A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


Ok it’s been a while and I know I have been rather slack in updating this since my return to bleakest, deepest, darkest, ice laden Rossendale but it takes time to get back into the gist of things when you’ve been away for as long as I have and you now have problems dealing with the cold.

For instance, there’s been a lot of news that needs to be properly addressed in order to more smoothly integrate back into polite society while knowing what’s been happening within one’s surroundings. And while I have been away, there have been a few items of particular note that have occurred in my absence, things I will now attempt to fully relate to you my lovely (if not a little needy) readers...

First off, a Rossendale GP (that means doctor) claims to have stumbled upon a simple ‘wonder cure’ for most common ailments...

Doctor Hansneed Warming takes up the story for us:

“I’d been out shopping with my good lady wife, and got home feeling absolutely terrible. My head was throbbing, my back was aching, chills were racing throughout my body and my corns were giving me severe troubles. But not long after a nice hot cuppa and a relaxing sit down, my symptoms had completely disappeared. And that got me to thinking...”

Most patients since then have responded extremely well to his treatments of ‘a nice cuppa and a sit down’. And unlike the many expensive drug therapies available out there today, none of them exhibited any evidence of any adverse side effects or allergies whatsoever. Apart of course from the appendix patient that is. But he simply got whisked off to hospital before the good doctor could get the kettle on. So the preliminary results so far, are seen to be most encouraging.

And then there was the news that the government has made plans to put 50 odd trillion Nectar Points into the ailing British economy to help boost an early recovery...

In an announcement earlier this week, which will delight shoppers and the city alike, the fourteen figure number of Nectar Points and Tesco Club Card vouchers will be released into the economy to help boost consumer spending. Eight billion Air Miles will also be created, enough to send a family of four on a retreat to Saturn and back (terms and conditions apply). Boots the Chemist Advantage Card holders will also be getting a free nail care kit each, and in a surprise move, Green Shield Stamps (which met their demise in 1983) will become re-valid until the end of the year.

The Nectar Points deal alone will be worth the value of a 200 gram box of unbranded cornflakes to every man, woman and child in the South while Northerners will each receive a tin of mushy peas. And Air Mile collectors with more than 10,000 miles will, as a result also be entitled to a free packet of cheesy biscuits on selected flights (subject to status). Meanwhile Tesco will be rewarding Nescafe coffee (300 gram jars only) purchasers/drinkers with free Hob Nob biscuits in order to help streamline the terrible wastage in people leaving behind awful designer coffee shop coffees because they taste like shit with a crust on (for Jodie the convert that one).

And in a further attempt to ease the cost of these new ‘quantitative easing’ initiatives, the government has also made plans to email .pdf files of three twenty pound notes to every household in Doncaster. The catch... They have to print their own money, thereby lessening the financial burden on the royal mint.

The government now urges the public that with the latest glut of loyalty scheme points and vouchers now shown to be in circulation, there’s never really been a better time to go out and buy a full colour printer, papers of different variety and perhaps stockpile a few extortionately priced ink cartridges.

Next there are fears that a Rawtenstall woman has sparked off a new pandemic...

Thirty six year old Mrs Beau Nidle, was suspected of contracting a new strain of the common cold. Complaining of a sore throat and feeling ‘a bit bunged up’, instead of just struggling on regardless, she announced she was going to take the day off work and endlessly complain about how ill she was to her partner. It was at this point that government scientists confirmed she was obviously suffering from that old anathema, Man Flu.

“I’ve struggled through colds before and in many ways it feels almost the same” said Mrs Nidle, “but since I learned it was Man Flu, I’ve struggled to do anything more strenuous than watching Match of the Day and re-runs of Top Gear while crashed out on the couch”.

Scientists now claim that a rare mutation has caused the Man Flu virus to spread to women and although the police have cordoned off the area of this outbreak, experts say there is a real fear for it to reach Pandemic proportions and the subsequent infecting of millions of women across the country will follow.

When asked to comment, her husband said, “Her symptoms are quite similar to what I had a few weeks ago, although when I had it, it was obviously much much worse. Maybe she just needed ‘a nice cuppa and a sit down’”.

In other news, Lancashire police confirmed that a man was stopped for a random breathalyser test...

“The test was proved negative,” explained officer Dibble from the Ribble, “However just as I was sending the chap on his way I spotted a Fine Young Cannibals CD hanging out of his glove box. Naturally, being a fellow fan, I asked him if I could ‘friend him on facebook’. It was then that he confessed he didn’t have an account preferring instead to use Google+”.

A case was swiftly put together and the man taken to court for breaking new social media laws introduced in early December 2011. But the case was soon dismissed when the judge presiding was heard to ask, “Forgive me, but... What the fuck is facebook?”

Internationally it has been announced that NASA has engaged in finding a clone planet to that of the earth...

That’s right, NASA has been charged by the American government with the task of finding a clone of the earth or any other earth-like planets. This is being done urgently now, purely on the off chance they can ask said planet for a capitol injecting sub if they ever find one. The cash strapped nation needing any form of lifeline these days, has finally shown itself to be desperately clutching at straws. And at the same time, President Barack O’bama was recently seen at a cemetery laying flowers on a grave. As he was standing there he noticed four coffin bearers walking about with a coffin. 3 hours later they were still walking about with it. Oh my God he thought, these guys are like me, they’ve completely lost the plot.

And finally the government has today issued emergency flat caps to every man in England...

More than 40 million flat caps will be brought out of government storage for delivery to almost every man in Britain by the end of 2012, the Prime Minister David Cameron revealed today.

The emergency headgear will form a large part of the government’s multi-billion pound investment programme aimed at getting Britain’s economy moving again and raising the gloom of recession. It is the first time the standard issue peaked cloth cap has been deployed in the UK in more than 60 years.

“We have not taken this decision lightly,” said Mr Cameron outside number 10, “but desperate times call for desperate measures. The flat cap imbues a man with a sense of responsibility and drive. It makes him strive for better things. All this, while keeping his head warm in winter too.”

The government issue emergency flat cap was first deployed during the great depression of the 1930’s and well proved its worth both then and later on at the end of World War II. It was only the subsequent resurgence of the economy during the sixties that saw a recall of all flat caps for storage until another major crisis of the economy would occur.

The first batch of 25 million or so flat caps will be dropped by helicopter over northern cities like Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool up to and including Glasgow whereas in parts of London and the south east, traditional emergency protocol will dictate the wearing of more formal top hats along with silver topped canes...

I’m not sure how the lead of this blog, ‘the hat’ is going to take that one.

But the big news of course...

Is that I am finally back in writing mode again and the blog will continue henceforth. There is still much to be said with many more pics to add so I suppose I had really just knuckle down and get on with it. Especially as Jodie (Madame Dragonfly to you guys), has forever been reminding, no, telling me, forever on my case (delete as appropriate) that you guys are desperately in need of some form of closure.





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Although this blog is far from over, (with more entries to come) this may well be the last entry to be made from over here in Australia (It might be nice if I spent my last day with Jodes). So with that in mind, I thought it might be a good time to issue a roll-call to bring all the people together that have been a part of this amazing adventure. Every single one has been welcoming, warm and friendly and have happily accepted this wandering troublesome pom into their open arms.

There were people from out of Jodie’s work place, the guys over at Optus including…

Paul Godwin (Godders), Paul Adams and even the cleaning lady Kim, who sort of adopted me in my early days of aimlessly sitting around the Optus Canteen generally being a security threat.

And then there would be all the vollies in the emergency services brigade…

This includes the SES, EMQ, QRFS, QFRS, QAS etc and includes: Paul Godwin (SES (again)), Paul Adams (Adult Leader Cadets (again)), Terry  Chapman (Logan SES, Deputy Controller), Jim Ferguson (Logan SES Local Controller), Patricia Whitehead (Youth Development Officer, Emergency Services Cadets, EMQ), the Mayor of Logan Pam Parker, Sharon Squires (SES and Adult Leader with Cadets), Sonia Paterson (Adult Leader with Cadets), Karen Guy (deputy cadet coordinator SES).

Next there would be the paid emergency services guys…

Teressa Hartwell (QAS Queensland Ambulance Service), Billy Bob Wombat (Ned Kelly) (QFRS), Paul Womersley (QFRS), Windy (you’ll know why when you meet her) and her hubby Gary Nash, and Mark Hessling (all Rural Fire).

Our Trev (possibly a baby roo)
And some of the cadets…

Sami, Jonte, Dan, Dylan and Tara (with new born kitten Trevor), along with Garth, Daniel, Jake, and Katie.

And then we have Jodie’s Friends…

There was that awfully nice lady (and good for a laugh) Cath Slater in Newcastle and Billy Bob Wombat (too close for comfort) both initially from over on Google.
And Ronnie and Sue over in Sydney,
Fenessa, Simon and kids, over in Kurnell,
Tracy and Geoff Hamilton (both ambos in NSW) in Barden Ridge
Mel (teacher) and her boys in Leumeah
Leanne in Mossvale
Rell and David in Kingston
Dan and Alex Rielly at Tamborine
Kat Lloyd and Sharon Pearson
and finally there were Jodie and Christie over at Ormeau (involved in exorcising my body (a long and painful story)).

Damn that's some grip she has there!
Then of course there are family…

Barry and Jongdee Grant over in Sydney, Clifford and Helen Wells in Bundaberg over on Jodie’s side. And I best include daughter Madison and housemate Terry into that mix. And then there’s Dawn and Josh, Gaz and Caz, Debbie and Steve (Slinky) on my side (get ready to take me back guys) over in the sub zero temperatures of deepest darkest England.

And while I’m at it, I'd best add all the followers into the mix too. You have all been “special” (windows to lick on request) and have added considerably to the whole experience and I thank you for that, even if it meant hours and hours of typing to keep you all amused. Family, friends, and internet snoopers all, you did us both proud.

And then finally…

There is the one and only Jodie “it’s not a fucken putt-putt” Dragonfly who has throughout this whole experience, continually proven herself to be exceptional in everything she says and does.

Of course it takes a special kind of person to bring out the best in someone, and credit where it is due, that was my job and I did it well. But with Jodie it was never really considered a job and nor did it ever feel to be so. We just gelled instantly. Everything from day one just felt right, there were no awkward silences, nothing felt strained (maybe a few farts excluded), we knew what we were both thinking and it even got to the stage where we were finishing off each other’s sentences (not prison) although it never got to the stage where she would have to finish off my meals like I often did hers (thanks for the extra ten pounds).


Jodie has made this whole holiday for me. She was the one who did all the local planning, instinctively knew where we should go, constantly looked out for places of interest, gave me the time needed to show you guys what we were up to etc, and she did it all without a single word of complaint and a lot of the time with a huge welcoming smile on her face. Single handedly, she has shown Australia to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and has won places in my heart for both her and the country. She is truly awesome.

Awwww (needs more dragons)
And… although we both went into this looking for as much fun as possible and have indeed done so, there still comes a time when all good things must come to an end and our impending separation now comes to the fore. I for one don’t want to leave her and worry about how this little human dynamo will cope in my absence. And it is with that in mind, that I would like to rally all you guys up to take over from me in keeping her happy now as I leave to board the plane back to the icy plains of maybe a not so Great Britain.

Keep her busy and occupied for me guys, because while not being high maintenance (far far from it), she will still take a lot of encouragement to maintain that wide and shining smile of hers. And it’s time for us all to give back to the woman now, who constantly gives her all for others.

Oh and the hat sends his love too xxxx


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Good heavens, after rather a dodgy start to the day (see my last post), we finally took ourselves out and about, and get this… we didn’t see the sea.

What no oceans?
That’s right, no more boring you with beaches. We stayed inland today to visit a place that is part of the Scenic Rim (best not ask) and we have come across it a couple of times before. It is Mount Tamborine which is odd because while it is described as a plateau on the accompanying website (linked), yet it certainly feels like a mountain as the car grudgingly chugs its way up some of the really steep and hairpin bends on offer. I thought plateaus were flat?

Unfortunately for you guys, due to the very nature of the roads we travelled, it wasn’t really possible to capture some of the most breath-taking scenery to date with its  full panoramic, vistoramic, hydromatic (?) views over the whole of the Gold coast, sheer drops, awesome housing, small holdings and full on forestation.

Click here for the Mount Tamborine album
Where we eventually chose to stop (the Mount Tamborine Winery and Homestead) was more or less just a single street of tourism based shopping and restaurants (Yay coffee TFFT) with the inclusion of the winery smack bang in the middle of where we wandered aimlessly through the endless crowds around us. And while we were there basically acting like tourists, being peddled all kinds of touristy (some of it quite high end and far from cheap) goods, believe it or not, the sales spiel we witnessed was quite polished and professional sometimes bordering on the downright pushy too.

But that wasn’t all we did though, we also took in some of the funky buildings along the way, met with real live and dangerous live animals, had a good old rummage through the shops (not root) and once again, got some good photos along with a further ubiquitous cup of coffee and cake slices.

There also be dragons up there.

Morning wood anyone?
There’s quite an esoteric feel to the place I found, with plenty of dragons, fairies, mythological gods and lots of other ‘Dungeons and Dragonsy’ type statuettes amid the many arts and crafts being carried out there. Crafts like glass wares, badges brooches and pendants, paintings, clothing, jewellery and even clock-making. There were also plenty of the normal trashy touristy trinkets up for grabs but I regret to inform, there was nothing of any worth for the hat.

Now under normal circumstances that would have been bad, bad, and even worrisome news. But being the resourceful kind of chap that I am (and without even knowing it I may add), I have had other’s collecting souvenirs on my behalf…

Today for instance, I was informed on behalf of the hat, that Jodie’s mother and partner (from back up in Bundy) had collected from their own Christmas mini travels, a cane toad’s head key ring along with another pin or two. And even as we sit and read this or look at the pictures here, they are being rushed over from Melbourne through Bowen and then by courier in time for my impending departure. Thanks for that guys.

AND AND AND....


We found another one of those vintage mash up car things again, maybe not as good as the one we had reported on earlier, but no less shiney and eye catching. It was parked up all alone just crying out to be pictured, so that's what we did. We pictured it. Probably having its front bumper scraped off as it drove over the next one inch obstacle, but we pictured it anyway.

And besides all that, cutting a long story rather short because I am after all still very much on holiday and have much better stuff to do with my impending lack of time, we had only spent four or so hours doing nothing much but enjoying every minute of the excursion and had to come away only because we needed to be ready for a second meeting cum get together with Alex and Dan at their place where we would all sit around a large table, amidst good company and conversation, while drinking copious amounts of liquids of varying alcoholic toxicity and getting ourselves stuck into a large and healthy meal later on during the evening. Life is so very very hard over here. 



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MAYBE I'LL TRY AGAIN LATER :)

Only kidding folks, am out and about doing more beaches so you don't have to. Will write it all up for you when I get back (God you're so demanding).


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Gold Coast Airport, Coolangatta
Travelling South from Dragonfly Mansions (our home-base) down to the coastline (hope no one noticed that) border between Queensland and New South Wales, and sitting just north of the mouth of the River Tweed, lies the cheery town of Coolangatta. Home to what is known as the Gold coast’s airport, the sinking of the schooner Coolangatta there in 1846 and another quite popular holidaying destination.

And the reason I bring all this to light, is we had to go trawl down there the other evening to collect Madi (Jodie’s daughter) off of a plane coming in from Sydney where she had been visiting her Grandad Barry (remember Noah’s Ark?) with her father over the Christmas period.

Click here for lots of pics again
Anyway, with all that in mind, we donned our Dora the Explorer hats and backpacks once again and set off on our way down the King’s highway or to use its real name, the M1 Pacific Highway (We did it, we did it) to see what we could see, do what we could do and somewhere along the line, collect any spare, unsuspecting and vacant looking children found licking windows in the arrivals lounge of what is the official 2nd airport to the city of Brisbane while still continuing to collect all forms of amateurish coloured photographs to document it all and fully bore you all to death with.

So approaching Coolangatta through neighbouring nicety, Kirra, we parked up (or did the putt-putt finally break down? One or the other) next to what is locally known as the ‘big groyne’ which separates the two beaches (oh dear, beaches again. Is there no end to them in Australia?) of Kirra and Coolangatta which sit  overlooking Surfers Paradise in the distance heading north across the water.

The Big Groyne from Kirra Beach
And just like many of the other beaches here (all of them in fact) these are also blessed with golden white sands, rocky outcrops, blue skies, crystal clear waters, photogenic scenery and everything else the Australian blueprint for beaches seems to carry (I’m not allowed to mention the bikini clads), this time with the added bonus of world renowned surfing.

Later that evening, we all checked in at the airport just in time to check out with the required extra bodies. It was quite a scary experience actually, not solely because it was Madi we were collecting (honestly), but because it was also bringing home the reality that my time here in Australia was nearly up and I too would be once more partaking of the airport facilities. Eeeek

How can that possibly be with so very much remaining to be seen and done? After all, there’s always time for another beach or twelve isn’t there? And then there are the innards of this great place to explore. Not to mention the fact it is still freezing back home in Blighty (Shivers at the mere thought of it).

I haven’t even considered the likes of Uluru (Ayres Rock), either yet. Then there’s the north, the south, what’s left of the east and then the west to still see. It’s all so very much to do, with so very, very little time. All I can say is thank heavens we got to meet with the legend that is the wombat, an unknown entity found parading on google turf for the last two years, Billy Bob Wombat (fireman extraordinaire) finally became a reality a few days earlier for us when both australian and anglophile worlds clashed head on at the Boathouse Tavern Last Friday. It was a good day and a trans-continental Buzz-up to top them all. As indeed  was the one with Cath Slater (almost forgiven now Cath :) ).

And apologies in advance for the intrusion into your privates Bob (or +Ned Kelly as we now know you thanks to the Google nym police) but both  Jodes and I came to the unanimous conclusion that both Google plus and the now recently defunct Buzz,  made you look a lot rounder in body and face than you do in real life. And it is with that and nothing but that in mind, that we felt almost compelled to post up your mug on here and see if Blogger does it too. 


Mmm, for now, the Jury remains out… Maybe you should try dreadlocks?


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There are times when even the most intrepid of explorers are forced into taking the odd day or two off from investigating brave new worlds. And with Monday the 9thalso meaning a return to work for the ‘it’s not an effin putt-putt’ whinge bag, today was to be one of those days.

But that is not what you came here for was it? To which I can only reply, WTF? I’m on holiday here too you know? But, by way of a compromise I have been allowed by she who must be obeyed, to give you a bit of a guided tour around the lands of Dragonfly mansions.

Dragonfly Mansions
Obviously I won’t be going into too much detail here as both I, or my better (much better in fact) half, being semi-responsible adults, are not too much into the habit of broadcasting the whereabouts of all our worldly wealth to complete strangers over the inter-webs. After all, Jodie has enough trouble with stalkers already. That’s how she met with me for God’s sake.

Anyway, starting from the big scary city, turning left at the local Spar (yes they have Spar mini-markets here. And believe it or not, they even have Woolworths (not the bankrupt English version of pick and mix fame but mega-supermarkets the likes of Tesco. How does that work then?)), going down the Pacific Highway super slab thingy, getting lost on a couple of wrong turns, and just around the corner form the Boathouse Tavern that we mentioned in earlier posts, there lies a small housing estate of say around 50 odd houses, some of which are townhouses (two storey affairs) and some that are villas (bungalows, who the hell are they trying to kid?) and then there is one, just one, solitary mansion house (and I say mansion house purely because my one bed roomed flat, back home will probably fit in just the bathroom here) – Dragonfly Mansions (enter at your peril, I mean, look what happened to me).

Click here for a good old nosey
Dragonfly Mansions is in fact a three bed roomed villa (so bungalow) affair with sliding glass doors instead of external walls, wall to wall tiled floors, a kitchen, a living room, bathroom, garage cum gymnasium and separate bog room. The walls are bedecked with diamonds, precious metal covings and floor to ceiling 50 inch plasma screen televisions. Granite work surfaces adorn the kitchen and bathroom units as do the mother of pearl cabinet doors, platinum sinks, marble wall tiles and solid gold fixtures and fittings which were all robbed from the local Bunnings DIY store (hence no internal photographs). Somehow the contrastingly cheap shoddy plastic door handles just don't add up with the mirrored ceilings though.

Outside however, the gardens are deliberately small and therefore extremely manageable even for the most novice handful of green fingers, being adorned with nice architecturally ornate and significant plantings here and there to make the whole place feel rather good, warm and generally all over cosy. And looking just down the only road seen twistedly running through the whole estate, there lies the piece-de-resistance to the estate, the wannabe Olympic sized swimming pool with adjoining spa bath, family changing facilities, en-suite kitchen and barbecue area and lordy lordy, there's even additional electric lighting for after dark (when they actually remember to turn the lights on that is). The pool closes at 9pm, when the witches come out and wash their cats or something equally esoteric.

Poolside photographs here guys
The pool itself is not at all a toy affair, with water running at about one and a half metres deep that turns a bright iridescent purple colour when you wee in it (sorry about that). And even though it is not heated, while cold enough to send icy chills right through your bollocks when you first enter it, it soon feels remarkably warm once you’re fully immersed.

Personally, I have to say, I hate the place.

But that’s only because I haven’t been allowed to set about it with my tools yet (although I have already done some internal remodelling (I moved a chair)) and brand it with the much needed mark of my own artistic flair and dare I say, home crafting abilities... 

PadPimpers for Australia I say, that'll soon show them.



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Did you ever stop to consider what the two most impossible things in the world to ever achieve are?

Well first off, it must be getting to have a proper deep and meaningful conversation with a man (any man) just after sex (Hee hee, that should get the women talking).

And the second is to actually find somebody that enjoys trawling through other people’s bloody holiday photographs. Especially when said photographs run into the thousands.

So it was with this in mind (the second one not the first, unless you want to have sex with me and see how we fare that is, in which case see me later), that I recently fashioned a small opinion poll to ascertain as to whether or not this very blog was or wasn’t (delete as appropriate) actually boring you all to death.

12 people out of the million (I wish) that regularly read the blog, actually took the time to answer, which is fine as the other 999,988 must have fallen asleep already. 

So it is boring then is it? Let's take a look...

Well, of the 12 that did reply, the breakdown was as follows:

Andy is most definitely a whingeing pom – 1 vote.

I swear I will hunt you down whoever you are and I will find you.

And when I do find you, I will sit you down and whinge at you to my heart’s content with you listening in captivity. I mean, look at these shoes, I’ve only had them three months and already the soles are wearing thin... etc etc etc.


Andy is not so much a whingeing pom – 2 votes.

You guys can come again. Feel free to come inside, read and love everything I say and do. You may all have my babies.


Who is Andy? – 1 vote.

Yes, thanks for that Mum. The guys from the retirement home will be round presently. Please have my inheritance at the ready.


I just love the blog man – 8 votes.

YAY… it seems the blog is sufficiently entertaining and funny to be classed a runaway success and not in any way boring at all (herm herm).

Oh dear, now I have to go find something else to write about. Please send donations ASAP so I can stay longer and hopefully write something of true meaning and value.


But seriously, thanks guys for your appreciation. And... after fully realising how taxing this whole affair must have been for you all (12 replies out of how many?), I promise I will not be testing you again anytime soon.

Thanks again to all for taking part. And please, don’t be looking at any of this as a huge waste of time, instead, I suggest you look at it all this way…


A Matter of OpinionSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend





Did you ever notice how quiet I've been recently? 

Did you ever stop to think as to whether I was all right or not? 

Did you ever think where did I go?


Well the answers to all of those questions can all be found on my latest adventure blog Ozmnabrit... http://ozmanbrit.blogspot.com 






Where I, my pet netbook and camera go attack Australia in a 3 month extravaganza as an English tourist in the sweltering heat of an antipodean wonderland. 

Check out the new 'Me in Australia' button on the top link bar for direct access now. 


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Without wanting to further bore any of you stay at home types with yet another beach, our next destination for a good old root around (oops do not use the word root – it means naughty things in Oz), was to be what proved to be a hugely popular destination for the travelling masses with many folks rumoured to be staying here for months on end.

I am of course talking about a strange old town where things just didn’t seem to add up. And by that, I mean it has not been like anywhere else I have seen in Australia to date, for starters it was a lot busier than the majority of other places. It was also a lot more built up and seemed outwardly less picturesque. It was a place called Byron Bay, oh and yes, it also has a beach or two (cough, cough).

With slight traces of the drug/hippie/beach bum scene, Byron is mainly a place for water sporters to go get wet at, shoppers to go get skint at, and twenty-somethings to go get jiggy with each other's beautiful bodies and bumping uglies at (hopefully after the sun goes down and in private). What more can I say? It is a typical holiday destination where people go for all kinds of holidayish sorts of things and having said that, the general populous here seems to be a little on the younger side too.

Byron Bay Album here
There are however shops and markets galore, along with fine restaurants and plentiful eateries. Bars and beaches abound by the bucketful, and festivals appear to take place on every corner and just like in most other successful holiday destinations around the world, there is also a constant stream of people busily doing nothing in particular, flowing up and down along the main streets. Hell, there's even an Olympic size or looking, outdoor swimming pool right next to the beach, God knows what they would want that for.

But that was just the first, smack you in the face impressions I got. Below the surface, the place benefits from the same old overall cleanliness as the rest of Oz, the same friendly faces of the locals, and the same old glut of instant photography opportunities with the same old mix of different building styles, etc... etc... etc... Oh and then there’s also the dreaded crop circles that appear every morning on the pristine beaches… Now that's got to be scary if not worthy of note...

Is it art or is it a way of life? Nah, bet it's them aliens again.
Further down the road from the main centre of Byron stands the Byron Bay lighthouse and all the associated water, rocks and, need I say, more of the same old stunning scenery I am very quickly becoming accustomed to. The lighthouse is open to the general public with an accompanying museum and stands proud at the top of a purpose built walkway which includes lookouts over the coastline, seating and picnicking areas, and some rather splendid flora and fauna to look into along the way.

Check out the lighthouse trek album here
Little did I know though, the walkway went on for what seemed like miles (it had hairpin bends doubling back on itself too), taking us over to the eastern most point of the Australian mainland. And as you stand at the sign actually telling you so, you can see the small final peninsular of land jutting out into the ocean while making the tantalisingly wrong assumption that it is only a hundred or so yards away from you and therefore merits your further inspection.

Downhill all the way, the gentle seaside amble soon turned out to be more of a trek of what seemed to be astronomical proportions but without the aid of Zulu or Spock, I eventually made it to the end, waved at what should be south America way, way, way ahead of me, took some pics so as to prove it happened and then presently turned round and shit my self.

You see it suddenly dawned on me, that my journey so far had been downhill all the way. And in order to continue in any kind of direction at all, I would now have to begin to go… UP those very same hills… Eeek.

Now having learned quite a lot about hills through where I live back in the Penines of Blighty, I knew this was not going to be an easy task by any means. But with the putt-putt patiently waiting for me at the top, I had no choice but to proceed with my undoubtedly life threatening return.

The aching legs were among the first of the symptoms to hit me as I ascended my way back. Then came the breathing difficulties... Happy people with smiling faces brushed passed me while I was audibly gasping for what seemed the very last drop of oxygen on the planet. Jogging old aged pensioners were looking my way like nothing was amiss while wondering what the hell could possibly be wrong with me as they scratched at their foreheads. Others looked on with sheer concern as volunteers stepped forward to offer the man with a crimson red face, pained expressions and flared nostrils some aid in the guise of isotonic drinks, space blankets and full sleeping facilities for the rest of the month. Sweat poured from every inch of my body and my hair was bleeding water down my face…


I had made the first quarter of the return trip home.

Never mind the hiking, this should have been me !
I remembered on my way down how I was thinking ‘I hope this is all worth it’ along the way and ‘I’ll kick myself later if I didn’t do it’, but now all I could think was, ‘what the hell was I actually thinking?’ or ‘no it was notbloodyworthit’. But it really was a trip that had to be made and now, with the benefit of hindsight, CPR, gorgeous nurses that I was too unfit to play with and defibulators (Honestly - the things I have to go through for you guys), I really am glad I did it and yes it really was worth it.

Don't even think about it, this is less than
a tenth of the steps en-route
And having finally made my way back to the top of this monolithically tall headland just in time to see the light on the lighthouse shining its way across the crystal clear Pacific, that seemed as good a time as any for me to whisper (having been rendered unable to talk) a very fond farewell to the scenic pleasures of Byron Bay. Will you guys ever forgive me for being so slack? To be honest, I don't really care. My feet hurt, I have stitches in my sides and stomach, my heartbeat is racing and to top it all, I need a wee but the nearest toilet is down a spiral track of about another bzillion kilometres and it will just have to wait.


Oh Byron Bay, you are a lovely town with lovely beaches and beautiful rocky backdrops wherever needed but please, oh please, oh please, can you not put up some warning signs for when I or any other like minded but physically challenged mortals like me should ever return to your welcoming shores?



Tripping the Light FantasticSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

I know my time here is nearly up and I should be spending every last minute now trying to take in as much as I possibly can... But every now and again I need to stop myself dead and look to the future for a while. And that always takes me to the fact I need to choose a new hat for my much wanted return. 


Its not that I am in any way disenfranchised with the current hat I have got and continue to adorn but there is something at the back of my mind, subliminally telling me my time here is not yet complete.... It's a big place, and the people here have big hearts and I for one will miss it all.

The hat thing is probably just the inner voices starting up in my head again.

What more can I say?


Brochures...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


If you walk down any English street or road, the chances are, you will be met by rows of uniformly built housing. Even the newer housing estates of this green and pleasant land are made up of only a few (maybe half a dozen) variations in house styles in as many as 200 homes. It all looks kind of deliberate and for the want of a better word, orderly…

First impressions of Australian housing however couldn’t be any further from what I am used to, the image I have portrayed above. The housing here seems to be a simple case of build whatever you like (within regulations of course) and sod what the neighbours might think. There are of course some precautions put in place, but they don’t always appear to do the trick. And it is quite rare to find a street over here of uniformly built housing but things are getting slightly better in that respect with the building of some new ‘same style’ housing complexes (similar to the housing estates back home).












All of these houses above neighbour each other on the same street.
A typical scenario in most Australian suburbs.
And coming from within the building trade, the only problem I have with any of this (so called) freedom of expression in Australian housing is that there is no accounting for the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ brigade, and where one day you may have a home you can be proud of, along can come Mr & Mrs next door who proceed to build what could be either a masterpiece (shadowing your own efforts) or a complete abomination (knocking the value (aesthetic if not monetary) of your own efforts), and yes there are actually signs of just that happening all over the place. And there seems (on the surface at least) to be very little you can do about it.

You see back home, even though the properties are generally a hell of a lot smaller on the whole, an Englishman’s home is said to be his castle. So when a house is built in England it is generally built to last in excess of a hundred years and it is constructed of long lasting materials like stone, brick and slate for both weather proofing and durability, and it is subject to being to some degree, harmonious to the neighbouring properties.

The house is then home to a party for as long as that party is willing and able to live there and maintain it and it is then sold on when said party gets bored of it or wishes to move on. The property is generally regarded to be the main item of value in a man’s wealth.

And while you can personalise, chop and change your home, the basic housing stock remains very similar in shape and style bar the odd extension here or there. But from what I have gleaned In Australia, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Whereas in England the more talented of property developers would look out for “doer uppers” – run down properties to be renovated and resold for profit. In Australia it seems the land is more the real key to a man’s riches.

Properties over here seem to take second fiddle to the actual land they are sitting on. And when a property goes up for grabs here, it seems that the land the property sits on is usually the significant part of the deal. And there is a great possibility the existing property could be simply pulled down to make way for something er… better? Even heritage listed buildings are not safe over here with ‘accidental’ fires often accounting for their demise when it comes to redevelopment.

With this in mind it appears that most of the older homes are therefore only sold for a token scrap value, merely given away with the land they sit on. A house here is sold more as a plot of land (usually a quarter of an acre) and the condition of the property often bears little consequence to the value of the land it comes along with. Houses are even shipped away for resale here.

There are also signs of one-upmanship everywhere you look in the Australian housing stock. Bigger and better properties are sprouting up among the hoi polloi and the inevitable race for best takes on new dimensions as the houses grow out of all proportion and inevitably out-price themselves from normal home buyers.

It’s a sad situation really, as the only way to progress from there would be to sub-divide plots to bring back affordability. But that in turn, will lead to a new move towards building condominiums and shared housing with a tendency for a lot more ‘building’ and less garden spaces and then an inevitable need to grow upwards with high rises taking the place of today’s more sprawling but modest in comparison bungalows.

And then there are the homes for the rich…

“Hello Mr Builder… Can you come round and throw up on my front garden please?”

I’m sorry if that sounds a little insulting, but to the richer people of Australia, what the hell are you thinking? Is it so hard to put a little thought into what you are building? Driving around some of the more affluent areas of the Gold Coast, it is easy to believe that there simply is no accounting for taste and there is definitely no monopoly on good taste by the rich alone.

Yes they may be able to afford the stuff we lesser mortals can only dream of, but please… it costs nothing to look and when we look your way, we often find it hard not to laugh…

Some of the creations on show really look like they could have been put together better by a three year old with a decent sized bucket of Lego. Bigger and brasher is not always beautiful, better or a brilliant use of wealth guys. Diamonds for example, carry their value in their perfection more so than in the size alone.

So please, please, please, make your extensions sympathetic to the rest of your building, incorporate the monolithic statues and the like ONLY if it suits the building rather than your egos. And God help you when it comes to ever selling up. What was your overall strategy for resale values again? Was it that of good planning or simply planning blight that you built your home and your country’s heritage around?

Click here for a 'full house' album
But don’t get me wrong here, a lot of Australian home owners take a real pride in their homes and there really is some stunning architecture going on around here giving a wide and varied stock of housing to suit all tastes. Some of them are really quite nice too. But another thing that seems quite odd to a sun starved Brit, is the way the Aussies tend to cover up all their windows with shades or blinds or trellis works. Either that or have great clumps of trees bang up to the front of the property obscuring all views. And if they don't do any of those, the next option is to build six,seven or eight foot walls all the way round the place which is a real shame when places can look this good.

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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