Monthly Archives: December 2012

OUT OF OFFICE AUTOREPLY – back soon(ish)

We'll be somewhere near here. Naturally I can't give really specific info or the paparazzi will be around.

We’ll be somewhere near here. Naturally I can’t give really specific details or the paparazzi will be lurking in the bushes hoping to glimpse us.

I’m taking a little time off. Back soon. But first a thankyou…

Thanks to all the people who’ve visited this blog during the year, even if you were just researching a school project on the Aboriginal flag or Googling ‘buildings that look like penises’, ‘goddess Kali’ or ‘poo’. It’s a regular source of cheap entertainment for me to log on each morning and see the search terms people entered. I hope at least some of you found what you were looking for.

It is encouraging to a blogger to see visits growing, followers signing up and a steady stream of thoughtful, interesting comments being added. I’ve met some lovely people in cyberspace this year.

Thanks again, visitors. Stay safe over the holiday period, drive carefully and don’t overindulge and cause damage that can’t be rectified by a therapeutic walk or bike ride.

I look forward to regaling you with more tall tales and true of our travel adventures very soon.

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Filed under Writing

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: DELICATE – my life of crime

A shame I had to break the law to get a delicate photo like this.

A delicate photo and a delicate tale to go with it…

I was rather pleased with this photo. It was a shame I had to break the law to take it.

To read the kiss-and-tell, cards-on-the-table, warts-and-all story of how Shifty and I risked hefty fines, serious lectures from the judge and delicate parts of our anatomy to bring you this little sample of Blue Mountains magic, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under Hiking

KANGAROO ON THE MENU – Gardener’s Lodge Cafe

Gardener's Lodge - too good to be a toilet, now even more convenient.

Gardener’s Lodge – once a toilet block, and a seedy one at that.


It’s been a while since I ate kangaroo. It’s lean, full-flavoured, healthy meat, and it’s a shame we don’t see much of it around these days.

A laudable enterprise has recently opened in Sydney; the Gardener’s Lodge Cafe, where Beryl Van-Oploo has remodelled a beautiful, historic building and trains and employs Aboriginal Australians in hospitality. The publicity said it serves ‘bush tucker’ – food native to Australia.

Mevrouw T and I have cut down on meat-eating in general and kangaroo is seldom on our menu, but we saw this article on the Fairfax website and went to try lunch at Auntie Beryl’s. Continue reading

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Filed under Travel-Australia

HAS TRAVEL MADE US NICER? – Steven Pinker’s Angels.

AngelsWhatever happened to the good old days?

The days when all members of the tribe were equal and everyone was looked after. The days when villagers knew their neighbours. The days when community spirit overrode individual ambition. The days when families prayed together and stayed together.

The days when there was no word for genocide. The days before weapons of mass destruction, suicide bombings, drug wars, street crime, terrorism and Call of Duty computer games. The days before most people had heard of Syria, Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan and Rwanda.

According to Steven Pinker’s provocative book, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, the good old days have been overrated.

In the good old days your chances of being assaulted, bashed, raped, chopped up, enslaved or tortured to death at the hands of a fellow human being were far higher than they are today. There are shocking glitches in the trajectory, but we are now living in the safest, most peaceful and crime-free era our species has ever known.

I’m delighted to hear that, and I’m delighted that my particular interests – education, writing and travel – get a little credit for helping the process along. Continue reading

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Filed under Writing

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: CHANGING SEASONS – Amsterdam

Riding through Amsterdam's Vondelpark is pleasant in almost any season, however...

Riding through Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is pleasant in almost any season, however…



There’s nothing more miserable than an Amsterdam winter. Sure, there may be the odd crisp, clear day with merry skaters on the canals, but the fun never lasts.
Not my Vondelpark photo this time - it's from the Volkskrant newspaper.

Icy bike paths make for treacherous riding. Not my Vondelpark photo – it’s from de Volkskrant.

Grey sludge with drizzle becomes the default weather setting, with people heading to school and work in the gloom and not getting home till after dark.

Fortunately Mevrouw T and I are able to miss the worst of it and migrate like swallows to the sunny southern climes of Australia.

But it is always great to come back to The Netherlands just as people are getting excited again and the lovely Vondelpark across the canal from us comes to life. Continue reading

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Filed under Holland

WORLD’S CHEAPEST CITIES – and those fast being unfriended

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Where in the world can you stay 38.9 nights on an accommodation budget of 100 British pounds? Okay, not counting Mum’s place or your mate’s cousin’s sofa.

What is the destination fastest being abandoned by budget travellers? Where are the new hotspots? In which city can you find wifi in every hotel and hostel?

There are some surprises in the figures I’ve been sent by budget accommodation experts HostelBookers. Continue reading

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Filed under Budget travel

GEHRY’S ICONS – great for tourists, less great for locals?

Frank Gehry's lunchbags

Frank Gehry’s lunchbags

Sydney’s big story last week was about a crane which caught fire and collapsed on a construction site at the University of Technology, Sydney, crumpling the building below it. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

UTS will soon get a building which is supposed to look as if a crane has fallen on it, when Frank Gehry comes to town. Continue reading

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Filed under Architecture, Art