On Monday afternoon … 🌏

On Monday afternoon I walked to the dentist … Surry Hills to Zetland. I got there early and so sat in East Village going through emails. I glanced at my watch and it was already 3:25 and my appointment was at 3:30, so I rush upstairs and get to the dentist at 3:27.

At 4:04 I am called. So much for rushing!

This is just a last minute check up as I have an occasional ache in my right jaw. I have done the hot and cold water test and no pain, but I tell Caroline (Dr Oh), that it does irritate when I chew gum. In between X-rays I talk to Caroline about the trip and this blog. She is very interested and wants to look it up, but I have Brain spasm and it takes me about 5 attempts to spell out the correct address.

I get the all clear, no issues found. Later I realise that Caroline may follow the blog and may have to edit what I write. I decide not to and instead give my thanks for making my dental visits as good as they can be considering my innate nervousness about going. So I can highly recommend Caroline Oh at O Dental.

I walk from Zetland to Botany. Sarah has a meeting about a housesit during her last week … next week in fact!

I write to Guillem who made contact through Workaway. He is based in Barcelona and wondered if we were interested in an opportunity this year. We are already committed, but it’s nice to be approached.

Tuesday morning I walk a little earlier and it is quiet around the Opera House. You could almost hear a pin drop. In the evening we Skype Steve and Helen about a housesit for them in Ambolo which is a region of Javea. They have two dogs and need someone to look after them when they go away in May for a couple of weeks.

I found a 4×4 on the web which seems a great buy and so make an enquiry. I receive a reply a few days later and perform a guesstimated translation that they are thanking me for my email and will let me know when similar 4×4 cars are available. I leave it a few days and realise I should translate properly and discover they were writing to inform me that the car is in fact sold – bugger!

By Wednesday we decide that we will not go to Chateua Le Mur in Carentoir so I advise Terry and Ernie. This is for a couple of reasons. firstly because of the timing due to our change in dates and because it is not a pure housesit. It is more of a Workaway with a commitment to do up to 5 hours work each day around the property. Sarah may be okay by this time, but I don’t want to over commit so soon after a hip operation. It may well be super cautious … I can live with that.

I collect my sunglasses. The first pair had a fault and the fabrication of the lens was breaking down. It felt like one eye was misty when I wore them. Fortunately they were still under warranty and so were replaced. Even better still they arrived before I left for Spain.

We lunch with Richard at The Cut Bar & Grill in The Rocks and opt to share the slow cooked prime rib off the bone, slow roasted carrots and crispy royal blue potatoes. The huge chunks of meat melted in the mouth and the carrots that looked like small pieces of carved wood were smooth and sweet. It is yet another beautiful sunny day in Sydney and Circular Quay is busy with passengers from Celebrity Solstice.

We are at that stage when I wonder if we have packed things we shouldn’t have and didn’t pack things we should have. I packed my shoes sending them off to the UK leaving just one pair to see me through. But no, a split appears in the side of one shoe. It deliberately waited for the final box to be sealed and shipped until it raised its ugly white smile along the seam. Luckily Myer have the same shoes in the sale and so I buy them just in time for the trip.

I eye Ollie the trolley and realise he will not be coming with us. It is a sad moment. He has served us well, but there is no room in a suitcase and no more shipments to transact. Its the end of a good relationship. I wonder if we can find Ollie a good home?

Thursday comes and goes.

Friday I pack. We weigh the big red case and it is too heavy. Now I have to take an additional small bag.

Lexi calls in for a drink and to say goodbye. She is upset, I know. She latter sends a text, a lovely message from a lovely girl. Saying goodbye can be hard which is why in our hearts it is not the appropriate expression. It sounds so final, but nothing is final. There is a sense of leaving, but we will always be in hearts and minds. There is a sense of separation, but we are all one. Goodbye is not an ending. It is a beginning. For some it is a time to show courage and strength, while for others it is the opportunity to begin again and improve on what came before.

The world of course is not getting smaller. Our ability to reach people beyond the seas that separate us just becomes more profound. Technology for all its criticisms has brought us closer.

We may not hold hands, but we can touch hearts. Distance is only a word. In the end what matters most is the love that we have for each other and the knowing that we will always be there when a friend is needed most. No one is alone. No one need feel bandoned. No one is beyond our reach.

In essence this is just another journey of change for all of us. We should not fear the disruption, but fear the possibility of things staying the same.

Until next time 🌏

Sarah and I … 🌏

Sarah and I had planned to go to the Easter Show and purchased tickets some time ago. Once we knew that Sarah would have the hip operation we gave them to Lexi. There was a chance that Lexi may not use them and so over the weekend Sarah suggested that we go after all. Based on my crowd paranoia of protecting Sarah’s leg at the Fish Market and the fact that the only day we could go was Easter Monday … fairly busy day at the show … it took me all of 0.00009 seconds to say forget it! So, Easter Show No Go ….

Instead I went to Aldi in Oxford Street for a new experience. I forgot that they don’t provide shopping bags, well unless you pay and I refuse to pay for a bag to put my groceries in especially when it costs 15 cents and is plastered with the Aldi brand all over it. It’s like when we go to the zoo and buy grain to feed the goats. Aren’t we complete suckers? You pay to advertise the Aldi brand … go and have sex in a far away place!

It is fairly quiet where we are staying at the moment so despite Sarah is in her trainers I can hear the ghostly click of her stick as she returns from the gym. Its like a creepy movie as she hobbles up the cobbled path at speed, the stick getting louder and louder. Its a good early warning system that a tornado is approaching!

On Tuesday I pick up my new glasses in town.

I launched another business within the Senija Group portfolio, Websites2You. This is part of our digital nomad strategy and is a service designing and building websites using WordPress. it will also offer Logo design and a series of WordPress tutorials.

On Wednesday I list Sarah’s Piaggio scooter  and it is sold by Thursday morning. Some idiot decides to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and stops northbound traffic for 6 hours. The Commonwealth Games open on the Gold Coast and it is strange to see some of the places we would go when we lived there.

Thursday arrives and Seven Seas collect, hopefully, what will be for the last time, the final shipment, a suitcase. I imagine the several boxes that we sent to the UK, plus our suitcases when we travel and wonder what sort of vehicle we will need? I’m now thinking a small truck will do the job!

Friday comes around too quickly and we now move from our Airbnb in Darlinghurst to an Airbnb in Surry Hills. Sarah packed the suitcases the previous evening and I finish off the rest, tidy the house, sweep the courtyard and water the plants. So now everything that has to go is in the middle of the lounge. 2 large suitcases, 3 small cases, a backpack and 3 plastic storage bins. Sarah had put all her oceans of potions that she takes for bodybuilding, pre-workout stuff, post-workout stuff and more stuff with long scientific names in the shopping trolley. I empty it for the fridge/freezer food. There is a large black protein tub, or should I say bucket with a lid. Just lifting that is a workout! The dry food is in a large Seven Seas shipping box that I put together from flat-pack and then cut down for ease of carrying.

I had been toying with ideas for how to move all this stuff. Going by the book we had to vacate Berwick Lane at 11:00 am, but could only check-in to Poplar Street at 3:00pm. Fortunately we were able to arrange for a late check-out at 2:00pm and an early check-in at 1:00pm. Still with me? This meant that we had a 1 hour window to move all our stuff.

Looking at Maps on my iPhone the distance between properties was just over 600 metres and would take 10 minutes to walk. The issue was in negotiating the steep hill at the top end of Riley Street and then crossing the busy Oxford Street. The obvious thing to do was order an Uber, but for some reason I just didn’t. My strategy was to save money, time and expend energy as my workout for the day. So, in short, I did 4 trips pushing and carrying suitcases and boxes. It was a very hot Sydney day, the Sun blistering. I managed to identify about 10 suitable pit stops for a rest, catch my breath and soldier on. I left early and the host arrived early (12:55 pm) at Poplar Street and by about 2:20 it was all done and I spent the remainder of the afternoon unpacking. I did get one offer of assistance on Oxford Street. I think the guy thought I was having a heart attack. As kind as the offer was he did have several bits of metal protruding from his shaved head and a sort of glaze in his eyes. I wondered what sort of payment he may have expected so I kindly said all was good … took a deep breath and quickly moved on.

When I had finished I did a stocktake of the food situation and decided to pop up to Oxford Village for some groceries. Because of the heat and the physical move I was wearing my gym gear, little black shorts and vest. I remembered the mean spirited Aldi don’t provide shopping bags unless you buy them with Aldi emblazoned across the unsightly bag, so I took the shopping trolley. I rarely do this, although Sarah always uses “Ollie the Trolley”, but I had little choice. Again I realised that I hadn’t quite thought through this image. Me in my little black gym kit with my bright red shopping trolley going into Oxford Village. I just keep forgetting that I am in Sydney “Gay Town”. I was very conscious of it, but probably fit in like some old Queen. It was a quick shop!

On Saturday we have a Williams & Co Board meeting over breakfast at Pieno in Crown Street to finalise a few actions for our adventure. In the evening we have dinner with Larissa and Lexi at the Calaveras Mexican Cantina and Tequila Bar in Newtown. Quite funky, but noisy. We train there from Central and Taxi home.

The weather is still great and Australia are leaping ahead in the medal table at the Games.

Sunday we have lunch at Matteo in Double Bay, a gift from a business associate of Sarah’s.

Sarah does a trial run on my suitcase for next week. I write to Leo and Marja in Senija and arrange to meet them on the 16 April. They have offered to assist helping me to register at the local Senija Town Hall. I write to Dave and Fi with my flight details and also send them to my sister Kim who monitors my movements as if on some life threatening mission to save the world. I imagine Kim in a nuclear bunker under her house sat in front of several computer monitors viewing the activities of people and making notes. I wonder if she secretly sells this vital information to corporations the world over. I picture her sat in the Waters Inc control room, a black patch over one eye and a white cat on her lap like Dr No from the Bond movie. Except in this case she is Dr ImustkNow.

After writing my emails it hits me that I am now 6 days away from leaving Australia … jeepers. This time next week I will be in Spain and it is from there I will publish my next blog!

Until next time … 🌏

I awoke on … 🌏

I awoke on Monday morning to find Sarah sleeping on the sofa. This is a trend that will go on for the rest of the week. It is partly to do with the fact she must sleep on her back and protect her leg, but also because we discover, later, that the Cortisol tablets are keeping her awake.

I call Optus to delay the disconnection of our mobile phones and question why they have not responded to my query over my plan. As the world spins my mouth is opening and I am saying things, but I sense that no-one is listening even if they do hear. Key words pop up, apologise, look into, get back to you, understand. Then I realise that they are only words and that the key ingredient is missing …  action! I remain calm. For now.

I write to Martin, the car dealer in Javea with a copy of my NIE that I will require to purchase a car. I also need my driving licence and passport. Martin replies, but the NIE is not a residential copy with my address on it … bugger! The NIE is a tax identification number in Spain, known in Spanish as the NIE, or more formally the Número de Identidad de Extranjero. The Spanish government have linked the NIE number to residence, where the NIE appears on the tarjeta de residencia (residence card), and to social security in Spain. Initially they were only valid for 3 months, but recently Spanish law changed and they can be held indefinitely, the only problem, apparently, is that not all regions quite understand the full interpretation of the law.

For some time we have been meaning to buy a Didgeridoo as our ultimate Australian souvenir. I have left it too long as the packers are in tomorrow so I need to buy it today. I take the 301 bus from Zetland to Circular Quay as the best places to find one will be in The Rocks. I hunt high and low, popping into one of my favourite shops The Argyle Oracle, Sydneys oldest Psychic Centre. I haven’t been in for a long time, but not much has changed. Books, crystals and pendants plus lots of other bits and pieces. It is quiet. The same man who is always there, always friendly, sits behind the counter. The phone is busy and it seems a lot of people are having readings. I don’t stay long … back to the Didgeridoo search. A Didgeridoo is made from the Australian Eucalyptus tree that has been hollowed by termites. They have a haunting sound and can be beautifully painted with traditional aboriginal art. I scan all the shops and find a great specimen at Spirit Gallery. It is carefully covered in bubble wrap by two ladies who also manage to create a shoulder strap. I also buy a stand. I retrace my steps, passing the cruise ship “Ovation of the Seas” which is visiting today. The overseas passenger terminal is right in Circular Quay and so you can almost reach out and touch the largest Cruise ships in the world. With my Didgeridoo I sit down and take a selfie. I move on passing one of the many aboriginals who play the Didgeridoo in Circular Quay.

I meet a polish guy at the bus stop who asked where I purchased the Didgeridoo. He had heard that some of them are made in China and shipped over. I guess some of the cheap tourist versions are. He rambles on. I smile. Nod. Reply to the occasional conversation I understand and feel relief when his bus arrives.

On Tuesday the removalists arrive well over 2 hours early and catch us out as we had planned to do a few things before they arrive.. we are actually in Bondi when they call. We return home to Zetland. The van looks a bit small to me, but hey what do I know. The usual muttering ensues about what they thought was going and what looks too heavy. There is a slight irritation in the air, probably the first signs of steam coming from my head that Sarah picks up immediately. She applies soothing words, but I don’t think that had much effect. The guys are nice enough though and I maintain composure.

One of them spends most of the day in the basement wrapping everything. Every box is sealed with Chess bubble wrap, its amazing. We hire a car from Europcar and fill it with our suitcases plus, plus. Eeek … I think another box will need to be shipped to the UK. I drop Sarah at the Airbnb in Darlinghurst. Roam, the Laneway cat greets us from his throne. I return to the apartment in Zetland with advice from my beloved to be “nice”to the removalists. I get there and another small van has arrived. I knew it. More removalists. They are like a swarm of bees. I hear mutterings from the chief removalist Dave. I didn’t want to stare when I met him but I think he only has 1 tooth and is tanned like on old seadog. It seems that’s everything, so I do a cross check and find a whole cupboard not even opened, full of containers, the toaster ….! Why do I feel guilty. They look at me as though I planted them there when they weren’t looking.

In between times I have been taking items that we are not shipping and could not sell down to the loading dock where the bins are. This included a king size mattress and various heavy furniture such as a bookcase. The mattress behaved and was manageable from the bedroom to the lift , but seemed to want to escape once I got to the basement. The journey to the bin area was painful as I lay the mattress flat, stood in front of it, did a squat, threw my arms behind me and grabbed the edge of the mattress. I pulled with all my heart, stopped, released, got my breathe and repeated … too many times for comfort. I imagined some Egyptian overseer thrashing his whip and and shouting heave as I sweat blood. Miraculously we reached the Pyramid and I lay the floppy stone down. Looked for rats and went back for the next item.

I made a visit upstairs to check on progress. More removalists  had arrived including another van. A fleet of Chess vans now trails along the building. It looks like Justin Bieber has turned up with all his concert crew for a Gig. And then everyone disappears as though they were called to evacuation. I perform another cross check and there are bits all over that were obvious blind spots. Everything in the laundry as an example, door stops, a picture in the bathroom. Its like, what  part of everything goes don’t you f…cking understand! My friend who has been in the basement all day and looking a little paler, is left by himself to complete the mission. I point out these items and he sets to. I go downstairs and return later. Dave with 1 tooth is waiting patiently for me with the final forms to sign. You may think me a mean bastard, but I did not give them a tip. This was based on the $4000 worth of leather sofas that we let them take because we couldn’t sell them. I did once look at my wallet, but felt faint. Dave asked if I was alright, I didn’t look well! Once he and his crew had gone I felt much better. Mary the cleaner decided that she would clean the apartment that evening so I left the keys with her and went home to collapse.

We are staying in a lovely sandstone cottage in the city, but horror of horrors we have no microwave. Will we survive? In the end, after ferrying Sarah around I return to Bondi to retrieve the microwave that we donated to Lexi. No one is there so I have to use a secret method of entry and once again navigate Bolder. Who is Bolder? Bolder is a 10 foot tall Great Dane that reigns supreme in the household where Lexi lives. I turn the key and peer through the door. Nothing … great. It is a long narrow hallway and fortunately Lexi has a room at the front. As I enter the house a dark shadow forms over the sunlit floor at the end of the hallway. Bolder stands “bold” eyeing me. He wears a neckerchief and looks like the dog version of John Wayne. I get down on my knees and call his name. Bolder that is, not God, although I think Bolder is God of this house. He swaggers up the hallway like an old cowboy and looks at me eye to eye. Of course you should know he is a Great Dane and as soft as putty. He sniffs and I rub his ears. In his eyes I sense him saying do what you have to do then get out … this is my sleep time. He turns and wonders back to his room.

We have lunch at Kobe Jones in the Rocks, a Teppanyaki restaurant. Great food although I think we are the only people there! It is a beautiful sunny day.

In the afternoon I return the car and the apartment keys while the carpets are being steam cleaned. The agent tells me they also require the keys for the balcony sliding doors and windows … are they lost. NO, they are in the f**ckin door and window … I say to myself. I am told a photograph will do and return to the apartment, squelch over the freshly steamed carpet and photograph the evidence.

Can I please go home now?

My morning and evening walk takes on a new route due to the move. I now trek from Darlinghurst via The Domain, through the Botanical Gardens, around the Opera House and along the waterfront to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is an exposed sandstone rock cut into he shape of a bench, on a peninsula in Sydney Harbour, hand carved by convicts (POM’s) from sandstone in 1810 for Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth. I then continue south . The Port Jackson naval base is just across the water as I head along Woolloomooloo Bay towards home. In the evening I do the same in reverse. However, I have to take a slight diversion as the open air opera La Boheme is performed in the harbour at night and so the main path is closed off. The reason being that the stage is actually on the water! On Good Friday morning I cannot do a lap of the Opera House. Security guards line the front steps and walkways. There is security tape the length of the promenade stopping access. There is a warning sign about aerial activity. I look up and a Drone the size of a small car is hovering over the Opera House! There is no clue what it is doing. Perhaps a bomb scare … perhaps maintenance … perhaps??? All I think is why do this on one of the busiest tourist days of the year … Good Friday!

By Thursday Sarah is starting to become more sprightly. I haven’t spent much time on this as she is doing a daily update on her Activ8Energy website under the Hippy Times blog. I do have a perspective of course and it is that my main job is to try and slow her down. Its a bit like standing on a railway line and putting a hand up at a high speed train. But I will not give in. Anyone and everyone that knows Sarah will also know that she is like the Duracell Bunny. Now she is like the Duracell Bunny with a stick and she has mastered the art of using it to close doors, push buttons and accidentally on purpose stamp it down on the foot of anyone who gets in her way.

Her recovery has been remarkable and I’m doing my best to keep it that way. In fairness she is being very sensible about what she can and cannot do, but it is the energy and mental strength running through her veins that has contributed to the outcome. However, on Easter Sunday we decided to go down to the Sydney Fish Markets. Its a Sydney tradition, but for true Sydneyites you get down there when the boats come in to beat the crowds and select the best catch for the BBQ at lunch time.

We took the 389 from Stanley Street to Pyrmont at 11:48 am. Just a short walk to the Market on a beautiful sunny autumn day, 9 degrees above average. But I was concerned as by this time the crowds were heaving, cars were circling the car park, japanese toursists dropped off by the coachload and most of them not looking where they were going. I was very nervous about protecting Sarah’s left leg. We edged closer to the entrance and I was concsious of slippery floors and banana skins. People with backpacks, head down looking at iPhones, head turned over their shoulder as they converse with friends, people in a rush with trays of fish, taking orders from tables and charging to the kitchen and others that just don’t think. We are 5 feet into the market and nearly squeezed. I see a tall thin Chinese guy coming towards us. He is engrossed in conversation with a friend … but aiming straight for Sarah … ! Instinctively I just push out my arm. I fortunately apply an unagressive stretched out finger push into his chest and he immediately stops … looks at me and we carry on. I realise that it could have been worse, but spend the next 30 minutes like Kevin Costner in the BodyGuard. At this time of day the tourists are just looking and taking photos. The fish is absolutely fantastic, but the atmosphere is cramped, crowded and just unpleasnt to be honest. Eventually, we buy our fish, escape to the bus stop, and have a lovely lunch in the courtyard at home accompaniyed by a glass or 2 of a Shiraz Rose. Sarah then sings “I will always love you” from the Bodyguard movie … yes, I am fantasizing, whoops, too much sun and wine!

For a further incite on the week and and to catch up with Sarah’s progress go to Hippy Times.

Until next time 🌏

I spent most … 🌏

I spent most of this week with my head feeling like it was full of cotton wool. I know that I didn’t focus as much as I should have on preparing for our move, but I seemed to be stuck in some sort of emotional jelly. With Sarah in hospital I had a sense that I just wasn’t achieving much between visits. As hard as I tried I couldn’t get out of the trap. I realised that I simply needed to stop worrying and try and go with the flow.

I know some of you are also following/reading Sarah’s blog, particularly Hippy Times, as she recounts her hip replacement and journey through rehabilitation to showcase how people can get back into the gym, but also provide a better understanding of our bodies. For this reason I will attempt to avoid a double up on the stories, but if you are not following Hippy Times you can read it here to fill in some of the gaps … Hippy Times.

Having been told that my MacPro was not repairable and misplacing the power cord to the Toshiba my (our) HP laptop is now a shared resource. The other two laptops are sat beside my desk waiting to be smashed to bits. Anyway, I decided that Sarah should have the HP while in hospital and I would use my iPad. So on Monday I dressed down in my gym gear, (note that this is a dress up for Sarah) black vest and tiny shorts … just to make Sarah feel at home. I don’t have a laptop bag so I hunted through the cupboards for the old shopping bags that Sarah collects and came across one that was suitable and would fit the HP comfortably. On my way through the hospital main entrance I grabbed a large long black for Sarah ... which became my St Vincent’s routine for the week ... and went up to the 7th floor. Sarah needed to have some x-rays and would be about an hour, so I dropped off the coffee and with my little white bag containing the HP trotted up to trendy Oxford Street in Paddington to grab some breakfast. Those of you from Sydney will know Oxford Street, Paddington and the majority population that is mixed covering the whole spectrum … should I say rainbow of … “gayness”. I suddenly realised that I seemed to fit in more than I had intended and started to become a little concerned from the unsolicited attention. It hit me that dressed in my black gym gear, tiny little shorts and carrying a little white shopping bag with “SKIN and THREADS”emblazoned on it may have been conveying the wrong message. So focused on my iPad and being very careful of my eye movement I sat it out until it was time to go back to the hospital. Could have been a close call!

On Tuesday the last of the boxes were collected. Fortunately I remembered to be at home. The post-it notes everywhere helped.

Wednesday came and went. The weather was getting a little cooler with intermittent rain so by Thursday I was wearing my old Henri Lloyd sailing jacket as I scootered to and from the hospital. Riding the Harley Street Bob and the Triumph Daytona seem a life time ago! But I had to laugh at myself … well joining in with everyone else.… The reason being that the Henri Lloyd is very light and bright. Bright yellow in fact. Because of this as I sped along it filled with air and I looked like the yellow Michelin man as the jacket pumped out with more and more air. I had instant muscle … Ha. But I probably looked like a high speed lemon on a scooter.

Saturday and I set out for Waratah Private in Hurstville, just south of Sydney. Because my glasses have quite small frames it causes my eyes to water as I speed up on the scooter. Its dangerous. I decide to use Sarah’s helmet, which has a visor. Off I jettison, but something isn’t quite right. A wavy line seems to occasionally  float across my vision. Its frustrating. I try to rub the visor, but nothing happens. I put my hand up into the visor to clear whatever may be causing the line. My nose then tickles and then my cheek. I realise that it is one of Sarah’s long hairs … it couldn’t be mine! But I am on a roll. I don’t do the intelligent thing and simply pull over and remove the hair. I suffer it all the way to Hurstville. Even from a hospital bed Sarah is ever present!

When I return home from the hospital I remember that one of my growing tasks was to list the fridge/freezer and washing machine. We have left these items to the last minute for obvious reasons. The packers are in on Tuesday so I only have a few days. Up on Gumtree they go and within seconds I’m receiving messages. “how old is it?”, “what are the dimensions”?, I’ll give you $10!”and the most frustrating of all “Whats UR best offer”. Hey .. what the F** .. I put the price up … you should make me an offer. I think Gumtree should be renamed Appletree because clearly once you put something up for sale all sorts of maggots start to crawl out. One particular maggot feigned interest in the fridge/freezer. I should have known from the tone of the messages that the person was either high on something or just a complete time waster. They just seemed too enthusiastic as the messages prove …

Anyway, as pride would have it I wanted to clean up the fridge so that it was nice and sparkling for the purchaser. I had until 7:00pm. I don’t want to over dramatise the simple cleaning of a fridge, but it took what felt like for ever. As clean as we are it seems a fridge attracts small pieces of stuff that you really don’t notice until you set out to give it an overhaul. I could hear little crumbs and previously unseen milk stains pointing and laughing at me as they joked how long it had taken for me to find them. So I attacked the fridge and killed them all, but it was a long campaign. I then needed to pull the fridge out to check the back and of course I was presented with another field of attack. Part of the problem is that there is so much building going on in Sydney, particularly Zetland, that the wind whips up the dust and it just gets everywhere. The city roads leading into the cbd are close and obviously busy so the combination requires constant cleaning diligence. But where it is unseen it grows and grows like a monster! Having pulled the fridge out and in the process blocking the entrance to the kitchen I wondered whether it was worth pushing back or perhaps getting it out into the corridor ready for collection later. The problem was that once the rear wheels hit the carpet they would sink in and be very difficult to move. I then hit on the idea of positioning the fridge onto a towel and then simply pulling it in a sliding motion along the carpet. It seems crazy but it actually worked although I was sweating like a pig by the time fridge and I reached the front door.

Not having heard from my Gumtree “Time Waster” after advising them that I wanted to be paid by PayPal or cash and providing our address I followed up requesting an eta. In a nutshell said person … Maggot ... did not turn up and I haven’t heard from them since. I think that the ploy somehow was either a scam to get my bank details or they just thought it was funny. Well it is now I suppose …. but now I have their number!

But I was tired and disgruntled after being mucked around and there was no cold drink because I didn’t have a fridge. So I went over to Coles and bought a mobile fridge and contents. Had a Face Time call with Dave and Fi in Spain. Spoke a lot about Sarah although they have been reading the Hippy Times Blog so were pretty well up to speed.

Sunday was better all round on a number of levels. Sarah discharged herself from the hospital, I managed to sell the both the fridge and washing machine to the same buyer at full price and I witnessed a beautiful rainbow. Yesterday a lady had arranged to view the sofa’s we are selling … well ha, virtually giving away, but then text to say her car had broken down. Yeahhh … I bet!

Meanwhile my fridge customer was organising Airtasker to collect the whitegoods and he text to say they would arrive around mid afternoon. And so it was that Italo and his mate turned up. I thought they may be Italian … Italo?… , but in fact they were both from Chile on a working visa. Their little white van looked as though they had brought it with them. I had this picture of them chugging through a village in Chile with chickens flying everywhere and people scrambling. If they didn’t hit them the smoke from the exhaust would choke them. In fact they were nice lads although when I asked questions they looked at me like deer in the headlights. I wondered how certain their work permit was. Could I in fact be an Immigration Officer? Don’t say too much Italo … I hear him say to himself. I leave them at the lift and text the buyer … out of my hands now.

Sarah and I return to boxing up stuff for Lexi to collect om Monday … food and the such. I started clearing the food cupboards yesterday and threw away some things that I was advised by the quickly recovered Sarah that I shouldn’t have. The spoonful of white vinegar aparently was required for the protein bread that she was going to bake today. Things are back to normal. Thank you God for looking after my Sarah.

Until next time … 🌏

A big week … 🌏

A big week in the making. Good start with a trip to the dentist which I hate. It probably has something to do with the trauma I suffered as a very young child. The first time I was put to sleep and this ugly big mask covered my face. I always remember it like one of those old leather camera cases. It nearly swallowed my head. On another occasion the dentist or his frankenstein assistant somehow managed to create a hole in my tongue. Things are very different now and my dentist Caroline is lovely, but I still hate going. After an xray and clean there is the pocket-pain! A small filling later I was off, but not without making another appointment for Friday morning … for another filling …ah.

Why does the dentist ask open ended questions when your mouth is full of cotton wool, pipes and their rubbery fingers?

Sorted the cleaners plus carpet steaming for the move-out. When it is a move-out I think the prices go up significantly. Its like the difference between hiring a car … and then hiring a car for a wedding!

Tuesday was a big day as Sarah had her appointment with the surgeon about her hip. This is the unsettling situation I referred to in last weeks update. I won’t write too much about this as Sarah is covering it off in her Activ8Energy  Blog (see the Hippy Times category) to record the whole story and how she will bounce back to her normal warrior, superhuman status. Having said that, lying in a hospital bed she is still superhuman!

Long and the short of it is that our plans will change as Sarah, to her surprise, was told the operation could be on Saturday (17th). This sent our heads spinning a bit, but Sarah was very keen to get it out of the way. Both our heads were in the clouds wondering what to do now as there were a number of options we could follow. By Thursday we had agreed a plan, advised family and spoke to Dave & Fi in Spain to check we could move the dates that we we would stay with them. So, I will stay on in Sydney an extra 2 weeks and leave for Spain mid-April. Sarah will follow-on (subject to recovery) just over a week later. This means that we have to cancel the first 2 housesits in France. I wrote to the owners on Saturday once we had confirmed our new plan and they were both very understanding. Sarah and I will then be in Javea together for 3-4 days before we head off to Chateau Le Mur in Carentoir.

Meanwhile, there was a short term situation to sort out and that was where would we stay for the next 4 weeks plus as we are vacating the apartment in the last week of March. Airbnb here we come. We have found a nice little sandstone cottage in Darlinghurst right in the city for a couple of weeks and then it’s off to stay with friends.

On friday the last 2 boxes were sealed ready for collection by Seven Seas for shipment to the UK. There are post-it notes around the apartment to remind me to be home this time!

So Saturday! Sarah had to be at St Vincent’s by 10:30 am for admission. I of course suggested that we take a sedate ride in an Uber up to the hospital, but Sarah, realising that this would probably be the last time she could ride her scooter (Elvis) decided for the both of us that we would go on the Piaggio. Reluctantly I accepted my orders and like a deformed turtle I sat on the back of the scooter with a backpack that I obviously had not adjusted properly as it crept up my neck and pressed too hard on my back.

And we were off. I held on to the little waist, but soon realised that at some point I was going to push Sarah over the handlebars very soon due to the less than delicate braking. I then resolved to hold the small frame behind me and gripped with all my life. At this point Sarah forgot that I was on the back and the problem was pulling away. I had visions of falling off the back as the scooter zoomed away, Wonder Woman oblivious to the squashed heap in the middle of the road. I quickly decided to ask God to forgive all my sins … forgetting that this may take him a long time to go through them all ... if he could just get us to the hospital alive ...we were going in the right direction anyway... I would be very grateful.

Fortunately, he/she did hear my plea and we arrived safely at St Vincent’s. It reminded me of an article on gazettelive.co.uk that my sister sent us last week, that David and Sarah are the UK’s most dangerous drivers by name!

Sarah went under the knife an hour earlier than expected, but was in recovery a lot longer due to her low blood pressure. She has low blood pressure anyway, but everyone was concerned. I’ll let her tell you all about it in Hippy Times Hippy Times. Picture is obviously a before, but anyone knowing Sarah could take it as an after. I have lost count of the people over the years telling me how amazing she is. It’s as if they think I don’t know. Why the the bloody hell do you think I fell in love and married her?

Until next time … 🌏

Having confirmed the … 🌏

Having confirmed the housesits from Spain to France, a hop to the UK and back to Spain before the trip to Italy, the next task is to join the dots and confirm the routes. Sarah started on Monday and has made good headway. The Nomador site is quite useful as they have what they call Nomador Stopovers. Many of the Hosts on Nomador that have used housesitters offer a one night stopover for travellers. This is mainly confined to France, but is very useful between trips.

We also booked the return ferry from Cherbourg to Poole in June. Direct Ferries needed the car details when booking so we took a guess based on a car we have been looking at on a website. When we actually get our car we will have to remember to change the details!

And for that we will need funds so I am researching money transfer rates. This whole business has changed over the years with rates and fees very competitive, as well as the time to transfer being much quicker. This is because the process has changed considerably. In the old days, once the exchange rate was confirmed the transfer would move like a cheque from bank to bank. Now the money is deposited with an agent in the country of origin who advise an agent in the country of the recipient and they transfer the funds from their local account. It pays to look around. Depending on how much you exchange you could save a lot of money.

Between our housesits in Civray and Chateau Le Mur we had a week to spare. Choices included staying on at Civray, getting to the Chateau early or perhaps just taking our time and have a few stop overs. The other option of securing a housesit didn’t come to mind as we thought finding somewhere on route for the exact dates would be too much to hope for. But Sarah had a look on Trusted Housesitter, found somewhere, applied and we were offered the housesit … all within 2 days. So now we are heading to Saint Jean de Cole for the last week in April to look after 3 dogs, 3 cats and 3 laying hens!

Friday was one of those off days. We received some news mid-week that slightly unsettled us (I’ll write about this over the next week or so) and so our heads had been in the clouds for a couple of days. So on Friday Sarah was due to go to the dentist for a check-up and I had to be at home to received more empty boxes for our final shipping to the UK. I had received an SMS reminder with the time slot, 10 to 11am, from Seven Seas, also a copy from Sarah and when she left for work that morning a verbal reminder. Yes dear! Sarah’s appointment at the dentist was important for the obvious reason, but also because she had already cancelled a previous appointment, a bit late and so the receptionist was a bit snotty about it making Sarah feel quite bad.

I called Sarah later Friday morning to catch up. After a chat there was a brief silence and she confessed to having forgotten to go to the dentist … just completely slipped her mind and now she is under threat of the wrath of the snotty receptionist. It was at this point I also had to make a confession. I got immersed with the computer Friday morning so decided to go for my walk later than usual. In fact, much later. It was a beautiful day by the time I stepped out and had been walking for about 15 minutes when my mobile rang. Fortunately, I was on a side street and heard the ring and decided to answer it. The time was 10:10 am and the voice on the phone advised he was here with the boxes. F**k … I had completely forgotten the boxes were being delivered. I told him that I was 10 minutes away and he whinged that I would hold him up. After telling him that was too f**cking bad, I hung up and ran back home. When I say ran, what I really mean is that I ran in my mind. The truth was that the sun was blistering hot, so I jogged, walked and struggled for breathe in several phases. During this painful trek back to the apartment I had visions of a very upset van driver getting ready to punch my lights out. As I turned the corner into Gadigal Avenue there was no sign of the van and in a way I breathed a sigh of relief that I may yet live to see another day. But how would I explain the non-delivery of the boxes to Sarah? As I reached the door to the lobby I realised the driver had left the flat-pack boxes neatly slotted behind the buzzer column of the front door. Moments later I received a text from the driver with a picture of said boxes as evidence. Hopefully he won’t be the guy collecting the boxes and more hopefully I won’t forget he is coming. On Monday I have the dentist and I have written it in big bold letters on a post-it note and stuck it on my laptop cover!

Boxes

A good-bye lunch today at Bondi WholeFoods in Surry Hills with Brittni who is flying off to London this week to pave the way for her future life. The menu is mainly salads and sandwiches, but Sarah and I found a cool green salad … add a poached egg and a glass of kombucha to make a nice light and healthy lunch.

20 days to go … next week is a big week, don’t miss it!

Until next time … 🌏

As we will … 🌏

As we will be a whole year in Italy there are some clothes that we didn’t want to go into storage, particularly the winter wear. So Sarah packed 3 smallish boxes after sucking the air out of vacuum packs. I think she could have done this without assistance, but actually did use the Dyson. They cannot weigh more than 30 Kg so the way we weighed, as per the instructions, is for Sarah to stand on the scales, we read the weight, I pass the box to Sarah and then read the new weight. You got it  … the difference is the weight of the box. Easy. After a small mountain of Customs paperwork the boxes were collected on Wednesday and are now on their way to Bournemouth.

On Thursday I moved the 2 seater sofa up from the garage and took some small bits of furniture down to the storage cage as we have decided to ship them. The rest of the big furniture we will sell. As it is the first “Open Home”on Saturday we thought we could showcase the furniture that we want to sell to prospective renters. We want to manage this carefully so that things don’t go too quickly and we end up sitting on the floor with no TV.

With 4 weeks to go I had diarised the simple tasks of starting to close accounts and give notice to Optus for the phones/wifi, Foxtel (Pay-tv) and EnergyAustralia (electric/gas) etc. A simple task I thought. I had been dreading talking to Optus, or should I say some 15 year old based in a Philippines Call Centre. Well, they sound like they should be at school! We will have to pay-out the contract on the mobiles, but I wanted to get a credit for some poor advice they gave me some months ago. Basically, instead of advising that I share unused data across all our devices, the consultant suggested an additional data product which was poor advice. So I told them and am now awaiting the outcome of an investigation. Mmm.

I knew that dealing with these faceless people would put me in heart attack territory. I have been calming myself for months working up to this event … and … well … failed miserably. I hate myself for thinking that things were not always so hard, because then I’m thinking like an old person. I guess younger people are used to the terrible way customer service is conducted today … in the age of customer service!

And so, with reluctance I moved on to the next supplier, Foxtel. There is every service you heart desires on the website, except disconnection, requiring a phone call. I phoned and all was going well until they asked if Sarah was there with me? Surprisingly, she was at work and I relayed this to the person on the phone, wondering what the hell it had to do with him. After an exchange of words it transpired that we both have to give approval to close a pay-tv account. By this time I could start to feel my heart racing and my leg bouncing. It was time to put the phone down gracefully and pass this on to a greater power.

And so it was The Sarah made a call to Foxtel to confirm the cancellation. But giving a months notice isn’t enough anymore. You have to give a months notice on the anniversary of your payment schedule and when you ask to speak to someone in authority they just dont help and they just don’t care. The only advice Sarah received was to make a complaint on the website. Thanks Foxtel.

EnergyAustralia were next and now you have to pay for them to come out and read the metre. Can’t we do this ourselves ? No. Thanks EnergyAustralia!

We have some points on our Amex card that can be converted to cash and so I tried to do this online. You complete a form press next and … takes you to a page that you don’t want, like the thing you want to do just falls into a black hole. I tried several times. Even the greater power had no luck. If you want to make contact with an actual person it will cost you 2500 points. Thanks American Express!

Thankyou all for your customer service!

On a lighter note we caught up with friends this morning for breakfast at Trio Cafe in Bondi. A favourite haunt for Lexi as she just lives round the corner. The adventure wasn’t the breakfast though, it was how I got there. Riding pillion on the back of Sarah’s scooter. Now, with my motorbike and the car sold, this is our only item of transport. I had already sold 2 crash helmets and sensibly saved an old one for such an occasion.

The last time I was on the back of a scooter was when I was about 7 years old and had been suffering with an abscess under my tooth. The pain was bad and to take my mind off it Dad took me out on his Lambretta. As it happened the rush of air into my mouth as we went along Barrack Road from Bournemouth to Christchurch soothed the pain. Until I managed to get to the dentist I would plead with Dad to take me out for a ride. Of course I was much smaller than I am now. I actually can’t remember if I wore a crash helmet. I’m thinking no because it wasn’t mandatory in those days and the adult size wouldn’t have fit. I just sat on the back and leaned into Dad, holding on very tight. It was like holding on to a sense of security and warmth. I didn’t know where we were going, I  was too small to see past Dad and I didn’t really care.

Looking at a photo of Dad during his army days, sat on a motorbike, I go beyond the normal thoughts of the picture. Now I wonder what was going on in his mind and in his life. What was he doing an hour prior to the picture being take. What did he do the next day … and then realise that I only knew a fragment of his life.

1946 john020.jpg

Some decades later getting on the Piaggio was a somewhat different feeling. First of all I had this slight waist to hold and I realised that the pillion seat was raised. This meant that I could see straight over Sarah’s head. I could also see the oncoming obstacles and potential accidents. All with no control of the situation. A strange place to be .. in my head anyway .. which is a strange place!

Needless to say to Bondi Beach and back went effortlessly. The timing was good too as “Elvis”… the number plate is “LVC 58” will have to be sold in a few weeks time. This will be a sad occasion as Sarah loves her scooter. I’m sure Elvis wont be the last.

Until next time … 🌏

The trouble with … 🌏

The trouble with walking morning and evening is that this form of mobile meditation also provides the opportunity to think and observe through mindfulness the details of life around you. Sunday provided such an accession and for some unknown reason I started to take photographs. It was a longer walk than usual as I studied BikeArt, TrolleyArt and the CommunityArt around me and posted it all to my Catch It All Photos page on Instagram.

For some mysterious reason my MacPro just gave up on me at the weekend. I launched the laptop, and logged-in, but the black progress bar took an agonisingly long time to complete and then just stayed there frozen on the screen looking at me with menace. I made a few more attempts to login with the same result, eventually calling the Apple Support line. They tried to help and a guy from the support desk in New Zealand talked me through a number of steps to no avail. In the end he suggested re-loading the operating system, which ran over night and early morning. Clearly something wasn’t right. I made an appointment with CompNow, a local Apple approved service centre in Alexandria. The boy at the front desk, obviously not at school today, asked how long I had the Mac and I thought about 3-4 years. They had all my details on the system, such as when and where I purchased the Mac and I had actually bought it 6 years ago at Dick Smith. I couldn’t believe the time had passed so quickly. Because it is so “old” in computer terms, it is now classed as vintage and can only be serviced by certain approved Apple centres. CompNow was not one of them. I didn’t want to buy another just yet until we were settled in Spain, so I have reverted to my HP, which is actually newer, about 18 months old, certainly not vintage yet! The Mac and an old Toshiba are now awaiting dismantling before disposal. Of course not having used the HP for some months I had a backlog of updates which basically took one more overnight session and the panic another laptop would end up in the bin … or flying out of the window from the 13th floor! Fortunately, fingers crossed, all is now well.

Earlier on Monday the boxes arrived from Seven Seas for our shipping to the UK. They don’t look very big and when packed must not weigh more than 30 kg. I guess we will have to think a bit about what we really need. Can wait for another day.

Sarah spent Thursday night putting little price tags on her clothes for the Glebe Market on Saturday. Thankfully for the girls the weather was good. Britt managed to borrow a car, but she was a bit anxious as it was new and jammed full. Sarah was meeting them at the market and so I helped Britt and Lexi load Sarah’s clothes and bags into an already bulging little car. Britt was getting more anxious by the moment, but eventually they got everything in and off they went. It was a good day. They sold some stuff and so Lexi and Sarah will do the next market on 18 March.

I had a bit of success on Saturday too as I managed to sell my motorcycle jacket on Gumtree.

Wednesday was my last day in the corporate world. I managed to come to an arrangement with Primary Health Care which means that I now have more time to get some things ready for the trip. Needless to say the event passed quietly and unceremoniously as was my desire. I can also start to give some focus to the multitude of ideas that Sarah and I have for our virtual online businesses.

This weekend also witnessed the start of the Year of the Dog for the 2018 Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese horoscope 2018 is a good time for lifestyle changes and for the start of new business ventures. Well, we certainly have got both of those covered. Dogue, the local pet spa were doing some dog grooming in East Village and their ambassador was a very smart little thing wearing a lovely red coat for his special year!

On Sunday we went to the Tomato Festival Sydney and attended the Longest Tomato Lunch with Larissa and Lexi. A beautiful Summer day in the Botanical Gardens overlooking the harbour with views of the  Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Until next time … 🌏

Finally landed on … 🌏

Finally landed on a company to ship the stuff that we need, but can’t take with us on the flight. Seven Seas Worldwide deliver the empty boxes (they arrive on Monday) and packing materials. We then pack the boxes, seal and label. The boxes are collected, shipped, cleared through customs and delivered to the UK … hopefully by the time we arrive in June. Seven Seas Worldwide was established in the mid-nineties by two brothers, John and Will Henderson, who continue to head up the business from their United Kingdom base in Kent.

Sarah and I have been trawling through the various car sales websites every evening. Its been a bit like when you work from home and keep going to the fridge for a snack expecting there to be something different, but there never is. To be fair there has been a bit of new stock so its always worth keeping on top of it.

We are still keen on a 4X4/SUV and Moll in Denia seems to have a good stock, however, they do have something that we are quite keen on and it is a bit different! It is actually a Fiat Ute that Moll are selling … Fullback Double Cab. It appeals because it is quite new and looking ahead to the future could be very useful. So I wrote to Dave in Javea and asked him if he could take a look if he was passing that way. As it happened he was going to be in Denia the following day.

Its irritating that companies don’t keep their websites up to date, especially in this technology age, but hey, what can you do. As it turned out the Fiat had already been sold. They will be getting another one in, but it will be brand new and a little more expensive. A new one built to order takes approximately nine months because they are built in the US and they have a long backlog. The garage doubt that they will be getting another second hand one in within the next few months. It takes about 2 to 3 days to register a car, produce the new number plates and have them fitted, so thats good to know.

For now its back to looking at websites.

It must have been on Thursday. Sarah had left for the gym and 30 minutes later I received a text message from her. Apparently as she shot out of the garage on her scooter she spied from the corner of her eye a clothes rail in the bins area. I guess a tenant had dumped it when they moved out. So under instruction I quickly got dressed and went down to the bins. There was a lot of stuff there so I had a sniff around (no deep breaths near the bins)… nothing else worth snatching. The clothes rail though was perfect for the market sale that Sarah is doing with Lexi and Britt in Glebe on the 17th. It’s a bit wonky, with a broken wheel, but is just the job.

Until next time …🌏

Now the car goes … 🌍

The car has been on Gumtree and Caresales Online for a few weeks. Had a few bites, mostly some nutters thinking I will give it away. Probably car dealers trying it on. Anyway an Egyptian guy from Blacktown called yesterday and came to view the car with his wife who didn’t seem to speak much english, but was muttering things in Egyptian as she paced round the car.

We went for a test drive and I sat nervously in the passenger seat as the Egyptian bus driver from Blacktown kangarooed out of the garage. I think the foot he used for the brake had no feeling the way he slammed it down and he seem blind to the white line in the centre of the road. His wife sat in the back occasionally muttering something in Egyptian. I suspect along the lines of her general comfort. If she wasn’t the size of Manhattan it may have helped.

He had the nerve to later say he thought it wasn’t the smooth journey he expected and a Corolla he once had was better. I suggested it may have been his driving and he laughed.

In fact he had a good sense of humour and I liked him, especially because he bought the car. Apparently I had to give him a good deal as it transpires unbeknown to me that we are brothers! Really? It is true that Dad did a stint in the Middle East and Africa during his army days, but I didn’t recognise any resemblance other than his natural sense to play poor me and strike a deal. I met him today at Green Square station to hand over the car. The sun eventually came out this afternoon and I took a photo of the car. It was looking good. It was a good car and a nice drive. Shame it had to go. I sat in the car and the Bus Driver asked me to close the door as I counted my money and he filled out the forms.

Another transaction completed.

This week we sold the sofa bed, the storage bed, an ottoman and the car.

Until next time … 🌍