Australia – Part 2

Sunday 21st August

For our our first day in Australia we headed out for a walk along the beach to G&B’s local town of Mordialloc where we stopped off for a nice lunch in the Bridge Hotel before having a stroll around town and picking up some shopping in their local Woolworths.

In the afternoon, Briony’s parents Pat and Kay came over to visit with Briony’s nephews Jensen and Ollie, it was good to catch up with them again.

In the evening, after a nice meal we sat and watched one of the Aussie Rules Football games on TV, and enjoyed learning all about the rules etc, it was great fun. At this point jetlag started to hit us, so we opted for an early night. This was a good first day in Australia.

MONDAY 22nd August

This morning we took the train from Mordialloc to Flinders Street station in the city centre, we intended taking the city circle tourist tram to see the sights, there seemed to be a problem with it so instead of waiting for it to arrive, we took another one down to the Docklands area, it certainly was interesting to see all the pleasure boats instead of the large cargo ships that I visited on in the 1970’s.

Back at Flinders Street we gave up waiting for the tourist tram and went over to the Timeout cafe in Federation Square for lunch instead. The meal was made all the more memorable by the waiter spilling a whole pint of beer over Jim, soaking his trousers, they then had the nerve to try and charge us for the beer. We visited an Optus store to get our phones to connect to the internet correctly before setting out on Jim’s quest of finding the Lego Store and a Starbucks, we were successful in this and managed to track them both down. After a nice refreshment break (tea and coffee) we caught the train back to Mordialloc.

We had another nice night at home with G&B chatting and watching some Aussie TV, Jim is certainly getting hooked on some of the shows over here.

Tuesday 23rd August

Another trip into town after breakfast saw us heading down through St Kilda Road where we stopped at the National Gallery of Victoria to see an augmented reality exhibition, the technology was a wee bit flakey and it was difficult to find all the installations, perhaps it was a case of first day bugs and it will be set out soon.

After visiting the NGV we carried on down the St Kilda Road to the Shrine of Rememberance, an impressive memorial to Australian Armed Forces lost in the many and varied conflicts over the years, the memorial and surrounding gardens were a fitting tribute and a nice place to visit, we then went on further down the road to Gentlemans George’s where we met Graeme for lunch, it being close to his place of work. After lunch Jim had us make a pilgrimage to the nearby Albert Park, the home of the Australian grand prix, it was fun to walk on part of the circuit.

Once back in the city we had to visit a station to sort out Jim’s travel card, unfortunately the station was inside one of the giant malls and we found getting back out onto the street a wee bit difficult, by the time we reached the street and arrived at the Queen Victoria Market where we want to go, it was closed. We opted instead to pay a visit to Melbourne’s St Paul’s cathedral, which was very impressive with some spectacular stained glass windows. To finish off our day in the city we stopped off for a pint in the Duke of Wellington pub on Flinders Street before catching the train home, this was another interesting and fun day.

Wednesday 24th August

After our train ride this morning we went to the north of the city to get to our hotel, Brady’s on Jones Lane, which we had booked into for a couple of nights, fortunately our room was ready so we were able to check in and leave our bags before going back downtown to visit the Eureka Skydeck 88 floors above the city, although there was a bit of rain, we were still presented with some spectacular views of the city and the surrounding area.

We experienced what they call ‘The Edge‘ a glass box which moves out of the building leaving you suspended above the streets, it wasn’t as terrifying as they described it but good fun nonetheless, we were not brave enough though to try the ‘Plank Walk’, a virtual reality zip line over the city.

After lunch on the Skydeck we went uptown again to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, unfortunately due to some flooding part of the tour was cancelled but what we saw was very good and gave us an insight into life in times gone past, we were amazed at the things people, children included, were imprisoned for, apparently you could get 6 months for swearing in public, if that happened today the prisons would be crammed.

Having missed the Queen Victoria Market yesterday, we were lucky that there was a Winter Night Market every Wednesday. This was ideal for us with a wide and diverse selection of stalls and food from all over the world, after wandering around we both decided to try the devilled chicken and rice from a Sri Lankan outlet, this was a great choice. A bottle of wine purchased on the way back to the hotel finished off the day perfectly.

Thursday 25th August

Our hotel was a great place to spend the night prior to our tours, the first of which was the Philip Island Eco Tour, after being picked up by our Go West (formerly Bunyip) guide and driver, Hilda, we headed of to our first stop at the Brighton Beach Huts, a row of colourful iconic huts, before heading to the Moonlit Sanctuary where we came face to face with kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and various other wildlife, it was great fun feeding the kangaroos and wallabies.

Next stop was at the Nobbies, overlooking the Bass Strait, the Nobbies boasts spectacular clifftop views., which we explored on the winding boardwalks, looking out to Seal Rocks, the home of Australia’s largest fur seal colony.

Philip Island Penguin Parade

It was then on to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world. We experienced the magic of watching these amazing little seabirds waddle home from the ocean to their burrows from the viewing platforms and boardwalks. Unfortunately you are forbidden to use your camera after sunset, but this video from Bunyip Travel lets you see some of what we experienced. A 2 hour journey back into the city meant thst we were a bit late for most of the restaurants, so a Chinese takeaway and a glass of wine in our hotel room finished the day off perfectly, It was certainly an interesting and fun day.

Friday 26th August

An early start today for our trip down the Great Ocean Road, we were picked up outside the Marriot, this time by Sheridyn from Go West and once all the other hotel pickups had been made off we set.our first stop was in the coastal town of Torquay, the traditional home of surfing in Australia, it was nice have some cake and coffee at this stop. Our next stop was at the memorial arch, commemorating the returned WWI servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road, we made a quick stop at the Kennett River where we were able to see Koalas and many colourful birds in their natural habitat.

After stopping off for a welcome lunch of a pie and a pot of beer, in the nice town of Apollo Bay before heading to Maits Rest for a walk through the rainforest to see the magnificent trees and ferns.

Next on our trip was the 12 Apostles, Gibson Steps and The Loch Ard Gorge, all equally impressive. We topped it all off with a stop at a noodle bar in Colac for dinner before returning to Melbourne. A quick well earned pint in a pub near the station were we were to catch the train to Graeme’s topped off a great couple of days.

Saturday 27th August

This afternoon we met the rest of Briony’s family when we went to the nearby Chelsea. RSL, a club for returned servicemen similar to our British Legion, we were there to celebrate Kay’s, Briony’s mothers, Birthday, it was nice to meet her brothers Sean his wife Moni and their children, her brother Andrew was there with his children but unfortunately his wife Sheree was unable to attend. The club was quite a special place and the food was very good, some of the portions were enormous, especially Andrews’s lamb shank.

After lunch came what must rank as one of the highlights of the trip for Jim, Briony took us for a drive around Melbourne’s Grand Prix circuit and he was stunned when she gave him the chance to drive around a section of it himself, his face was a picture to behold.

After the excitement of the afternoon we returned home, picked up Joffrey the dog then went to a local food court in a venue called Urban Ground, the pizzas there were pretty spectacular. After dinner we went round the corner with Graeme to a local brewery, Braeside Brewing for a couple of ales, this was a great way to finish off a very special first week in Australia

Amsterdam Updated

I have eventually caught up with two of my outstanding blog posts, the first is the one for the STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam which I visited recently.
The collection held there is very impressive and extensive as can be seen by the photographs on the page, there are a lot of them.
They can be viewed here:

I have also uploaded a page showing the murals spotted while wandering the city, this includes the 10 murals created for the “If Walls could talk” festival in 2019. For me, the highlight of this set of murals was one by Smug of our very own GazMac, it is spectacular as usual.
They can be viewed here:

Lockdown Blues

Being in the midst of the lockdown with not much to look forward to in the near future, I decided to take a look back over the last few months. January was pretty much taken over by my volunteering role at this year’s Celtic Connections, which has become an excellent start to my year and one I hope I am able to continue with.

February was a bit of a mixed month, I became involved in volunteering at athletics events and spend a great deal of time at the Emirates Arena helping out at events for European, British and Scottish Athletics. Again this is a role I would wish to continue, at the Scottish Athletics events I was allocated a variety of roles designed to provide me with the skills to enable me to become a member of the Scottish Athletics support network, some of it was a wee bit strenuous for me, but it was all great fun and very rewarding, I especially loved being up in the gods with the photo finish team.

02 2020 Emirates Stadium

The last week of February and the first week of March found me volunteering at the Glasgow Film Festival, a new one for me. This was great fun, I got to meet a great bunch of people and managed to see some great movies (and a few I wished I hadn’t seen), I really loved Michael Caton-Jones’ “Our Ladies”, an adaptation of Alan Warner’s The Sopranos, telling the story, set in the 1990s, of a group of schoolgirls who get an opportunity to go into Edinburgh for a choir competition, but they’re more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up than winning the competition.  A real fun-filled movie with some great music.  Another favourite this year was “5 Is the Perfect Number” an old fashioned Italian gangster movie, again with a good score. Another music-themed movie was This World Won’t Break it was good to meet Josh David Jordan, the Writer/Director and Greg Schroeder the Actor/Musician who played the main character.  One of the strangest events of the festival though was the concert in the CCA, the Glasgow Percussion Collective Plays Bjork, 3 guys playing various percussion instruments, a Double Bass, and the talented Rachel Lightbody providing the vocals, a weird combination for a film festival, but good nonetheless.  This is another event I think will be added to my rota of annual events.

Film Festival

Following the Film Festival it was straight into Aye Write, Glasgow’s Literary Festival, I managed one attend one event before the festival was cancelled due to Coronavirus, however, I enjoyed my one night with the authors and look forward to next year.

Aye Write

I had many things planned for April, May and June, including foreign travel, a return trip to Orkney, and a couple of street art festivals, all now cancelled or put on hold.

One positive of the lockdown was the time to sort out my collection of photographs from my many travels of the last few years, during which I discovered that I hadn’t posted the photographs of the street art I discovered during my trip to South East Asia last year, I will pop them up online soon.

Norwegian Art

As promised, I’ve eventually put together a couple of pages showing the street art I found during my recent trip to Norway, they are just a couple of clicks away.

[Arctic Art]  –  [Urban Art in Bergen]

I have been informed that some people are finding it difficult to navigate through my website, so over the coming weeks, I’m going to redesign it to make things easier. I would welcome your comments and thoughts on what improvements you would like to see.

I would also like to update the Glasgow Street Art section of the site to make it more prominent, again I would welcome your thoughts.

North Norway – Completed

Since Jim & I returned from Norway, I have been busy volunteering at the LEN European Short Course Championships at Tollcross so I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog, now that it’s over I have eventually worked my way through the many photographs we took during our time there.  Rather than starting a new page, I have appended them to the page for the first half of the voyage, the completed page can be seen here.

I took many photographs of the Northern Lights and the street art I found whilst we were away, I will add further pages at a later date.

Our Nordic Adventure

Many of you will know that my mate, Jim Lewars, and I have been on a Nordic Adventure cruising up the Norwegian coast on one of Hurtigruten’s postal boats, the MV Finnmarken.  This is a 12-day voyage along the Norwegian coast, spending 6 days travelling North, reaching Kirkenes before turning South for the return voyage to Bergen.

I have completed the journal, with photographs for the first stage of the trip, which can be seen here, the journal will be added to on completion of the return leg.

Journey Finished

For those who like to follow my travels and those who travelled with me recently in Southeast Asia, I have now completed my journal for my time there.  I have tried to remember everything we did during our time together and I have included many photographs, I’m sure I missed out many things and memories and I’m willing to add anything that my fellow travellers remind me of.

You can read all about our travels here.

As usual, during my trip I also took some street art photographs, I will add them to a separate page at a later date.