Xmas Plus 2

The flood gates open. No, panic not, we’re not being inundated by Derwentwater.

When we first tried booking this out-of-character trip we were a little surprised to find that Christmas had availability but that New Year was full to the gunwales – no room at the Inn. We could only surmise that people were staying at home with family for Christmas and then going away to do their own thing.

‘T was another grey day with a rainy start. Frankly, had it not been  Friday with all its attendant potential traffic issues, I’d have thought of hitting the road. There was also the fact that we were a little late up and would’ve been on the road too late for comfort at about 10:00. So, once the rain had abated we did our now usual circuit around Derwentwater and Keswick finishing up at Booths for this evening’s shopping.

We walked back into the campsite approach road and were amazed to see no fewer than 13 assorted caravans and motorhomes lined up at the gate waiting for admittance (pitches are available from 13:00). We were inundated by new arrivals having escaped the shackles of their families.

One instinctively knows when it’s time to leave/move on. The inundation continued pretty much unabated all afternoon. It feels busier than high summer. Our erstwhile quiet little corner has changed in character, not that it is yet noisy. Given that tomorrow’s forecast is for more heavy grey overcast, there seems little point in staying for one more dark grey day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve decided to hit the road at about 08:30 mañana; 6 hours towing should get us home before dark, traffic permitting. Here’s a parting Derwentwater shot of seagulls lined up on posts preening.

Posted in 2019 Xmas

Xmas Plus 1

“After the Lord Mayor’s Show comes …”

Christmas Day had been brilliant – well, relatively speaking for the UK at this time of year. Today looked like being quite the opposite. The morning at least remained dry, though very overcast, and we took the opportunity to go and get additional supplies for Boxing Day. A hot roast, or in our case a barbecue, is all very well on Christmas Day itself but in my view the best part of Christmas is cold meats with bubble and squeak accompanied by pickles. We’ve got half a cold pheasant left and some Brussels sprouts but we needed potatoes to mash. We stayed dry going to Booths and back for some spuds, Branston pickle and piccalilli.

There really wasn’t much light to speak of and what there was was as flat as a pancake. It would’ve been pointless pointing our cameras at anything. Besides, just after we got back to Guillaume to stash our new purchases, the rain began. It began gently at first but built steadily; quite unpleasant. We settled in for the duration and finished our remaining cold paella for lunch.

The day’s excitement was offered by my losing the case to my reading glasses. To be accurate, it isn’t actually lost; I know precisely where it is. Our caravan has a central heating system with radiator fins tucked away behind the backboards of the bench seats. There are air vents about 30cms long and 2cms wide to allow the warm air to rise into our living space. Mr. Bozo [no, not the one in Downing Street] managed to knock his glasses case down one of said air vents. It could be seen resting on the radiator fins out of reach.

Baldrick came up with a cunning plan and whispered it in my ear. Guillaume is equipped with some barbecue skewers that were just long enough to reach down. Guillaume also has some duct tape. (Well, if duct tape could get Apollo 13 back in NASA’s greatest emergency, it must be indispensable.] I rolled up some duct tape sticky side out and attached it to the round end of a skewer. Lowering the skewer down the air vent onto my glasses case, the duct tape dutifully stuck onto the glasses case. I began lifting. All was going well but then, oops. Naturally the case was lying on its broader side and was too wide to pass back through the vent. I tried to grab it with my fingers, hoping I could re-orient it, but it fell off again and this time clattered from sight. “Bother”, said Pooh, crossly. So near yet so far.

The glasses case is still down there somewhere, I’m just not certain quite where.

The piccalilli (Aunt Lena’s Piccalilli) was disappointing, too – much too sweet. Why do piccalilli recipes vary so? Some are really mustardy and tangy, like Heinz, for example, while others are sweet and still more seem to be almost all turmeric and very little else.

And whatever happened to Panyan military pickle? I used to quite like that. A swift search reveals that the sole copy of the original recipe was destroyed by fire in 2004. How sad is that?

Fortunately Branston remains reliable, as long as you avoid that modern “small chunk” nonsense.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuch are the excitements of sheltering from a wet winter day in the Lake District. Just for a little light relief, here are a few Lake District sheep, who don’t seem too concerned about the weather, and what I assume is some kind of sheep storage device on the same hillside. Hmmm?

Posted in 2019 Xmas

Xmas Day

In a complete week forecast to be generally grey and wet with the odd smattering of wind, the weather gods smiled on Keswick’s Christmas Day; 25th December dawned dry and calm with some breaks in the clouds. Francine went out with her camera at about 08:30 and I followed at a slightly more leisurely pace about 15 minutes later. Much of the campsite was up and about enjoying the Christmas morning weather which was a dramatic improvement on yesterday. Much of the local birdlife was about as well, being a mixed collection of Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Pheasants. Given the prevalence of barbecues, the latter would be wise to exercise some caution.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe view down Derwentwater form the campsite “beach” was its usual appealing self. It became more appealing a little approaching 09:00 when the sun snuck up somewhere and tinged a few of the clouds with a little pink. Something other than a decidedly monochrome shot made a pleasant change.

Our Christmas lunch was to be barbecued pheasant; no, not one of those wandering about the campsite but a ready boned and stuffed pheasant from Booths just outside the campsite. How wonderful to have such a fine shop on the doorstep. Loosening myself with a couple of whisky macs, I set about making sure that the bird would actually fit beneath the lid of our portable Weber, otherwise I’d need an alternative cooking strategy. ‘T was fine, there was room so all was well. Gas may be convenient but you really cannot beat charcoal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I readied everything for a 13:00 kick off to give time to get the bird cooked in our continuing sunny daylight [it’d take about an hour)], Francine wandered off again to make the most of the current lighting conditions. I went out shortly after but could find no sign of her on the campsite. Now being about midday, the light down Derwentwater had changed completely  and entertained me for some time. I used a longer lens to try and capture some detail at the farther end of the lake. A couple of islands interested me and I tried several line-ups which were OK but when a canoe turned up the composition seemed better balanced: this is about my favourite of the set, I think.

_19R0973_19R0982Having locked our van, I didn’t wander far for fear of missing Francine and keeping her locked out. Eventually she came sauntering back in and found me at the beach. She’d discovered a different point of access to the lakeside, with some photogenic clouds. Staves generally make an attractive subject and she’d snagged one of those, too. A bit of decent weather really does open up more opportunities.

There’s a couple of mundane items that Booths doesn’t appear to stock. For example, I could see no run of the mill rums, like Captain Morgan or Lamb’s Navy, so I had to go for Havana Club instead. [Shame!]Similarly, we could see no regular Spanish Cava. There was Freixenet, which I personally think is overrated, so we plumped for a New Zealand sparkling brut instead. We supped that while the pheasant was nestling in our Weber.

Once cooked, our pheasant was accompanied by sautéed Brussel sprouts and Chantenay carrots with red chilli and garlic for a little added interest. Oh, sautéed potatoes, too.

Given the prevailing weather system, we considered ourselves lucky; Christmas Day had been a success.

Posted in 2019 Xmas

Xmas Minus 1

… otherwise known as Christmas Eve.

Today was a bit of a repeat of yesterday; repeat, that is, except the wind had dropped and conditions were now calm but it was raining more frequently. Being calm, when it came the rain was falling more or less vertically.

First order of business, after two coffees, that is, was to hit Booths for our Christmas supplies.  No sooner had we left Guillaume and begun walking through the campsite to the exit than it began to rain. This was very wetting rain which soon dripped off my waterproof jacket and saturated the front of my trousers. I love it … NOT. I HATE getting wet. I really should have brought some waterproof trousers with me. No matter, I’d dry.

I did dry, too, once in Booths. We chose a boned and stuffed pheasant to sling on the charcoal barbie. Yes, I’ve brought the charcoal travelling Weber with us. Mercifully, the forecast for Christmas Day is considerably drier, even with some spells of sunshine. Let’s hope the forecast is somewhere close to accurate. [Yes, I know, what chance of that?] Should I be unable to barbecue, I’ll cut teh stuffed bird up and cook it inside.

Considering that this was 10:30 Christmas Eve, Booths was remarkably sane and civilized. Back at home our Waitrose would be absolutely heaving with people filling trollies with much more than they could possibly eat without exploding. I don’t get it; why do we do it? It’s just another day and you can only eat so much. By all means buy something more special but excess quantity just gets wasted. Booths was not heaving and everyone was proceeding in an orderly fashion. How very refreshing.

Breakfast appears to be scrambled eggs with smoked salmon bits stirred in. I really must make a mental note to try it with salmon caviar stirred in. There was a jointed wild rabbit saying “buy me” so tonight, for Christmas Eve dinner, we’re going for paella. Yeah! Any excuse for a paella.

We’ve discovered a cheese called Black Dub Blue which goes down well with a glass or three of sweet Madeira. So, I bought another chunk of that and another bottle of Madeira. There’s Havana Club to throw in the coffee and whisky macs to make sure we don’t sober up too much.

_19R0878Happily we did not get wet again walking back to stash our booty. We did, though, spot an interesting lighting effect on one of the mountains towering above Derwentwater. Naturally, once we had readied ourselves, the murk returned and the mountain became socked in. Francine waited patiently and eventually conditions improved such that the mountain looked impressive once again. Here’s what she managed to capture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI went to join in and had missed the dramatic stuff. I was, however, captivated by the wake being left by a swan as it glid past. I think the shot has turned out quite well, if given a letter-box crop.

_19R0907Continuing our wander, back at Derwentwater proper, Francine was again playing with her new Canon R-series lens, an F2.8 70-200 RF. This trip is really her first time using it in anger and I must say the results are little short of stunning. It seems to be a truly amazing lens for sharpness and clarity. The island just off the shore in Derwentwater looked wonderfully clear. It must be that F2.8 lenses really are worth the extra money.


Posted in 2019 Xmas

Xmas Minus 2

There can be something vaguely soothing about rain pattering on the roof of a caravan over night. UK winter nights being rather long, I had been awake and soothed for a couple of hours. The same is not true when the rain insists on going for a reprise, rather like a bad 70s album, just as you thought the end was in sight. [Just why were “reprise” tracks so popular back then, I wonder?] The early morning rain gave Francine plenty of time to make our traditional first morning bacon, eggs and mushrooms breakfast. Scrummy though it was, we’ll have to plan something a little more special for Xmas Day, methinks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs forecast, the rain did cease and we were able to go out and explore. Guillaume is parked right on  the edge of the campsite in the shelter of some trees. I thought the provision of a life ring, just in case Derwentwater bursts its banks, was a considerate touch. Let’s hope we don’t need it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we left Guillaume in the lee of his trees and ventured towards the lake edge, we realised just how stiff the forecast “breezy conditions” were. For those parked in the few prime locations beside the lake itself, this is a rough snap of the view that greets them. The breaking waves are a clue. Though this may look monochrome it isn’t; there is some distant colour on the far shore. As idyllic as the situation of this campsite may be, I’m still surprised that permission was granted to develop it immediately beside one of the main lakes in the Lake District National Park. There’s another just around the corner, too.

We continued our walk to a spot where, several years earlier, Francine had taken a splendid photograph of a partially submerged fence and gate. It was still there but almost completely submerged. Its formerly picturesque setting was currently rather spoiled by numerous unsightly white bags which may have been deployed as flood defences – we couldn’t quite figure them out. Further round the point at the handful of boat jetties, we found that their more traditional view, straight along a jetty, with or without a boat, was also now destroyed by an ugly white building glaring through the winter skeletons of trees on the promontory acting as a backdrop. Keswick seems to be in need of some photographic knowledge within its planning department. Some of the scene-spoilers may be temporary in nature but I rather think the building is permanent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is still possible to get an unencumbered view across Derwentwater looking straight up Borrowdale beyond. Here’s a half-way serious attempt at a real monochrome representation of said view, albeit with the mood exaggerated a tad.

The Camping and Caravanning Club campsite beside Derwentwater is made even more idyllic by there being a Booths supermarket about 200m from the entrance gate. Booths is like the Waitrose of the northwest; what more could a foodie want? After refreshing our weary limbs in a local hostelry, of which Keswick has many, we sauntered in to Booths, which also seemed to have deployed sandbags as flood defences. [Slightly worrying but hopefully they were left over from earlier when Derwentwater did burst its banks a little.] We were on the lookout for something that might serve as Xmas dinner. Some mallard ducks looked interesting but tomorrow we’ll need to check on the Xmas Day weather guess before committing to an ingredient that really needs barbecuing. I do NOT want to have to use Guillaume’s oven.

We did invest in some Havanna Club rum to add interest to Xmas coffee. I couldn’t resist a bottle of Madeira to help some cheese down, either. It’s coming together. 😀

Posted in 2019 Xmas

A Very Different Xmas

We have  spent the last four Christmas periods in Spain. For the last two years we have spent the majority of the northern hemisphere winter in Spain, being there from 21st December until the middle of March. However, with mixed feelings and a substantial helping of regret, we have now sold our Spanish property and Casa Libélule is no more. So, this Christmas we are trying something different; we decided to spend Christmas away in our latest caravan, All New Guillaume. Mad or adventurous?

In the middle of the UK winter there are a limited number of campsites available. Hardstanding is a necessity rather than a nice to have. When we began the search in October for a suitable site we were a little surprised to find that New year was already fully booked. We thought New Year might’ve been a fun extension but it wasn’t to be; we could, however, get in for Xmas. The Camping and Caravanning Club’s site at Keswick, right on the shores of Derwentwater, had room for us so we booked it.

All New Guillaume has (we think) a very good heating system including a heated towel rail. Winter caravanning, though, comes with an additional potential complication: our external 40-litre water tank could freeze if temperatures fall low enough. More likely, perhaps, than freezing 40 litres of water is that the submersible pump in the water tank could suffer frost damage and/or the supply pipe from the tank to the caravan could freeze. We’ve invested in an insulation jacket to guard against such an eventualities.

We chose to travel up on 22nd December. It’s a 300-mile drag, mainly up the M1 and M6 from home to Keswick. At conservative towing speeds with comfort breaks it would be a 6-hour journey. I was keen not to be setting up pin the dark, which begins at 16:00 at this time of year, so decided to leave home at 08:00 collecting Guillaume on the way.

The earlier parts of our journey went well. There are road works and 60 mph speed restrictions on the M1 but I tow at truck speeds [56 mph] so they’re irrelevant. Traffic reports indicated some inconsiderate bastard having a prang in some roadworks on the M6 and causing delays so we went further north to tack across from the M1 to the M6 on the A50. It’s a pleasant route, anyway.

We’d started in grey overcast bit the skies brightened around the Midlands. We hit the M6 and continued past Manchester and Liverpool in bright conditions. As we were approaching Francine’s favourite stretch of journey, coming up towards Shap and the excellent Tebay services, bright conditions collapsed into saturating downpours. Although the roads had seemed relatively quiet, Tebay Services was heaving. As is often the case, solo vehicles had parked in the longer caravan spaces making our parking a little difficult. The restrooms in the services were fine but getting food without a lengthy wait was out of the question. In continued rain, we paid top dollar to fill up and bought a couple of wraps from the fuel station.

Turning off the M6 at Penrith, the downpour did abate as we approached Keswick. A small navigation glitch caused a skilful U-turn but we arrived at the campsite at about 14:30. It was quite lightly used and we had many pitches from which to choose. We did need to keep all access on the hardstanding since all the surrounding grass was extremely muddy but we managed to get set up in daylight and, most happily, without further rain.

I’m still reasonably sure this qualifies as insanity. I cannot help but remember a chap we spoke to some years ago at the caravan and motorhome show, who was studying a swish Carthago motorhome muttering, “I don’t want to spend another winter in England”. I know exactly what he meant and confess that I am now missing Spain, somewhat.

We’ll see how we get on.

Posted in 2019 Xmas

Yugarapul Park: Tick

I’m now thoroughly accustomed to getting up at 05:00. In truth, given the almost constantly clear blue skies and early sunrise [04:00-ish] it is pretty easy. Actually, when you’re on the ground in a tiny tent it’s pretty much required. For the last two nights I’ve been sleeping [or not] in an urban Brisbane campsite beneath what I think must be an old Wembley Arena floodlight from before it was redeveloped. So, though on some sites I have quite enjoyed sleeping in my tent, in this case I’ll make and exception and I was not upset to pack my tent away for the final time. I’m even practiced, now, at getting all my gear back in my travel case. That’s as well because, if the lower deck of the case is empty, it doesn’t really work very well. tonight Roy flies out while Phil and I will stay in the Ibis Budget hotel close to Brisbane airport.

What I was a little upset to discover was that one of the tent pegs from my inner had punched a three-cornered tear in my flysheet. We’ve been on hard ground again and the  pegs stand proud because they don’t go far into the ground. I suspect something or someone, maybe me, trod on a guy line and pushed the flysheet over the peg. Bother, in these two weeks I’d become quite fond of my little tent. Maybe it’s fixable. he tear is low down so shouldn’t compromise water repellence.

J19_3511 Unknown ClubtailOnce  packed, this morning the Coastal Petaltail hunt beckoned again, having failed yesterday late afternoon. We hit Yugarapul Park again. Now accustomed to getting into it, I followed my chums. It’s quite surprising to those unused to it that one can find dragonflies flying at 07:00 in Queensland. Consequently, we did find entertainment but not, alas, the much sought after main quarry. As a consolation prize, here’s a rather handsome Clubtail that I have yet to identify.

Once back in the car, Phil found a tick on his clothing and despatched it forthwith. Nasty little blighters. Actually, this was quite a good size and readily identifiable.

J19_3624 Rhyothemis graphipteraWe finally left the park and the moved on to other habitats, two of which were wet and produced the goods but one of which was dry and no fun at all. This is a rather balletic-looking Graphic Flutterer (Rhyothemis graphiptera) adopting the obelisk position in our continuing 35°C.

We moved to the fifth site of the day which was an urban creek that actually had some water. It had some dragonflies, too, but there was a friendly local sitting having his sarnie for lunch and, seeing our cameras, asked what we were doing. ‘T is quite surprising that responding “birding” would be perfectly well understood and met with sage nods whilst saying “chasing dragonflies” tends to cause raised eyebrows. We’ve been asked “why” on a couple of occasions but what’s the difference? This nice chap seemed more understanding, however. He even agreed that Brisbane roads were a nightmare. Some of the junctions are so difficult that it is rare to make a journey, even satnav assisted, without making at least one mistake. I preferred to sit chatting to him that go chasing yet more; the day seemed long already, as they almost all had been.

Eventually we repaired to our hotel for the  last night so that Roy could freshen up with a  shower before we all shared a very good curry as a farewell dinner. I avoided anything too spicy since I was again going to leave at 06:30 to get to the International terminal  for my first Qantas flight to Hong Kong. Once I was finally alone and  able to sort my packing out for my upcoming journey, I had a shower and spotted a black something on my stomach. Arghhh, I’d been ticked, too. My pals were wearing wellie boots and long trousers whereas I had walking boots and shorts. I’d’ve been wearing crops normally, but had ripped the middle leg section so had converted to shorts. This unwelcome hitchhiker had been on me for about 12 hours. Fortunately it hadn’t attached and I removed it easily. Happily, a more extensive search revealed no further hitchhikers.

Posted in 2019 Australia

Kookaburra Nest

J19_3369 Northbrook CreekHeading back to Northbrook Creek and the precipitous descent for that blasted elusive Hawker (Austroaeshna) dragonfly. As we began climbing the road leading to Mount Glorious and the creek, Phil noticed that the fuel gauge was dropping down below 1/4 but remained doggedly fixed on his target. Personally,I’d have spun round to go back 11kms for a top up (we checked on Mr. Google). I must be too cautious; we continued. We were at the bottom of the slope beside the rocky creek by 07:15 but the quarry remained elusive despite waiting for almost two hours. I did amuse myself with a couple of other early flyers, though, including  freshly emerged damselfly. We repeated the precipitous ascent back to the car. Happily it was too early for a repeat peanut butter and jelly/jam sandwich.

A ride back down Mont Glorious on the same road would’ve been pretty much a free ride fuel-wise but we went another way towards Nebo. That road went up and down a lot and felt considerably longer. We were down on the last bar of the fuel gauge, though no warning light was on, when we finally arrived in civilization and filled up – if you can call a 711 civilization, that is. I tried to get an iced coffee but apparently picked up the wrong cup. I don’t know if the machine was clever enough to read my cup, even after I pressed the iced coffee button but what I got was a mixture of cold and warm which turned out tepid. Yummy, not. At least it was only A$1.00.

Roy and I had already visited Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens at the beginning of our trip but Phil hadn’t been there so was keen to look. So was I, it was a great place to while away a couple of hours. The coffee in the botanic gardens is excellent and my first order of business was to correct my 711 mistake. I couldn’t believe that I’d been two weeks without a coffee of any description, decent or otherwise. What a relief. Lunch, grilled barramundi with salad and roasties was pretty good, too.

Keeping up with the extensive habitat visits of the tour, we left the botanic gardens and headed for a late afternoon visit to Yugarapul Park, which is reputedly home to the much sought after though seen by few Coastal Petaltail (Pelatura litorea) dragonfly. The boys donned their wellies and started forging a way through the bush surrounding the edge. Sans wellies, I decided to look around the edge for an easier path in. There was none. I’m at a loss to know why Yugarapul is called a park when there is effectively no access for anyone without a machete; it’s all very vegetated bush. That’s fair enough to preserve valuable and rare habitat but I’d call it Yugarapul Reserve, personally. I did eventually get encouraged in after my companions had blazed a trail but found little of interest.

J19_3558 Kookaburra nestJ19_3559 Kookaburra nestWhat I had found of great interest as I was waiting for my wellie boot clad colleagues to reappear was a Kookaburra nest. The kookaburra is really a very large kingfisher and Phil, who is also very into birds, said that kingfishers don’t really build nests. So, though this construction may look like a mud daubed nest, it is probably a termite mound that has been modified and used by the kookaburras. Driving around 3,000 kilometres of the Queensland countryside, we’ve seen very many encrustations like this built on tree trunks, though none others with a kookaburra-sized hole in them. Actually, there are two holes opposing each other, as can be seen in the photo not obscured by the kookaburra itself. Being a large bird, I suspect that it would not be possible for a kookaburra to turn around once inside the cavity so it needs another exit.

Posted in 2019 Australia

Back to Brisbane

We were heading back towards Brisbane. Our actual target was unknown and would be decided later, depending upon progress. The larger part of todays journey was possible the most tedious drive I have ever been on; the agricultural fields were enormous, largely empty and devoid of any interest, and made a billiard table look bumpy.

Finally we turned into some high ground where a couple of Phil’s target dragonfly sites were: Northbrook Creek and Green’s Waterfall. Northbrook Creek was not much of a creek, being largely dry as have been most of the creeks over which we have driven. Still, with temperatures consistently in the mid to high 30s Centigrade, perhaps that is understandable. We did made a lengthy, steep descent to a second section of the creek which  amused us with more suspects to play with. Walking back up, once again with my cargo vest and camera bag, i.e. all my valuables, was less amusing.

It was now lunch time and, with supplies running a little low but needing using up, lunch consisted of that most horrendous of American inventions, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. OK, let’s translate that for English-speaking western world, a peanut butter and jam sarnie. Oh, that’s without butter, BTW, ‘cos we can’t possible keep butter in these travelling conditions. Peanut butter and Hellman’s mayonnaise works, though, as I found.

J19_3352 Austrophlebia costalisParking at our afternoon stop of Green’s Waterfall was tricky. The main car park was closed for an ongoing construction project. A nice lady let us abandon ship in front of her café, which was closed. There began a 4 kms round trip on foot down a road and then down a gorge to the waterfall itself. There was no water. What there was, on the way, in dreadful lighting conditions (i.e. no light) was a hung-up crepuscular Hawker, which is rarely seen. The wind wasn’t playing fair, either, usually blowing  dangling leaves across our subject. The subject was shaded and, to cap it all, there was much brighter backlight. I tried various combinations of settings and this is the best I could manage, possible the only recognisable shot: Southern Giant Darner (Austrophlebia costalis).

J19_3363 Green's WaterfallHere’s the gorge we were walking through. A lot of much appreciated hard work had been done to construct the sections of boardwalk that were necessary. We departed from it once to try and get further pictures of a different individual. All I got for my troubles was a leech on my right leg, which I found after Roy announced he had one. It hadn’t yet attached itself.

A mental coin toss had us return to a caravan site in Brisbane itself, not far from the Botanic Gardens, which Phil has yet to see. This decision may have bene encouraged by the fact that, an hour after we drove through Toowoomba, a bush fire started, so we didn’t want to go back that way. The Brisbane site has been invaded by a travelling squadron of rental motorvan Chinese who have monopolized the kitchen. I’m hoping dinner, when the kitchen is finally relinquished, will improve on the peanut butter sarnie for lunch, though we have no meat. Lentils, I think. I like lentils.

Posted in 2019 Australia

A Day Off …

J19_3234 Kookaburra… but not for the lads. The lads were off early for a repeat visit to the Moss Garden  a few kilometres up Carnarvon Gorge. They were still in search of Austroaeshna something. Frankly, I was having non of that; I just didn’t want a repeat march up and down Carnarvon Gorge in the heat. Besides, the buggers don’t stop flying and with a confused forest background, I was hardly likely to get a photo. So, I chose to have a relaxed morning packing up my tent, eating an instant oat breakfast (just add hot water from the samovar) and watching the wallabies and kookaburras around the campsite.

Eventually the boys returned empty handed, so I hadn’t missed much and I had rather enjoyed my down time. I loaded my baggage in the vehicle, a Mitsubishi Pajero [don’t buy one] and we were off to Chinchilla.

The journey was overcast and through 400kms of a largely unchanging landscape. I’m rarely able to look around in a vehicle, normally being behind the wheel, and here I was with free time on my hands and b***** all to look at. A moment of light relief occurred when we pulled into what was evidently a truck stop for lunch. The trucks in question were the Australian Road Trains. I was using the facillities when a  driver spoke to me about his “automated truck that wouldn’t let me proceed unless I did a burn”. I was a little grubby so maybe he thought I was a truck driver myself and would know what he meant. I hadn’t got a clue but nodded and smiled sagely.

We arrived in Chincilla, rejected campsite A  but finally got a pitch for three tents behind a load of cabins at campsite B. After setting up the tents we hit the kitchen with a Furphy or three. Furphy has become my favourite Ozzie beer. Good job we’d bought a slab of it.

Oh, my tent got a little wet for the first time – not very much but it survived.

Posted in 2019 Australia