A 50-day adventure by Rae
  • Day50

    Lovely London

    July 29, 2017 in Kenya ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Each time I visit London I realise how different it is to the rest of England. The mix of people, the efficient transport, the food options and the crowds. Not better, just different. The crowds are everywhere but surprisingly it just seems to flow. Even when there were "major delays" on the Piccadilly line, I still managed to get a standing spot on the first one that came through, three minutes later, which I have to say is far cry from a peak hour train in Melbourne where it is common for me to have to let 2 or 3 pass before I can squeeze on!

    Yet despite being such a historical city with the royal buildings, old archways and grand parks, beautiful London continues to grow and change to the point where there is always a pocket of the city that is new to me on each visit. This time it was Granary Square in Kings Cross. What not so long ago was a derelict part of town, is now the home of a cool art school, a beautifully designed open space with choreographed water fountains (that you are allowed to play in), home to the London office of Google and the place where a 1 bedroom apartment will set a foreign investor back £1,000,000.

    The 2017 visit was short and thanks to some wonderful people who live in that amazing city the visit was sweet. I am not sure when I will be back there again but one things for sure, next time I do land I am sure she would have had yet another nip and tuck somewhere, while still maintaining her classic beauty. She deserves the seat at the big table of world class cities and I can't see that changing anytime soon.
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  • Day45


    July 24, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    It's hard to believe I am now about to wrap up part A of my trip and start to think about what part B might bring.

    It is the halfway mark. I left home 5 weeks ago, excited, fearful, sad, nervous, and feeling pretty much every other emotion there is a word for. Social media is a wonderful tool for keeping in contact with people near and far but it can also provide a slightly distorted perspective on reality if you take it only on face value. Generally, people choose only to share the good bits and from that it is easy to think that every day is sunshine and roses particularly when people are posting fabulous holiday snaps.

    Don't worry this story is not going too far south, but I will say it has been deeply personal for me and not a single day has passed that went exactly to plan, and my photos from this trip have been missing someone who has been with me every step of the way in previous trips for a very long time. I won't pretend I haven't rattled around a bit this past month trying to work out how to enjoy myself when travelling alone. Part A has had absolute highs and at times absolute lows. Just that constant reminder that no matter where you are and what you are doing, life will deliver its ups and downs.

    Today is my last day in Lisbon, it wasn't part of the plan. Technically I should still be roaming around the UK in my Campervan, but I overestimated the amount of time I would enjoy in the van and the sunshine and culture of Europe was calling my name. It has been a fantastic place to drop my bag and just soak up everything this place has to offer. It can never be done in just 7 days, in fact I am only now learning my way around my own ancient neighbourhood with the tight streets and few street names.

    Tomorrow I head to London for a few days to see some fantastic people who call it home and to get myself ready for Part B that starts on Friday. As my photos have shown I have been to some incredible places, eaten some amazing food, drank beer too often but above all, I have reconnected and been held up by old friends over here and even met new people who I would like to keep in contact with. I have also been supported incredibly by people at the opposite end of the world who have been on the end of the line more often than I can thank them for.

    What I think I always knew but have now had 100% confirmation is that places are beautiful, but in the end, it's the connection with people that makes everything great.

    So thanks England, I will always love you, and Lisbon, you have been just the tonic this girl needed to gear up for the madness that is going to be part B.
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  • Day41

    Brisbane + Melbourne = Lisbon

    July 20, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Some time ago a friend told me that if she could pick Brisbane up and plonk it in London or Paris she would be the happiest girl alive as it would be a city that provides her the comfort of home and the culture that Europe so constantly delivers (and yes London is still Europe...for now...).

    I am a huge fan of both London and Paris but I think her compass was slightly off the mark, because I would go so far as to say that I am currently staying in that Brisbane of the northern hemisphere, but to take it a step further and say that if the Portuguese didn't discover Melbourne I will be a monkeys uncle. The similarities are uncanny in many ways.

    In a single day here you can wake with a facial suntan because you didn't close the blinds (Brisbane you know what I am talkin' 'bout). Spend the day body surfing within an hour of the CBD in temps of around 30 degrees, walk past many intriguing but closed doors, only to hear the sound of people enjoying themselves behind them. Visit churches and cathedrals that rival any their neighbours, then catch the 28 tram back to the neighbourhood for some of the best food and wine on the planet. Like Melbourne in Summer the sun doesn't set until late (sorry Brisbane, you can't have that one..) and the night only ends when the sun comes up again.

    My first two days in Lisbane or should I say Lisbourne or just settle on the original, Lisbon, have been a home away from home in a strange way. There is a connection here that I didn't realise I would have, and after soaking it all up I am so comfortable tonight I have made a home cooked meal.

    So it's Boa Noite from me for today and rest assured, I plan to get myself into something behind one of those doors any old day now!
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  • Day40


    July 19, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    It was sometime around October 1995 when a vintage double decker bus loaded with around 20 backpackers on their way to Morocco rolled into Lisbon. The general feeling among the group was that we had no cares in the world for 6 weeks as we rattled and shook our way through the sunshine and discovered new places along the way. Recently while going through photo albums from that time, there were many great photos taken in Lisbon from all vantage points in the city. These were days of film photography when you had to choose your shots wisely as they were limited and you bought each photo when you got back home. I must have thought something of the place. Though my memory of the detail back then is faded I do distinctly recall being surprised by Lisbon and vowing to return again one day to really check it out.

    So here I am 22 years later and the opportunity to really check it out has presented itself. I have one week in an apartment in Mouraria, which remains one of the last parts of the city to maintain the traditions of life here. This is the birthplace of Fado music and it is still played each night in the rustic bars and cafes in the neighbourhood, for themselves, not the tourists. It's real and I am privileged to spend the week living like a Portuguese local. That includes hanging my washing on the line outside the window for all the world to see.

    But right now, I am going to also live like a tourist. I am heading down to the main part of town to soak up the memories of this beautiful city and to create some new ones. I am told the city has changed a lot in 22 years, but then again, haven't we all?
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  • Day31

    Humans of Bluedot

    July 10, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    I discovered the Bluedot Festival quite by accident on Thursday night while searching for things to do around Liverpool, Chester and Manchester for the weekend. As far as I am aware there are no combined Music, Science and Art Festivals in Australia at this point in time so I couldn't help but to throw caution to the wind and buy the weekend ticket, which I now understand was simply a stroke of good fortune with many people I met buying their tickets up to a year in advance!! So here is me, I nailed the ticket, live in vehicle accommodation (ie patch of grass) and my luxury bathroom package (posh portaloos and portashowers) on the night before the event started and after such an amazing time in Liverpool, I was off to spend the weekend with 1000's of random fellow humans dancing and scienc-ing in a field somewhere under a giant telescope in Cheshire.

    I met my first "friend" around an hour after walking through the main gate. I had been to the luminarium which was a giant inflatable structure with a series of tunnels inside. Each tunnel had translucent artwork on the roof that lit the inside by sunlight (imagine sun through coloured cellophane). It was gorgeous in there but hot as hell. It was only natural to get out of there and wander around the main site. It was shortly after I wandered into the Blue Moon bar for their signature beer with a slice of orange on the side. The bar was full but not busy and two seats miraculously appeared at the same time as myself and a charming young many from Birmingham sat down.

    Mitch is 21. He actually works the festival circuit fixing the cash machines when they break down. Now I realise I am generalising but I wouldn't think there would be too many 21 year olds who would automatically strike up a conversation with someone the same age as their mother, but Mitch did. In fact, he continued to hang out with me and many others all night. When I asked him later what made him speak to me, he told me he couldn't really sit there and just stare at a wanker pint with a slice of orange on it and I smiled and was instantly funny so he just kept chatting. Good enough reason.

    Later that day I met a couple from London (names unknown) who were mid 50's. She didn't like the strawberry cider so he was a gentleman and swapped her the drink for his treasured pint. I saw the visible pain on his face, but he took one for the team. They then headed off to learn about something Cosmic. I had another beer.

    Then came Eve and Dan. Eve is Irish and loves Dan so she moved to Manchester and is going to marry him at the end of the year. Eve is a paramedic and just a great soul. Dan is in IT and was there for one band and one band only, Leftfield, so I went to the Leftfield gig with them. They were great and Dan was in his element. We kept in touch for the weekend.

    Vijay works with Mitch. A very gentle easy going man who is in a long term relationship with a girl from Cornwall. After 19 years he just can't commit because he once had his heart broken. Vijay rarely drinks, I saw him have one Guinness all weekend. He is 52 years old and the festival scene doesn't really fit him. You can sense he knows that, but he is doing what he needs to do for now.

    My neighbours in the campsite were delightful. The movie, 24 Hour Party People was set in Manchester and they were the walking version of it. Helen arrived with a vintage caravan and so many people on the site that they were pitched within an inch of my van. They were not allowed to do that but I didn't care. She immediately walked up to me wearing an apron that that said "Queen of Fucking Everything" and gave me a hugging introduction. The hugging continued the next morning around 7am when I crawled out of my van to Natalie and her newly acquired boyfriend still partying, her calling me her little Rae of sunshine and new boyfriend giving me a namaste. Later that afternoon Natalie was less friendly. 🤔 Helens partner is away playing music at the moment on a world tour. They are currently in Florence, and will be in Australia later in the year. She told me he was in an old band I have probably never heard of, New Order...

    There were many others as well from Nicki who gave me flouro dots on my face to Louise from just down the road who backpacked Australia 12 years ago and many I don't either recall or wasn't told their names who breezed across my path of the weekend. Regardless, the over arching thing I learned this weekend was the festival is the great leveller. There were people of all ages and they didn't stick to their own kind. The usual boundaries around age, social standing, appearance, race, jobs etc that we humans put up were down and everyone was ok with that because in the end we all come from the Bluedot and whether you come here to dance on it, send telescopic signals from it or learn about the changing climate on it, we all agree on one thing. We need to protect it. 🌏
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    Robyn Leonard

    Look at you, you little social butterfly, sounds like the weekend was a hit

    Rae Dyer

    Miss me yet Robbo??

    Robyn Leonard

    I do. At the station to go to gym. When do u leave for Africa

    Rae Dyer

    28th July. Do a workout for me mate!

  • Day26

    Love at first sight

    July 5, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Well dip me in honey and throw me to the Liverpudlians, I have fallen instantly in love with Liverpool!

    Before today I knew only a handful of useless facts about the place and now half a day later I actually know a few more. I knew the Beatles come from here, they have a ferry that goes across the Mersey (and to Ireland if you like) and they don't like Manchester. Those three facts have been all I thought I needed to know about Liverpool to date and I guess I have scraped through on that. But today I also learned that the library here was the very first building in the world to have air conditioning (with a summer top temperature of early 20's you have to think WTF??) and right across the road is the site of the very first ever passenger train terminal. Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist in a house behind the station and a New York artist donated a piece of art that was a hybrid Lamb-Banana because Liverpool was the first place in the UK to import New Zealand Lamb and tropical fruits including Bananas. These statues, all 130 of them are dotted throughout the city.

    Next time you play Trivial Pursuit or appear on Millionaire, you can send your thanks.

    Chasing the big city vibe today I could feel it as I rolled through extensive network of roadworks and gentrification projects on the outskirts. Today I enjoyed the traffic, that stop start of three cars per green light that would normally be a source of frustration had a gentle rhythm to it and I even managed to do the obligatory "wave" when you inadvertently get stuck in the wrong lane and have no option but to cut in front of another driver. Act first, apologise later. I am told that is the way things are done in Liverpool anyway.

    I have just done a Beetles Tour around the city, complete with singing guide, and am enjoying a pint of IPA at The Pumphouse pub on the docks. Pulp is playing through the sound system and the sun is warm enough for the good folk of Liverpool to crank up the AC now if they want to. I have also decided to stay another day here, I still have several museums and art galleries to cover off tomorrow and I could not be happier soaking up the vibe that is this gorgeous urban jungle.

    Another pint anyone?
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    Sahar Aref

    Ara is looking at this photo with me asking can we go there mama? Definitely it is not winter there! Enjoy the nice weather.

  • Day25

    Winging it

    July 4, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    So those who know me well, know that "winging it" is my pure definition of hell. I like my holidays planned and nothing becomes more annoying to me than having that little tap tap in the back of your mind all day on where you are going to lay your head that night. In my world this causes me to have to find somewhere in the early afternoon so I know that part is taken care of, essentially robbing me of good holiday time each afternoon.

    But over the years my approach has been the source of much amusement to others so this trip I have decided to loosen the strings and wing it a bit, just to see whether I can push through this crazy barrier and just go with the flow knowing I won't actually be homeless for the night. So far so good, but there is a but....

    My trip to the UK was for a set period of time and there were a number of places and people I wanted to see. To indulge myself a little I have decided tonight to plan out the next few days (old habits are hard to break) and to my absolute horror, I have discovered I am now so far behind I am not going to make it to Scotland!!!! Ach we lassies its is true, for the unwingable has made an error in judgment that has cost her a Cullen skink or two! She will nacht be imbibing of a fine whiskey on this trip and a haggis in all its glory has now slipped the grip. The Scots would ne'er make such an error! For that now, I must returns to the home ground of the good ole Rabbie Burns.

    So while I will continue to wing it a bit, tomorrow I have a plan. I am heading to Liverpool to follow in the steps of the Fab 4 and to maybe take that Ferry across the Mersey. So when I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom. I am just going to let it be.
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    Robyn Leonard

    As you know I am a planner and always like to be organized, but there comes a point where going with the flow is ok. Enjoy it. Before long you will be back to your organized planned life

    Carolyn Hoopmann

    Hey TD, I am so glad to see you pushing boundaries. I am a little like you and like to know wherever I lay my hat that's my home (but do like to know where that is prior to it getting dark!) As long as your day is not planned within an inch of its life, you are still winging it!

  • Day20

    Lost and Found

    June 29, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    In the 1200's Heligan Manor was built in Cornwall. For those of us who live in a country that wasn't discovered until the late 1700's the age of the property is incomprehensible (it has been rebuilt a couple of times over the past 800 or so years). The Americans used it as a base in the second world war and the manor was eventually converted into flats and sold off in the 70's.

    But it wasn't really the man made structure of the manor and it's many faces that has left a significant mark in history, but more the human interaction with nature in the garden.

    On many occasions the garden was neglected and was left to grow wild amid a number of ownership changes and a couple of world wars.

    That was until John Willis came along in 1990 with an ambitious plan to bring the Lost Gardens of Heligan back to life. So armed with not a lot more than a strong heart and a few volunteers the restoration project began in 1991 and in less than 10 years it was fully restored to what I have no fitting words for. They are by far the most stunning set of individual gardens I have ever been lucky enough to spend a day in. There are market gardens with produce that goes directly to their cafes, a jungle complete with Burmese rope bridge, endless flower gardens with some flowers I have never seen and there is a real working farm on site as well.

    No blog will capture what it felt like to be there but hopefully some of the photos inspire my friends and family to make sure you don't miss this place if you are ever over this way.

    "Rome wasn't built in a day, but then again I wasn't the foreman" - John Willis.
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  • Day18

    Male, unisex or just not observing

    June 27, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Ok so I have discovered a pattern this past week in my movements. When it comes time to release the last pint of Cornish Ale, I inadvertently find myself in a small room that smells distinctly Iike a 400 year old horse stable with what looks like individual feed troughs for the horses.

    Now to be fair, some of the places I have stayed have in fact had 400 year old horse stables attached, but as far as I know none of them come with porcelain seating.

    I am now begging the question why this has happened to be the case all week. If my memory serves me correctly, England does provide the standard labelling of ladies, (with triangular skirt shape at the bottom) and mens (with straight legs) and this is the same convention that was taken to the colonies all those years ago. I know this stuff. I was so young when I learned it, I don't remember the lesson.

    Yesterday I was in Port Isaac. They were filming Doc Martin (sadly Martin Clunes was not in the scene filmed yesterday) I had stood there for at least an hour waiting for my glimpse of Martin and it was post the world's worst Cafe Americano when nature called. So I darted down the cobblestoned laneway to the public amenities with 20 pence firmly in hand. I dropped the 20p dutifully in the box and pressed the giant green OPEN button. On the other side of the heavy iron door were two horse troughs and one cubicle. Realising the errors of my ways I rifled through my bag for another 20p coin and darted up to the next door. On it was the ambiguous sight I am sure we have all be faced with, the wheelchair sign. There was no one around and as luck would have it the disabled facilities were free so I went in there to contemplate how I missed the sign, but happy to have achieved the desired outcome.

    Tonight I have checked into my Britstop for the night. The polite lady behind the bar has told me I have access to facilities all night and they are out in the courtyard. So only a few moments ago I decided to head out and familiarise myself with where I could find these things in the late night or early morning. Familiar is the key here. Again I find the equine version of the facilities! This time, I took the private room, did my business and hoped I wouldn't pass any of the horses on the way out.

    As for the girls in the triangular skirts. I haven't seen them yet, but sure as hell know I need to locate them before I wander aimlessly into the stables of the opposite gender in the morning.

    Giddy up.
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  • Day16

    English Summer

    June 25, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    A few weeks ago I was working back late one night when an English colleague asked me why I was still there. I explained that I wanted to get a few things done before I took off to enjoy the English summer. He smiled wryly and replied, "please make sure you tell me what day it was".

    I arrived last week at the height of the heatwave. The radio was issuing public health warnings and advising people to stay cool any way they could. Britain hadn't seen such a spike in hot weather since 1995 (which incidentally I was also here for). And the mercury last week topped 31 degrees, so I did what the locals would do and took a dip in one of the most famous rivers in the world, the mighty Thames.

    Spending the day on Thursday at Royal Ascot in the sun ensured I would come away with a sunburn that could only scream to anyone looking at it that "hey summer is here and I got out there in it". It was to be a carrot dangled so low you would believe it was going to be the great Summer of 17, but reality was about to hit. In the form of a gorgeous coastal national park.

    Exmoor is stunning. I saw it today but camping in England anytime of the year should come with a warning on the box. You can leave home with blue sky above and arrive one hour later to sideways rain. Now living in Melbourne does prepare you somewhat for changes in weather but mother nature UK division is a whole new level. Last night we camped in a beautiful spot surrounded by sheep. We got in around 4pm, set up camp and popped the cork on a lovely bottle of Italian Prosecco with Elderflower. How very English Summer. By 5pm, all three of us had applied every layer of clothing we had with us. You could say, no amount of layers could keep the chill away, but we were not to be defeated. We carried on with the bubbles with only the slight indication of discomfort in the conversation where we discussed whether we really thought it was Prosecco weather or not. After draining the bottle the vote was in. It was red wine or whiskey weather. And we would huddle around the Weber after the BBQ was done.

    Today I woke to the rain washing the Campervan. I looked out the back of the van to the field of sheep and one was standing defiantly against an incredibly strong wind. The sheep was losing and I thought I was about to see my very first sheep blow over or even my first natural sheer with fleece littering the campsite, but the sheep held firm and in the end mother nature gave up and turned on a reasonable day.

    We walked through a stunning gorge to arrive at a chocolate box looking village by the sea. The sky was blue and for a brief minute we could feel the warmth on our backs. We even managed to sit outside while we tucked into the great Devon institution, the cream tea. More about the jam and cream, cream and jam argument another time...

    I am in Cornwall now. A place where beaches and sunshine are the name of the game. The British take their summer holidays there and there is the stoic hope that each year is going to bring a great Summer. I will go to the beach, and I will eat fish and chips. But I will also take a jacket, maybe two. And I will be as determined as the next person to get a touch too much sun, just so it feels like Summer.

    It is too early to answer my colleagues question around what day the summer might be, but I sure hope I get a few more heatwaves while I am here.
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