Melbourne Memories -St Kilda

The far sickness has kicked in big time today. I think it is because I have committed myself to a paid job, which means that the travelling plans are truly on the back burner. But that’s another post for another day….

Time to revisit some memories of a very happy time in Melbourne. IMG_4658

We loved St Kilda. We were there every week as we were volunteering at Lentil as Anything.

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After our shift we usually had a wander around. There was always something to see.IMG_4673

We loved this community garden.

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And the cakes.IMG_4657

And the record shop.IMG_4662

And of course Lunar Park.IMG_5967IMG_4738

Hope to see you soon St Kilda.IMG_4787

The 9 to 5 is a con to get you on the work, watch, spend, treadmill

It is what normal people do. I don’t. I rather like people who are not. Who do things differently. I believe that Life begins after normal.

Do you want to be normal?

Do you want to be normal?

It all starts here.

It all starts here

The work, watch, spend treadmill is all about buying stuff to make us feel better about ourselves. Stuff we have been told we need to make us fit in with, well normal people.

Most of us have to go to work so we have the money to buy stuff. Stuff we probably don’t need. Got an iPhone 3, really that is so last year? Now you need an iPhone 4G and in five months that will be so out of date, we will bring out a new version.

The end of the world

The end of the world

And people will queue all night to get their hands on the new version of Windows, trainers or the iPhone to replace the shiny ones they bought less than a year ago. Why?

I have an iPad. It is a ‘first generation’ iPad. Recently, because I hadn’t been ridiculed by a teenager for a while, I took it to the Apple Store for some advice. The child who helped me was amazed that I still had one, described it as vintage. It is less than 5 years old. It does what I need it to do and it will not be replaced until it completely breaks.

Which of course it will. All stuff now is made with a limited shelf life.

I have thought for a while that things don’t last as long as they used to. I have a Kenwood Chef that is 37 years old. I still use it every week. I guess you could call that vintage. Built to last. Now things are no longer built to last. The are built to break.

This is all due to Planned Obsolescence.

If it is not designed to break after a few years then the corporations will design a new version and advertise it as the new must have.

I waste

I waste

And consumers will dump the old style one in order to have the newest and most fashionable so that they don’t look different. They need to fit in and be normal. This is Perceived Obsolescence.

I am not nearly clever enough to have thought all this up by myself.images (4)

The credit for this cleverness has to go to The Story of Stuff. I came across this series of films a while back when writing  De Clutter please for your kids but today was the first time I really listened to it. And truly this needs to be shown at prime time every day for a week. It won’t of course because the governments and corporations will be exposed for their greed and lies.

Wait, haven’t they been exposed for their greed and lies already? And we are still buying into all this crap?

I bought into all this, I was building my career during The Thatcher Years, I didn’t really have a choice know I could have a choice. I got married, had a baby and bought my first home all in the matter of two years in the mid 80’s. I was fed a diet of Dynasty and Dallas and Thirty Something.  I wanted the house, the family, the lifestyle. I wanted to be Hope Steadman.

I was in a managerial role and sending my daughter to day care (even when she had chickenpox). No one at work knew I was a mom. No photos on the desk, I was suited and booted, so career driven so that I, with my husband, could buy a bigger house. And fill it with stuff.

The chance to jump off that treadmill came along when the first redundancy hit us. Do we sell the house and go travelling of look for another job?

Or move nearer family so that when the children were ill we didn’t have to take time off work, a relative could care for them. Really, that was what the conversation was like. And we chose the latter. We bought a five bed house for three of us. Did it up.Rag rolled and sponged everywhere. Had another child five years later (I had been made redundant so it seemed a good time to do so, no time off work). Moved to a six bedroomed house that was ‘in need of modernisation’ and lived on a building site for six months.

Seven redundancies and 30 years of paying off debt in the form of credit cards and mortgages because we chose the lie.

Be Happy

Be Happy

Now, when I read blogs by Ytravelblog and World Travel Family, who educate their children on the road, I regret not doing it. I made excuses, and still do. There was no Google when our children were young we would have had to haul books with us was the excuse I used for not taking my 3 year old travelling. Now of course we happily haul a heavy laptop with us everywhere. And at 3, did she need loads of books?

I wish we had not wondered what we would do when we came back. If we came back. Yet life is not for what ifs. I cannot change the past.

Which is why when we got a second bite at the cherry we ate the whole bunch. Took the money and went on a journey.

Travel Often

Travel Often

If you think you cannot go, ask yourself, what is stopping you?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

Many of my friends said to me that I was lucky to be able to go off for 5 months around the world. No I wasn’t. I made it happen, it wasn’t luck it was planning. I saw the opportunity and made it happen. If I had waited longer it may not have happened as my mom had been diagnosed with an untreatable condition, yet she still encouraged me to make the trip. And stayed alive long enough to hear about what we did and who we met and where we went. I wrote about this in the post Go Travelling While You Can.

Take the leap

Take the leap

When Mom died I was sure of the poem I wanted read at her funeral.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

She too was a traveller, and took the road less travelled by, often.

So what are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring


California Dreaming – San Francisco

I left my heart in San Francisco.

I left my heart in San Francisco

I left my heart in San Francisco

San Francisco was the first place I visited on the Round the World trip with my husband in 2011. We just fell in love and didn’t want to leave.

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We loved the trams.

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We loved the cars. The San Remo Hotel had its own special car that it sometimes uses to meet people from the airport.

Then there is Lombard Street.

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The quirky San Francisco.

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The darker side of Alcatraz. I would recommend you go as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

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And the food, oh the food.

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The Golden Gate. Yes the weather is that changeable. Hot and sunny one day and cold and misty the next. And they say Melbourne has four seasons in one day.

The food did I mention the food.


And naan and curry to make us feel at home. San Francisco. I love you.

California Dreaming – Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, another great town we discovered driving to LA.

Sums up the laid back Pismo Beach vibe for me

Sums up the laid back Pismo Beach vibe for me

Again somewhere I had never heard of. Yet it seems to be mentioned in quite a lot in Hollywood films.

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According to this article

The city has received a substantial number of mentions in popular culture, including the films The Big Lebowski and Clueless and the animated series FuturamaRobot Chicken, and The Critic.

In Ali Baba BunnyBugs Bunny and his traveling companion Daffy Duck emerge from a burrow, believing they have arrived at Pismo Beach “and all the clams we can eat”.

In the 1969 TV movie Dragnet 1966, Bill Gannon retires to Pismo Beach due to poor health. After eight months and three weeks of eating Pismo Beach clam chowder, Bill’s health returns, his teeth stop falling out and he is able to be reinstated with the LAPD. Explaining to Joe Friday the reason for his restored health he states, “The clams, Joe. The clams.”

Bugs Bunny also loves the clams and longs to get to Pismo Beach in the film Ali Baba Bunny. You can see it here:

Cute Houses

Handed down generation to generation these houses are so tiny

While we were taking photos of the cutest houses we got chatting to a lovely lady who lived there (the Californians love chatting to any one with an English accent). She recommended us to have lunch at the famous Splash Cafe. Apparently the stars flock there. We didn’t see any though. Like Bugs Bunny I want to go there again, and taste the clam chowder again.

Always a queue at Splash Cafe

Always a queue at Splash Cafe

California Dreaming – Morro Bay

Wished we had been able to spend longer in Morro Bay. It was a quirky little town that I had never heard of, yet guessing from the number of motels this is a buzzing place in the summer.

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From our room we had a view of Morro Rock. The bay is home to so much wild life and there are so many cool vintage cars here. And the people seemd so very friendly too.

Yes, like many places on the route from San Francisco, I wish we had lingered longer.

California Dreaming – Santa Barbara

Note left by a cop on a windscreen in Santa Barbara

Note on a windscreen from a cop to the driver – what do you think it says?

A Santa Barbara pub

London Pub in Santa Barbara At home?

Love the Spanish influence in Santa Barbara

Dress and personality code Dress and personality code

Another Occupy protest

Another Occupy protest

Delivered to our Santa Barbara motel

this was food delivered to our motel room

In the garden of our Santa Barbara motel

Proper Mexican food

Proper Mexican food


a proper camper

a proper camper

and what the Americans call a camper

and what the Americans call a camper

SunsetThe pick up Santa Barbara style

The to do list is getting longer

It all seems so long ago at times.


Finally got round to making sure we have somewhere to lay our tired heads when we arrive in San Francisco. It was listed in the DK guide to California and after checking it out on Trip Advisor, booked it on line.

Phew, one thing crossed of the ‘to do’ list. However it doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter, as one thing gets completed, another task gets added. I have a notepad on the bedside table as most things seem to pop into my head at 4am, so if I can write it down I stand a chance of getting back to sleep.

I am beginning to realise that going away for 4 months is really different to the 2 week package holiday. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. I have had some really useful advice from a guy called Dave Dean who writes a very…

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Not buying it – a winter coat

If I had been in need of a winter coat there are some fantastic bargains out there. Not in the sales but in my local charity shops.

Last week I spotted what appeared to be a brand new beautiful camel wool and cashmere Mark and Spencers coat at £15 and an Eastex coat, probably last season, for a tenner. Both of these coats would retail at well over £100 if not more.  I nearly faint at the price of clothes when I go into Birmingham as it has been such a long time that I have bought anything new or not on sale. I cannot understand how people can afford to buy a new winter coat every year or why they would need to.

If I were not, not buying it I would have been tempted by the camel coat as it was such a bargain. But I don’t need one. I have plenty of coats. One for every imaginable occasion.

And for unimaginable ones too. A cyclone in Fiji? No problem, I have my trusty £5 bargain kag in a bag. The most useful item of clothing on my world trip. More about this here.IMG_7742

And I already have one camel coat I never wear as I am afraid it will get dirty. That was my TK Maxx bargain 6 years ago and based on a cost per wear ratio the most expensive at £50. It is a good coat for interviews though, I feel very grown up and sensible in it.

My oldest coat is 21 years old, and is now showing signs of wear. I call it my Scottish Widow coat as it is black wool and cashmere, almost ankle length and has a big hood. I was a pram pusher with another child at primary school when I bought it so needed a coat that would keep me warm and dry as we walked to school. It has now been relegated to being worn only in extreme weather conditions, yet this may be its last year (especially if I move to a warmer country). On the cost per wear ratios a bargain at £30, less than a quid a year.

I inherited a Gloverall Duffle Coat. Warm, practical, and who knew, Duffle Coats are back in fashion this year. Thanks mom, your overspending on and hoarding of high quality clothes will benefit me this winter. However the four Burberry Macs you left me are destined for another home via Vestaire.

I have the more glamourous Chamonix faux fur evening coat, for when I attend red carpet events or a spring lunch in the snow. (The second one has happened last March). This was also a charity shop bargain, £30, for a coat that retails at about £300. Cost per wear ratio not brilliant but it has been loaned out to friends and family. I may also be destined for Vestaire.

For days at antique markets I have the wool Cotswold Collection jacket, again from a charity shop. £10. DSCF1408

I also have one ski type jacket that I bought in a discount store in Cornwall as we were camping and it was raining. And a Jaeger dog-tooth coat, charity shop, not worn for over 8 years, maybe it needs to go?

I make that 7 coats and jackets. Is that too many? I would love to know what you think and share the secrets of your coat closet? And, have I, like mom, got the hoarding habit?

I really this not buying it year will be good for me, my purse and my wardrobe. What are you not buying this year?

Go travelling. While you can.

For Sylvia who passed away January 2013. She would have been 82 on Boxing Day and so December has been the beginning of a year of firsts


DSCF2609I have been putting off writing this for days, weeks even as every time  I think about it I find myself getting tearful. Yet I need to do it. While I can.

Last year I made a major decision to go travelling. I have wanted to visit New Zealand for longer than I can remember. I had an old uni friend in Melbourne who I wanted to visit and wanted to see some kangaroos and koalas and Sydney Harbour.  My husband has always wanted to visit California and drive the Big Sur and slowly we built  abucket list round the world itinerary.

And we knew we had to do it sooner than later as we both had 79 year old moms who had had a few health scares. It was agreed that our children would update their grandmothers on our progress as we intended only to keep in touch on line. No phone calls…

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Hostels: the good, the bad and the downright ugly

Reading a post on OIK Strategy with tips about hostels by @About London Laura reminded me of the way standards in hostels (in Australia at least) can vary.

Until my RTW trip with my husband I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for nearly 40 years. Yet we were going on a RTW backpacking trip and hostels were part of the deal if we were to manage see more of this wonderful country.

The Good

This is possibly the best hostel in the world ever. Sydney Harbour YHA. It nestles in-between five star hotels and this was the view from our bedroom window.

IMG_7291The is our private double room.
IMG_7244The ensuite.
IMG_7243 On the terrace.IMG_7252 IMG_7255 Just at the front of the hostel and we can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.IMG_7261 Barbeque night at Sydney Harbour YHAIMG_7293 I cannot see why anyone would check into an hotel in Sydney when you could stay here. There were all ages, families, backpackers and flashpackers. It most definitely not a party hostel. Except at New Years Eve of course. Can you imagine the views on NYE?

The kitchens were well equipped, a team of hardworking cleaners ensured that everywhere was spot less.

After previous hostels this was a good one. Previously we had stayed, as part of a tour group, in some absolutely dire ones. And also had to experience the dreaded dorm.

The not so good (yet compared to the next one it was not bad).

After a comfortable house sit in Melbourne we headed off along The Great Ocean Road to Adelaide. We were quite a big group and the guide called Pete admitted at the end that he had concerns about the dynamics. As it was we all really got on. Never a cross moment. Mixed ages, fitness levels and nationalities. 3 days on the road.

Our first hostel was Warrnambool Beach Backpackers. Tour guide Pete had advised us not to head into town where there was a carnival as it would be full of Bogans. Fortunately the town has one redeeming feature. Kermonds. The burgers here are amazing.

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Bellies full we checked in to a packed hostel and scrambled to find beds. I tried to get in a small dorm but a group of younger girls nabbed it declaring it to be a female only dorm, (they obviously had more experience in grabbing the best rooms)  so we were left with with another couple in a mixed dorm, 8 beds, which at first didn’t seem to be too bad. We had lockers  with keys and were only here one night. There was a group of scouts in another dorm. However it seemed we were the entrance room to a  much larger dorm of all young men who were going to join the bogans at the carnival. Result, no sleep. At all.

Pete the tour guide put me in charge of breakfast, he recognised my inner Monica of course, so I was up early and got a shower in before the hordes formed a queue in the corridor. It was clean, it was ok for a hostel, but large mixed dorms with smelly farty young men isn’t for me.

The next hostel was Neds Beds at Halls Gap.

Possibly the worst hostel ever.

The owner had an all night orgy in his jacuzzi.

I got bitten by bed bugs.

The only good thing was that I was in an all girls dorm.

The kangeroos were a bonus as was the ice cream parlour.

If a tour company lists this hostel on an itinery, don’t use the tour company. No really, don’t.

What hostels have you stayed in and would you recommend them?