An early flight to Brisbane meant and unearthly start, 4 am. Luckily I was in a hotel for the last night which was only five minutes from the airport and they had a shuttle service so no Uber required for this journey. But I slept very badly, waking up every five minutes, anxious about the early start, anxious about having a car, goodness knows why. This was the only stop which I had elected to get a car, because I was staying with a friend Becky and I wanted us to be able to get about.
Anyway the flight was fine, and I had a time change of minus three hours, so an early start coupled with and extra three hours in the day. I managed to get through customs having declared all my drugs and my Nordic walking sticks and been given the green light that I wasn’t a threat to society. So that was a bonus.
First stop sort out my phone and I had to pay the princely sum of 30 NZ dollars to get in unlocked and then I got it on a simple pay as you go package for Australia. The sun was shining. A definite change in the weather. I then rang the number to get the car company to come and pick me up and made my way to the pick up area, I had a bit of a wait because I think they were expecting more people so they waiting for them as well. Anyway we finally got off to the car place and I met my new little white Hyundai compact. I sorted out the usual insurance, I never go with the basic having been burnt twice like that, and got a sat nav too. It was only a short distance to the hotel and apart from the fact that the indicators and wipers were really the wrong way around it was all fine. Most of the journey seemed to be in a big tunnel connecting the airport to the city. Once out of the tunnel I was only about five minutes from the hotel and was quickly parked in the hotel car park. Of course it was only about 10:30 am local time, so my room wasn’t available but I made myself comfortable in the bar and had a couple of coffees. Just after noon I checked again and it was ready, 9th floor. First I couldn’t get the lift working with my key card, reception came and did it for me. Then of course I got to the room and my key card wouldn’t work there either, all the way back down new key card and they came with me to make sure. I should have realised when the lift didn’t work that the room wouldn’t unlock either. I went down to the basement to collect my luggage and then got into bed, where I spent most of the rest of the day. Lack of sleep time changes and stress and travelling just do me in every time. This was as well the first time I had started to feel a little homesick. I had been gone nearly three months and here I was starting on a new country. I had had a message from Becky the day before saying that she and her husband Shannon had both had a nasty tummy bug earlier in the week and neither of them were still on top form, so I had extended my stay in the hotel, it gave us both the opportunity to recover and I was actually quite thankful. Room service plate of pasta plus the obligatory glass of dry white to go with it and an early night was in order. My room had an amazing view, I hope you realise that I hadn’t made any mention about panicking about being on the 9th floor, but when I got up there I was a bit oh my God, and the curtains didn’t close for some reason. Anyway it was all good.
The next day I woke and was ready for action, went down for breakfast and then hit the streets. There was a park next to the hotel, which was recommended but I was making my way down to the river, coincidentally called The Brisbane river, because I had read a bit a trip on the river which was coupled with a visit to a koala sanctuary. On the way to the river I had a text from Becky to say the sanctuary was near her so we decided that would be fun to do together. Instead I went on an ordinary river cruise. I was instantly taken by Brisbane it seemed bright and clean and interesting. The south bank of the river had theatres and art galleries on it, and there was a wonderful walk way all down the riverside. I crossed a bridge which I think was quite new to get to the south side and it’s design was interesting all in white with huge white rounded girders holding it up. Just before into the I got onto the bridge though there were some cameraman clustered around the end of it and reporters, and a man came out of one building and went into another all suited and booted with a trilby or something similar on his head in this boiling heat. They all rushed over to film him, I asked another man who was standing nearby and watching in just the same way I was, what was happening, who was it, and he said, I haven’t got a clue, must be someone important though. Before you ask I did look at the news later on in the day and I couldn’t find anything that related to this man. Oh well. The bridge was for pedestrians and bicycles and was clearly marked which side you should be on all very efficient. And it had wonderful vistas. I took some photgraphs which probably don’t do it justice but here you are anyway.
Down on the walkway I found a boat which was leaving shortly paid my money, and bought myself a coffee off a couple of young girls with one of those little coffee cart things that’s are springing up everywhere these days. Then I made my way onto the boat and managed to get a seat in the second row, not quite fast enough to get to the front. It was a lovely ride for a couple of hours with some interesting facts about the city and the river. There are some beautiful properties on the river bank needless to say. There was an option to get off at one end and have lunch in a very old and famous hotel coming back when the boat does it’s second journey of the day, but I decided I wanted to do some more exploring on the south bank so just stayed on as indeed most people did. I managed a few good photographs. Apparently whenever there is a downturn in the economy they build a new bridge across the river, and it’s been going on for years, made me laugh. They don’t need all these bridges and believe me there were a few and all very different, often named after the people who had built them or sponsored them.
Once back on the south bank I went to see if there were any tickets available for any shows or opera or ballet or anything... none, nothing was on that I wanted to see unfortunately, and in reality there was nothing much on at all So next I made my way to the Queensland Art Gallery. Immediately I walked through the door I was pleased to be there. There were internal and external water features / sculptures. There was a wide range of art from classical to modern. I have to say I had a few favourite pieces and one favourite exhibition. That was the sketches by Picasso which I just though were wonderful. Photos below as usual, but I have to give a separate write up about my favourite piece. It was called Problem Wisdom, by a Thai artist made in the 1990s. Each day for a year starting on his birthday, he took an article from the newspaper about a problem in the world, could be traffic, murder or anything he thought represented an issue in the world. From the newspaper itself he made a small sculpture representing the problem out of paper mache with the final covering on the piece being the article itself. Then on the same day in the following year he made a sculpture of something which he thought could solve the problem. All the pieces are laid out in date order, I just thought it was completely fascinating.
I then went for lunch in the cafe of the gallery and sitting outside was completely taken aback by two things which were completely at home in the outside cafe. The Ibis bird and the lizards I think they were water dragons, which were just wandering around. Apparently the birds which are quite big have become a bit of a pest and will eat what they can find, you can get quite close to them and some of my later pictures will show. One couple came in and I could see them moving towards a table which has a water dragon under the chair, it just kept on moving around to get out of their way as they sat down, until she spotted it and let out a small squeal, we caught each other’s eyes and both laughed a little.
Next on the list was the Gallery of Modern Art, there were a few pieces by Yayoi Kusama on display some of which were interactive. She is a Japanese artist now aged 88 who is still prolific and one of the pieces was a completely white room and people were offered the opportunity to place coloured dots over everything in the room. They were allocated some stickers as they entered the room and given some basic dos and don’ts. An interesting concept which people were very engaged with. There were also quite a number of her other art works being exhibited.
By now it was time to go back to the hotel as I had been on the go all day and still had quite a big walk back. Finding this and that to photograph as I wandered back.
Dinner in the hotel. I opted for something I had never heard of Moreton bay bugs, they sounded pretty gross, but were really delicious a combination of crab and prawn, quite big, split I half and grilled. Followed by an early night.
The next day I wandered into town and found myself a place to get my hands and feet done, and then down to the Botanical Gardens, which were much smaller than I expected. I got a message from Becky telling me to go back to the hotel because a big storm was expected. I had already been caught in a small downpour but was still dithering about staying out or going back. I was all checked out as I was going to drive to The Gap where Becky and Shannon live later afternoon. In the end I decided I better get back to the hotel and go to their place as I didn’t want to be driving in a big storm.
The drive was easy and I was soon finding my way into the back garden to be greeted by their lovely dog Bear. We spent some time together for a couple of hours, I took the opportunity to catch up on my writing and the storm never really materialised in the afternoon. Apparently these storms are a regular feature of Brisbane weather. Shannon was home from work first so we had an opportunity to get to know each other a bit before Becky arrived home. It’s been ten years since we worked together, and it was great to see her doing so well in all aspects of her life ten years on. We had a lovely dinner cooked by Shannon and an early night.
A photo of Bear waiting for his mummy and daddy to come home
The next morning Shannon was going to the airport to pick up his mother Trish for his brother’s Masters Graduation. Becky and I went to the Market at Dean Street and had a bite to eat there, then off to see the Koala bears plus lots of other animals. It was a lovely afternoon and I paid for the privilege of holding a koala called Connery named after Sean of course, he was very cute but quite heavy. I went to feed the kangaroos but they simply were not interested, too many people feeding them.
But then at the end of our visit we went to see the Tasmanian devils and the fun really started. There was one who seemed a bit mad and aggressive. Then we found one that was in a little burrow and I was taking his photograph when Becky said “is that a tail” and sure enough right in front of its face was a tail, which had been severed from its owner. We decided we better tell someone, so I stood guard whilst Becky dashed off. It was a good job I did because another devil appeared and took the tail. I followed him and banged in the window and he ran off and left it. But then came back and took it into a little burrow and started eating it, yes eating it, that’s what I said. Becky arrived back at this point and we showed the young lady what we had found. I think she was just as horrified as us, so we wished her a good day, a bit mean I know and took our leave.
We were going out to celebrate with Shannon’s brother that night so we got all dressed up, nice to have a reason. We got an Uber into town and just as we arrived it started to pour down. We got let out at the wrong place and ran for cover. Shannon ran in the pouring rain across two roads waiting under cover half way in the hope that someone there would have an umbrella. No luck, so Becky cheekily asked a gentleman passerby with a big umbrella if we could hitch a ride across the road under his brolly. He kindly escorted us to our doorway. What a gentleman is all I can say.
We had a couple of drinks in there with the gang, but we really needed to go for some food, so we took out leave and ventured out, fortunately it had by now stopped raining. We went to a lovely restaurant but talking was really hard as we were close to the serving hatch and the kitchen was right there in full view. We asked to be moved but that wasn’t any better so we went back to where we started. Then they delivered our main before we had finished the starter and then proceeded to put it under the hot plate in full view of us to serve it when we were ready. Another discounted meal coming up. Back to my favourite theme of service.
After that Becky wanted to take me to this new Gin bar which had just recently opened. I know you are not going to believe me when I tell you that I was refused entry to the gin palace because I didn’t have ID. I know it’s been over 45 years since I was asked for ID. The reason I was given was there was a lot of false identities at the moment. Personally I think he thought I was too old... but I could be wrong, so we went to another place for our gin but it wasn’t the same. We picked Shannon up then and jumped into an Uber only to get stuck in a traffic jam as everyone poured out of the Paul McCartney concert that was on. We did have fun though despite all the little trials and tribulations.
The next day I spent a morning writing and people were coming over to dinner so we just took it easy and had a lovely dinner and convivial evening sitting outside on the back deck. I have to say it is a lovely way of life down under.
Becky and Shannon were back at work the next day, but I got up early with Becky to take Bear for his morning walk. Trish and I spent the day together, we went down to a local lake and and Trish had a swim and then we went for coffee and a spot of lunch. Lots of interesting talks about life and work and women at work and another new friend found along the way. When Becky got home she took me to bikram yoga which is a series of twenty something yoga positions over an hour and a half in 40 degrees of heat. I have done it before, and in the early stages of doing the sort of yoga the biggest achievement is staying in the room, which I managed. I do like it and it’s really good for your body, it definitely has to become part of my new life. I always feel so inadequate though because whilst I can do some things others I just feel I will never be able to do that, but I know that given time I would improve.
A lovely dinner at home and an early night for everyone. I was starting my two day drive to Sydney and Trish was flying home on an early flight. I was the last to leave and just of took my time doing the last of my packing and saying goodbye to Bear. I have to say I have sort of fallen for Bear he is so cute and loveable. Hope my boys aren’t reading this, think I am safe there.
Thanks Becky and Shannon for your hospitality, good luck with it all and don’t forget you are always welcome at my place, where ever that may be. Love you lots.