Storm clouds, decisions and rats.

I went back to the coast yesterday, back to my coastal walk that has helped me to think clearly so many times in the past.

I went in an attempt to de clutter my mind and find some space. Decisions need room to move around and settle, to try out the fit.

I’m thinking the storm clouds brewing might just say it all.

And the huge rat (I’m talking the size of a small cat) that ran across the path in front of me, what was that all about? I know about black cats but rats?

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5 Unique Ways to get from A to B

Inspired by a recent post on Travel with Kat and the comments that ensued I started thinking of all of the modes of transport that I’ve used during my travels. There have been the normal methods of getting from A to B – by plane, train, car and boat but then I started to think of the less conventional ways of travelling.

These are just a few that I’ve come up with, I’m sure there are many more that you’ve all experienced.

1. Pearl Lugger. A sunset cruise on an old Pearl Lugger just off Cable Beach, Broome. A glass of champers and a world famous sunset – what more could you ask for?

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2. Camel – an iconic way of experiencing those world famous sunsets on Cable Beach is from the hump of a camel. It takes a bit of getting used to but definitely a fun way to go.

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3. Monorail  – This one at Beaulieu in Hampshire on the south coast of England  is a mile long and gives you a birds eye view of all the attractions this place has to offer. The National Motor Museum, historic Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House and lots of fun for the whole family.

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4. Tiger Moth – How about this yellow peril, my dad took a flight in this Tiger Moth for his birthday a few years ago. He had a ball!

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5. Helicopter – I may be cheating slightly here as a helicopter is not really a unique way to travel but I’ve included this shot because of where it was. The flight in the helicopter took me 2,800 metres up into the Himalayan mountains and landed me at one of the world’s most dangerous airports – successfully!!

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What are some of the unique ways that you have travelled?

Margaret River: The river

I was visiting the south west of the state again recently and, as usual, had a wonderful time. I always enjoy a wander through the main street of Margaret River when I’m down there and this time was no different.

DSCN1335What was different this time though was that I took particular note of the river itself.

When you mention Margaret River in the south west of Western Australia most people immediately think of the picturesque country town with it’s world class surfing beaches or of the wineries in the region or the gourmet food that the area is renowned for, but nobody really thinks of the river that the town sits on.

So I did a little bit of research. The Margaret River is believed to be named after Margaret Whicher or Whyche who, depending on your source of reference, seems to have been either a friend or a cousin of John Bussell, an early settler and explorer of the area.

The river rises in the Whicher ranges and merges with the Indian Ocean 65km away near Cape Mentelle.

In the summer the picturesque riverbank as you enter the town is teeming with visitors, when I was there a few days ago, with the constant threat of rain and the thunderstorm that had passed over a couple of hours earlier the picnic grounds were rather empty and one lone youngster was playing in playground.

But even in that weather it was a very picturesque spot. It’s also the beginning of the 13.5km rails to trails walking/cycling track that takes you north as far as Cowaramup. It’s on my list for the next time I’m down there.

It’s also worth taking a drive to the mouth of the Margaret river near Prevelly, a beautiful coastline with magnificent surfing beaches where you can watch the waves in contemplation, enjoy a picnic on the beach in the nicer weather or maybe take the dog for a walk up the river.

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Everest Base Camp Trek: The Final Hurdle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe river of mud, yak poo and urine beneath my feet had become a blur some kilometres back, all that mattered now was that my feet were taking me forward, not what they were stepping in.

I began chanting to myself, one … two … three ….

One, two, three, counting my footsteps, counting the steps getting me closer to the end. Every turn on the track spat out more steps upwards, never ending, one, two, three.

One … two … three … Yangjing’s encouraging ‘not far now,’ urging me forward, washed over me as the mud ran under my feet. I’d long since stopped looking for the end point. The late afternoon dampness enveloped me, so far removed from the morning crispness we had set off in some 10 hours ago.

Yangjing, one of our guides - I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

Yangjing, one of our guides – I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

At what point had enthusiasm for the day’s challenge turned into a struggle and then into a determination that blotted out all else? There was no option, I had to keep going, I would reach the end.

Ironic, that as we headed theoretically down the mountain, the track took us upwards to our destination. This was our starting point just over two weeks ago, obviously we set off in a downwards direction but who realised or remembered that this is what we would face at the end. I certainly never thought that one of my biggest struggles would face me on this last day.

The entrance to the Sagamartha National Park, the gate that we’d originally passed through enthusiastically and with a verve that had gone missing in me in recent hours came into view, but still more steps.

Upwards.

One … two … three …

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I walked under that arch, through that entrance way and back into Lukla. That main street didn’t seem so long the last time I walked it. One … two … three ….

One … two … three. The slippery rocks that paved the way needed a watchful eye and careful footwork, the open ditch needed to be crossed, I almost stumbled and needed Yangjing’s steadying hand.

More steps up to the lodge, I grabbed the handrail needing all the help I could get. It was no longer one, two, three but one … one … one …

And then it was over.

I’d done it.

I’d trekked from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and returned. The tears held determinably in check for the last couple of hours erupted, there was no stopping them. The seat that I collapsed onto was so welcome, my legs no longer capable of supporting me.

Others in the group who’d arrived half an hour in front of me shouted their congratulations and high fived me, but all I could do was sob. Anande put a warming cup of hot mango juice in front of me, at least I think it was mango, he accepted my gulp of thanks and refilled the cup as I emptied it.

From my sitting position I unloaded my pack from my back, leant my hiking pole against the wall, leaned back and breathed.

Yep, I’d done it and despite my tears I was grinning inside.

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Pieces of Perth: Forrest Place

An enduring memory I have of Forrest Place is sitting having coffee early one morning and watching as hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers poured from the railway station opposite and marched through Forrest Place. All purposely heading in one direction.

It was like a scene from a sci-fi movie with the population all being drawn by some invisible force towards an unknown destiny. In this case it was offices and shops that were drawing these people to their daily grind.

But I digress from the point of this particular post. Forrest  Place has always been a link between the railway station and the shopping and business district of Perth. Created in 1923 as a thoroughfare for traffic it became a large pedestrianised square in 1987 and is now an iconic spot where you can meet for coffee or a light lunch, enjoy one of the many activities it hosts or just sit in the sun and people watch.

The square is a combination of the old and the new. The west side still houses the beautiful old buildings of the Post Office (built in 1923) and the Commonwealth Bank (completed in 1933). The Donnybrook sandstone of their facades has weathered wonderfully and creates a time capsule that has gradually been surrounded by modern development.

The eastern side of the square has the modern glass and chrome of Forrest Chase the shopping arcade that houses Myer and a multitude of boutiques and specialty shops.

Over the years Forrest Place has become the place to go to, to participate or simply be a bystander as meetings, rallies, school holiday activities, markets and fashion parades take place.

But the powers that be are introducing a sense of fun into Forrest  Place. In 2011 a modern green sculpture was erected at the northern end of the precinct. The winner of a competition to find a suitable work of art the sculpture has had mixed reviews. Officially titled ‘Grow your own’ it’s more colloquially know as ‘The Cactus’ and my personal opinion is that it’s probably been placed there to distract the eye from the road works and extensive redevelopment that’s currently going on behind it.

When I was there recently I spent some time watching as children and adults alike enjoyed the walls of water that erupt from the paving creating ‘rooms’ that change configuration every few minutes.

If you’re in Perth on holiday you really can’t miss Forrest Place and its attractions. If you’re a local who rarely visits the city, make the effort, take the train into the city and spend some time learning what the place has to offer.

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Travel Theme: Architecture

This weeks Travel Theme set by Ailsa is Architecture. I don’t very often take part in these weekly challenges but just occasionally the subject jumps out at me and I jump in with my contribution.

The diversity of architecture through time and place is absolutely mind bogling. This is such a broad subject that to do it justice would take eons and far more blog posts than we could possibly dedicate to it in one week.

But here’s my look through time at a few magnificent architectural examples, all amazing in their own way.

The Minoan Palace at Knossos, Crete, that was abandoned around 1200BC.

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Pompeii- destoyed in 79AD during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius.

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The Colosseum – the Flavian amphitheatre in Rome that took 10 years to build between AD70 – AD80

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The Louvre Palace, built in the late 12th century as a fortress seen through the modern glass pyramid erected in 1969.

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The Duomo, Baptistry & Campanile built in Florence between 1296 – 1436.

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The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, built as a circular library in the mid 18th century.

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Beehive Cottage, a thatched Cottage in Swan Green near Lyndhurst, Hampshire built around 1833.

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La Tour Eiffel, built in Paris in 1889 for the World’s Fair.

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Flinders St Station, Melbourne, the first railway station in an Australian city, built in 1909.

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The Thyangboche Monastery, Nepal. Originally built in 1916 but rebuilt in 1989 after it was destroyed by fire.

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Australia on Collins, an Art Deco style shopping precinct facing Collins St in Melbourne.

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