Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Wednesday 29th June - Diksmuide


When Thijs sent us this photo yesterday recording the moment that our “Joyeux” was reunited with water it triggered a series of irrational emotions.

The first was a distinct sense of urgency for us to get aboard, something we’d either not felt or was deeply repressed for the past several years.   The other was as it turned out, a false hope that after three years idly resting in a shed, she would be in as tidy condition as the day we left her.

What a grubby little thing she was too, despite first appearances, but she seemed happy to see us.  When Davy, (the technician who’d been charged with making sure everything that was supposed to move did, and everything that was supposed to be bolted in place was), fired her up for the first time in three years, one could almost swear she was trying to wag her stern.

There’s nothing particularly exciting about cleaning a boat that has been stored for several years, nor anything glamorous about moving aboard that same boat without access to potable water while undertaking those tasks, yet I may have written about it endlessly had Dave and Ria not turned up, to distract us for the rest of the evening and to save you, dear reader, from that particular pain!


As one pair of gates closes..
Tuesday 28th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives to Diksmuide

If we thought time flew by while were were away, it flew even faster while we were here.  

We had barely caught up with each other’s news, perhaps we hadn’t covered all of it, but all we had other places to go, people to see and things to do and the time had come to set about doing them.

As is our custom we have made no  particular plan other than to hire a car for longer than we need it, just in case we need it longer than we think, and we vaguely thought that we might gently tour the Normandy Coast on our way north, just as we did on our last visit.   

That clearly didn’t go as well as it might, as once ensconced on those motorways, our little car showed no sign of wanting to leave them, and by mid afternoon we discovered we had checked into a charming B&B just a few kilometres from our final destination.

Tomorrow, if we don’t get too terribly sidetracked along those last four kilometres, we might be boat dwellers once more.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Monday is Market Day
Monday 27th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

We thought we’d got away lightly on the jetlag front this trip.

For a few days we felt a little discombobulated, but generally all our bits were working as they should and we appeared to be holding up our end of conversations various quite well.   The effects of long distance travel in our experience at least, are often felt most three or four days after arrival, so when the three day mark passed quietly by without incident yesterday, we thought we were out of danger.

Our amble round the markets today was as delightful as the pictures in the glossy brochures would have you believe it should be.  The strawberries were stunning, the bread divine, the endives caress-able, the stall holders special characters to a man (and woman).

It was only when we stumbled across the nice man selling rabbit eggs that we suspected that our synapses  were still not firing in the correct order.   

We backed quietly away and retired to spend the afternoon deep in slumber, in the hope that all would be well when when we woke.


A walk in the garden
Sunday 26th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

There’s no better way of spending a Sunday in France than going for a gentle drive in the countryside, having a large-ish lunch and following it all up with a gentle walk in one of our favourite gardens in the entire world.

Last time we visited the Jardins du Pays d’Auge we spent the rest of that evening filled with adrenalin soaked inspiration frantically sketching planting plans for our own back yard, as well as for Maggie and Jacques.   

On our return home we just as furtively put that plan into place complete with winding timber pathways.

It really feels as though we were only here yesterday, so the realisation that the planting we did after that visit has now been aggressively thinned to make way for (although we didn’t know it at the time) some more inspired work when we return, is a little disorienting in a timeline sense.   

Chez Maggie is even more puzzling in that regard.   In the instant that we’ve been away it has been transformed from “project suit handyman” to in the words that Kevin Mcleod might use, “something of a triumph”.

Perhaps we need to start reporting time in the same way we do weather - 

Time away: - Three years

Feels like - Yesterday


Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Mating Pair
Saturday 25th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

It’s a bit hard to tell whether it’s been jetlag or a hypnotic fascination with the whereabouts of my bag that have kept me up at night.  Whatever the reason I can report that it arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle yesterday, moved from the international terminal to the domestic one and then to a freight terminal all before bedtime.

By bedtime it was barely 280 km away, disappointingly by 2:00 with half that distance to go, activity ceased but sometime between then and 6:00 there were only 45 kilometres separating me and my razor.   

May I suggest that if you show even the tiniest symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it would be a great idea NOT to put a tracker in your luggage?

Clean shaven, bleary-eyed, but with a fresh shirt that actually fitted, there was nothing left to do but to leave our bags to be reacquainted while we toddled off for a long and very convivial celebratory lunch. 


Saturday, June 25, 2022

A shave!
Friday 24th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

We’re with Maggie and Jacques and the good times are back, and we haven’t drawn breath yet catching up on almost three years of news.

By this morning my clothing and bathing accoutrements were lounging in Thailand according to our nifty little tracking device.  

This was slightly reassuring news being 7,000 kilometres closer than they were, but with 9,640 still to go it may still be a day or two until we are reunited, it meant that for now at least there is hope that I can avoid filling in all that nasty insurance paperwork, and perhaps put off that (shudder) trip to the shops to buy some replacement garb.   

Given that Jacques and I are of exactly different builds, with bodies that could best be described as going in opposite directions, why should we have been surprised that his clothes could do an admirable job while we wait.  “Admirable” in this context means everyone here prefers me me hanging around in slightly ill fitting shorts than in nought but my (thankfully brand new- there’s a lesson in that kiddies,) undies.

After no small effort on behalf of the entire team, I was deemed tidy enough to accompany them and the other of us on that most sacred and serious of French national sports.    

Shopping for food. 


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Little Bag Lost
Thursday 23rd June - Paris

It’s splendid to arrive in one’s destination with all the time in the world until hotel check-in.  

There’s even time to visit the loo while waiting for your luggage to arrive and to idly chat while waiting for the bags you last saw in Brisbane almost two days ago, emerge from the little black hole above the carousel in Paris.

One of us had bought some new fangled tracking gadgets to give our bikes and car keys an added layer of protection and to make them more easily found respectively, and for a bit of a giggle had put a couple in our bags while packing.  

It was mildly satisfying discovering in Sydney that our luggage had not been left behind and fun to receive the notice that it was “with you” when the first of them trundled up to us for collection at our destination.

The other one didn’t appear to be working quite as well though, as the bag location hadn’t updated since Sydney.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how your jetlagged correspondent came to be sitting near naked in the small hours of the morning while writing this account, filled with fervent hope that his outer garments will have dried sufficiently enough by  morning that his fellow travellers might be denied sights unbecoming of a hotel breakfast room.


Wednesday 22nd June - Hong Kong transit

That number is said to be the answer to the ultimate question, but the destination board below it glowed eerily devoid of information, like almost all of the others in the terminal. 

There was something reminiscent of the approach to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy in the atmosphere.  Except that the restaurant was closed, along with almost every commercial concession in the Hong Kong Airport.   They weren't just closed for the short term either.   They had disappeared entirely.  

No more cheery rows of complimentary internet computers and phone charging racks, no more noodle bars or food of any kind. No more water at the water drinking station either come to mention it.

It’s a huge airport, and we are used to seeing it packed with bustling crowds all coming and going from somewhere to somewhere else, but not tonight.

The huge noticeboards with their half dozen columns of bright red flight number and departure times were large black reminders of what things once were, with not enough flights passing through to even fill one column, which made a certain amount of sense given the number of moth-balled aircraft we'd passed taxi-ing to the terminal.

Curiously, every one of the personel we encountered, from the usually surly security guards to the perpetually smiling counter staff were friendly, enthusiastic, helpful and really doing their best to remind us that we don't need  electricity to bring light into  the world.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

On becoming a person of intrigue.

The last few weeks have seen us struggle a little as we make the mental transition from what we’ve been doing for the past couple of years to what we used to do before we were imprisoned on our very large island.

Everything to do with travel has changed, things cost more than we remember, and there’s an enormous amount of “electronic” paperwork to come to terms with all of which needs to printed on some ancient stuff called “paper”.   Who is trying to kid who?

There was a point where we knew we’d once again left our comfortable realm and entered the one of international traveller, perhaps even moving closer to becoming international persons of intrigue.  

It happened ironically perhaps as one of us sifted through what will be our worldly possessions for the next four months or so, strewn around our living room en route to one of our two smallish bags.

The other was finalising the last of the “e” documents when the question of where we might be staying arose, presumably utilising the best of modern data matching, offered us a somewhat limited choice of accomodation:

  • Individual accommodation
  • Hospitalized
  • Residential care for senior citizens
  • Jail
  • Other (homeless shelter, barracks, boarding school)
  • I don’t know.

Welcome back, traveller.


Monday, June 20, 2022


The late Douglas Adams once announced that he loved deadlines;  he said he liked the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.   I didn't really didn't really have a complete appreciation for the depth of that statement until today, when I too came to love that sound.  

For weeks I've been desperately trying to complete a couple of little projects, just a pair of simple chairs for the littlest of our brood.   I've built a few of these before and it really should have been simple but with two more sleeps until our four month hiatus, there was just a little pressure creeping in to the job.

I'd describe the whole process as a comedy of errors had it not dragged on so long that anything resembling comedy had long since left the building.   I think I may very well have had more difficulty with these things with the total of everything I have ever built before.  At every turn a new problem that simply should not have been, would appear from nowhere.

We reached some sort of new peak of angst and frustration mid afternoon.  It was the kind of peak that makes one want to fling stuff and scream profanities at inanimate objects.  With one more sleep till we depart there were other things that needed doing before we boarded the aeroplane (like packing, and perhaps tidying things up a little).  Then it happened, that glorious whoosh as the deadline passed.  

I stopped, walked quietly to the wall and switched off the dust extractor and the saw, packed away the router, and listened to that glorious silence, the sound of calm washing over the whole garage, and those within it, like some sort of essential balm.   

Jude and Millie will just have to put up with their chins banging on the table while they battle with their grown-ups chairs for a few more months.  It's disappointing, but worth it in a way, just to feel the relief in the wake of that whoosh.


Saturday, June 04, 2022

Be good while we're gone.


With those six words, it suddenly feels as though we really are on our way once again, which we are.     

Leaving our poor little van peering forlornly out of the gloom like a sad puppy watching its owners pack, ever hopeful that the adventure will involve him, but deep down knowing that hope is lost.

He must be as disappointed as we are really, but we designed him specifically with fine weather in mind and as anyone who has lived on the east coast of Australia this year knows, for the better part of the year, a "fine" day has been one where less than 25mm of rain is expected.   This is to say nothing of the obvious heath risks that have accompanied travel for the better part of the year as well.

So we've charged his batteries, packed him up and parked him snug in the bowels of the earth to hibernate for a bit, with a promise of better times when we return.   

Who knows?  On our return we might even finish off his finer details, the energy for which has thus far eluded us.

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