Monthly Archives: August 2012

Stoner Craft Fair - EnglandPerhaps when I was younger, the excitement of wearing gumboots, sloshing around in mud to climb into a small tent and listening to music, would have been on the to do list.  I admit the idea makes me shudder but it was interesting watching the passing parade of young people revved up and ready to party.

Stoner craft fair in Berkshire, the mushrooms are carved out of wood.

Reading Festival is one of the largest in the UK, bands from all over play for 2-3 days and about Stuffed peppers50,000 arrive via train and car. The ‘uniform’ is wellies or gumboots – the Brits know their weather!  This footwear is topped with cut off shorts and jackets, sleeping bags and backpacks. Standing on Reading bridge we watched the long line of mostly teenagers walking the 2 miles along the riverbank towards the festival grounds. Security officials allow groups through in stages and the more affluent catch water taxis.  Fortunately we couldn’t hear any of the music.

Mon & PeterOver the weekend I took a train down to Southampton to visit an old friend Monica, we used to work together in South Africa. Long rambles in the soft English woods, catch up chats and nice meals – just what the doctor ordered! Southampton is possibly the best port on the world for cruise liners to arrive and sail from. As children we used to love our trips that went from Cape Town in South Africa to Southampton. From there my parents would drive north to visit family in Yorkshire. England is so pretty but I hate the weather! Now if only I could work out how to live in each country for the summer seasons and avoid winter for ever…..

raw goodiesOlympic fever is over and the Underground trains are back to normal.  I planned my holiday to make sure I arrived after it was all over. Roll on Rio for those of you who love the excitement. I somehow doubt their train system will be as efficient as London.

Heathrow customs were so easy to get through compared to Sydney. We only had one tiny form to fill in and no questions to answer about food, feathers, shellfish, bones, and contraband seeds.  Almost everyone just strolled through the green ‘Nothing to Declare’ gate and a couple of disinterested officials just watched us. It was a real anti climax; no one was stopped or searched. I was delighted to meet my new granddaughter and daughter at the gate.

blackberry cocktail

Australian weather has followed me here; at least I am taking credit for it.  It’s a heat wave by English standards. The weekend was gloriously sunny and jokes about train commuters being sunburnt and bumping into each other on the Underground the next day were flying around. A bit of sun and the Poms bare their chests and turn Tabasco red.

Blackberry picking has been a highlight for me, unlimited supplies free on the sides of the hedge-lined roads. And then watching them being turned into cocktails was even nicer. Crushed ice, Absolut vanilla vodka, lime juice and icing sugar mixed with fresh blackberry puree’. Unfortunately VERY nice although you could opt for an alcohol free version but to be polite ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’, I had to try the vodka version!

Raw food is still high on the agenda and I made a spiralised zucchini salad with rainbow capsicumsSpiralised zucchini with rainbow capsicums

to take to a family dinner. And there are LOTS of online raw food goodies available so, as in New Zealand, I ordered ahead to have treats ready for when temptation strikes.

Off to Southampton tomorrow by train to catch up with Monica, an old friend from South Africa.



Looking at plastic food, well it is edible but looks like plastic. You know one of those toy sets for children to play grocery shopping but this highly coloured plastic wrapped gift box was being sold as food.

So what else was I supposed to do for 5 hours in transit at Tokyo airport.  Doing laps around all the duty free shops that look the same as all over the world but with a few differences.  Rules seem to be changing all the time lately, ridiculous laws regarding liquids on planes. It was already stupid to introduce no nail scissors or penknives and then no toiletries or liquids exceeding 10ml. Come on, international highly trained terrorists are not going to get on the plane with a deadly weapon hidden in their Colgate toothpaste tube.

At Sydney I passed through Customs and THEN did my duty free shopping, all good and normal as per usual. I chose an attractive long bottle of sweet dessert wine with gold flecks floating in the liquid. Arriving in Tokyo at 6am and having to wait in transit, we went through the scanner machine again. I was pulled beside with my bag. The offending article was the wine; it was more than 100ml liquid.Well duh, of course it was. I explained to 2 non-English speaking Japanese customs officials that it was duty free. I had 5 hours to kill so could afford to spend half an hour arguing. I spread out my cash docket, my boarding passes, my tickets but I lost the battle.

WORD OF WARNING – DO NOT BUY DUTY FREE ALCOHOL IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN TRANSIT!! Sydney duty free did NOT warn about this latest insane rule, bastards.  And because I needed to stay calm and not trigger off any heart palpitations in the middle of my long international flight I couldn’t even lose my temper! Bastards.

I was a coward in the toilets; they had arms like an armchair on either side of the toilet bowl. With play buttons Stop, Spray, Bidet, Flushing Sound, Volume, Water Pressure and Powerful Deodoriser. One could have had a lot of fun if one was in the mood.

And if you’re a parent with a small child there was a mini seat in the corner of the toilet that you could slip baby into, a grandstand front row seat to watch Mum taking a dump, so practical. After 5 long hours I was happy to be back on the plane and heading towards London.

Does this happen anywhere else in the world? Does any other country grant long service leave to their employees?

In South Africa we had no idea it existed, in Europe we didn’t hear about it but in Australia, the lucky country, there are so many rewards. No wonder we have a boatload of refugees arriving daily on our shores (illegally) from other not so lucky lands.

I have my doubts that Gen Y will ever experience long service in any company. You need to stay with the SAME company for 10 years to become eligible for your reward and Gen Y do a hop skip and jump from job to job every couple of years. But then they tend to earn a whole lot more than our generation too so I doubt it keeps them awake at night feeling they might have missed out on something.  After 15 years you get even more reward days and again after 20 but I haven’t reached that milestone yet.

So I am off to England to visit family using long service days and not precious annual leave time. My new granddaughter is only 5 months old and I can’t wait to meet her! Summer Eden has seen and heard me on skype but has yet to get a big grandmother cuddle. My father who turns 80 this year cannot get his head around these ‘new-fangled’ names as he calls them. He struggles to remember it and recently asked me how ‘Fig Leaf’ was? Fig Leaf? You know, what’s her name…  Eden something or other.  The connection was Eden – Adam and Eve = fig leaf.  Next time he asked me how September was.

Olympics are over so the thought is that Heathrow airport will have returned to sanity by the time I arrive in 24 hours, via Tokyo with 5 hours in transit time. First time in Japan even though it will only be in the airport, the atmosphere will be different and a chance to get out of the plane and stretch my legs.

I feel a bit lost not having Geoff with me for this trip but it’s mainly a family visit so he can save his annual leave days for fishing trips and Christmas in Perth.  Nicole, my daughter will look after me and we have a few ideas for small day trips. Nothing too strenuous as it’s been an ‘annus horribulus’ as the Queen was heard to say one particularly bad year.  My new resolve is to balance my life with enough rest and relaxation and regain my outstanding energy and stamina, one step at a time.  First step right now is to check the suitcase in, get through customs and settle into my aisle seat on the plane for the long trip.



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