On the road again

12 Feb

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go. Taxi’s ordered, I’m blowing my horn. I hate to leave a Queensland summer now that the storms and floods have abated and it’s a balmy 24 degrees outside, but I am SOOOOO psyched for this six-month trip.

It’s only five hours until I climb into a succession of silver, winged tubes to start my pilgrimmage back to the French Alps and I’m mentally ticking off my list. Knitted beanie, check. Wool scarf, check. Gloves, check. Lucky koala charm, check. Flamenco shoes, check!

I hope you’ll come with me on this Gap Half Year Mark II. It starts in Stuart’s happy place, skiing the Three Valleys, France and ends in Africa. Just as I wondered whether three months of daily Flamenco would lessen my Flamenco obsession (answer: not a hope, quite the opposite…), Stuart is wondering if he’ll get sick of skiing when it’s right outside his door. He has two months to find out.

I have a leave pass to return to Andalucia for a fortnight of dance classes in March and will stay in a friend’s apartment in Macarena, Seville, with weekend trips to Jerez de la Frontera for the Flamenco festival shows.

From Europe we hop over to the US east coast for the posh wedding of our Princeton-based friends’ daughter, then start a music-themed road trip at the birthplace of The Boss, Allentown, that takes in Jackson, Memphis, Charlston and New Orleans.

Back in the UK there’s an off road motorcycle training course in Wales booked for Stu, a tall ship sail across the Irish Sea, and lots of walking in Devon and the Lake District. May sees us back in France golfing with English friends in the midi-Pyrenees, then retracing a favourite vacation on the Amalfi Coast near Positano, this time with Aussie mates before we head down to Morocco. There’s lots of other great stuff planned but I’m getting tired just thinking about it….

While we’re gone our youngest son Tristan will manage Stuart’s business, abley supported by loyal staff.

It may seem odd but I think I am going to miss Deception Bay. On my last trip to the laundromat this morning I passed a well-muscled islander wearing his deep pink lava lava skirt with pride and a Murri mum walking her two kids to school. The kids were dressed in red, black and yellow t-shirts and skipped as they walked.

DBay has grown on me because of the people. People like Philip, the diminutive, white haired voluntary Justice of the Peace, who gives me a wink each time he sees me in the shopping centre. Maybe he winks because he has no top teeth to smile with.

A retired English bobby, Philip’s politics veer to the right of Ghengis Khan, but that doesn’t stop him hugging his Asian clients after he certifies their immigration documents.

Malaysian couple Ing and Song make the best take away coffee in double quick time at Michel’s patisserie and got a kick out of my attempt at the Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese. And finally the women in the post office are endlessly patient with me when I bring in complex postal issues.

When we return at the end of August we’ll make another attempt to buy or build our home in central Brisbane but staying in DBay has opened my eyes to existence in one of Brisbane’s less favoured satellite cities. It’s not bad. Dbay may struggle with unemployment and has a disproportionate number of elderly, disabled folk, but like towns all over the world it has a healthy quota of kind-hearted, hardworking families.

For fellow Birkenstock fans I document the demise of my Cuban Birkies. I wish sandals had odometers on them as I’d love to know how many hundreds of kilometres I walked all over Cuba in this pair plus the many kilometres more since. They are worn thin and the cork is cracked but they still look pretty good for seven year old sandals. You might notice the feet have had a pedicure, that’s how ready I am!

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Out with the old and in with the new. Compare them to the fluoro replacements I bought in Cairns. I’ll break them in walking off the first flight at Changi Airport.

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