Some people, that I have known for a long time, have been asking me what made me decide to start writing now. I guess that is a fair question, but in reality I have been writing stories in my head for years. I even started jotting down some of those stories, but being ever organised me, of course they are NOT in a diary like you would expect. So, I set off tracking down some of my old writings and found a couple.
One of these were the ramblings shortly after I got divorced. These were in Afrikaans, so I cannot share them, but I read them and it did remind me of some of the stories I can still tell you all. One day.
Then there were some stories on my little netbook that I bought shortly before my trip to Perth in 2010. I started writing this travel blog about my experiences in Australia, and unfortunately I never finished it (I was a bit pre-occupied at the time), because I think some of it was pretty funny. I decided some of the bits were worth sharing.
Perth visit June 2010
As a background note, I travelled to Perth around the time of the start of the Soccer World Cup in South Africa. The timing was planned to coincide with the kids’ holidays, as they were off to their dad, who was living in Knysna at the time. The plan was to visit an old school friend in Perth, whom I have not seen in years. I flew out on the Friday afternoon of the 2010 SWC kick off. Here are some of my ramblings about the trip down under…
Note to self…next time I travel to Australia (or anywhere more than 5 hours across time zones), SLEEP the week before…!
So, I started my trip to Perth (6 hours time difference) sleep deprived…but I did go and see Grease during the week AND watched the SWC kick off ceremony. Wouldn’t want to miss out on anything now, do we? After a disastrous trip on the brand new Gautrain (nothing wrong with the Gautrain as such, but the traffic to the Sandton Station and AT the Sandton station was a nightmare), missing the kids’ flight to George, managing to rebook their flights to Port Elizabeth in the evening and having to deal with the noise of Vuvuzelas blasting away at the airport, it was quite a relief to finally be seated in the aeroplane. Peace and quiet at last…or not. Did I mention that I started my trip on the day of the FIFA World Cup opening game?
I spotted the girl in the boarding queues in advance, phoning (it seems) everyone she knows before she takes off. Well, I guess you never know when you get a chance again… “Lief vir julle”, “Praat binnekort” and “Groete vir Seertoon”, had me fascinated… A fleeting thought passed my mind to say something to her but you never know when you end up sitting next to the person for a nine hour flight… And guess what! Yes, mois ended up sitting next to Jakkie Kruger from Lydenburg. And, then I made the mistake of actually greeting her in Afrikaans.
So, after asking my name (and surname), what I do (she was suitably impressed that I was an accountant), how old I am (kid you not), the teacher from Lydenburg told me all about herself as well. I now know how many siblings she has, that she likes eating A LOT on planes (okay, the “Gaan jy jou poeding eet” (translation “Are you going to have your dessert”) gave it away), and that she was going to visit a house friend in Perth and then onwards to her sister in New Zealand (who is 14 years older than her). I think that is why I managed to get some sleep in (my internal system knew the alternative would have been finding out the grade 4 curriculum contents). About 3 hours sleep, that is….
After arriving safely in Perth, and meeting up with my friend, I jotted down some of what we did on the trip. One little notable entry was as follows:
Fremantle used to be the main entry into Australia in the bygone days where passenger ships were the main way of travelling across oceans. The town still has several 19th century buildings and has a historic charm to it.
We went for coffee and breakfast at this little bohemian coffee shop. I was wondering if it was the wizardy world meeting place in Australia that we muggles stumbled upon…complete with a retired professor Dumbledore lookalike (okay, the resemblance stopped with the long beard) and the woman with the purple hat?? Interesting…. There was some live music on very ancient instruments, a board where you can post your own poetry (wonder what they put in the coffee…or flat whites, as the Ausies call them). Breakfast was delicious though, I had French toast with blackberries, cream and maple syrup…yum.
Trust me to mention the food I had! The next little bit that I wanted to share was when I decided to take a trip into Fremantle to collect some brochures for a planned visit into the Margaret River region. I almost forgot about this event…
My friend, who had swine flu the week before, was feeling very tired, and offered her car to me. She did mention that the petrol gage was a bit low, but thought that I should make Fremantle easily, which I certainly would have been able to do, had I not turned in the wrong direction….
Now, this is something about me and strange places…somehow, unless I am driving myself, I never have a clue in which direction I am being taken and how I got there. I am far more interested in checking out the sites, people, and whatever else is going around. In Geneva, my friend Annie once left me and my daughter at a shopping mall with very clear instructions to take the bus right outside the mall to her offices, very easy. Until the bus stopped unexpectedly at the airport, which even I realised was NOT in the same direction as my friend’s office! So, my rule of thumb is, when you see the airport, it is normally in the wrong direction. So, voila…I saw the turnoffs to the airport in Perth, and knew I was going in the wrong direction. I did finally get to Fremantle, managed to park the car, paid the parking and walked in the general direction of the cobblestone passageways. I (of course) had to ask around to find the travel agent, but managed to get a few nice brochures and a couple of T-shirts for the girls. I never buy myself T-shirts in strange places, but the kids love it!
I strolled through a few book shops, managed to find a second hand copy of London by Edward Rutherford, which I had been looking for and was on my ‘next UK trip shopping list’ for A$10. Cool!
It was now starting to get dark, and I decided to head back to my friend’s house. I decided, sensibly, to find the first petrol station and fill up the car. This thought always dreads me in a foreign country because, growing up in South Africa, we are not used to pump our own petrol…. On the way out of Fremantle I didn’t see any petrol stations, but was sure I would find one soon enough, as it is quite a busy highway back. I was idling uphill in the afternoon traffic leaving Fremantle when the car started making the noise that every person who has ever ran out of petrol dreads…that gulp gulp sound that always proceeds the moment when the car stalls…. So there I am in a strange country, in a city that I don’t know, on an uphill in a very busy street and no petrol!
I phoned my friend, and she phoned her husband, who was almost home. The next moment, a friendly face peered through the window and offered to help me push the car off the main street onto the sidewalk (how nice!). He then asked me if I belonged to some or another association, which I made out must be something like the Automobile Association back home, which you can phone if you are a member, and they will come out and help you get your car going. He offered to pretend that he was the one stranded without petrol and phoned them. We then started talking (he picked up by my accent that I was not Australian…) as we were waiting, and waiting, and waiting….forever! Eventually my friend’s husband decided to come out anyway, and helped me get going again…
And that was, unfortunately, pretty much it. I started writing about the trip to the Margaret Valley region, but the ramblings stopped there. I did start taking more pictures, saw some kangaroos in the wild, visited some fantastic wineries, an Aboriginal culture centre and a chocolate factory (where I had the most divine chocolate fondue for lunch that I have ever eaten in my life). But no more writings.
So, here is my new resolution! I will never, ever go on a trip without my trusted notebook or iPad again, EVER! To years of sharing!