Brisbane, QLD

Monday, August 24, 2015


It was Birthday Bear celebration time again this month. (Anyone not familiar with our Birthday Bear tradition read here:)
This time it was Helen's special big 70th. We celebrated at Chatswood Tavern, a small hotel where the service is good and the meals delicious.
Chris, me, Mary, Helen, Birthday Bear, Paul, Bill, George, Bob and Ann
We were lucky this time because our 'grey nomad'  friends, Chris and Bob were in town and they could join us for Helen's special birthday. Whenever we book for our get togethers, we always book a place for Birthday Bear. I'm sure staff and patrons think we are crackers. We don't care because oldies can get away with being silly.

When we arrived at the Tavern, Mary had already organised Birthday Bear. She was dressed as Birthday Girl to reflect Helen's special birthday. She had on her party dress and accessories including a brown wig. She had brought a birthday cake, card and a box of chocolates.
She even had on a new pair of shoes decorated with sparkles.

 It cheered up Helen to see her Birthday Girl Bear. Poor Helen and Paul are going through a difficult time with Paul being very ill with cancer, but he is a fighter and won't give in. He comes along to celebrate even though he is in a lot of pain. Bravo Paul!

 Mary created Birthday Bear this time. We take it in turns to dress Birthday Bear.

 Helen cut the cake for us all to have a piece.

Happy Birthday Helen but I wish it could be happier.

Friday, August 21, 2015


It was 1970 and we left our motel for LA airport early. We swapped our QANTAS tickets for TWA tickets to New York because we wanted to fly on the new Jumbo Jet and QANTAS didn't have any then. Unfortunately, that was not a good move. The plane was scheduled to leave at 12 noon, however, it was delayed for over two hours due to 'technical problems'. That gave me the heebie jeebies. Finally, we took off but had to fly further south than usual to avoid a storm so that delayed us further. It was late at night when we arrived in NY and then our luggage didn't turn up. We had to wait another two hours. We rang the hotel to say we were delayed. They told us they had given our room away because we hadn't arrived before five o'clock. After a heated exchange they found us another room. Luckily, our luggage arrived and we took a taxi to the hotel. We weren't impressed. It was late at night. The service was non existent. There was no lift we had to climb stairs with luggage to third floor. There was no dining room we had to find a restaurant in what seemed a dark and seedy area. When our eyes adjusted to the dim lights and smoke filled cafe we noticed that we were the only whites. By the time we crawled into a not so comfortable bed all tired and frazzled, we were not impressed with New York. In the morning we decided to return to the airport and fly to Toronto. ( A decision I regretted for the next 40 years until we did visit NY again and thoroughly enjoyed it.)

  My cousin Molly, Aunt Ada  and children Stewart and Fiona met us at the airport. 
The next day Molly drove us up north to the lakes district. We stayed in a friend's cabin. The children went swimming but it was too cold for us. Once again my relatives, whom I hadn't seen since a small child in England, were very kind to us.

One of Molly's friends lent us his big Oldsmobile to drive to Niagara Falls because there were six of us, too many for Molly's little car. His only stipulation was that Bill was to drive. Bill was overjoyed to get behind the wheel of this beaut car but he had to remember to drive on the right hand side of the road, not what we were used to.

Fiona, me, Aunty Ada, Molly and Stewart at Niagara Falls.

 We walked behind the wall of water thundering down in front of us. We had to dress in black waterproof ponchos. We all looked like penguins.

 We all went up the Skylon Tower to have lunch at the revolving restaurant. The lift was on the outside of the tower. It took your breath away.

Molly took us for a tour of the city. They were very proud of their new City Hall. 

That night we flew to London. The plane was empty and we could lie down and sleep most of the way. We took a taxi from the airport in London to the Imperial Hotel in Russell Square. In the afternoon we went to Regent St. to pick up our car that we had bought in PNG to be picked up here. After some messing about we were given the keys, as I sat in the car and pulled the door shut the door handle fell off into my hand. (Not a good start). We waited for it to be fixed and then took off into the hair raising London traffic  and for the first few hundred yards on the wrong side of the road. Bill still thought he was in Canada.

This is like the Ford Capri that we took delivery of in London except ours was two toned blue.
The next morning we found our way out of London and headed for Dover. Bill was getting excited at the thought of seeing his parents again and introducing me. We intended coming back to London later with his parents.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Continued from last post "Belated Honeymoon in 1970"

After meeting Aunty Velma and cousin Lynne for the first time in twenty odd years, we soon became friends as they drove us down the beautiful coast road from San Fracisco to San Luis O'Bispo.

 The scenery was magic and in the afternoon we pulled into yet another aunt's house in Monterey. We stayed at her house for the night. Aunt Marion was so friendly and generous even though we had never met her before. Monterey and Carmel were lovely towns with very nice houses and shops. I remember seeing a tree dripping with thousands of butterflies. We visited an early Spanish Mission built in 1770.  Silly me took no photos as Bill was filming it all. I did collect post cards on the way around the world so I am using them to add to the few photos I have.

Bill, Uncle Ted, Bonnie, Aunty Velma, Me, and Pam. 1970.
 The next day we arrived in San Luis Obispo, where Aunty Velma and Uncle Ted (my mother's brother) lived with their two youngest daughters Pam and Vicky. Their eldest children, Bonnie, Chuck and Lynne were married. That evening more of the family arrived to meet us.

The next day Bonnie took us to watch her son, Jeff, play baseball which was new to us and fun to watch. That night we were taken to dinner at Madonna Inn a fascinating place built from natural stone and decorated with antique furniture. Each room was decorated in a different theme. The strangest of all were the toilets.

Hearst Castle
The next day Bonnie and her sister in law, Lois, took us to Hearst Castle. Built in 1947 by Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. Hearst was influenced by Spanish buildings and he imported most of the materials from there. It was his lavish home with 165 rooms and 127 acres of garden and pools as well as three guest houses. 

In the afternoon we visited Chuck at work. He was a teacher at a prison and it was graduation day. That was a different experience, entering a prison and mixing with the crims at a graduation ceremony.

Early the next morning we caught a Greyhound Bus to Santa Monica and LA. We said our goodbyes to my wonderful aunt, uncle and cousins. I never saw my aunt and uncle again. I didn't see my cousins again until 2011 except for Bonnie who visited us in Australia in the late 90's.

We booked into the motel and then went on a tour of Universal Studios and Hollywood. Little did we know that our daughter would be living there in the future.

The next day we visited Disneyland. It was so much fun but we wished we had our friend's kids with us to enjoy it too.

We obviously visited China town as this card was in my scrap book but I can't remember much about it.

We left for the airport early the next morning looking forward to New York.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Bill and I were married in May 1969 but we planned to work for another year and save every penny and then go on a belated honeymoon to Switzerland and there I would meet his parents for the first time. We returned to Pt Moresby from being on leave in Sydney over Christmas 1969.  Then we were busy working and planning "going finish" ( meaning to leave Papua/New Guinea for good.) We packed all our belongings into crates and  shipped them to my parents in Sydney. We sold our lovely MGBGT and bought a new Ford Capri to be picked up in London. We hadn't completely decided whether we would stay in Switzerland or return to Australia. Our travel agent said it is cheaper to buy an around the world ticket than a return ticket from Sydney to Zurich. Our eyes lit up and thought that would be nice, a trip around the world. So the planning started in earnest.

We planned the route to go from Pt Moresby, Sydney, Aukland, Honolulu, San Francisco, drive to Los Angeles, fly to New York, Toronto, London and then drive to Switzerland. I had cousins in California and Toronto that I hadn't seen since I was six years old and still living in England. My American  Uncle Ted and Aunt Velma and children had visited England for Christmas 1948. My cousin Molly still lived in England but later moved to Toronto.

These were the days before cheap overseas calls so I set about writing to my Uncle Ted and cousin Molly to say we were coming. Even though I had not been in contact with them before, other than my mother had always written at Christmas, they were very pleased to offer us accommodation and more as it turned out.

Needless to say, I was over the moon with excitement to think that I was not only going to Switzerland but I would see America and return to my homeland, England, after 14 years of growing up in Australia and 7 years of working in PNG. So at 28 I was off to see the world. The saddest part was saying goodbye to all our friends in PNG and resigning from our well paid jobs but we did have a super dooper farewell party.

 First stop Sydney. It was always nice to visit my hometown and my parents. Then it was sad/happy goodbyes again. My parents were very supportive of me having adventures.

 We stayed a few days in this Hotel in Aukland, NZ. We visited the museum and the botanical gardens. Bill did a sea plane flight over the city. I used to be nervous of flying in those days. During this trip I took very few photos as Bill was taking 8mm movies. I am disappointed now that I didn't take many.
 Then we flew to Nadi in Fiji just to change planes for Honolulu. Can you believe that in those days QANTAS gave us certificates for crossing the equator?

 In Honolulu we had our first experience of long customs queues. There were many things we found different. In a restaurant we were asked if we would like ice cream or cottage cheese with our steak? We took a while to get used to the different money and tipping custom. (We didn't tip in Australia). We did a bus tour of Oahu and fell asleep due to jet lag but we stayed awake during the Sea Life Centre show. We walked along Waikiki Beach where we were a little disappointed and felt that our beaches were nicer.

 Soon we were on our way to San Francisco where my Aunt Velma and cousin Lynne were meeting us at the airport. The problem was they didn't know what we looked like and we didn't know what they looked like. However, we had sent photos and hoped that would help. These were the days before the digital revolution. Velma, Lynne and husband Jim easily found us. We had told them by letter which hotel we were booked into but on arrival they informed us that they had cancelled our booking as they had made arrangements for us to stay with other relatives. They were so kind to us strangers. We had dinner with all these new found relatives and we all noticed how we used our knife and fork differently and we were introduced to jello served with the main course. It was so much fun listening to the different accents and learning the different ways.

Aunty Velma and Lynne took us sight seeing. We went over the Golden gate Bridge, through the Japanese Gardens and down Lombard St. We went up the Coit tower and had lunch on Fisherman's wharf. We walked through Ghirardelli Square and went for a ride on a cable car. That night we went up to the top of the Fairmont Hotel for a drink and to see the view over the city at night. we came down in an outside elevator.

 Jim and Lynne lived in San Jose but they so kindly offered to drive us down the coast road to San Luis O'Bispo where her parents, Uncle Ted and Aunt Velma, lived. We were impressed with the big, modern cars in America.
To be continued

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I am a strong believer in that maintaining friendships is good for your health and well being. That is why I enjoy our Birthday Bear Group, where we organise a get together when it is one of our birthdays. Recently, we organised a few days away together on Bribie Island not far from Brisbane. (see last posts) While we were there we looked up other friends that had moved there in the past. 
(L to R) Bill, Mary, moi, Jo, Rob, Paul, Helen, George and Ann took the photo.
Joanne and Rob both used to work at the same school as all of us old chooks girls. She invited us for a cuppa and a catch up chat. Jo loves working with youths and is hoping to get a job at the local high school but in the meantime she has opened up a little fabric shop under her house and she has a stall at the Sunday Markets.

 After we left Jo's place we went to the bayside village of Bongaree for a seafood lunch at the renowned  Savige's Seafood shop. We sat in the warm sun outside and enjoyed a delicious lunch together. Then we walked across the road for a stroll along the bayside beach watching people enjoying the winter sun. The Port of Brisbane on the mainland is in the background.

 A huge Moreton Bay Fig tree framed the pretty scene and provided........

 a resting place for a Corella Parrot. (they can become noisy, hungry pests in some areas).

Then we returned to the other side of the island and our resort. We watched the many ships leaving and entering the bay.
Also living on the island are Maureen and Keith, old friends of ours from Papua/ New Guinea days. We visited them too and caught up with their news and talked about the old days. Silly me forgot to take a photo of them.

While Mary and Helen prepared dinner for our last night, we watched the silvery moon rising.

George's sister Bev also lives on the island so she was invited to have dinner with us. Mary and Helen rustled up a lovely four course meal out of our left over, pooled food items that we had brought with us. Bruschetta, Pumpkin Soup, Aberdeen Sausage and salad, Cheese and crackers and cake. It was a fun last night together.

The next day, before returning home, we stopped by the markets. This colourful busker caught my attention.

 Our old farts boys were browsing through CD's and records.

Then we found Jo and her fabric stall. Hugs and kisses were in store as we said good bye until next time. How could this lovely smile not brighten up your day.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


When we were on Bribie Island we visited the Art Centre. Unfortunately, they were in the process of changing the exhibition. However, there was a nice collection of crafts by the enthusiastic locals. After browsing, Mary, TOH and I went for a short nature walk  through the adjoining park.
Don't you just love his shirt?

 We walked past this big, old, gnarled Banksia Tree. I love this rustic, ugly wild tree with its.........

huge flowers and leaves and its......

scary seed pods. Scary because I always think of the Australian children's story, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, where one of these seed pods was characterised as a big bad Banksia Man.

 I had never seen one of these seed pods before.

Another big tree was covered in these pretty, wild flowers.

At the end of the track was a little water hole, dark with tannin from the trees and reflecting the lovely blue, winter sky.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


The Birthday Bear group went to Bribie Island to celebrate my belated birthday. We stayed at a resort for three days. We were trying to escape the cold weather at home even though it is only 100k away. After a lazy breakfast we went for a stroll.
 Bill is not keen on walking on sand. 

 So we took the path that winds through the park along side the beach.

Party poopers.

 We arrived at a neat lookout where we could see:

 Blue, yellow and green stretching for miles to the south and ....

 to the north.
We returned to the unit for lunch. Ann had brought some home cooked Aberdeen Sausage, Mary and Helen provided the salad.

 In the afternoon, Mary and I walked along the sand in the other direction from this morning. I loved it. It is so relaxing and rejuvenating.

We looked back to take a shot of our resort. It is the only one on this beach. There are smaller apartment blocks and lots of houses for rent. It is a nice quiet place to come for a getaway.

We even saw some young men brave the water. They are probably from a colder climate. It is like summer weather for some but not me. I like it hot!

 After some time we left the sand and returned through the park. We saw Banksia Flowers and

 Willy Wagtail Birds.

 Soon we were back at the resort. This is the backside facing the street.

We watched sky divers land on the beach (photo by George)

We watched the sunset and 
the moon rise before going across the road to the hotel for dinner.

 Ann had dressed Birthday Bear. Bear was waiting at Los Angeles Airport to fly to Australia. She had a handkerchief to wipe away the tears as she waved goodbye to her LA angels. She had a photo of the family too. (Most readers probably know that I have recently been to LA to see my grandchildren). Those not familiar with our Birthday Bear Tradition read here.

 I consoled Bear and told her the angels are coming home for Christmas. She was happy about that.

After dinner I was full but the manager insisted of giving me a piece of Apple Pie for free for my birthday. The meal was only ordinary 'pub grub' but the company was great as always. We chose the wrong night to go there as the sign behind me says, "Onesie Disco" for kids. So it was like eating dinner on playground duty. There were many children running around in Onesies. Oh well it was a fun experience.