Count down to the next adventure: French Alps, Dorset, Seville, Portugal and Scotland

6 Sep

I have 72 hours until blast off for our next European adventure. Preparation has not gone entirely to plan.Travel clothes prepped for departure (in the caravan), including compression hose. Sexy huh!?

Post the sisters’ Bali idyll I had another wonderful family week in Cairns and Gordonvale with my sister Jo and her family. I survived my first Xtend Barre class (thank you teacher Jody and Jess for the gift) and climbed halfway up Walsh’s Pyramid (ran out of time).

 Wish I had pins like my darling ‘Fairy Legs’.

Stuart stayed home in the caravan at Broken Head or visited with my parents at the Gold Coast. He got to know Byron locals through playing tennis with the pro, marathon table tennis matches, cycling the hills and hanging out in the library. He pronounced himself very content with our decision to buy Gypsy Hill.


We had a too brief catch up at Brisbane airport when I flew back from Cairns and before he took off for his Rumanian motorcycle trip (today he is riding to Dracula’s castle – for real!). 

Much of our time together was spent on paperwork for the sale of the factory site that has become surplus to his business requirements. We thought the sale was assured, but I’ve just taken a call from the agent telling me it’s fallen through because the buyer couldn’t secure finance, despite two contract deadline extensions. Deep belly breath and here we go again…

Of more immediate concern to me was dealing with the spot on my face that appeared when I was in India in March. Turns out it is an invasive, infiltrating Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). This kind of skin cancer should be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly. I rejigged my travel arrangements to have it cut out today at a skin cancer clinic up the highway in Pottsville. An histologist will check it to be sure Dr Ben Smith has taken a sufficient margin of healthy cells around the lesion before he stitches me up on Wednesday. If it’s not clear he’ll have to take another chunk and retest. I’m travelling for two months so I hope like hell Ben got it all first time. In addition to the usual stuff my backpack now contains antibiotics, vitamin C pills, silicone bandages and vitamin A oil for wound care.

This is my first skin cancer. I’ve been biopsied three times before for spots that turned out to be benign so I was a bit surprised about this one. I shouldn’t have been. My sun-filled Australian childhood and young adulthood came at a cost I’ll be paying from now on. I apply sunscreen to my face every day and wear a hat but the damage is done. Be warned friends and parents.

But back to this next trip. Our first European stop is the French Alps for a guided five-day Les Ecrins hike staying in different mountain refuges. Our son Cameron will come too so we are four including Darren, our Scottish mountain guide.


Then it’s on to a niece’s wedding in Dorset and a weekend of Elliott family fun. At some point I’ll have to find a doctor or nurse to remove the fancy, running mattress stitches Dr Ben will use to seal my teardrop-shaped excision. That should be interesting. I am tossing up between swordfight and sword fish for the response to the inevitable question about the scar.


Next I fly to Seville solo for two weeks of the month-long flamenco Bienal and take two flamenco dance classes a day at Manuel Betanzos’ Academy. Some Aussie flamencas will be in Seville at the same time so I anticipate muchos tapas y vino.

I snuck in a tangos workshop in Lismore with this gorgeous Adelaidean, Cathy, who is heading back to Seville. Gracias Cathy y hasta pronto!

After Seville (Stuart has a few days of English countryside walks planned with his sister) he and I meet up again and our program is flexible. We hope to explore Alentejo in Portugal and drive the 500 mile coastal road of northern Scotland. We’ll also spend time with our son, Tristan, and daughter-in-law, Jenny, in Edinburgh, as well as catch up with other family and friends.


But if I’ve learned one thing from five years of almost constant travel it is this; if circumstances dictate a different path from the one I expected to take, I’ll follow it with an open mind and open heart, for that is The Way.

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