Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Continuing My Story

We had been living in Switzerland for three months when Bill decided that he wanted to return to Australia to live. I didn't need any convincing as I realised it would be much easier for me to work in Australia and also much easier to buy our own home. It would cost millions to buy a house in Switzerland. Bill also found the lay back, fun loving, friendly Australians were easier to work with than his Swiss counterparts. We wanted to take back our new car so we made a booking on the Italian ship the Marconi for the 24th November. That was another three months away. 
In the meantime we had promised Bill's mother to take her to England with us. (His Dad didn't want to come). She had never been there. I was keen to return to my homeland and see the places where I was born and where I had lived. It was 21 years since I had migrated to Australia as a seven year old.

We bundled Mutti into the car with a few suitcases and off we drove through Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. We stayed in Brussels for the night.
Cologne, Germany

The Atomium, Brussels (built for the World Expo,
 there was a restaurant at the top).
 In the morning we drove to Oostend to catch the ferry across the Channel to Dover. We had to wait a while and I was hungry. The only thing on offer at the dock was fast food. I bought a greasy sausage. (Bad decision) The crossing was very rough. The ferry was slamming down and soaring up over the choppy waves. It wasn't long before I felt ill and the sausage and I parted company. I was so embarrassed, I had never been sea sick before. We drove from Dover into London. Mutti was excited, Bill was hungry and I was seedy. It took us a while to find St James Hotel no GPS then.

We took a tour bus to show Mutti the sights of London. We saw Piccadilly Circus,

 and Trafalgar Square.

 Back then, it was the thing to do, to feed the pigeons. 

 The queen's guards at Whitehall.

 We saw the jewels in the Tower of London and watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

We visited 10 Downing St and the houses of parliament.

Bill's mum had to return to work in Switzerland and we arranged for her to fly back. We took her to Heathrow Airport where we discovered there was a security alert because it was when planes had been hijacked. So we were not able to see her board the plane. We were worried because she hadn't flown before and she didn't speak English. Later that day we rang Bill's Dad, who said she hadn't arrived. Panic. We learnt that the plane had been delayed two hours.That night we rang again and we were relieved to hear that she was home. 
Now we had a lot of England to see and many friends and relatives to meet in the next two weeks.


  1. What an interesting trip. So nice that you got back to England and took Bill's mum. She must have loved it.

  2. You weren't geographically mixed up?
    The border ferry was not going to Mexico, which under the circumstances
    with your food intake could have been disastrous.
    Your attire at "Buck House" looks rather Mexican!

    I think 10 Downing Street is now out of bounds for
    tourists and all?
    Bill doesn't seem all that keen on those pigeons.
    I hope they were "house trained" ???
    Great report as always - well done.
    The "joys" of airports and weather etc - now terrorist alarms,
    never a dull moment.

  3. Times without mobile phones, could have done with one back then. Anyway your mother in law arrived safely and so did you two..
    A Poncho...I remember those..

  4. What an interesting life story you have Diane - and wonderful photos to keep memories alive and to easily share your story. Mutti must have enjoyed her time away yet was no doubt pleased to arrive home safely.

  5. I too was taken by the Poncho and the fact that people who visit London today go to all the same places.

  6. Every time I head over to read your news I'm so enjoying the photographic side of the story. You are so lucky to have these brilliant mementos Diane. London is a brilliant city to explore.. can just imagine the scare you had when mil hadn't arrived home, especially in those hijacking days!

  7. So fun to read this, we were also in November 1970 in London and went by ferry to Dover! Only we departed from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It was a rough sea indeed, we saw a man falling of his chair in the bar and all the bottles started to tinkle against each other and the bar was closed. Neither of us was sick fortunately and we enjoyed the wobly crossing. I also have B&W pictures of our visit, me in a maxi-coat and long hair on my shoulders. You look fun in your poncho too.

    1. I made an error, the boat went from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, to long ago, I forgot.

  8. Ah, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace all look the same! I walked through the Whitehall entrance where you have the photo of the horse and guard. (The day I was there, my friend took a photo of me rubbing the horses nose and it started too nibble my cardigan!) I sat inside and watched Beating the Retreat on a Thursday evening! Your photos are awesome! Thanks for sharing. Jo

  9. I had forgotten about the times when so many planes were being hijacked. Scary times! And also scary to send your mother-in-law off when she couldn't speak English!

  10. I can imagine that Bill preferred work in Australia ! I didn't want to live in Switzerland neither, nor in Germany ! The Atomium is still there, has been completely redone and the restaurant inside is very beautiful ! Besides the pigeons the Trafalgar square doesn't look so nice as before, it looks small ! All the rest looks the same.

  11. I am not surprised that you did not stay in Switzerland, very expensive country and for you of course learning the language to a working standard. Bet you MIL loved the trip despite the delay returning home. Great historic photos as always. Have a good day t'other Diane

  12. Love those photos of London as I came to live in London in 1969 so it is interesting to relive the memories.

  13. Wow to see London when I haven't been born yet

  14. Love these old photos! I almost got sea sick reading your account. I get motion sick pretty easily.

  15. Another fine chapter. I'm fairly sure you can't get a view of Cologne Cathedral like that now. All of the photos are interesting.

  16. Love your photos and the post about your adventures in 1970 London. A number of my friends went on working holidays to the UK in the 70s and they still talk about those times. A childhood friend married a Swiss and my friend learned German so she could work as an OT there. She must have told Peter about Australia's working conditions, including shorter hours and longer annual leave. It wasn't long before they came to Australia to live and are still here living in Hobart.

  17. While staying in Brussels, we had dinner in the Atomium Restaurant, I remember it was in a huge carpark, empty of cars but full of Gypsy caravans everywhere.

  18. Thanks for sharing yet another of your travel adventures, Diane. There was so much freedon to travel when you were doing it, then there is currently and your memories are so vivid that they make me often feel as if I had taken the trip as well. Sorry to read about the sea sickness and glad Bill's mom arrived safely home.

  19. i am sure you are still glad you made the decision to nest in Austrailia all these years later. one thing i would like is the weather for me. Switzerland and England to wet and cold for my bones. i like all the pics, like dropping back in time.

  20. My wife and I visited London in 1993 (our daughter was studying in London for a semester), and we saw many of the same places you visited. The pigeons were still in Trafalgar Square. Fortunately, we didn't have any flight problems.

  21. Hello, Diane! Your trip and London sightseeing brings back many memories of my trip there. I like the shot of you and the pigeons. MOving back to Australia was a good decision. Thanks for sharing, enjoy your weekend!

  22. That was a fun time except for the bit of panic at the end! I bet Bill's mother talked about her adventure for a long time!! Don't you wonder sometimes now how we ever got along without GPS!! We had some wonderful adventures being lost though~

  23. wow you sure have traveled around...Australia seems to be the place for you. I love the poncho feeding the pigeons!

  24. And not too many years after that (1977) I was there as well. Definitely a different time but I so love the photos and the story.

  25. Great set of pictures. The public are no longer allowed into Downing Street - there is a huge metal fence at each end of the street, and the police carry machine guns. Not all change is for the best.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  26. I would love to visit London one day, I like the photos you added to the post just saying, back in the 70's things were more laid back security wise just a thought