Going on Holiday?
05 October 2018
"Going on holiday?" This was the polite greeting from the friendly bus driver this morning as we humphed a hundred kilos of wheely bags and rucksacks aboard the express bus to Sydney. It had been a fractious morning. A fractious few weeks in fact, dealing with idjits the length and breadth of the Bank of Scotland trying to extract OUR money from their grasping, inefficient and rule bound systems, when they were available, and so yours truly wasn't really in the mood for pleasantries. A number of sarcastic responses flew through my head, "Naw. Just going to the shops", "No, I'm taking them to get the wheels serviced" but fortunately good breeding pulled through and I equally politely replied with some nonsense about the weather. Which has well and truly broken. New South Wales has been drought stricken for many, many months so the hundred mil of rain in the last two days is as wildly welcomed by the farming community as it is hated by us splashing our bags into Sydney and out to the airport through the deluge.
I counted up last night and it's seven years since we left gainful employment for the first time in forty odd years and sailed out of Largs marina on Scotland's beautiful west coast and headed out over the far horizon, well Lochranza actually, to begin our new life as "live-aboards", cheek by jowl in forty five feet by fourteen, twenty four - seven, with only time off for good behaviour and Christmas. And so, when people ask if you're off on holiday, it's difficult and a bit sometimes, such is my work ethic, embarrassing to answer as, no actually, this is our life. It just looks like a holiday.
The last four months has been different, effectively kicking our heels between boats and it's been an entirely new experience for us. Living in a confined space for so long set us up for the 4WD tour of Western Australia which was great. Silver beaches stretching for miles. Vast empty horizons where the arrow straight gravel roads disappear into a distant pin prick. The "bush", with miles of carpets of wildflowers, (weeds I'd call them) towering rocks where for tens of thousands of years the aborigines walked around the precipice looking out into the bush, where, with the advantage of height, they could spot game and enemy, but where now, stainless steel barriers line those same cliff tops in case some dumb tourist walks too close to the edge, despite having been reminded every few steps of the risk of potential and really painful death by countless "Danger! Cliff Edge" signs. That's evolution for you.
We climbed deep down into the gorges carved out of the barren plateaux, watched wallabies, camels and eagles the size of small adults and clunked and rattled for miles in choking red bull dust - if you were following. The dust I'm still picking out what's left of my my hair. However, as far as camping is concerned, or at least our version of it, fifty plus days and nights in the back of a tiny Land Cruiser was....., well, just plenty. "I'm just off to the loo", armed with a shovel. All very outback and billabong but, after a while, usually about three in the morning, it wears a bit thin. We wouldn't have missed off-road WA but after a while, you miss your comforts, or indeed, some basics.
And so, road trip over we immensely enjoyed three weeks intensive rehabilitation of daily showers, full size bed, sofa, tele and eating at a table in P & C's apartment. But again we must press on, answering the call of the sea, heading for New Caledonia for a date with Tall, Slim and Drop Dead Gorgeous. And Trevor.
Look out liver.