|2 months out|
|In my Student Travel Magazine is a 20-point article detailing "London on a Budget". Ranking at a surprisingly lowly no.15 is Visit the pub: "British pubs can be quite expensive and you can easily spend a good chunk of your money, but they are also a quintessential British experience so it is worth setting aside some of your budget for a couple of nights in the pub every week."|
Well that's obviously that then. Who am I to argue?
|Tuesday, December 26, 2006|
|Right, that's Christmas over and done with for another year. Onward and upward!|
The weather has remained remarkably cool for this time of year in Sydney. It's very civilised, really, as it means that there won't be much of a temperature difference for me to adjust to. Out comes the new jacket I've had since OUR winter sales, six months ago... let the packing begin.
It's never very difficult to leave Sydney, despite what people who don't know the place may think. Mark Twain, however, put it nicely into perspective: "It is beautiful, of course it's beautiful - the harbour; but that's only half of it. God made the harbour, and that's all right, but Satan made Sydney."
|Wednesday, December 27, 2006|
|My flight out is a slightly later one than usual, giving me just enough time to belt off to the shops before my transport arrives to take me to the airport. I have a couple of urgent purchases to make, things which I had discovered I was lacking the previous day. One of which was the all important toothpaste, and the other was a lock for my suitcase! I just have time for a large freshly-squeezed fruit juice from my favourite juice bar (my last for a while - sob), and then I have to speed off home.|
I quickly finish packing, get my brand new lock on my bag, close and lock up the house, and am out and down the stairs, only to have the shuttle bus pull up outside - and I'm off to the airport!
I had booked my flights way back in July, and had received my seat allocations in August, so I'm not in any real rush - so naturally I get there with plenty of time to spare. My bag weighs in at a pretty standard 21.0kg. So far so good. Then I get my first fright - it's a codeshare flight with Qantas. Am I going to be stuck on one of our national carrier's planes rather than a JAL jet? I skulk around, finding my way to the Observation Deck (not as easy as you might imagine - you have to go through the airport bar - which resembles a second-rate suburban pub - traipse through the beer garden to the lift hidden right in the back corner, and then you find yourself on an unimpressive wooden deck with a limited view of the runways and the terminals), but I can't see down to my boarding gate from here. Plan B, head to the gate itself - and there's the plane, reassuringly JAL by its paint job, being a so-called "Reso'cha" (meaning a plane used for trips to resorts, rather than your bog-standard business commute).
|That bright external paint job, however, conceals nasty shock number two - just like my first flight last trip, it's an old 747 without the individual video screens, and with stinking toilets. Sigh. It's some consolation that they show two movies instead of one, but they were hardly movies that I would bother to watch on television, let alone go to the cinema to see.|
This time I'm transiting overnight in Osaka, rather than Tokyo. It's my first visit to Kansai International Airport, built on reclaimed land off the coast of Honshu. As promised, my hotel is literally across the road from the airport. Scarily, it is extraordinarily unseasonably warm for a late December day in Osaka, I can hardly believe it! There is no doubt that we humans have affected the climate of this fragile planet we live on.
Just as promised, the hotel is literally across the road from the airport. There IS nothing else here - just a perfectly flat rectangular plot of land containing only a runway, an airport terminal, and a hotel! Once I check in I find that the view out of my hotel window is of yet another large, flat expanse of land, and in daylight the next morning I discover that it's in fact a second runway, as yet under reclaimation and construction, due to be opened in the summer - and, knowing the Japanese, it will be opened precisely on time.|
|The second runway at Kansai under construction... at night||...and the next morning, from my hotel window|
|Thursday, December 28, 2006|
|We had departed the terminal bang on time, only to sit on the tarmac for an hour and a half after a warning light had been triggered in the fuel monitoring system. Once we finally got going, we made up sufficient time to arrive at Heathrow only 20 minutes or so late, and as an added bonus, the queues at Immigration are non-existant. I'm through in record time, and out into Arrivals to meet Mick and Sue.|
There's a bit of a mess-up with the key to my room at the B&B, so it gives us a chance to have a bit of a drink together and a chat while we wait for the landlord to turn up with the missing key - he had forgetfully put it into his pocket that morning instead of on the hook behind the bar.
|Friday, December 29, 2006|
|It's off to a very familiar haunt indeed, for my first Cry Wolf gig of the trip. It's at the recently refurbished Red Lion, in Twickenham, and a delightful start to my gig calendar for the holiday. Lots of dear friends rock up to the gig, it's like one great big reunion! Photos|
|Saturday, December 30, 2006|
|Thought the day starts off sunny and clear, the rain sets in in the afternoon. However, the weather is not going to put me off gonig out! It's a special gig tonight, by invitation only, and features not only Cry Wolf, but also Bad II The Bone, set up at opposite ends of the hall, and playing alternate sets, for a full 4 hours. Oh yes, and it's fancy dress - school uniform anyone? It was a fantastic evening. I know I, for one, won't forget it in a hurry.|
|Sunday, December 31, 2006|
|Well, here it is, New Year's Eve, and a new venue for me this evening, as Cry Wolf are playing at The Waggon & Horses in Brentford.|
However, there's an extra treat in store first - it's back off to The Red Lion in Twickenham for the weekly afternoon jam session. The standard varies from unremarkable to brilliant, but the highlight is definitely when my mate Mick takes to the stage - the word "powerhouse" is no exaggeration for the way he tackles the drum kit!
|Monday, January 1, 2007|
| HAPPY NEW YEAR! |
It's a rest day for me, where I grab the sleep I haven't gotten for about 5 days, get my laundry done and catch up with friends on the phone and online.
|Tuesday, January 2, 2007|
|After that refreshing long sleep, I'm off into central London today.|
Though there has been a hotly-debated price hike for public transport which came into effect today, I'm delighted to discover that my bus Day Travelpass is still £3.50.
Though the sales are on, the crowds aren't particularly bad... not out on the streets, anyway. Inside some of the stores, there's a lot of shopping going on! I resist most things, but stock up on a selection of my beloved Pret drinks.
On my homeward bound bus, I glance upwards as a plane passes by overhead - the rising sun on the tail and the JAL logo are unmistakeable - it's JL421, inward bound from Osaka. But it's 4pm, again, and I'm very suspicious - this is the fourth time I've seen this plane winging in, running 20 minutes late. Perhaps it always comes in at this time?
|Wednesday, January 3, 2007|
Down I go to Hounslow High Street, where at Marks & Spencers, it's always 2 o'clock - on the face of the clock outside the store, the hands have been frozen in the same position in all the time I've been coming here!|
The other thing about the place are the numerous security cameras in evidence, mounted high on the buildings down both sides of the street. They are constantly in motion, either panning across the scene or zooming in on something, and it reminds me of something I had heard recently that the average person will be caught on camera some 300 times on any given day in London.
Wow, Hounslow has changed a lot since I was here last. There's a huge new retail/residental development under construction behind the post office, with a fully-fledged ASDA store in the basement, as well as one of the dearest things on my wish list - an upmarket coffee shop on the High Street, at last! - but it's not the Pret I so desperately wanted. It's not Nero either, but at least it's not a dreaded Starbucks - we have a Costa! And replacing Littlewoods is none other than... TK Maxx! End-of-run/out-of-season designer goods with discounted price tags which I still consider to be too high, so I doubt I'll be spending much time in there. The old staples are still here too, of course, including WH Smith and the all important Primark. It's nice to be home.
I explore some of the fashion shops more out of curiousity than any intention to buy, since this is the stuff that will be appearing in the shops in Sydney in six months, but ultimately I can't resist a pair of boots - for all of £5 - that's less than I spent on my lunch! A 99p pack of sandpaper will take the slippery gloss off the soles and make them far easier to walk in - don't you love 99p stores??
|Thursday, January 4, 2007|
|I'm off to the British Library at St Pancras today. It's been a while, but it's nice to be back. There's an exhibition on there entitled London: A Life In Maps, and I spend a few hours enraptured, have a delightfully healthy late lunch, and then head back off for home, via a quick stroll down Oxford Street, still masterfully resisting the pull of those post-Christmas sales (except for my little splurge the previous day!). Truth be told, there's nothing wildly remarkable about the current season's fashions - though the jeans mostly have a NORMAL waistband - midriff-chilling hipsters are out, at long last!|
It's another favourite venue tonight - it's The Globe in Brentford, for tonight's gig.
|Friday, January 5, 2007|
|I'm utilising a little trick I used to employ in Japan in mid-winter. My room here at the B&B is toasty and comfortable, but the salad bowl and yogurt I have for tea are hanging outside the window in the cool afternoon air, staying ready-chilled till I'm ready to eat them! Mind you, I'm tackling one of my own hardwired mindsets with this. In Australia, salad is a summer staple, and in winter it's hot, solid food in order to warm up, but I'm more interested in keeping healthy, so a big bowl of raw vegies strikes me as just the ticket; certainly I find that how I feel is directly related to the kind of food I consume, so I want to see how well I go on cold salad for dinner. Of course, I fire up my metabolism early in the day with a hearty hot breakfast and a fairly brisk walk down to Hounslow High Street most days, which seems to do the trick.|
It seems like this is the first chance I've had to get this diary up-to-date, so perhaps Cry Wolf cancelling tonight's gig was a blessing in disguise.
After days of either staying up until very late (i.e. going to a gig and getting back at 2am) or going to bed ridiculously early, only to awaken at 2am (there's a pattern here), tonight it feels like my body is finally in the correct time zone.
|Saturday, January 6, 2007|
|I'm fending for myself this morning for breakfast, so it's down to The Noshery with all the workmen from the local building sites, and then on into Hounslow, where the most important thing on my agenda is getting a copy of The Times. The Samurai Sudoku is still my very favourite, and I look forward to working away at it during idle moments in the evenings - not that there are ever very many spare evenings to start with, and idle moments also aren't that common.|
And that's definitely the case tonight, as I have quite a way to travel. It's into London via bus, and then back out the other side to catch a Thameslink train up north... It's my longest trek to a Cry Wolf gig this trip, up to Harpenden, in Hertfordshire. So of course, the "Hertfordshire" banner is unfurled! Another great gig, with the added treat of hearing Standing In The Road at the break, thanks to the DJ who shared the bill with the band. Photos
|Sunday, January 7, 2007|
|It's back to The Red Lion in Twickenham for the Sunday afternoon jam session. Once again, great fun, and this time we are treated to one of those rarest of breeds, a female drummer! She does great, it's wonderful to see. Of course, there are plenty of other excellent musicians as well, including the legendary Mick Underwood on drums, and it's a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon indeed.|
|Cry Wolf in Harpenden: Gary, Tom, David, and the Hertfordshire banner|
|Then it's off for a Sunday roast and some delightful company, not to mention a bevy of black and white cats. We chat on until 2am, and then I head off back to the B&B by minicab - there has been some heavy rain while we've been relaxing over dinner and a good chat, so the streets are damp but clear for my quick ten minute trip home.|
|Monday, January 8, 2007|
|Another rainy day, but still delightfully mild. After spending the day in Camden Town and Notting Hill (and apart from buying lunch, spent only a massive 60p on two books!), I headed back to the B&B for the evening. And what should be the topic of the night's Megastructures program on Five? Why, none other than Kansai Airport, of course!|
|Tuesday, January 9, 2007|
|Last trip, BBC2 was driving me mad by broadcasting apparently non-stop snooker; this trip it's become the equally uninteresting World Championship Darts channel. Boring!|
There's a sad sight that I hadn't expected in this age of environmental awareness - dying Christmas trees left by the side of the road, some of which were cut down but not actually used, just discarded.
Who said there's no such a thing as a free lunch? I was snaffled on the street in Kingston and dragged into a fast food restaurant (no, not THAT one) for a taste test of a new burger. Of all the chains, this is the only one that I ever set foot in, and even then it's a very rare event indeed. The taste of this burger, featuring mushrooms, is not bad, but I'm not a fan of mayonnaise, and always try to avoid it. Ah well. Saved me a couple of quid!
|Wednesday, January 10, 2007|
|I've having too much fun living the life to write about it! And believe me, this is one hell of a trip.|
I popped off to visit some friends and pick up a loaner jacket to wear to gigs - it's gorgeous, can't wait! - and ended hanging around for a bit more of a chat with the family, a pet of the cats, and a bit of computer work, before heading off to Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith and Chiswick for a bit of a stroll around the shops.
|Thursday, January 11, 2007|
|"Nights in January warmer than July" shouts the headline in Metro this morning. So there you go - I DID pick the right time of year to go binge-gigging. To all those people back in Australia who said dubiously, "It's awfully cold..." believe me, it's wonderful.|
Despite being mild, temperature-wise, today was extremely windy and the promised patchy rain was definitely in evidence. Without any concious planning, I managed to miss the worst of it, either by being onboard a bus or otherwise indoors whenever it was bucketing down. It was only after I got back this evening and caught the news that I discovered how much damage had been caused by those fierce winds, all around London.
I had been on the hunt for a new pair of jeans for the last few days, and today at last my goal was achieved, at my old favourite, H&M. Jeans aren't just jeans - it's amazing what a difference the cut makes, and I'm also very fussy about colour. I'm further restricted by the fact that at home, near enough is good enough, as I always have my trusty sewing machine and overlocker to hand to make the necessary alterations, but here it has to work straight off the rack, unless it's little more than a quick fix by hand with needle and thread.
I headed off to The Building Centre in WC1 to see two free exhibitions: The Changing Face Of London, all about the many, many new buildings planned which will transform the face of Greater London) and London's Moving, a look at all of the transport related projects either in construction (like Terminal 5 at Heathrow), or in planning (like an extension to the tram system which runs so successfully down in Croydon). Fascinating stuff!
|Friday, January 12, 2007|
|Boiler trouble. More specifically, it's not working. There had been absolutely no problem for my first two weeks in the B&B, so I was assuming that the troubles we had last April had been sorted. But no - when I came home from my day's outing, the radiators were omminously cold. Luckily, a quick restart was all that was needed.|
Unfortunately, when I got home from the evening's Cry Wolf gig at The Red Lion, the radiators were once again cold to the touch... fortunately the evening was mild and I'd not left the window wide open.
|Saturday, January 13, 2007|
|Tonight was the night. The four original members of Blackfoot Sue took to the stage together for the first time in 30 years. The picture speaks a million words... I don't need to say a thing. Numerous people have told me that the look on my face said it all. A magical moment indeed. Photos|
|Blackfoot Sue, 2007: Alan Jones, Tom Farmer, David Farmer, Eddie Golga|
|Sunday, January 14, 2007|
|But there's no rest for the binge-gigger! It was back down to The Red Lion in Twickenham for the Sunday afternoon jam - and jam-packed is the only way to describe how the pub was! What a buzz. What talent!|
After that, there was time for a quick stop off at the B&B, only to discover that the blasted boiler had switched itself off again. I got it reset and then headed off down London Road to that mainstay on the gig circuit, The Six Bells, to see Mercenary Rock Gods. It was a fun gig indeed, but after that hectic, historic weekend, I'm completely and utterly knackered!
|Sunday jam at The Red Lion: it takes all sorts!|
|Monday, January 15, 2007|
|It's a restorative day for me. A long walk follows my usual scrummy, filling breakfast, and then it's time for a bit of a kip, some lazy relaxing, another long walk, and then a scrummy dinner of minestrone soup and a huge bowl of salad. Walking home in the dusk, I was trying to spot the comet currently lingering on the southern horizon, but the light cloud cover defeated me. For tonight, at least.|
And the boiler's still on the blink.
|Tuesday, January 16, 2007|
|A drizzly, wet day, but that's no excuse to stay in. I headed off to Reading, via Slough, and had a pleasant, if slightly damp day wandering round the shops. I have to applaud my self-discipline - though I tried on a few things, it was remarkably easy to decide that I could live without them!|
It has been the warmest start to the year for a century - it's official, they just announced it on the BBC. The cherry blossoms are blooming, daffodils are sprouting, and various creatures not usually seen until spring have been spotted all over... however, there are warnings that cold conditions are going to sweep across the country come next week. I've been lucky so far, I cannot complain.
In Reading is Replay Music, and I got to chatting with Martyn, the owner, who immediately remembered Blackfoot Sue as living in Bath Road, Hounslow - as he used to live just down the road! It's a small, small world indeed. :-)
|Wednesday, January 17, 2007|
|Raining again this morning, but so mild! I dared to venture into central London, where it was a bit grim getting between the shops, but by the middle of the day the rain was magically all gone, and there was blue sky and white fluffy clouds over Oxford Street - just beautiful. I snapped up a last few lingering bargains, but spent most of my time in Waterstones, browsing the shelves. Books are very expensive, but I so love reading...|
The media is absolutely filled with all the fuss about Celebrity Big Brother, which must be heaven-sent for ITV, who had initially found their ratings on the show dipping alarmingly. I had never, ever watched the show previously, as, quite frankly, what is so interesting about watching people sitting around a house? However, it's a bit difficult to avoid at the moment, as it's making headlines in the newspapers, the news on all channels, and has even been tabled in the House Of Commons.
The endless discussion is disingenious - expecting a group of people in such deliberately artificial conditions to display limitless tolerance, compassion and empathy is beyond the reach of 99.999% of us mere humans. It's human nature to identify and deflect personal unease by framing it in terms of a group difference (the old "them" and "us" dynamic), but unfortunately this is being played out in front of a public who relish the drama of conflict. I hope Channel 4 think their ratings are worth it.
The boiler is still reseting itself on and off, but it's mild enough that I can survive the evening without the radiator on. I'm sleeping very, very well, and generally waking up just early enough to scramble into my clothes and head off for breakfast at 7.30am.
|Thursday, January 18, 2007|
|Wild, wild weather predicted today, but it's supposed to calm down by the afternoon, which is good, as we're heading down to Leatherhead to the rehearsal studio for the evening.|
The good news is, after all this rain, the house-pipe ban has at last been lifted in all but 2 areas, and the drought has been declared over!
And the bad news is that BBC2 has once again become the World Championship Snooker channel.
|Friday, January 19, 2007|
|A busy, busy day today! I woke in time for breakfast, just, and then headed out for the day. Beautiful blue skies and no sign of the rain and wind that had created such havoc only the day before (being called "the worst storms to have hit Britain for 17 years.").|
My first stop is the Victoria & Albert Museum, one I've not been to before. The "casting" section is just mind-blowing - full size replicas of key sculptures and bits of buildings from all over Europe - I'm in complete awe.
What's also mind-blowing are the prices they're charging in the very swanky cafe! I elect to give it a miss and head over to the East End, to Old Spitalfields Markets. After a bit of a wander around the stalls, I join a long queue at a small stall (always a good sign!) and get myself a big bowl of vegetable curry and rice for all of £2.50. It's warm, filling, and delicious, and the perfect lunch while I simultaneously devour the book "The Rotter's Club", which I had also picked up from a stall for £2.50. I had dearly loved the TV series when I had seen it in Australia, but not been able to find the book anywhere, and suddenly, delightfully, there it was!
I also dropped in on Luminaries & Visionaries exhibition at The Kinetica Museum, located within the marketplace, and it was interesting, though a lot smaller than I had anticipated.
Browsing through a lovely big collection of psych records and CDs at one of the stalls also brought a big smile to my face - there were lots of old favourites and friends there.
In the evening it was back to the Waggon & Horses, down by Kew Bridge, to see Cry Wolf again, their only gig this weekend. Another great gig it was, with the surprise and welcome addition of Whitesnake's Here I Go Again to the second set.
|Saturday, January 20, 2007|
|I've been buying tickets in the Euromillions lottery while I've been here. With the way my luck is running at the moment, it was almost not even a surprise that I won - wait for it - £20.20!|
Walking eastwards into the dusk, it's possible to see the succession of jet airliners heading towards Heathrow, "headlights" blazing, one after another, until they roar overhead. I'm heading back to get ready for the evening's gig.
Tonight it's up to one of our favourite venues, The Globe, in Brentford, to see The Pete Harrison Band. As well as featuring Mick on drums, on keyboards is none other than Lindsay Bridgewater, who had gone on tour with Outside Edge when they supported Bryan Adams, including a sold out gig at the Hammersmith Odeon. It's a small world indeed.
|Sunday, January 21, 2007|
|Tonight's gig is a special one, a full gig by Raw Glory at The Oaks in Rickmansworth, with an early start time of 6pm. The layout of the pub means that there's only a very few spots where you can see the full band, but Andrea, Phil and I snaffled the only table right in front - but of course.|
On the way up there in the car was a very special treat indeed. We were listening to Radio One, and the year of choice for the charts was - 1974. Golden Earring's Radar Love is as fabulous now as it was when it was first released, and it's a track which Cry Wolf carry off to perfection. Then, on top of that, hearing Cozy Powell's Dance With The Devil was a delightful prelude to the evening's entertainment. It was, quite simply, a year dripping with classic music.
And the gig itself was great. Having seen most of the songs thrashed through at rehearsal on Thursday night, it's nice to see the flourishes incorporated into the set.
|Monday, January 22, 2007|
|WHAT a weekend! I have no hope of catching up to myself for days yet!|
Suffice to say, even with the weather turning a fair bit colder, and predictions of snow in the next few days, I am completely undaunted.
However, my computer has other ideas. Having been my faithful companion now for 5 trips across the world to come here, plus numerous interstate trips back home in Australia, it seems to have decided that enough is enough, and slows to an unuseable crawl. At first I think perhaps it's spyware, but a trip up the road to one of my local computer stores confirms the worst - it's a hard disk problem. Bang goes any further updating of the trip diary, at least until I get back to Australia. Alas.
On the plus side, I'm looking forward to Panorama tonight. Australian press coverage of the Alexander Litvinenko case hasn't been detailed enough to satisfy my intense curiousity, but I just knew I'd get to see a documentary about it while I was here.
|Tuesday, January 23, 2007|
|It IS noticeably colder today. Not excessively, but enough to create a definite nip in the air, and I'm very glad of my gloves and scarf during my day trip to Portsmouth.|
|Wednesday, January 24, 2007|
|Something woke me at 4.30am. I don't know what it was, but when I got up and glanced out the window the world was white - it was snowing! One thing I had forgotten - though it looks pretty, it's treacherously slippery underfoot. It was a challenge to get across the road and back for breakfast, as my shoes are almost smooth on the bottom, so I went for Plan B: - shoes with treads, though thinner soles, and my thickest socks - it was a winning combination. Then I quickly nipped around taking photographs, which was just as well, because it had well and truly melted away by noon!|
|Isleworth in the snow. A picture postcard winter... for a few hours, at least!|
|Thursday, January 25, 2007|
|I'm winding up for my final weekend's worth of gigs, starting with the Thursday night jam session at The Woodman in Wimbledon.|
The house band is Roadhouse, and they open the evening, followed by a marvelous range of musicians - everything from the young garage band and their bevy of proud, camera-wielding parents, to the veterans who have seen (and played) it all. The biggest surprise for me was the Headbanger in the Pantera T-shirt - instead of playing a blistering set of thrash metal, he was right in there with classic British blues-rock! We even had a complete brass section for some songs - fantastic. All in all, a very enjoyable evening.
|Friday, January 26, 2007|
"One — two — one."|
Tom Farmer is sound-checking. He's told me before that he's rubbish at dates and times, and we must add to that phone numbers, because he never seems to get past the Brummie area code!
We're in Slough tonight, at the late-starting Rising Sun, a venue I've done a few times before. The audience here can often be as entertaining as the band, who have constructed a little barricade exactly the height of a guitar case standing on its side. Quite when they're expecting to be overrun by midgets is never made clear, but luckily the non-height challenged audience also respect the boundary and stay well-behaved, so everyone seems happy tonight!
|Saturday, January 27, 2007|
|It's back to Queen Mary's Sailing Club, in Ashford, for tonight's Cry Wolf gig.|
Tonight there's a PA problem - with nothing coming out of the right-hand speakers, we have everything blasting out of the left-hand side, the side I happen to be on. Though it had made me late for my lift, I had gotten as far as Hounslow Bus Garage before realising I had forgotten my earplugs tonight, and had to turn around to go back and get them, something I'm now very glad about.
It's a fun gig though, even if rather more quiet than it was the previous time we were here.
|Sunday, January 28, 2007|
|Oh no. It's the day I dread the most on every trip - it's my last Cry Wolf gig tonight.|
But first... yes, it's off to The Red Lion in Twickenham for the afternoon's jam session, and another special treat - Raw Glory are playing a half hour set during the jam. The boys go down a storm.
It's back to the B&B for a fast change, and then I'm off to The Six Bells - where else?
The last gig is always a bittersweet experience - my joy at being enveloped by the music is always tempered by the thought that it's going to be far too long before I get the chance to see it again.
The boys are using a loaner PA, thanks to Rob, and sounds great... until that one, too, starts malfunctioning!
|Monday, January 29, 2007|
|Well, that's it for another trip, and it's been a fantastic one this time. It's relatively easy to pack - I've been exceedingly frugal this time and have hardly bought anything - yes, that's right - NO music, NO DVDs, only a couple of items of clothing - plus I'm getting a lift to the airport, which saves all the stress about organising minicabs. I head on over the road to Lillyman's Pantry for my last decent meal until I get home - proprietor Sam is a Sheraton Hotel-trained chef, and it shows in the marvelous food he prepares daily - and then, alas, it's time to depart.|
Interestingly, I've gone one better than my last trip - I've done the majority of my travelling on buses, when not being kindly ferried by various friends in cars. That is a 5-week trip with numerous trips into central London - and not a SINGLE tube journey! (That's partly because of the fare hike - a single journey, for those of us visitors who don't have an Oyster card, is a whopping £4!!!)
|Wednesday, January 31, 2007|
|Apart from a 36-hour trip home from the US many years ago, this is the longest flight I've ever done, when you factor in the stops. I've been avoiding thinking about it all the time I've been swanning around England enjoying myself so much, but now it's upon me, and utterly unavoidable. Firstly, there's a five hour wait in Osaka between flights, and so I decide to lash out and spend ¥1500 on a "Relaxation Room" for two hours - this includes access to a shower, and a lie down in a darkened room. Now a world champion in the art of grabbing a quick nap, I do exactly that, and am soon feeling ready for the next leg of my trip - or as ready as I'll ever be.|
Alas, we also have a 1 1/2 hour stop in Brisbane on the way back! At first I figure I'll at least grab a decent coffee, but we are all trapped in the transit lounge (what WAS that movie starring Tom Hanks, a few years ago? I know exactly how he felt!), and the prices are astronomical! Indignant, I decide that the caffeine hit can wait until I get back to Sydney.
I even lash out and get a taxi all the way home from the airport - it's worth that extra expense to go direct rather than taking the shuttle bus with any number of detours to drop other people off along the way - I've had more than enough of travelling, for now.
|Thursday, February 1, 2007|
|I'm back in Australia - where I have, at last, full Internet access again. Apologies to everyone reading this diary - the abrupt silence was due to a catastrophic failure of my notebook, which I am going to have to get repaired, or replaced. There was plenty going on, including a full raft of gigs every weekend, and lots of photos being taken too - I simply just haven't had the computer access to do anything with them. That will change as I start to get everything sorted out over the next few days. Bear with me! It was a fantastic trip, but I haven't had a full night's sleep for about a week...|