Gra Nomad Wanderings

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I first met Bob and Wendy Pritchard while I was studying at the University of Calgary in Canada. Fay was supporting me. We used to go out with them, fish with them, live with them, ski with them, skate with them and eat with them. Bob and I both played cricket for the University team, along with blokes from England, India, Jamaica, Africa... a real cosmopolitan lot we were. Occasionally Fay and I babysat Bob and Wen's kids, Geoff and Jim. They later had 2 more, Simon and Emily, but we feel we had some input into the raising of the two older kids. They even let us "borrow" Jimmy one Mothers Day to get into the drive in theatre a little more cheaply!
Bob was one of those fellas who made people feel comfortable at a party. He had great people skills and would always ask questions of others rather than talk about himself. He was comfortable and confident with all sorts of people both men and women. Indeed he was a great admirer of my wife Fay and they got along extremely well.
Bob was a great leader as well as a very capable sportsman. He often passed books on to me, much faster than I was able to read them. "Here Grahame, you've gotta read this," he would say encouragingly. Indeed he had a very wide range of knowledge.
I liked the way he played cricket. Maybe he and I were batting. We'd just lost 3 or 4 wickets and there were still plenty of runs to get. He would say, "Well, we're not going to get these runs by mucking around out here are we?" This would be followed by an onslaught of big hitting from Bob in an attempt to reach the target as quickly as possible.
Bob had the supreme ability to enlist others to do things; Gee Wendy'd love to help you with that... Geoffrey'd give his eye teeth to join you there Grahame, why don't you give him a ring. Why don't you get Fay to... etc.
He always had tremendous confidence in others and was a great encouragement to me personally.
Bob and Wen loved entertaining and organising and arranging gatherings of all sorts. When we were living with them in Calgary for six weeks he organised for me to apply for a school principal's job in the Yukon Territory which I subsequently got. Luckily the experience turned out to be a positive one for Fay and I.
How could I ever forget Bob showing off in Calgary on his skates. He zoomed straight for me... but just at the last minute, went head over turkey and landed at my feet. Yes, it's all on film!
It was a surprising thrill in 1993 when Bob and Wendy turned up in Cooma (where we lived) as part of a bunch of people to help me celebrate my 50th birthday. Fancy coming all the way from Perth (where they have lived since returning from Canada) to Cooma just for that!

When I think of the song True Blue by John Williamson, I think of my mate Bob.

It was great to spend time with Bob and Wen last September as part of our big trip round SA, NT and WA. We enjoyed time in Perth and also down south in their lovely holiday pad in Denmark, a lovely spot in southern Western Australia.

Bob passed away earlier this week. Life won't be the same without him, but then he'll always be with us won't he?

Monday, October 23, 2006


Wow! On Friday we drove about 70 km from Elisabeth and Rainer'place (our Servas hosts there in northern Vienna) to Kems where we took BS (Banana Split - tandem bike) out of the back of the Peugeot 307 (which is giving us between 50 and 60 mpg according to Creighton!) and headed off along the mighty Danube River. We rode through some quaint medieval (can't spell it, and I'm in Hungary, and they won'know how to spell it either) villages of Dőrnstein and St Michaels enroute to Spitz. (This was in Austria.) We wandered in and out of umpteen vineyards with huge castles watching over us in the background like understanding grandparents watching over as their young ones frolic in the sun, but too old to join them in their games.
We crossed the Danube by ferry... just us and another ageing cyclist.... and returned to where our car was stashed via the bike route on the other side. It was a bit faster on the return journey. This 40 km trip was considerably easier than the 60 km trip that Vladimir sent us on over huge roots in the track etc some days ago. That was in the Czech Republic.
So, we've gone from Cz Rep to Austria to Poland to Hungary in a short space of time staying with fabulous Servas hosts each time. Hasn't God been good to us? And the temps recently have been 5 degrees warmer than average! We love it. Here in Hungary they are going through an unseasonably dry spell. It hasn't rained for maybe a couple of weeks or even a month. Unheard of. They are celebrating 50 years of freedom tomorrow! Monday 23 October. All dignatories are here... maybe even the Aussie PM! 1956-2006.
In Australia there is a mega drought. Worst in maybe 100 years say some. It's really bad. We are joining many thousands of people there in prayer for the next 40 days starting today. If you'd like to join us at this time, that'd be great. I'm sure God loves to hear from His children wherever they are. Let us know if you're praying with us... either click on comments (below) or send us a separate email to
Otherwise, catch you next time.

Went into Budapest today. Real neat. Knees had done enough walking though. Tomorrow we head south down to the border to stay with Zsuzsanna and Miklos. Cheers.

From a friend Garry, in Dubbo:
You may have already received the following about the drought. I apologise if you have however I thought that there was no harm in sending it to everyone on me contact list as I’m sure some will have missed out on hearing about this most important of initiatives.
The Australian Prayer Network is Calling Christians across the Nation to: “SEEK THE FACE OF GOD” FOR THE DROUGHT – 40 days from 22 October 2006:

With peoples minds again focused on the drought as a result of increased media coverage we believe it is now the right time to address this issue more thoroughly.The Australian Prayer Network has been encouraging prayer and organising seasons of prayer for the breaking of the drought for some 4 years now. In 2003 when the drought at that time was said to have been at its worst we mobilised, with the help of other networks, up to 100,000 people in a Year of Prayer for Church and Nation which focused on repentance and issues we were facing as a nation, including the drought. Whilst some good rain fell in some areas during that year the prayer did not break the drought. Indeed the word of the Lord that came through was "give thanks to me in all circumstances".In July/August 2005, again with help of other organisations, we called the praying people of our nation to a season of 40 days of prayer, repentance and fasting. This had an impact on the drought situation with the best rains for many years falling in most parts of the nation, with many previously declared drought areas being able to be taken off that list. However the rains stopped and have not returned to any great degree since the conclusion of that season of prayer.Since then we are aware of localised calls to prayer which have also brought rain for a short period in those areas to be followed by no further rain once the prayer stopped. In other words short term relief but no long term change to a steadily deteriorating situation.We believe this indicates that we are failing to address the issues that God is wanting us to see and deal with as His people. Every time the issue of the drought is raised the obvious cry goes up for us to "pray for rain". As a Network we believe God is looking for a much greater and deeper response from us rather than simply treating Him as one who is there simply to meet our needs.We believe therefore that we must take a different course of action. We are calling on Christians across the country to join us in a 40 day period of "Seeking the Face of God". This is not a season to pray for rain, although if you feel led to do that we have no objection, but rather a period where together we seek to understand "why He has shut up the heavens so that there is no rain" (2 Chron 7:13). Only when this understanding comes will we be able to deal with the underlying issues that will break the drought rather than get a temporary respite that lasts only for a matter of weeks before we are in a worse situation again. I believe that God in His mercy, once he sees our hearts are turning towards Him, may in fact send rain even during this proposed 40 day season whether we specifically ask for it or not.
We are proposing that as from next Sunday 22nd October through until the 30th November that we as individuals, in prayer groups and in Churches across our nation (several thousand Churches and Prayer Groups in our network alone will receive this email) we commit to seek the face of God every day for 40 days enquiring of Him why the heavens have been shut up. As the Lord brings revelation understanding we invite you to email us ( with that revelation so that we can corporately hear the mind of the Lord as it is revealed to us individually.Due to the large number of emails we expect to receive we will not reply to or enter into correspondence on any of them, but we will collate them to obtain an understanding of what God is saying to us in the season of seeking Him and issue a report of the results sometime around mid December. The APN leadership will then seek the Lord as to how He would have us respond as His people to what He says to us. We would expect that would lead to an appropriate national response that we would invite all Australians of faith to participate in.In responding can we emphasise that we do not want everyone's opinion or theory as to why we are in the worst drought we have ever experienced as a nation. We know there are physical reasons why there is a drought. Things such as "global warming" or "El Nino's" and the like, but we must remember that God will often use natural processes which He controls to gain the attention of, and speak to, His people.
As we seek God's face the best way to discern between what is an opinion and what is a word from God is to ask Him to speak to us through His word. This means that we are looking for Him to speak to us through a scripture together with a revelation of what the scripture means in the context of the drought.Will you join us? Please feel free to pass this to others who may otherwise be unaware of our call. This is a unique attempt to hear what God is saying to us as a nation through the praying people of our Nation.Brian PickeringNational CoordinatorAustralian Prayer Network
Source: Australian Prayer Network

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Well, somehow I've managed to score the job of catching up on our travels after THE BABY - so this is Fay.

We left you all last time at Mt St Michel on our way to Conty, near Amiens, in France. We stayed with a Servas host family, Franck and Claude with a young one just for us to practise grandparenting skills on. Conty was a great little village in the Somme Valley which those historians among you will recognise as being one of the battlefields Australians fought on in WWI. We didn't get to see the Australian cemetry there, but the countryside sure looked like the models I used to spend time with in the Canberra War Memorial as a kid.

From there we had a quick sprint through Belgium, Netherlands and Germany (with a short stop of 2 days in Mettingen in Germany with Servas hosts Lu and Meggi - those among you who spend time with disabled education would be very envious of Lu's school for the disabled with incredible facilities).

We arrived in Gorlev in Denmark to catch up with Henryk and Hanna and kids, Camilla and Christian. It is easy to feel at home with these folk and we had a great couple of days exploring the countryside learning about Vikings, burial mounds, boarding school life and social activities such as parent/teacher dinner/dances. Mind you, it was different being entertained in Denmark by a Scottish piano man with a repetoire including Scottish folk songs, Elvis, Frank Sinatra etc.!! These old folk (us) dropped out pretty early, however. Editor: We had a big day coming up Fay, give us a break!

Then to my (Fay's) planned and long-awaited historic journey. Many years ago I studied European history and became fascinated with names like Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Krakow (among others - but you can't do everthing.) So this part of our trip was planned to get me to those places to just wander and soak up the atmosphere.

Was it worth the wait? Yes, every bit. Berlin is as impressive as I imagined it to be as we wandered down the Unter den Linden and under the Brandenburg Gate - despite the presence of hundreds of motor cyclists who had a parade to remember their cohorts who had been killed over the years, on the Sunday we were there. Thank you Ole and Anett for your hospitality, walk in the cemetry and barbecue, and thanks also to Claus for the guided tour of Berlin by night.

Dresden, flattened by allied bombing in WWII has been slowly restored to its prewar beauty and was as I imagined/hoped it would be. Some small extras not expected as well, such as Ayres Rock Bar complete with cardboard cutout kangaroos holding menus, and an Irish piano girl!! She told us of the rebuilding processes of some of the buildings which included saving all old usable bricks and then waiting until enough money had been raised to buy new bricks etc. One "old" church we were looking at as we spoke was completed in 1998 - just as it used to look. Just incredible.

On to Prague in the Czech Republic. On the way we called in to Terezin which was an old walled city turned into a Jewish Ghetto by the Germans in WWII. (Another excursion into the past - still unbelievable to think it happened). Prague is indeed a city of great charm with beautiful buildings and gardens - we just wandered and kept finding some new enchantment at each turn. We also learned of the birth of Logan Jack in Prague so it will always be special for that as well.

We called at Nachod on the Polish/Czech border for a couple of days on the way to soak up some countryside with a bike ride one day along a river, and a hike in the hills, both of which created challenges, but were tremendous. (Especially afterwards!) Many thanks to our hosts Vladimir and Eva, along with their three children, who made our short stay memorable.

Along the road to Krakow, I remembered that one of the German concentration camps was at Oswiecim, just near Krakow, so we again made a short detour to see what was left. The camp was almost as it was in 1945, complete with gas chamber and cremation furnaces. Only a small amount of rebuilding had been necessary to complete the museum. A chilling reminder of man's inhumanity to man. (Gra - I reckon it was disturbing to say the least. Eerie!)

And what about Krakow? Well, our day today was like a return to past years. Krakow was almost undamaged in the war and is a town built continually over the past thousand years or so, with buildings of all eras still standing in place. The town square is the largest in Europe, and is surrounded on all sides by magic constructions with a huge craft market in the middle.

So from here on we still have a few places to go and people to see, but I feel more than content with my journey. Some quick impressions that may or may not be accurate, but certainly seem so to me:
1. cigarette companies are alive and well in Europe - restaurants are not smoke free. I didn't realise how much I enjoyed smoke free places.
2. Australians still need to learn about bread
3. age adds depth to cultures - won't Australia be great in about 1000 years?
4. people in Poland still get dressed up and go to church on Sunday
5. all roads in Eastern Europe are under construction or repair - they are also used by all and sundry vehicles (tractors, transport vehicles of every description).

Thanks Fay. You've done well. I might get myself pensioned off yet! Thanks also to Artur, Ania, Paulina, Nadia and Grafit for being great hosts here in the beautiful Krakow. Mind you it is getting a bit cooler here now. And guess who lost his good rugby top when it fell off the back of the bike a few days ago?

Tuesday: Walked round Vienna today and head to Budapest by the weekend. Do you want an update on the Pug? Eur photos coming shortly - we hope. Thanks Eva In Vienna for the loan of the puter. Great to meet up with former Servas colleagues from 1995 and 1998.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Welcome on board LOGAN JACK McLAUGHLIN. Weighed in at 8 lb 9 oz and was about 19.9 inches.
Meanwhile I'm trying hard to learn how to be a grandfather. I have started out by sleeping with a grandmother - they say that helps!
We just want to praise God for this little bloke. I wonder what impression he's gonna have on the world eh? Let's wait and see. Someone has already told me that our lives will never be the same again! Guess that's ditto for Brendan and Debbie eh? For now Deb, get some rest and recover... you're gonna need it for the rest of your life! And Brendan.... what a great smile he has now eh!!!
Seeya soon Logan!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Nobody in Aust or US would dream of buying a car with only 1.6 litre engine and manual gearbox. And diesel. But what a great car this Peugeot 307 is!

I have mastered the left stalk on the steering column... it does the cruise control. Really good as you can set the cruise on a number, eg 124 kph. There is another stalk on the left which is for lights... but you don´t really need that because lights come and go automatically. Amazing. Right stalk is wipers. No need to worry about that either as wipers come on and vary speed AUTOMATICALLY. I am amazed. (Haven´t let Fay have a drive as yet!)

A special ability this car seems to have is that it can SQUEEZE through narrow gaps. Driving through small French towns.... overtaking big trucks in Germany where there is road construction in prgress. Pug does extremely well. GREAT CAR this DREAM CHASER!

Now, if I can only master the dashboard screen.... it gives fuel consumption and how many km till your destination. Not only is screen in French, so too the manual! Maybe I email Peugeot???

Castle in the background is Mont-Saint-Michel, in France.


PS Now in Denmark.

PPS Hard to tell in all those photos that there is a tandem bike in the back eh? AND a heap of luggage.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Three photos from beautiful Rennes in France, one of us in front of Mont-Saint-Michel also in northern France and one of the mightyDreamchaser! (Peugeot 307 SW).

Thanks Franck (Conty near Amiens in France) for putting photos onto disk and thanks Lu in Mettingen near Osnabrück in Germany for letting me use his laptop to put photos on the blog. Great Servas families.

Off to Denmark tomorrow!!

Sunday, October 01, 2006


[Written 30 Sept 2006]

Today's been a busy day. Only travelled 27 km but we've achieved quite a bit.

1 We woke in this beautiful place where there is a great hostel. We decided to stay an extra night so we paid the €25 (25 Euros). We had a lovely room - 2 single beds, private bathroom, secure, 3rd floor, very modern.

2 Put Banana Split (tandem bike) together - 50 mins. Pumped up tyres, adjusted brakes and gears. First time since Ireland.

3 Went for short ride, but spits of rain sent us back to the hostel. We decided to drive! (We are fine weather cyclists!)

4 Drove to le port de......... (forgotten).... near Cancale. This is Brittany - NW France. We found a beach, a harbour, heaps of boats and countless restaurants... all open and ready for business. Most specializing in seafood.

5 Phoned my sister Marg in Sydney, Australia and asked her to see if she could find Henrik and Hanna's email and road address. It should be in my computer I left at your place Marg!

6 Ate lunch looking out over the water (with our backs to the fancy restaurants). We had bread and honey and an apple and water. (Big lunch eh?)

7 Explored some more of Cancale from clifftops taking some beautiful photos.

8 All the time we could see Mont St Michael in the distance. Tomorrow we will visit you!

9 Back at the hostel we spent 1.5 hrs planning the next phase while looking out over the water.

10 Went to a youth centre and accessed internet. Received and sent emails, checked phone card, added some story to Got an email from Margaret telling me Henrik and Hanna's address and phone number in Denmark. Great work! Thanks Marg.

11 Then walked to telephone booth but found we needed some area codes, so, back to the "house of internet" for extra information.

12 Back to the phone booth (walking) and rang a Servas host (Frank and Claud and baby Les Lou) near Amiens in Picardy, France - eastern France. Yes, we would love to have you come for a visit!

13 Phoned Henrik and Hanna in Denmark and spoke with their daughter Camille. Do you remember me, Camille? She said Yes, you are welcome to come!

14 On the way back to the hostel, we drove out to the point to see the sun set. Beautiful! I thought I should be a bit romantic seeing we are in France!

15 Drove to hostel, folded Banana Split and put him in the trunck/boot/rear of 307 station wagon. Easy!

16 Into the kitchen at the hostel. Fay cooked dinner. I poured the wine. We've achieved quite a lot today. Tomorrow we will drive about 500 km as well as visit Mont St Michael and some other places. Then we will stay with Claud and Frank.

Today's costs (in Euros):
€13.25 food
€2.50 parking
€2.05 internet
€25.00 accomm.

A beaut day. Thank you Lord.