Today in Brisbane - walking the South Bank and reminding Christiane of the card she sent me years ago. The card is still on sale and has a pretty girl with dark hair walking on the side of the South Bank. I though she was calling out to me from her travels when she sent me this. Apparently this was not the case - but deep down I bet she wanted me really! She says I'm dreamming. Anyway the dream has come true as I walk with the pretty girl along the same stretch and now we're married and bump is enjoying the journey too. Amazing.
Stayed with Christiane's Brother and his family in Yandina - brilliant time. HIs sons Ryan (nearly four) and Patrick (one and a half) are lovely - when they're not angry overtired or having atantrum that is! We were learning parenting skills from Ang and Anthony. I was also given some great - How to be a dad books! Funny, scary and inspiring in equal measure.
Visiting tourist spots, wave surfing - I only got bombed out once - although I swallowed a lot of sand with the sea water. Here's me out with Anthony at the edge of where all the body surfing guys were coming in. What I didn't compute was that we are first for the sharks! Anthony was thinking as there were another two guys near us we were fairly safe. A one in four chance of being eaten alive. Comforting to be told this afterwards!!!
Saw kangaroos in Anthony's back garden and crept downstairs and out into the garden to get pictures of them. Ryan, standing on the balcony, shouted at me to stamp my feet - gives the snakes times to clear! Not quite the same as Brighton.
I've endured snake stories, shark stories, spider stories and I was very brave to go into a friends back garden - well I thought I was brave.
Just brilliant to have a good chunk of time with Anthony and Ang and to be welcomed into Christiane's side of the family that resides in Australia.
Anthony took us all over and up to Hervey Bay where I met Christiane's Aussie mum Sharon. She was very welcomming and pronounced 'You've passed' as I left. Thank goodness for that!
We had a shock though as a good friend of Christiane's - Sue - had discovered her partner had committed suicide just two days before we arrived. So we went to see her and her two offspring Harley and Lizzie. A time of tears, laughter and... well... it was ---- can't think of the word ---- somehow very good to be there and to be able to see her and offer support at such a time.
Sue has a Harley - and we haven't made our Harley ride yet on our trip. I didn't get to ride it but we did power it up and it felt just like I thought it would. The Harley ride is definitely on the list of things to do.
Where are the flies? Just not the same as Perth where I was overloaded with them. Better here.
Had an authentic Australian experience drinking an ice cold beer on the veranda of an old pub/hotel as the locals chatted around in the centre of town. 1891 the pub had been been moved on skids to a new location nearer the railway. It worked and it's still there. Surreal to have a betting shop at the end of the bar counter but practical?
A few days getting to know new friends in Brisbane. Steve and Emma have three boys, Keelen, Kristian and Toby - the boys are stars all and it's another insight into parenting to see how a 9,7,4 year old can get on... Steve lets them do stuff - like my brother does with his boys. As Keelan climbs up the stancheon of a motorway bridge we were walking under his dad explained to me that he was calm about it. Keelan was only thirty feet up so I suppose I can understand! Actually it's a tremendous insight and a privilege to meet new friends that Christiane has known for years and see how people in other countries make their lives work. Inspiring.
Terry and Rosie are Emma's mum and dad. Their hospitality too has been lovely - I could get very fat here! Except that Steve - who has a body like some kind of model and is super fit had me swimming this morning at 7 am. He did 25 minutes of crawl (freestyle) I have to stop for a breather after every one length....
Went to amazing church last night. Very humbling. The service was held in a crpyt beneath the main church and a lot of homeless or - how to explain? - let's say marginalised people attended. It was beautiful and real. We sang a mix of hymns and - 'If I were a Butterfly' and 'What a Wonderful World' type songs. It moved me deeply and reminded me of how much I have and how lucky I am.
Sydney tomorrow and then on to Hong Kong - around the world in 38 days. I'm having a suit made in two days in Hong Kong. Apparently it takes a lot longer than that normally - brilliant - just have to decide the style, colour, cloth, finish etc.. Which could take me two days anyway? No pressure then.
To Sydney tomorrow - off to walk around the South Bank and see the modern art gallery - it's a tough job but someone has to do it...
N & C