Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Last supper… in Australia

August 26th, 2011

Breakfast

Fitting final touch. Full English. Supper on my last evening in Australia, and the end of a few hectic but thoroughly enjoyable days in Melbourne with friends Simon and Sue. Exploring the city with a local cycling group. Concocting home made pizzas. Preparing all the kit for the lengthy on-move to Alaska.

And late night coverage of the Tour de France. Throwing my support behind Australian Cadel Evans. Delighted he’d won. Two reasons. Came across as a thoroughly decent chap, success the emotional culmination of years of hard work. And he’s not French….

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Looking for a leash

August 26th, 2011

Looking for a leash from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken goes in search of a kangaroo leash. Bit like a dog lead but stretchy to allow for the bounce… Next week, the hunt for a cordless extension lead…

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Name calling

August 26th, 2011

I’d admitted to being christened "Uncle Push Bike" by my brother. A name, frighteningly, I suspect will stick with my young niece, for ever. I’m sort of resigned to it. Besides, there are far worse things one could be called. Usually by passing motorists. The type that were bullied at school.

Melbourne host Simon had a rather different take. Giving me the quite unexpected moniker "Man Tuesday", inspired by Robert Louis Stephenson and updated to reflect my arrival on…. yep, you guessed it…

I say unexpected because all I ever try to do when I stay with friends is help out. Firmly of the view that if you want hotel service, to be waited upon, well, I think you know the answer… Bit of washing up, clearing the table, chopping vegetables, helping Simon pack a bike. Never like to be a burden.

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Different sort of bike

August 25th, 2011

Different sort of bike from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken discovers a rather unusual Dutch bicycle. In Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market.

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Melbourne market

August 25th, 2011

Melbourne market from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Joining a local cycling group for the day, Ken explores Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market. Contains dubious references to crabs, mussels and fruit and veg.

[With especial thanks to Simon, Jeff, Cheryl and the rest of the group – really friendly bunch!]

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Melbourne’s bay

August 24th, 2011

Melbourne’s bay from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken discovers Melbourne’s bay. So big it’s often mistaken for being the ocean proper… With a commentary from generous host Simon.

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Four buck bag

August 24th, 2011

Bag

An inspired idea from host Simon. Local charity shop. I needed a bag to stow my kit in for the flights over to Alaska. Life expectancy about three days, after which it’d be ditched. My panniers weren’t a practical proposition, their various clips and hooks too vulnerable to the rough and tumble of the baggage mis-handlers.

Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of choice. Soon settling on a fairly large wheeled affair. Modest wear and tear, I promised to drop it into a charity shop in Anchorage, rather than simply discard it when I got there. Asking price was just four bucks – about three pounds – and one I wasn’t going to haggle over. Joked I’d try and get six for it in Alaska.

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Reunion

August 22nd, 2011

For, whilst I’d decided Phillip Island would be a fitting formal end to my time riding down the east coast of Australia, there remained the small detail of fifty or so miles into Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs. Off to stay with Simon and Sue. We’d originally met by chance in the small town of Atherton, back in Far North Queensland. I’d joined them for dinner and we’d kept in touch.

The thirty minute ferry crossing from the island to the Mornington Peninsular had been largely uneventful, bar my efforts at head-butting the vessel as I’d boarded. And the requirement to keep my bicycle, and panniers, outside on the rear deck, exposed to the ravages of the inevitable salt spray. My protestations that the large cabin was empty, surely I could at least secure the bags inside, unsuccessful. Rules were rules.

Back on the road, the journey north towards the city was unremarkable. I’d a decent map and a good idea where I was going. Despite this, I’d still ended up finishing in the dark, made worse by rush hour traffic, steady drizzle and rain-soaked glasses.

There’d been a short detour on the way north from the Phillip Island ferry. Stopping off to pick up my second passport, safely delivered by hand from Sydney by friend of a friend. Essential piece of the jigsaw, for it contained my US visa. I’d really needed to press on sooner than I actually did, but it seemed rather rude to grab the document and go. Besides, a cup of tea and a chat was always welcome.

[With especial thanks to Simon and Sue for hosting me, and Chris and Jen for safe custody of my passport]

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Gone clubbing

April 6th, 2011

I’d seen a few of these clubs around Queensland. No. Not one of those. Well, perhaps in Cairns. This a very respectable establishment. Members affair, but suitably attired visitors could be admitted. On the outskirts of Atherton. Similar to the Royal British Legion back in Blighty. I’d been invited out by Sue, together with husband Simon and friends David and Heather. All from Melbourne, three hours flying, over three thousand kilometres to the south.

We’d finally met at a leisure park on the outskirts of the town. Quite unbeknown to me, they’d spotted me on the road several times earlier during the day. Simon a keen cyclist. And then I’d just missed them at the Tourist Information Centre in the centre of Atherton. Finally meeting up in the park’s reception.

I’d been given the steer that it’d be better to stop in the town, rather than push on to Herberton. Few more options. Backpackers hostel. Leisure park. And the usual expensive hotels. But the first was out. Workers only. Long-term residents. Farm workers. Fruit pickers. As was the latter. And something just wasn’t gelling with Atherton. Niggling. Security.

Opted to take a unit at the leisure park. Encouraged by sage advice from a very helpful woman in the information centre. "Bargain hard". Low season. Visitors deterred by the recent run of natural disasters. A small chalet secured for the night, it at least meant I’d be able to leave Emma, my trusty steed, and all the kit in safety and join Sue and her friends for a sociable evening out.

Found the club very convivial. Charming in a rather quaint sort of way. Neat lines of tables. Small queue to order. Shades of school dinners. But generous portions. Uncomplicated choices. Not cheap – perhaps double the cost of a similar meal in one of those family-friendly chain pubs in the UK – but still pretty good value. For Australia.

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