The tour concludes.

Well its time to return to the UK. Can’t wait. I’m writing this on the flight from Sydney to San Francisco. Trying to gather my thoughts, and try to get the timeline straight in my head. Firstly, It has been an enthralling trip. I have met some amazing people, and some I’d rather forget. We all have met a few of those, I’m certain. Some of the Hotels have been, rather threadbare, and in need of investment, and some have been brilliant, particularly the place in the Blue Mountains, The ‘Waldorf Gardens Resort”. I would recommend it to anyone, and the staff were excellent, helpful cheerful, and respectful, at all times. A joy to stay there.

We have passed through, Washington, staying at a rather grubby hotel, where the staff seemed more preoccupied, with their friends popping in and out, rather than doing their jobs. We moved from there to a beautiful little AirB&B, which is part of a Montessori school, and training establishment. The Apartment we occupied there was beautiful, and I would recommend anyone to stay there. Probably the best value for money, accommodation we stayed in. We then Flew to Pittsburgh, and stayed a wonderful Place called Passavant. Love it there it was peace and calm personified. After that little stopover, we went to Cleveland, and were well taken care of by a Lovely lady by the Name of Jenny. Thanks Jen, you were amazing. Two more visits to old age establishments, and a Montessori or two, found us on our way to Niagara, a lovely place if you like water. Kay ventured into Canada, after a six up with my Visa. She gained some friends and a lot if help. So thanks Gail, you helped us both. Especially with the after information. Thanks again.

Well it was back to Cleveland, then on to Atlanta, hot and humid best describes, Atlanta. From there it was on to San Francisco, according to a few ex- pat tanks, it has gone to the dogs. We did the touristy things, and walked the Golden gate bridge. Pretty impressive as it goes. Well then it was off to Aussie, a country of massive contrasts, and massive gulfs between the haves, and have nots. There are an awful lot of homeless people in Sydney. And it is really expensive. So be warned.

In conclusion, I’ll be glad to get home. Back to reality, if you will. And I’m looking forward to seeing friends and Family. But most if all I’m looking forward to using some proper bog roll. Take note Hotel chains. Stop usinfg crap bog roll. Seriously though. I’ve learnt a lot about Dementia care around the globe, and about myself. And where the next stage of my life is going. Talk about travel improving one’s mind. It’s a must, encourage your kids to get around, the world. It’s an amazing experience. And if you’re not too Old, and decrepit, do it yourself. Thanks for reading my guff, see you soon. X

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Sydney, Myths and legends.

Sydney, to be honest, was a bit of a bit of a damp squib. The landmarks, and the city look tired. Most of the people I met, seemed to be totally preoccupied by money status, and looking good. A city of people totally striving for status, rather, than happiness. I was surprised by, how few people actually spoke to each other on the street, it seemed to be a lot more hostile than London. Whilst in the suburbs, there were some love properties, but not much activity on the streets.

However, we arrived during “Vivid Sydney”, where many of the public buildings are lit up by an amazing light show. Including Sydney harbour Bridge, and the Opera house. Tye Sails of the Opera House, are used like a giant video screen, and the images projected are, a running commentary of the Evolution of a Nation. Very interesting colourful and, entertaining. So that was a great thing for see.

Having had almost a week to explore the Area, around the city, we headed off to Bondi Beach, an iconic location, most if us have heard of. Well dear friends, don’t bother. It’s rather like Newquay, but without the quaint charm. I was really disappointed, by the place, or maybe my expectations were, artificially high, due to the fact it was bigged up, by the hotel staff. And a few of the guests, I’d spoken to. However there are many beautiful areas, one can visit, one if which was Manly. A beautiful little town, with plenty of shops, street market 3 times a week, and a lovely wharf area, with nice Cafes, and restaurants. And its crowning glory, a beautiful uncrowded beach, set in a wonderful bay. I would rather be there, than Bondi, any day of the week. If I were to holiday in Aus, I would, have a week in the Blue Mountains, and a week in Manly. Such a charming town of, old and new buildings, some the Architecture was frankly stunning.

We spent a few days exploring around, the western side of Sydney, and Kay visited some old friends. We were shown around, yet another National park, and were shown where “Home and away, is filmed. Yes it is as picturesque as it seems on the screen. The water is chrystal clear, as it is in most of the Sydney estuarine system. Which impressed me a lot. There wasn’t tons of rubbish and plastic bottles floating around all over the place, the Aussies, seem to have a handle on non dumping of rubbish in its waters. Something to be very proud of.

We spent the last couple of days, swanning around and relaxing a little. We did however, do the British tourist thing and go to Botany bay. What an amazingly beautiful spot. There are little inlets, beaches, fishing pies, and gorgeous parklands, all around the bay. Well worth a couple if days, to explore.

A Blue Mountain Odesey

It’s the last full day in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Tomorrow it’s back to the business side of the Tour, so it’s off to Sydney.

But first, Monday. It started off as a sunny morning but cloud cover was never far away. But undeterred we ventured out into the great outdoors, as it’s only a gap between work assignments, we made sure we took advantage of the opportunity presented to us. First on the agenda we thought a trip to Wentworth falls would be a good choice, we weren’t wrong. What an utterly beautiful place, great walks, which have many wheelchair accessible areas, lookout posts to view astonishingly beautiful views, and breathtaking drop offs. With the Valley floor over a thousand metres below. Who’s scared of heights, yep me. Don’t laugh, I was hanging over railings, straining to see more. Just don’t seem to be able to get enough of these wonderful Mountains. I have found them challenging, relaxing, and engaging, but have mostly become utterly enthralled by the area. So much to see, so many paths to be walked, so much to engage one’s mind. Sign posts, encouraging you to see what’s around the next corner, what’s over the next rise in the path. Interesting plaques giving information, about explorers, botanists, and anthropologists, who have passed this way. Darwin was here, I wonder if the Blue Mountains engaged him as much as it has me.

The National parks commission, and Blue Mountain council have jointly done an excellent job of making the park, both family friendly, and maintained the integrigity of the area. There are great picnic areas, with tables and shelters, to shade one from the sun, or the rain. A great touch is, there are gas barbecues in the shelters, one only has to press a button wait for the grill to heat, and get cooking. and its free. Talking of free, the vast majority of car parks around the national park are free. Something we Brits aren’t used to.

To Tuesday, a chilly morning, and it SNOWED, something the locals are not used to, apparently it is an extremely rare occurrence. Undeterred we set out for another day of exploration, this time to the Jenolan Caves. it was a fair drive of around 78km, from the hotel to the cave system, but I can assure you it was worth the effort. On arrival, we were surprised to find the buildigs were in a decidedly Swiss, or Bavarian style. very picturesque, as it turns out. and they served the most devine hot chocolate, just to take the edge off the cold. We sought out the ticket office, which was closed, as the staff couldn’t get in. I did, so I was a little surprised they hadn’t. We were directed to the Guides office where I was greeted by a very gregarious charcter by the name of Gordon, who incindently was on national TV, this very evening, talking about the caves. Well tickets bought It was onwards and downwards. The cave system was discovered in the late 1800’s, and were opened to the Public in 1917, after some tunnels were dug out by hand to provide easier access, for the public. The Guide was a chirpy guy, called Stu. his banter was terrible but his knowledge of the caves was very interesting, and well presented. the Particular cave system we visited was called the “Orient”, we were skillfully guided through each cavern by Stu, who never stopped chatting and he pointed out so many interesting features, off the rock formations. I felt fully engaged, and somewhat astonished by the sheer scale and beauty of the caves. Pictures to follow. The caves are the Oldest date stamped caves, in the world at some 340 million years old. The tour took around Two hours, and was quite arduos in Places. But well worth the effort.

After leaving the Caves we explored the area around the village, which revealed a beautiful blue river, and lake, another “WOW” moment, among a million others. I love this place. Its beauty, and grandeur, are a wonder to behold. I may never return, but I will certainly never forget. The blue mountains of New South wales, are in my memory forever.

The Hotel

Thirty six Hours in Aussie.

We have only been in Australia for just over a day, and we are quite enthralled by the Blue Mountains, the area we are staying in. Having been let down by old friends, who couldn’t put us up for the weekend, as arranged, due to no fault of their own. We had to make urgent plans for accommodation, we chose a little place in the small town of Leura, in New South Wales. What an inspired choice it has been. We have been out exploring the Locale, and it is absolutely beautiful here. Walking through the forests which cover a large part of the Blue mountains, the views, are nothing short of inspirational. One amazing vista surpassed in beauty by the next. Sub tropical rainforest, made accessible by the state authorities. Who must be congratulated for their wonderful efforts, they have made many areas open to people who are less able than the rest of us. There are place which wheelchair bound people can come and enjoy being in a stunning wilderness, alongside their more able bodied friends.In the Mountains there are hundreds of trails, rated by difficulty. And on each one there is time, to guide the individual on how long each trail should take, and a note to how difficult each route is deemed to be. A massive help for those who Kay not be as fit s they’d like to be. There are hundreds of look out points around the region, so you can walk just a few metres from the road, and take photographs of the fantastic views. Without actually having to wreck yourself to see the wonders of the area.Kay and I have taken advantage of these really easy to get to view points. We have also endeavored to take on some routes that were, quite a lot more difficult. To be rewarded by seeing some fantastically amazing sights. We drove on some rough dirt roads. One climbed through the rain forest up the side of a mountain, we were rewarded by seeing some wonderful views, we may have missed had we not done so. One road was a bit of a bust, as it came to a rather abrupt end, at somebodies front gate. To describe the road, it would be easier just to tell you the name of it, and this is genuine. It’s called “Megalong Road”. About 20km of unleavened road. That has no signage, to tell you it’s a dead end. At that point, I was almost driven to use ” Veteran” English,if you get my drift. The speed limits here are rather lower than I’m used to, and it’s in KM’s. So I have to exercise extra caution, doing want a ticket from the local Constabulary, do we? But 100 Kph, seems a little low for the ” Great western Highway”. The Local tradesmen, kind of use the speed limits as a guide. So that’s no different to the UK.So after only 36 hours in Australia, we have seen some of her most beautiful places. A joy to see and experience. We have found that eating out is pretty expensive, so buying food in supermarkets and making sarnies etc, will save a few quid.The local population seem to an eclectic mix of all nations of the world. A real melting pot of all races, who have been very friendly, and helpful. We did met two lovely ladies, in the rainforest who were English. One of which taught, at the primary school, two hundred metres from our place in Torquay. Then at breakfast this morning, I met the nephew of Robson Coulson, who was the Range explosives safety officer of Otterburn ranges, who I met in 1983. Whilst supporting two sqdns doing Swingfire live firing. Really small world, dont you think.Well in conclusion, a great first full day. And looking forward to the next couple of weeks. Thanks for reading. Take care.

San Francisco. A city of Contrasts.

Well we arrived in San Francisco at 22.30, after a five hour flight from Atlanta Georgia. Kay thought it was only a two hour flight. Pain in the bum, as we flew from Cleveland south, for 3 hours, plus an hour and a half turnaround in Atlanta, made it a very long day indeed. The Hotel is a Chalet type, and is clean tidy and comfortable. An hour from downtown Frisco. The buses are really efficient, and run pretty much to schedule, although the speed they drive at is quite disturbing. Our “Local” Service has a massive bendy bus, and is full of Chinese and Mexican people, every time we travel. The fares however are really cheap, and half price for seniors, ok I lied, and travelled for a dollar 35.

On day one we visited the Old fisherman’s wharf area, which is very busy, colourful and vibrant. A good mixture of attractions are available, and the shops, restaurants etc are not overly busy. We had Fish and chips for lunch. Two small fillets in batter, if it had been in The UK, I would had kicked off, but the “Colonials” are trying their best. Bless em. It tasted pretty good, just not enough of it, to be honest.

The Afternoon was spent drifting along the Wharves, popping in and out of various shops, and stores. The floating US Navy Museum ships were quite interesting, which included a Submarine, and a couple of Freighters. One of which did 60 odd trips across the Atlantic.The Military museum was pretty good as were the Chocolate factories. We left the wharves and went to the twisterist road in the world, I’m certain we have all seen it in the movies,that hill up to it is around 1 in 3. A bloody killer in high heels. But I managed ok.

The local beer isn’t too bad. And the Local wine is excellent. Their are several winery outlets, where you can go for a taster, and have a meal. Pretty good good idea, I think. A word of warning to all. San Francisco, is not cheap. Should be called, San franfriskyou. We did however find an Italian eatery, with great food, at a reasonable rate, although, the seating, tables etc were rather rudimentary. But as I said the food was awesome. So we didn’t mind overly much.

After dinner, we visited the Coit Tower. Memorial to fallen Servicemen, and a location for a couple of scenes, in two Dirty Harry movies. The views were spectacular, although the walk was a murder on the old knees. And I broke a heel. Lol.

Well day two dawned, pretty much the same as day one. Sunny but with a really chilly wind. We went to the Golden gate bridge, did the two way walk there and back. Pretty amazing views up there, and well worth the time to visit. We watch Sea lions diving for fish under the the bridge, which was pretty cool. And a flock of Pelicans flew under the bridge, just below us which was an amazing sight. Kay was in overdrive with the camera, which earnt her the nickname of, ” David Bailey”. She was clucking away like a woman possessed, I tell you. Thank goodness for digital cameras. That lot would cost a mint to develop. After the Bridge, we went back into downtown Frisco, and had an early dinner. After which we ventured out to procure a ride on the cable car system, which was well worth the 45 minute wait, and a reasonable cost of only $7. Cheap for such a popular attraction. The ride lasted around twenty minutes, and for public transport, was very enjoyable. The terminus is in Market street. And that is a really attractive area, especially for shopping mad women. We happened across a restaurant, called “Mels drive in”. A really cool place, with a fifties theme, and it has been in existence for 70 plus years. The coffee was good, but the Apple pie, was much better. Delicious!!! And it was a huge slice. Lovely. After that is was back to Ranch, for a rest up, and to prepare for the next leg if our trip. More of that tomorrow, or whenever. Sleep tight peeps.

A day to muse over.

Kay and I went to Kendal at Oberlin. A Facility founded by Quakers, for the care of the elderly. A very efficiently run establishment, with really effective staff, who made sure that each resident was looked after in the best possible fashion. I was quite taken aback by the calmness, and unhurriedness, not just of all the activities carried out but all who worked there. The site is over one hundred acres, and in the main most of the activities are carried out by the residents themselves. I was amused to hear however that they have 101 committees, run by the residents. Apparently the Quaker way. I as you was amazed anything got done, as committees usually cogitate about three thousand times before a compromise is agreed. Because the first idea was perfect so they couldn’t proceed with that, as it would be, too bloody easy. However, everybody gets involved, and everybody has a say in what they are doing, in their day to day lives. Which is amazing in itself. We had lunch with two of the residents, one was a mere 86, the other was an amazing lady of 101 years of age. Both were totally Cognitive and helped us out, with some great ideas, we could use when we get back. It was a very rewarding day, and all in all a resounding success.

On the way back, we visited the local City of Obeling, a College town, with fantastic architecture. Kay was like David Bailey on steroids. Clicking like a mad thing. The town was Founded by Quakers and Amish people in the 1800’s. I have never seen so many different denominations of Churches in such a small area in my life. A very beautiful town, and all the people we met were very polite and helpful, which made it a pleasant experience.

A rest day?

Woke early, typically on a day off. Kay and I did a little exploring today. Went to a few places along the Shores of Lake Erie. Pretty interesting history, and some of the right ups were very informative. The lake is 60 miles across, but surprisingly, is only 60 feet deep at its deepest point. The fishing is supposedly very good, and it is considered to be the Walleye capital of the world. Good eating apparently, as of yet I haven’t had the chance to get a lure wet. Can live in hope I suppose.

We have one more working day in Ohio, then it’s off to Canada. We’re staying in Niagara on the Lake for two nights, more to follow.

I’m not enjoying driving an automatic, can’t find a job for my left foot. Haven’t had too many issues with driving on the wrong side of the road, nearly hit a truck turning left. Oooppps. Only once in over 800 ish miles, not too bad. Speed limits seem to be optional, to the yanks, I’m doing bang in the speed limit, and it’s like I’m standing still. Not going to push my luck though, the Local cops all have big guns. And I don’t. Not much more to add at this time. Thanks for reading, take care folks.