Monthly Archives: December 2008

Coffs Harbour to Port MacQuarie

Ok, I say it wasn’t a hangover, but others would disagree…  it took two painkillers, some seriously strong coffee, and a very hot shower to get moving this morning.   My head was coming apart at the seams.  A late start to the day. 

By the time I packed the car, paid my bill and had another quick dig through the nearby bookshop I was ready to rock n’ roll.  Completed another lap of Coffs, nice place, but the highway was calling.  Pulling into a service station I was surprised (horrified) to see that while I was sleeping, the price of fuel had gone up by 13 cents a litre to $1.54.  The little Asian lady had heard it all, and most of it from the two blokes in front of me at the checkout while I waited to pay.  She looked bored as one of them really gave her a gobful about the price hike.  I had nothing to add so I simply paid, winced as my card took a big hit, then went outside to wash my windscreen.  The water in the bucket was full of mud, and I didn’t notice until I had slapped it onto my screen.  Great.  A bloke standing nearby laughed, “Yeah, the poor pricks can’t afford water mate!  Times are pretty tough for the poor old Arabs!”  I grinned, and looked at the amount he had pumped into his four wheel drive so far, $150!  He saw my face, “Company car,” he said and really smiled this time, he was still filling up when I pulled out a couple of minutes later.  

Back on the road, I found myself turning into little towns and beach side villages which helped relax me greatly.  The morning was crisp and clear, the scenery simply stunning, and the car humming nicely.  Traffic was a tad intense in places, plenty of trucks and caravans.  I took the opportunity to get off the highway whenever I could. 

At Nambucca Heads I pulled up at a small lookout and was left breathless by the beauty of the place.  Instantly I also declared this area to be annexed by the Qld Government, and after the revolution I would ask to be proclaimed the Governor of surfing and fishing for the region.  My photos didn’t do this place justice. 

Nambucca Heads

Nambucca Heads

Moving on I found the small hamlet of Gladstone NSW.  I took another photo, I don’t know why, and the thought occurred to me that it would be sort of fun to visit the remaining Gladstones’ throughout Australia.  I think there’s one in South Australia, and another in Tasmania, but by the time I got back into the car I was over it.  The only thing that worried me now was that to find Gladstone NSW, I had pulled off the main highway and was instantly in the land of ‘No Signage’.  Obviously the locals knew where to go, but woe betide the hapless tourist.  Not that I cared much.  Following a wide and lazy river I eventually wound up in the hilly, and quite charming township of Kempsey. 

It was mid-morning, and I thought about pulling up for a bit of smoko.  It must have been market day, because every available car park was full to the brim.  I cut two laps of the main street and was unable to wedge the family hot rod into a space for love or money.  I drove on, determined to visit one of the small deli’s that looked oh so inviting, and before I knew it, I was back on the main road heading southwards.  Disappointed I shrugged, and continued forth, wondering what the next place would be like. 

Flicking on the radio, I found my favourite show on Radio National, “The Book Show”.  Todays featured guest was a pommy writer Rupert Smith, author of erotic novels, or, as the shows host put it, “Books that are generally read one handed.”  Well, that was an educational hour of radio!  And neatly filled in the time it took me to drive to Port MacQuarie. 

To say I liked Port MacQuarie would be a massive understatement.  I fell for the place hook, line and sinker.  I drove around the town with a growing sense of wonder and happiness.  This truly was a beautiful part of the world.  Coffs what?  Nambucce where?   Who cares, get a load of this place!  Parking near a seaside van park I went for a quick stroll along the promenade which sat beside a deep blue river that ran into the sea.  The area was pretty, and clean, and everyone was smiling, particularly a big, dopey looking Queenslander who had a canvas bag slung over one shoulder.  The history, the views, the greenness!  I had to sit down for a bit and take it all in. 

Port MacQuarie - Rock Wall

Port MacQuarie - Rock Wall

A nearby shopping centre had the very thing I needed, a cup of tea, and salad roll.  I took out my novel, and spent a blissful 1/2 an hour of peace reading and eating.  It was one of those perfect mornings.  Afterwards, I popped a Fishermans Friend into my mouth and went for another look round.  I found myself at the headland overlooking the sea, the mountains, and the beaches.  Directly below, two young ladies were learning to snorkel in the crystal clear waters around the rocky point.  Surfers were everywhere, and old men with fishing rods were doing a brisk trade off the bund walls.  I didn’t want to leave. 

Strolling back to my car near the van park I read some of the paintings that covered the line of rocks on the sea wall.  Some of them were funny, others a little sad (memorials to mates who had died), one was a classic:

“We came here to swim and play, but Nan and Pop decided to Stay!” 

Port Mac Beaches - Honey, we're moving!

Port Mac Beaches - Honey, we're moving!

Looking around, I felt like joining Nan and Pop.  I was struck with the sudden urge to call my wife and tell her to sell everything and get down here asap.  I sat down on a park bench for a while, took some more photos, and watched as a young bloke opened his cabin door, tipped me a friendly nod, grabbed his fishing rod, and walked ten feet to the edge of the rock wall.  He cast his line in, and slowly reeled in the lure.  The second time he did it, he caught a decent sized fish, and picking it up by the gills wished me a ‘Good morning’, and disappeared back inside his cabin. 

If I didn’t leave now I would never go.  Dragging myself back to the car I opened up my map and had a bit of a look.  Stay or go, stay or go?  Southward there were more beaches calling me, lakes, and resorts.  Newcastle beckoned, the Hunter Valley.  Mmmm, decisions, decisions.  The smell of frying fish assailed me, and I was seized with the desire to book into a cabin and spend a week in this idyllic spot.   No, I decided, I’ll come back with the family and have a real good look around. 

Before I left, I spent an hour or so driving around the foreshores, up town and through some of the pretty suburbs.  The place was a knockout, and I decided to add it to my small list of places “I Must Visit Again”.

Pulling up at a set of crossroads, I munched on an apple while I thought about which direction to take.  I love these moments…  South or West.  South or West.  The midday sun baked my right arm as it rested on the window sill, I hesitated a moment longer, then made my decision. 

I was back on the road again, Slim Dusty joined me and we started singing ‘Lights on the Hill’, quite well too, even if Slim was a bit off key, and forgot some of the words 🙂  I let him off lightly because he was having such a good time!

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Journey Into NSW

Breakfast was over and Rob and I waved farewell once again to his lovely wife.  Afterwards while I packed my bag into the car, and filled my water bottles I hit Rob up again, “C’mon mate, come for a drive?” 

He shook his head, and did not look very happy at all, “I bloody well should, I really want to, but I can’t, work needs me.”  I lay off him, “Alright mate, I’ll get going.”

He gave me a hug, a clap on the back and I set sail.  With one hand waving out the drivers’ side window I peered into my rear view mirror as I cruised away.  He really didn’t look happy the poor bugger.  Turning onto the main road that lead back to the highway, I flicked a CD into the player and let Status Quo take me forward, “Well here we are, and here we are, and here we go…” 

What I didn’t know at the time, and in fact didn’t find out until much later was that Rob had had a change of heart, and did want to come now.  While I was Rockin’ All Over the World, he was back inside his house desperately searching for my mobile phone number, ringing my wife and leaving frantic messages on our home answering machine.  To no avail.  When I got home I discovered that he went into work that day in a bad mood, then made a command decision and resigned, to everyone’s surprise.  It’s nice to know I was able to help him make his mind up… sort of!   

Meanwhile, I was lost again.  Roadworks had diverted me from my planned route, and now I was trolling through nameless streets of south Brisbane desperately looking for a familiar landmark.  In the end I decided that the sun rises in the East, the freeway south was somewhere in the East, and by this logic made my way towards Coast. 

It was in this way that I found my brother again by accident.  We chatted for a little while, had a few laughs and he pointed me in the right direction.  An hour later I drove through the Tugun Expressway roadworks, and crossed into New South Wales, a thrill of excitement ran through me as it always does when I have a new road in front of me, a full tank of petrol and an almost limitless supply of bananas to eat.

Welcome To NSW

Welcome To NSW

I bypassed Byron Bay.  I’d been there before, and was pretty unimpressed with the place.  Don’t get me wrong, the beaches are spectacular, the light house headland walk is unforgettable, but the overcrowding, the traffic, the aggro, and the litter aren’t my cup of tea.  Instead, I punched on, mooching through beachside villages and having a general dig around some of the lesser known country towns.  At lunchtime I pulled up at a small park overlooking the some wide and peaceful flowing river, and ate some sandwiches Rob’s wife had made for me, bless her little cotton socks.  I was happy. 

I’ve often thought the Government of the day got it wrong when they drew up the southern Qld border.  Surely they could have tweaked the biro to include Northern NSW?  We really dropped the ball on this one.

I pushed on eventually, cruising through cane fields, and alongside pretty creeks and rivers full of pleasure boats.  Checking my map I decided to stay for the night in Coffs Harbour.  I’d never been there before, and was keen to have a bit of a look at the place.  I wasn’t in a hurry to get there, which was a good thing, because NSW must be experiencing some sort of financial problems going by the sheer volume of speed cameras, patrol cars and radars I passed.  This didn’t stop a lot of people though, many of whom raced past me in a variety of vehicles, cars, bikes, trucks and a couple of buses, causing me to wonder if my speedo was working properly. 

The only dark cloud on my day was at McClean.  “Australias most Scottish Village!” said the sign.  I don’t know what the rest of the sign said because a car pulled out of the information centre and nearly tore off my front end.  I had a quick talk to Jesus about it, then veered onto the dirt, narrowly avoiding a sign post, a drainage ditch and surprised hitch hiker, desperately trying to get my car under control on the slippery surface.  The driver and her passenger both gave me the finger as they shot past, and folks, the red mist swirled before my eyes.  If I had had a shotgun on the passenger seat…  it wasn’t the first time I thanked God that I hadn’t taken my first career choice and become a truck driver.  What it must be like to put up with idiots like this every bloody day isn’t worth thinking about.

Meanwhile the middle aged woman driver did the usual stunt of all morons, speed up to 120 kph, then drop suddenly to 70.  Then she sat on 85 kph while they argued about something, before suddenly punching the accelerator and racing back into illegal territory.  Shaking my head, I pulled over and waited for 10 or so minutes, giving them plenty of time to get out of my life forever.  

It worked, and I sailed unhindered and trouble free through to Grafton, Woolgoolga and eventually into Coffs Harbour. 

I passed the Big Banana, which sits right on the main highway, I didn’t have a choice because the truck behind was so close I could count the bugs in his grille through my rear view mirror.  At the main street of Coffs I saw a sign which pointed towards the marina, and I turned off the highway.  The change in the traffic was instantly much calmer, and serene. 

It was mid-afternoon by the time I parked at the harbour and went for a little stroll along the concrete wall that seperated the ocean from the mooring area.  Looking into the water I noted how clean and clear it looked and was surprised to see some amazingly big fish cruising quite close to the rocks.  I stopped to see if I could identify what they were.  As I was standing there gawping a large bellied old man wandered up, and in a thick European accent asked, “Hey mate, what sort of fish are they?” 

I shrugged, “No idea mate, I’m not from round here.” 

He laughed, “Yeah, me either.” 

I looked at him, “So where are you from?” 

“Queensland, what about you?”

I grinned back at him, “Yeah mate, I’m from Queensland too!  You’re the first person I’ve spoken to in New South Wales today, and you’re from bloody Queensland!  Where abouts?”

He shook his head, “Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of it mate, Calliope.”

My jaw dropped open, “Bullshit!”  Calliope is a village about 20 kilometres outside of Gladstone.  It was at this point he looked at my shirt, with my company name on it, and his head did a quick double take, “Hey!” he said, “Are you from Gladstone?” 

I nodded.  “Jesus!” he said, and we stood there for a while looking at each other like a pair of idiots.  He had just pulled into town as well apparently.  We chatted about mutual acquaintances we both knew, before I told him that I was going to keep walking.  He waved goodbye and sat down to have a smoke and look at the fish.  And this folks, is why I don’t run naked on beaches anywhere, anytime, ever, because as sure as God made little green apples, someone I know, or someone who knows someone I know will see me and take photos.  This is my life.     

Thinking about chance meetings I sat on the headland looking over Coffs Harbour and surrounds and was lost in wonder at the beauty of the place.  When I get home I’m going to campaign to have this place included in my re-zoned map of Queensland… how the hell did we let New South Wales keep places like this? I was keen to find a place to stay for the night, but the sunset was too magnificent to ignore.  It didn’t matter where I looked the views were drop dead gorgeous.  As the stars came out I kicked myself off the grass and made my way into town and found a room. 

Coffs Harbour "I hearby declare this to be part of Queensland by order of... me!"

Coffs Harbour "I hearby declare this to be part of Queensland by order of... me!"

 Freshly showered, and feeling like a million dollars I made my way into the pub next door and had a beer.  It was a nice pub, freshly painted, modern decor, and full of happy go lucky, well dressed men and women.  Standing at the bar I ordered a Toohey’s Old and noted with a little alarm that the only pschopath in the place was glaring at me from the opposite side of the room.  Ignoring him I took myself outside to the beer garden, opened my novel and sat down to enjoy a quiet beer and a read. 

Minutes later I looked up to see my old mate, the psychopath, sitting at a table directly opposite me and still giving me the evil eye.  I sighed, and folding my book placed it into my canvas carry bag, thinking ‘Where do these *&%#ing idiots come from?’  I swilled down the rest of my beer, picked up my bag and gave psycho a wink as I left.  Crossing the highway I checked behind me and was relieved to see I hadn’t been followed.  A bookshop was open, so I strolled in, and was surprised to see a book my mother had been looking for for ages.  I bought it, and had a few laughs with the young bloke behind the counter about the TV series ‘Black Books’.  He was another fan, and as I stepped laughing from his doorway I was re-sold on Coffs Harbour again.  Nice place. 

Tea was at another pub, this one was full of lonely middle aged men in one room, and half a thousand backpackers in the next room, laughing, singing, playing pool, and dancing up a storm.  I ate heartily, and drank several beers, joined in some loud singing with some Scottish lads and a couple of German lasses.   A wonderful evening was had by all. 

Waving goodbye to 300 of my newest and dearest friends, I wound my way back eventually to my room.  The temperature was perfect, and as I checked the car to see if it was secure I noted several well travelled motorbikes in the car park and wished fervently that I had bought mine now.  Oh well, it was too late to change my mind at this stage.   

I lay on the bed and checked my maps, tomorrow was unknown territory for me, and I wasn’t sure where I’d end up. 

Good!

Big Banana - photo taken the next day when I had the road to myself!

Big Banana - photo taken the next day when I had the road to myself!

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A Day in Brissy

I had one full day in Brisbane to spend with my mate, Rockin’ Robbie Robbiepops, (yep, that’s really his nickname…  don’t ask), and was quite looking forward to mooching about his place, having a few drinks, and enjoying some long conversations.

We waved farewell to his dear wife as she trundled off to work that morning, then jumped into the family hot rod and headed into town for some supplies.  First stop was Browns Plains Plaza, a busy mall in the ever expanding heart of the South West of Brisbane.  Rob met with his financial advisor and tried to discuss some retirement options (he’s no spring chicken), while the advisor and I paid out on his shocking dress sense, hairstyle, and anything else he did or said.  We had a lot of laughs, although Rob didn’t seem to be enjoying himself very much towards the end of the session.  It slowly dawned on us that this was a big event in his life, and he was reluctant to step through the door.  “What will I do with myself?” he kept asking.  I didn’t know, the financial advisor didn’t know, and Rob didn’t know.  Perplexing. 

Of course we all dream about retirement, but the fact is, what do you do when you get there?  If you don’t have a hobby, a calling, a desire to do ‘something’, then all you’re doing is sitting around waiting for God to shoot you.  Not a happy prospect. 

We left the shopping centre in a thoughtful frame of mind, and didn’t talk too much as we made our way through a traffic maelstrom to the Mt. Gravatt shopping centre.  Parking was atrocious, but Rob managed to crack a lotto win and got a park within 5 kilometres of the front entrance. 

We shouldered our way into the very heart of the centre, and there found a book shop.  Not just any bookshop, but a Big Bookshop.  Coming from a small city without any sort of bookshop, I immediately started salivating and rushing about like a kid in a toy store.  How good was this place!  There were even loads of people treating the place like a library, actually sitting in comfy lounges reading brand new books, and I thought that I could happily wile away countless hours in here each week while my family shopped to their hearts content. 

We made our way to my favourite section, Self Help / Motivation and saw 4 huge walls stacked with books.  Rob had a quick sniff around, then wandered off while I rummaged through the various titles.  After an hour of reading, scanning, and page surfing, I picked out two likely candidates then made my way to the fitness section.  I found Bill Phillips book ‘Body for Life’, and opened the front cover.  Those photos… those unbelievable photos.  Rob re-appeared and I showed him, his eyebrows raised slightly, and he muttered, “Bullshit.”  I showed him the photos in the back cover, and told him a little about the programme, and how it has worked for people here in Oz,  he nodded his head slowly, deep in thought, turned the book over and checked the price on the back cover then carefully put it back on the shelf with a low chuckle.  I shrugged my shoulders, and said, “I can wait til I find a 2nd hand one I suppose.” 

After paying for my other books, and with a long regretful look at this book lovers paradise, we shoulder charged our way back to the carpark, risked life and limb reaching Robs’ truck, and made our way home via a small grocery store and bottle shop. 

It was lunch time, so we fueled up on sandwiches, fruit, and alcoholic beverages.  Rob seemed to be thinking deeply about something, so I didn’t push him.  He’d talk when he was ready.  Instead we read papers, chatted about some recent events, and I elevated his blood pressure by casually mentioning some differences in political ideology we have.  Then we watched a couple of movies, one of which was Snatch, featuring Brad Pitt.  Now neither of us is a Brad Pitt fan, but this pommy movie really showed off his talent as a bit of a comedian.  What was also impressive was how fit he looked.  I casually mentioned to Rob that that was the sort of physique I was aiming for.  Not overly muscled, just well defined, toned, slim, etc.  He agreed it was a good target to aim for.

We had a couple more drinks as the sun lowered.  It was late afternoon, the bush looked great, the area had had a little rain so his property was covered in green grass, excellent.  Just as the sun started to set I pulled on my exercise clothes, and started walking around his block.  It was very nice.  Wallabies, casually munching grass without concern, watched as I strolled past them. 

It was a perfect Qld afternoon, not too warm, not too cool.  I broke into a jog, and genuinely enjoyed the experience as I lumbered about, up and down between the fences.  I got so keen I even whipped off my t-shirt, much to the shock of the neighbours who covered their childrens eyes and ushered them inside… 

AmandaB from the Craig Harper Forum had given me a list of exercises, and I ripped through them.  It was much harder than I thought, but I felt great doing them!  I made a mental point to thank her when I got home and logged on. 

Afterwards, with my shirt slung over one shoulder, and covered in a thin sheen of sweat I returned to the back deck of Robs’ house where he was hovering over the bbq.  “Feels good doesn’t it?” he said.  I smiled and nodded, “Yip.” 

“Go and have a shower, I’ll get the drinks,” he said.  I was back in minutes, sipping on a beer while we watched the dying rays of the sun light up the topmost branches in the huge gum trees nearby.      

“Did you know I once won the YMCA’s Mr. Fitness competition, back in 1983?” Rob asked. 

I nodded, “You’ve mentioned it before.  Actually it was part of the reason I went back to the gym.  I remember thinking if Rob could do it at 40, so could I.” 

He grinned, “Actually, I think I was 42, and mate, I was fit!  I beat blokes half my age,  whipped them!  Geez it felt good!”

I smiled, “Fair while ago.”

He shook his head and we sat for a while in silence. 

“You remember the photos of the old blokes in that book today?” I asked.  

“Yeah?”

“Well, I reckon you could do that you know.  You could go back to the gym again, get fit.”

He was thinking about it.  He mentioned a few injuries he was carrying, and I shrugged, “Get them fixed, work it out mate.  C’mon, you’ve done it before, you can do it again.  Anyway, what sort of training were you doing when you were Mr. Fitness?”

He smiled as he said, “Aerobics.  Mate, I was surrounded by good looking, superfit girls, and I didn’t care how many macho weightlifters called me a pussy, I loved the workout I got in those classes!  I showed them in the comp, the big muscled blokes couldn’t keep up.  Geez that aerobics gets you fit fast.  Just about killed me at first though.”   

At that moment we heard the sound of his wife’s car arriving out the front, and we rushed to greet her like two small puppies wagging their tails!  She was genuinely pleased to see us, she always is, and that is why she will always have top billing on our Xmas card lists. 

We ate tea, chatted about our day, discussed retirement, and Gb getting fit.  I asked Rob if he’d like to come with me the next day, journey for a few days in NSW.  I’d asked him a few weeks beforehand and he was keen, but work commitments were pressing in on him.  I asked him to call in sick and come away for a little drive.  He has an intimate knowledge of NSW and would be great company on tour.  He shook his head sadly, and I said, “If only you were retired…”  he didn’t look very happy. 

We had a few more drinks, and hit the sack.  Tomorrow I’d be setting sail over the border, and was pretty excited at the prospect.  There were roads I hadn’t been on in years, as well as visiting places I’d never seen before.  I was smiling as my head hit the pillow.  It was a good day, and tomorrow was looking pretty good too.     

I can clearly remember my last thought as I drifted off to sleep, ‘Aerobics… how hard could it be?”

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Cruising to Brisbane

Heading South, I had little time to reflect on the areas in my life that needed further attention as the traffic picked up around Gin Gin, and there was a pretty bad accident at Childers.  I was diverted into the back blocks by a smiling member of the SES, and found myself attached to a long line of trucks, cars towing caravans, and the odd Wicked Campervan.  In no time at all we were lost. 

Eventually, either by good luck, or someone learning how to use their GPS, we popped back out onto the highway.  It had taken us 15 minutes of frantic driving along many gravel roads to travel a mere two hundred metres down the highway from the prang.  Brilliant.  This set the tone for the rest of the run.  Traffic was intense all the way to Caloundra. 

It stopped being intense at the Caloundra turnoff though.  At that point it went insane.  The freeway was stop / start all the way to the Gateway Bridge near the centre of Brisbane, and it took just under two hours to travel approximately 70 klms.  By the time I reached the toll gate I had decided that this would be the last damn time I visit the State Capital by car.   

On a whim, I decided to visit my brother before driving to my mates place for the night.  The signs had all been changed since my last visit.  Now that his suburb is no longer part of the Gold Coast, since the council amalgamation, there had been a few road sign changes.  So I missed his turnoff.  It took ages to get back to his suburb, where I discovered to my dumb founded amazement that most of the street signs had been also been removed.  I eventually found his place by accident, while driving up and down likely looking streets in a perplexed state of anxiety until I spotted his car. 

The dusk was settling in, and I’d told everyone at home that I’d be in Brissy by 1 pm, so my brothers’ initial greeting of, “Where the hell have you been?” was not wholly unexpected.  My sister had been travelling south later that day, and had also been diverted by the accident at Childers, but she saw a white car in the pile up, not unlike mine, so, thinking the worst she rang my wife, and my mother, and asked if they’d heard from me.  Nope.  As the day wore on, the phone calls grew more frantic, and my mate Rob, at whose place I was staying was roped in as well.  I would like to point out here and now that I did plan on taking a mobile phone, and was offered my middle daughters mobile, which was working, but had run out of credit.  As soon as I had it re-activated it, and slipped $20 onto the card, she instantly re-commandeered it and disappeared into her room.  I asked the other members of my family if I could use their phones, but the general consensus was that they would prefer to hack off body parts with a chainsaw before willingly handing over their phones.  Even the dog was reluctant to lend me his… so I remained phoneless once more.  Not that I was particularly upset…  I was also not wearing a watch.  Anyway, I’m on holidays dammit!     

Drinking a cup of tea, I chatted with my brother (between texts, and phone calls) and his family for a little while, then, checking the dimming light, decided I’d better head off.  As I jumped in the car, his wife said, “Hang on, I’ve got a little pressie for you to take home.”  While we were waiting for her to come back from the house I asked my brother, “What happened to all the street signs?”  He shook his head in exasperation and replied, “When our suburb was transferred from the Gold Coast to Logan Council, people started removing the signs because they had the Gold Coast Council logo on them.”  My jaw hit the ground, “You’ve got to be bloody kidding me!”  Apparently not.

His wife re-appeared clutching a hand made teddy bear. 

My New Travelling Companion - Ted

My New Travelling Companion - Ted

It looked pretty neat, so I popped it on the passenger seat, and Teddy and I waved goodbye as we drove off.  45 action packed minutes later I arrived at my mates place and was hugged, feted and welcomed like a returning soldier.  Beer and port flowed in abundance, and we talked into the night, before sitting down with his wife to watch a movie. 

I like staying at his place.   

Tomorrow I would test drive my new exercise routine from Amanda B from the Craig Harper forum.  I would need to, due to an excess of good food, and too much grog.  I really needed to make some changes… yeah, first thing tomorrow.

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A Fortnight in the Gym, then Back on the Road

I still had a stack of holidays left, but two daughters were having birthdays, over the next week and a half, so it would have been considered ‘bad form’ for dad to disappear over the horizon before the parties.  So, what to do?

I had a stack of jobs on my ‘Things to Do 08’ list, but I felt very disinclined to start any of them.  I was definitely in holiday mode.  The gym beckoned. 

Returning to the ‘House of Pain’ was something I did for the next two weeks, and did it hard.  I had another assessment from the nice lady who dishes out torture for kicks, and was informed that I’d lost approximately 1kg of weight, had increased stomach size slightly, and my arms hadn’t added one bit of size to them.  Struth!  Some adjustments were made to my training regime. 

An hour later I put down the last weight with a grunt, and drove home.  Jeez I hurt.  A lot.  But the next day I lobbed in and pounded out more k’s, lifted more weights, and sweated my self stupid.  Yep, I was definitely going to get fit this year.  Definitely. 

I’d been using the new Craig Harper Forum as well, making my first foray into the world of forums.  The people I met were a fun, and informative bunch, and I was hooked.  Particularly AmandaB, who gave me some great tips for health and exercises. 

Another new member was a fellow Queenslander, Narnie from Mackay.  Great!  Someone else ‘over the border’ who was a Craig Harper fan.  Between the forum, Craigs’ site, and the library, I had the basics for a healthy life style.   

So I started doing some research on my diet.  It needed some serious work, starting with meal times, and the types of meals I / we were eating.  We, being the rest of the family.  So, back to basics.  First up my wife and I drew up a meals plan, what meals we’d have on what nights each week, and how much would end up on the plates.  The last time we did this it actually saved us a lot of money and made shopping much easier as well, because we knew what meals we were having on any given night of the week, we knew exactly what to buy, and in what portions.  It was the ‘speculator’ or ‘too good to pass up’ purchases which were costing money, and ended up either spoiled, out of date, or just pushed to the back of the freezer for ‘later’ use (aka: bin fodder). 

Ok, diet, taken care of.  More salads, vegies, and healthy snacks, much less dead animal, fats, and grease.  No worries…

Exercise:  the new training plan was working out pretty good.  No, I wasn’t losing bundles of weight, but I was definitely feeling better for it and some muscle definition was definitely starting to appear in my upper arms for example. 

Next on the list, booze.  Not a problem.  I’ll have a couple of alcohol free nights a week I decided.  How hard could it be?  Well, pretty hard actually.  I live and work in a drinking culture.  So, everytime we went somewhere it was based around drink.  Visitors to the house, drink.  Gardening, drink.  Fishing, drink.  Waking up in the morning… you get the picture. 

Thinking back to the Bill Phillips book all I could recall was the comment, “Are you prepared to give up booze for 3 months?”  Was I?  Three months was a long time.  And right in the middle of birthday season too.  Hmm?  And I was on holidays as well.  Not a good time to stop. 

Now, I’m a sort of smart person.  Here I was defending a habit that was a) bad for me, b) bad for our budget, c) not setting a good example to my children.  Yes, it ticked all the boxes!  But it had a vice like grip on me, particularly in the evenings, when my family were tucked up in bed, I loved nothing more than to crack a beer, and sit in silence and read, or watch a favourite movie.  Life’s little pleasures.  Was I an alcoholic?  I didn’t think so, but then…

Anyway, after a busy week and a half in the gym, the birthdays were done, and I was getting a bit fidgety.  My wife, reading the signs, turned to me one day and said, “You might as well go.”  Boom!  The starters gun fired and I was off.  I did have a last minute change of plan though.  Initially I’d decided to take my motorbike, Rentawreck, as I’d heard there was some ripper rides through NSW for bikes.  But two days before I left, the temperatures down south plummeted.  Ipswich had overnight temps of -1, and further south it was colder still.  I thought about sitting on my bike in those sorts of temperatures, about the inevitable rain that haunts my motorcycle journeys, and sitting in a small tent with ice forming on the canvas.  Hmm. 

I sooked out and took the family car.  A mate was kind enough to lend my wife his car (geez, it’s good to have good mates isn’t it?), so I was cleared for take off in the ol’ Toyota Avalon.  Tossing my gear in the car one sunny morning, I hugged my little family, gave the dog a friendly farewell booting, and slipped over the horizon.  First stop Brisbane, then, who knows, “Somewhere” NSW. 

Yeehaa, back on the road!

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