Gra Nomad Wanderings

Friday, August 25, 2006


We reach Cornwall in SW of England today - the home of the KEASTS!

We will be staying with a Servas family, Anthony and Hilda, whom we stayed with back in 1973 and again in 1986. Great people.

Meanwhile, we had a beaut visit with Richard and Joanna in London (also Servas), and have stayed in 2 B&Bs since then.

Let me tell you, EVERYTHING IS PRETTY DAMN EXPENSIVE OVER HERE! Well, nearly everything. Accom (other than hostels which we haven't been able to access so far) range from £50 - £100! That is from fifty to a hundred quid! So, last night... fifty quid. Times that by 2.5 to find out how many Aussie dollars it cost us. $125! But it was very nice.

Gotta go... outa time.

Cheers to all. We ferry to Ireland on 2 September if we can get a one then.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Here in England, Pakistan are involved in a ball tampering incident in a cricket test! They've taken their bats and they might well go home. Nasty scene. (Don't worry about it if you're from America!)

Arrived London and are staying in North London with Servas folks - Richard and Joanne. We expect to depart tomorrow for the south west of England and then head to Ireland.

Good to be here at long last. Transport here isn't cheap though. Looks like car rental is cheaper than US. But then that wouldn't be hard would it?

We seem to have recovered well from jet lag. Richard suggested getting the sun on your head. Did that briefly yesterday between rain showers, but today not much sun around. As Fay said, 'It is England!'

Must say the British were excellent on the flight from NY to London - British Airways. Female captain on the big 747 400. Six hour trip in total.

Sorry no photos as yet. We still look the same, in fact we're wearing the same clothes (as Claudine from Kansas City has noticed! She suggested we buy some new gear!) Then we wouldn't be able to be recognised.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Hey, I think it works out cheaper to use public transport than to have your own vehicle! And it's better for the environment I keep telling everybody. Well it sure takes some effort and some organising let me tell you.
From Bar Harbour, we contacted Servas hosts near Portland, Maine, who invited us to visit. So, the next challenge was to find out how to get from Edenbrook Motel in Bar Harbour to a little village called Arundel - 20 miles from Portland - in the bottom corner of the beautiful state of Maine.
A bloke in the busy visitors centre suggested we go see the folk in the Villager Motel because a tourist bus goes from there to Bangor. When we chatted to the lady at the motel, we learnt we could hook up with a shuttle bus which would take us through to Bangor where we would be able to catch a CONCORD coach through to Portland (2 hours). Portland seems a lovely city of about 70,000 people. Once we reached Portland, we caught a taxi (1992 Lincoln Town Car) to Monument Square where we were informed we would need to be to catch a regular bus to Biddeford. Monument Square was an ideal place to sit down at an outside setting at a bar and grill, having a shandy with the locals. Of course we had to teach them how to make a shandy didn't we?
At 3:27 pm, the ZOOM bus arrived right on schedule! It takes us a while to get the two Samsonite suitcases - each containing half a tandem - into a regular bus. Then we have to get our two wheelie suitcases with our clothes. We each have a backpack and sometimes (as on this occasion) we have a yellow bike pannier with assorted bike gear.
It was great to see Stacy in a red pickup as promised when we arrived at Biddeford at 4 pm.
So, here we are!
It's been great getting to know Stacy and Marylyn (and some of their adult kids) here on their farm. They have the best vegie garden we've seen (well, as good as Relan's in Corvallis, Oregon). They've also been partly responsible in setting up an elementary school (The School Around Us) and now a secondary school (The New School) - what energy!
The day after arriving we borrowed 2 of their bikes to tour round Kennebunkport, Arundel and other villages. I estimated that we rode about 40 km, mostly on narrow country roads. We saw President Bush's residence and also the gorgeous church he attends when in the area. (Yes, I have photos of both...)
Meanwhile it's been tricky working out how to get to New York from here. Looks like it's going to be another day going from bus to bus etc. Main goal is to get to JFKennedy airport in NY in time to catch the 5 pm plane to London on Sunday 20 August.
Hard to believe that we will be (God willing) in London in a few days time!!! Seeya USA!!! (Do we need permission to leave?)

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Well folks, here we are in Pleasantville, Nova Scotia in the Maritimes. First visit. The pace here is pretty laid back. Like Tasmania.
We had a great time with Telfer and Ken/Sue in Neustadt area a couple of hours west of Toronto. The folk around town were really warm folk. The brewery, the church we attended, a ride in a Mustang convertible to Tim Hortons, swimming in backyard pool, sitting round campfire.... yes! In Canada!
Now Pleasantville.... near Bridgewater, NS. Quiet, peaceful.
Due to catch the cat ferry on Monday 14th from Yarnmouth (down the bottom) to Bar Harbour (near Bangor) in Maine. From there we will somehow head to New York so we can fly to London on Sunday 20 August. That will conclude our 5 months here in North America. We expect to have about 14 weeks in Europe.
Thanks Gerard and Maria for looking after us here in NS. They've taken us to heaps of places like Peggy's Cove, Mahone Bay, Bay of Fundy and we even had a lobster eating session yesterday! (Got some good photos!) Last one of those was in Calgary in 1998 with the Beans! Gerard and Maria don't like the city life of Toronto, that's why they came here. They also don't like winter; that's why they journey to places like Aust and NZ each winter. LATE NEWS: We just had a BEAUTIFUL dinner, thanks Maria. Maybe we'll stay longer!! That steak was as good as we've tasted anywhere... right up there with Argentinian beef! And that says something eh Jem?

So.... who knows when we will blog again. With all the current restrictions on baggage following terrorist activity in England.... God alone knows when we shall blog again, so I shall leave it in His hands (stolen from Fiddler on the Roof.) Feel free to add a comment friends.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Dedicated to my mate Bev.

Just in case you were thinking about taking a trip involving air travel… please read.

Our flight was:
AA 1450 Seattle to Chicago departing at 0710 - about 3.5 hrs
AA 2026 Chicago to Toronto departing at 1521 - about 1 hour
Too easy!

We were travelling with Bill in his Chev truck. We had stayed in Spokane, Washington, a couple of days, enabling us to help celebrate Suzanne’s 30th birthday. Suzanne is a Southport girl (Queensland Gold Coast). We’d never met her before, but she was visiting Michael (who owns North Division Bike Shop) to help him celebrate his 60th - all organised by the lovely Eileen - events coordinator. Before Spokane we’d stayed 2 days in Coeur D’Alene - a beautiful spot.

Thanks to Meredith at Travelodge in Spokane we had procured accommodation at the Travelodge in Seattle… not too far from the airport with airport shuttle and the right price.
It was some weeks ago, maybe months now, that Bill had driven our 2 kids (Peta and Jeremy) to Seattle from Nanaimo, to catch their plane.
As we approached Seattle Bill told us that he and the kids had stayed in a bit of a dodgy place before they caught the plane. Well, you’re not gonna believe this, but guess which motel we had booked?
So, we had to go to Trudy’s Bar for a drink, just like they did, and then have a Chinese feed at the Chinese Restaurant, just like they did. I wanna tell you, we enjoyed our drink, we loved the Chinese tucker and the accomm at the Travelodge was fine. At least we got the over 55 rate!
We farewelled Bill and jumped on the airport shuttle which got us to the airport about 5:10 am. What on earth possessed us when we lined up at the United check-in instead of the American Airlines? At least we eventually found out we were in the wrong area. Another thing we found out was that our two Samsonite suitcases, containing half a tandem in each of them, were overweight by about 7 pounds. So, grab a few things from each and shove into other luggage. That should work. We checked in 2 pieces of luggage each and told them we had two carry-on pieces each. (You’re allowed 1 piece of carry-on and 1 handbag or laptop. Our “handbags” were some of the biggest handbags ever to get on an airplane. But then most everybody’s “handbag” is a similar size these days.)

The next thing we had to do - Bev would love this bit - put all your carry-ons, your wallet, watch, bumbag, cap, camera, jacket, sunglasses AND SHOES on the conveyor belt which runs through the x-ray machine. Then we had to walk through the other x-ray machine. Before this Fay had suddenly said to me, “Oh, where did we put the METAL knives and forks from our picnic set?” I could see it was only a matter of time before we would be selected by HOMELAND SECURITY and whisked away, never to attend another family Christmas gathering. At least we were in that same position Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy were in just before they jumped. Didn’t have many options. Well, I figure HS wasn’t too interested in us and content that we were departing their country eventually that day…. If the planes ran to schedule.
Plane took off at 7:21 am. They gave us 2 apple juices and a coffee each. We had a meusli bar each as well that Fay had brought on board. Pretty good! Did a lot of reading my book, Brightly Fades The Don by Fingleton. (Don’t tell Bill I stole the book!) Arrived Chicago at 10:44 am.
When you have a stopover like this, you have to eat a bit, use the washrooms (toilets) and do plenty of walking.
Some time later, as we were relaxing, we were informed (via the overhead departure boards,) that our plane was now re-scheduled for a 4:20 pm departure. No drama, but I will ring Telfer and let him know as he’s promised to pick us up at Toronto.
Guess what? Departure is now 5:02 pm. Should I ring Telfer again? He told me it was raining in Toronto when I rang him, so at least there might be time enough for the weather to improve before we arrive.
The plane did take off that night - 2.5 hours late at 5:46 pm. With an hour’s difference, we landed at 7:45 pm and then had a tour of the airport (in the plane) while we queued behind other planes. Going through passport and customs was pretty easy. The tricky thing was collecting our baggage. The assorted items of black, grey, green, brown and red came trickling onto the carousel as if they were too shy to enter the public arena. Eventually our shy bags arrived and we phoned Telfer for the pre-arranged pickup. Thanks for lending Telfer your cell phone (mobile) Ken/Sue.
It was another 1.5 hours for Telfer to reach his house in Neustadt. Sure good to get out of the city and into a lovely country village.
We’re due to fly out of Toronto next week…. maybe Tuesday, for Halifax. I sure hope the date I selected for accomm at Halifax Marriott Harbourfront (see small photo) matches our flight!

Then 19 August we fly NY - London! Unbelievable.
On the plus side this week - Bryan & Marcia’s daughter Jenny had her 3rd boy!
On the minus side - the World’s Greatest Cyclist (in my eyes), Michael Martin from Dubbo passed away. He will be sadly missed by many folk.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Told you it was beautiful! And I'm just a mug camera man too!
Special thanks to Eileen for shrinking the photos for me... and thanks to Michael for swapping those licence plates with me.
The road from Jasper to Lake Louise is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. In fact AWESOME!