty bad (shoes left in halls and passages in Backpackers is a given and the resultant smell unavoidable.). Even when the shoes are outside peoples feet are not , there clothes are not , they are not . Most take the opportunity to wash but the smell lingers. If you are in with a snorer well hardluck my son always carried ear plugs. Bill the owner of the backpackers went into a dorm to change the bedding (Hollys is excellent for that , some are not and you are best taking a sleeping bag liner at the very least . Anyway he went into the dorm and this french bloke and his girlfriend (who wasnt staying there ) were having a close encounter of the intimate kind. The french bloke didnt stop , Bill left to give them a moment , they carried on so Bill went back in, they left , BUT , only to go to the showers to finish off . That's the kind of attitude you are dealing with. If you cant see the point of this story then you will be Ok at the low end of Backpacking.
Camping and Carravanning
 I know some of my colleagues are keen campers and caravaners but its not for me. At best it is a means to an end where they (I think ) do it for its own sake . Let me give context , I am not talking about someone who goes to dorking for the weekend and has a tent or a camper van. If you want to travel the world and use one of the above instead of hotels or backpackers then this is for you. If you are a seasoned camper caravanner none of this will be knew to you and you may not agree. Lets get camping out the way first , it has all the disadvantages of Carranning /Campervanning in without any of the comforts I dont know why anyone does it.
Campervans ,
The camper van I had in Tasmania was the same as I had previously in New Zealand , basically a converted Transit van . The 3 people ones were purpose built and there was a world of difference . They were more comfortable and you could leave the beds made up without them being in the way but its still a camper van . The proprietary camper vans are probably fairly comfortable but lets face it , at the end of the day you have to import all the water you need and when you have used it dispose of it. If you use the toilet then you have to dispose of that and you have to clean it. If thats what you enjoy fine. I used the camp facilities but that meant tramping the campsite in the dark at times . Toilets and washing facilities as with all things vary greatly. Shower and toilet blocks can be very basic , they are often cold and some showers are coin operated and timed so make sure you time it right and have enough change. They are communal . Not everybody has your standards . Nothing you can do about it,
Campsites vary widely the ones in Australia were pretty good . Top was a powered plot with ensuite facilities (your own toilet and shower) . If you are doing this under duress I recommend it.But it is the most expensive option.  Next were powered plots you used communal facilities , last was just a place to park. Note if you dont have power then most things dont work (if this is your own vehicle that statement may not be true I am talking hired stuff) Hired campervans do say if they are self contained ie can be used for free camping basically that pulling up by a river and doing your own thing. This is true to a degree but the mains electric stuff don't work of car batteries, the only water comes out the river or what you brought with you.One Day you have to empty your waste. Again in the good old days when campers and caravaners were of a type these place were nice and wholesome. As is the case with all things as more and more people joined sheer pressure starts to destroy these places and some of these people have no regard for the niceties or protocols , they don't clean up after themselves , and they defecate behind a bush and its not pleasant treading in human excrement , I know..

 you have to export all your waste .and say what you like ,you have eventually to share facilities.
I know that it took ages to fill it with water , and we always had a standpipe , we used the water in the blink of an eye , if you used the shower then you couldntuse the toilet and the toilet seat was wet for ever after. You need a seaparate means of transport when you get anywhere or you are trying to park a 5 metre van in spaces designed for family saloons . You are saying to any passing theif all my worldly goods are in here . If you cant find a powered stand then you cant use half the electrical apparatus so its not for me. I did meet people who had driven the width of Australia and were travelling around Tasmania and had been doing it for 6 months , their equipment was comprehensive , they were completely self contained, including solar panels and a bank of batteries that would last most of us a lifetime , but at rock bottom it was still camping and it was still uncomfortable ,
My son did up the old Rover with help from his mate, I had thought it just needed the back box of the exhaust as it turned out he needed much more , some precautionary, but he replaced all the belts the tyres the liquids and the brakes , he did a load more i cant remember but in the end it was worthwhile as he drove it to scotland to join his friends and stopped off in Newcastle to see his mate who is at uni. Another mate who is a mechanic gave him help and advice .

The Rover stood on the drive for 8 years but had very little rust which surprised me.

Been doing a spot of painting

Saturday, 27 May 2017


We went to Barcelona once a long time ago . I was sorting out the million pictures I have accumulated through my life and found these. 
Its a fascinating place so I thought I would share, 
As I stood in the Park Guell looking up at the ceiling I realised it was all broken crockery. When my wife arrived eulogising over everything I said "Yes well he plainly wasn't married because if I stuck a load of broken cups to our house you wouldn't say what a genius I am you would ask if I had gone mad and demand I take it all down and paint it Magnolia".
It is however a marvellous place well worth a visit and if this whets your appetite thats good better than getting sunburn on the beach.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Penang hill

Again had a video of this but cant get it to work on blogger, 
This is the Penang Hill Railway a funicular railway . It ascends Penang Hill from Air Itam near George Town. It was opened in 1923 but the modern one dates from 2010. Its quick , 5 minutes from top to bottom, Apparently there are intermediate stations which are request stops. I videoed the entire trip but as videos dont work for me I can only show you the stills. 
The road ends here , it sort of spreads out into a  horseshoe shape . My first impression was of crowds and somehow being at St Pancras.  A busy place. Staff at tourist attractions wear military uniform so I always found myself a little confused at being directed places by what appeared to be soldiers. I am not sure they are military some wore distinctly ill fitting uniform and did not seem 'smart' it may be military style uniform is the dress for this kind of work. 
 I payed for the express ticket . Its about 4 times the price of the standard ticket but as it worked out to be £20 I didnt think that was bad given the price of some other tourist attractions I have paid to see . If you like to stand for an hour in extreme heat with a million other people and be pushed and shoved all the time buy a standard ticket.
I can tell you the attitude of the staff changed imediatley I said "Express". I bought the ticket and headed for the door marked express. The guard spread his arms to block my way and aid no no this way . I showed him my ticket and the change was instantaneous , he almost bowed , he escorted us to the door , held it open and ushered us through. There were guards at the other end of the passage and it was the same again we and the other tickey holders were ushered on first. Coming back we were the only ones in the express route, we were taken to a waiting room, assured we would be collected when the carriege arrived , which we were and as the only people at that time got to sit in the seats of our choice which naturally were at the front. Thats how I can tell you this thing is fast , its single track and a few people gasped when a carriege coming the other way appeared to be on collision course. The rail divides at a predefined point and the timing is such that the carriages suddenly veer away to pass  

There were at least 3 Police Stations on Penang Hill. This appeared abandoned although there was a modern building behind it .

Old railway carriage . This is what I had expected and to be honest hoped for. The modern ones are fully enclosed and air conditioned , though don't get you hopes up the carriage was crowded and the air con overwhelmed.
Pretty steep
Modern coach

If you are wondering why there are no pictures of Penang hill its because I didnt find a lot there to interest me , the view is it really . This is one of those place like Simla where the Brits went to get away from the heat and it is noticeably cooler ,