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Australian trip Dec/Jan 2018/19

As you know, most of the times I travel, I write a blog or two or three about my experiences.We are leaving on Friday for a month in Australia, time with grandchildren in Melbourne and Brisbane and friends in Cairns.relating my experiences.

One of the reasons we went during the summer heat was to be at granddaughter Ellie's third birthday - Maureen was also on holiday too. (she's a highly thought-of Remedial Pre-Primary Educator)

Well, this blog is different - let's call it a pre-travel experience.

On Thursday night we went to the City for 1st Thursdays. An interesting, vibey evening when shops, restaurants and galleries are all open.

Long Street , Bree Street and other parts of Cape Town are packed with people - mainly Millenials, Yuppies, whatever.

All walks of life in all sorts of gear and garb.

You just walk in and walk about, have a look around, maybe a drink, something to eat, as you please.

Nice evening, it’s crowded.

We were passing the Moravian Slave Church in Long Street and decided to go inside to see a duo in concert and an art exhibition -

they also offered a chocolate coated soft serve ice cream if you signed the visitors book - a real enticement!

I ate my soft serve outside standing in the street, then turned and as I was about to step onto the pavement which was two steps,

my eyes lit upon a 25ish, bouncingly perfect set of breasts in a very low-cut top. Needless to say, I missed my step onto the pavement and fell.

I could feel the side of the my thigh muscle in my left leg tear as I went down. I was out for about twenty minutes. then with some help, managed to sit up but was very groggy, it was too painful to even try and stand. My friend went to fetch my car and which was parked in upper city. Three guys tried to mug him in the back streets but he resisted and they ran away. Maureen drove me me to the Constantiaberg hospital near home.

They pumped a painkilling injection into the head of my gecko tattoo on my bottom, put my leg in pressure bandage and gave me pills and crutches and sent me on my merry way.

The next morning as a favour through a friend, I got an appointment with his buddy who is an orthopaedic surgeon who sent me for ultrasound and that confirmed the tear. That's my left leg...

... for three months now I’ve had a bad pain in my right shin my GP keeps telling me it’s shin splints and to rest my leg. I mentioned this to the surgeon who sent me for an MRI scan of both legs - turns out it’s not shin splints but a tear in the right calf muscle!

So I’m sitting with feet up and ice packs and pain killers. Crutches at my side.

I’ve sent a motivational letter requesting assistance on the ground to cover the long distances from arrival to departure gates and leg room on board … let’s wait and see.

Big problem is what to do about cameras, can’t travel without them!

Well, if you think a wheelchair at the airport is an easier option, think again.

We flew from Cape Town to Jo’burg on SAA. I had requested legroom seating upfront because my left leg was injured, I was on crutches, hard to bend without pain. At the very least, a right hand aisle seat where I could stretch my left leg into the aisle. So, obviously I was shown to a left hand aisle set in the third row from the back of the plane - a long hobble. I couldn’t get my leg in. Eventually some kind man in a bulkhead seat, swopped with me and sat next to Maureen. I don’t know who operates the assistance service at OR Tambo but it’s fucked up! When we landed I was told to stay in my seat until everyone had disembarked. Then I hobbled down the aisle carrying my camera bag while Maureen followed with our two cabin bags SAA staff most unhelpful. We turned right at the exit (instead of left to disembark) and walked into a large cabin with about 10 dilapidated seats in it. Maureen was then told she couldn’t accompany me so she turned round and disappeared into the terminal. I sat and waited while four more people were loaded into the cabin and then we all sat and waited for twenty minutes. Suddenly there was a lurch and the cabin descended.- it became the back of a truck which proceeded very slowly to the correct off-loading gate. We all (the other 'disabled' people were allowed their partners to accompany them) then stood on a platform on the back of the truck which jerked its way to ground level. We climbed into 5 wheelchairs each with its own pusher. We were transferred to the wheelchair management office and left sitting there - pushers disappeared. Originally I had about 2 hours to connect with my Qantas flight - by now I was down to one! We sat. 10 minutes later 4 fresh 'black' pushers arrived. The other four people in wheelchairs were black! The new pushers took the four wheelchairs with black people and were swallowed into the bowels of the building. A touch of racism? Maureen phoned to find out where I was. I had the passports and boarding passes... Over the next twenty minutes, I stopped, four uniformed officials asking for help.

Maureen calling constantly! Starting to panic! Then I stopped a uniform whose name was Elvis! Explained my predicament, he looked at his watch and said “your flight is already boarding!” a good half hour walk to the boarding gate. It wasn’t his job function but he started pushing me at the run - people don’t move out of the way and we collected a couple of Achilles Tendons and shins en route.

We found Maureen waiting at the Wimpy with the two bags and she ran behind us. We just made the flight. I had requested bulkhead seats on all legs (pun intended) of the journey and Qantas got it right. Settled in and relaxed at last. The usual blanket and pillow are on the seat and all three of us in our section, put them on the floor. The air hostess doing the rounds told us to put the blankets and pillows in the overhead lockers - I queried the logic “because I say so”.

I asked what her previous job had been? “Policeman in Sydney”. Hmmm ... “Difficult transition?” I asked, and got a punch in the ribs from my wife who by-the-way seems to do that quite a lot! Then we sat in the stuffy, overheated plane for almost two hours because there was an electric storm and everything was grounded ... So we departed for Sydney 2 hours late with a connection to Melbourne waiting (or not?).

We’ve left OR Tambo and it’s supper time at 12000m. They served dinner and pre-dinner drinks at the same. Qantas, oh Qantas. It's called pre-dinner for a reason! I asked for a “pre-dinner” whisky - they serve from a 750ml bottle - got half a finger on ice, could hardly see the scotch, I tilted the glass to my lips, put it back on the tray and thought ‘where the fuck did that go?’ The lady then put my “chicken or beef selection” in front of me and I requested a bottle of Merlot to drink with dinner but she refused to serve me two alcoholic beverages at the same time. Even though one was gone! Never saw her again!

Over the Bass Straights it felt like the wings might snap off but calmed as we neared and touched down in Sydney.

The pilot had made up for the delayed departure so we were in time to catch our Melbourne connection. I was wheeled to baggage claims, Maureen pulling the carry-on bags and me with my camera bag on my lap.

The baggage crocodile was silent...

Then it was announced that there was a problem with the plane’s off-loading mechanism.

The crocodile didn’t move for half an hour.

Then it was announced that it had been repaired. The crocodile was still and silent.

Then it was announced that there was an electric storm and no-one is allowed to work outdoors during an electric storm, this one lasted an hour. We finally collected our luggage but missed our connection.

Then had to change from international to domestic terminals - a bus ride - but before getting on the bus, it’s another hit through security!

Maureen got crapped on by the lady who scanned our hand luggage because she pushed our trolley too close to the scanning area. So as punishment, the border protection woman, having a bad hair day, switched off the scanner/conveyor system and ran around the departure hall collecting and squaring away about 100 trolleys while the queue got longer and she purposely didn’t give a shit. On her return, I asked her why she didn’t simply put up a “trolley instruction” sign and was told pretty smartly not to interfere in her job!

And got a smart smack on the back of my head from wife (high, because I’m still sitting in the wheelchair) “how many times must I tell you, you don’t start shit with people in a uniform?”

I am often inclined so “say it” before calculating consequences - but very few people know that ...

Orange seat on the bus between terminals -15minutes.

Next, an uneventful wheelchair ride through the airport.

We eventually arrived in Melbourne after midnight instead of 9pm.

We are now in the First World.

Melbourne skyline

Everything works and everything in the public domain is spotless. Trains every ten minutes and on time to the minute.

People smile and greet. ‘G’daay’.

Shops are full of state-of-the-art stock and people spending money!

Now here’s the thing, today I gave the day to my wife. We spent 2 hours walking the local high street doing coffee and browsing and then hopped onto a train and spent 5 hours exploring an enormous shopping centre.

Still hobbling on one crutch.

I spent an hour or two sitting on benches outside shops watching the passing parade. There seem to be many unfortunate-looking Australians, many big, overweight ladies who seem to dress

really inappropriately

and almost everyone is covered in tattoos. Men walk around in vests and are so densely tattooed that you can’t see skin! In every conceivable (visible or not - I assume) spot.

There are a large number of electric wheelchairs around!

If one waves a crutch, the waters part. I’ve been offered seats on busses and trains. When walking on crutches, people step aside. Very aware of the disabled.

BUT there’s now a problem in Aus ... the doors were opened to a few boatloads of refugees, Somalians I believe, and these guys have formed street gangs that fight each other as well as any whites who get in the way, in prime tourist locations. They steal clothes and valuables at the beach while people are e swimming, trash al fresco restaurants, rob the diners and beat them.

Also car hijackings and cars waiting at traffic lights etc.

Here you fill up your own car, and when you go to kiosk to pay they steal your car - Australians must still learn not leave keys in the ignition ...

Murders, rapes, housebreaking, hijacking. I’m beginning to feel quite comfortable. Just like being back in Cape Town although they haven’t slaughtered a sheep on the beach at St Kilda yet. I’m feeling a bit more at home not quite so isolated!

One beach away to the East, is Brighton where you buy a fully plumbed bathing box on the beach

for up to A$1m.

Across the road, old beachfront properties start at around A$15m and then you demolish and rebuild.

Well, blow me down, this morning I heard a car hoot! An on-coming vehicle didn’t yield at a circle and they missed a crash by about 25m ... We took a train into the city and tram to the Queen Victoria Market.

Every piece of fruit and each vegetable is bigger and better than we see in South Africa and where possible polished till it shines. Prices look cheap - until you multiply by just over 10! We shared a peach for $3 (R32). Then we moved to the enclosed meat and fish section, a separate building with rows of fish shops along one side, butcheries on the other they all seem to sell the same product at the same prices with an occasional exception. Apparently locals have their favourites and swear by them. Lots of noise as barkers try to catch your attention. West Coast Rock Lobster (probably from Hout Bay) is not too bad at R150/kg - the smallest is about 750g and saw one that must have topped out at 3.5kg! All sold pre-cooked - better display colour.

To use public transport in Melbourne one buys a travel card (same concept as My City buses in Cape Town) and add an amount of money to it. Every time you walk into a station you tap your card and when you get off at the other in you tap your card so it records your journey’s distance and deducts the relevant amount. It's like they put a happy chemical in the local drinking water. Everyone just does it - a bit like the Stepford Wives - as a South African it’s very tempting to not tap - I mean why pay when you don’t have to? Surely it's an accepted practise?

So easy to forget if one is not used to it... and there’s no-one to check. Same on the trams, there’s a tap machine as you climb on except in the centre of the city where trams rides are free. All the train station platforms are exactly the same height as the floor of the coach so wheelchairs have easy access - a Ro-Ro system.

Coaches have a blue commercial design upholstery but near the doors, it’s orange - anyone can sit there until a disabled person boards and then the seat must given to them. Maureen gets very pissed off about it but here the nickname for a disabled person is a ‘crippler’. Whenever I say it, I get a (another) punch in the ribs. But walking around on crutches, is quite useful as I’ve come to notice, sitting on

the orange. Oh my God! News headline on TV tonight! A bus crossed a solid white line and drove past a dozen cars to get to the front at at a traffic light! All caught on street security cameras! Also, believe it or not, a cabinet member abusing his travel allowance - that sort of rings a bell. In the city cops do foot patrols - about 5 or 6 in a group. Think about it, when last ( other than writing parking tickets at the beach in Muizenberg on a hot Sunday afternoon) did you see a foot patrol cop - when I was a kid it was a common sight, seeing two policemen walking together.

Saw a couple of interesting art exhibitions at the Victoria National Gallery - in fact walked (crutched, 9kms one day) - resting in between on trains and trams, sitting on the orange (crippler) seat...

An exhibition by an artist named Opie - interesting mix of 3D and digital. Some pics are static but others, are on digital screens and while you look at the the blink or the person smiles but nothing else moves. Fascinating./

There are a number decorated horse-drawn carriages outside the very beautiful architecture that is Flinders Street Railway Station, they do trips across the Yarra River and through the paaark - looks very romantic and then you smell the horse shit. Scratched that off the list!

And you’re being pulled along - a horse fart in your face is even worse!

Right, Melbourne done and dusted.

We have more access to transport in Brisbane because son and daughter-in-law are able to work flexitime time to a degree so are get lifts when possible.

Also in Brisbane, as apposed to Melbourne, there is never a quiet time in the household. Between flexitime planning, two boys on holiday, bicycles, scooters, beaches, parks and a French au pair, there is never a dull moment.

Two dogs, a pet scorpion, one cat, a spotted python and in the yard, 4 chickens for a daily supply of eggs!

I was sitting on the deck one evening in a sort of contemplating my navel sort of mood, with my sundowner whisky in front of me, when I hear a woosh, woosh sound and looked up just as a fox bat entered the paw-paw tree. We sat and made eye contact, I stood up and he flew away - I reckon his wingspan wasn't short of two metres!

Next day, we urgently had to drive to certain wild life sanctuary about an hour from the city, because older grandson had heard there were leeches in the water. He hasn't got a leech ... yet.

He sat in the water for an hour and nothing happened. The au pair offered to get wet and within two minutes she’d scored two leeches. Thinking about it, I could have bitten her too.

I had been standing in long grass on the shore watching and got bitten by a green ant

(they are about 5mm long).

That night my ‘good’ foot had swelled up!

Next, off to the beach for half an hour - later, my left leg was covered in itchy red spots - apparently sand fleas that are too small to see. Regarding flying my drone, there is an Australian app called 'Can I Fly Here?' Shows areas of different degrees of restriction and non-restrictions. So this morning I went to Woody Point where there is a long straight jetty out to sea.

It’s a restriction-free area but there is a sign on a patch of grass that says not to fly closer than 5m from the nearest building. A tall block of luxury apartments. I launched about 10m away, also not allowed to fly closer than 30m to people. Did all that. Launched, elevated to 36m and flew the length of the jetty (about 300m). I had taken a few paces back to stand in the shade of the block of flats - drone 300m distant. Next thing, there’s a guy standing at my side, I look up and greet “g’daaiy”. Being the nice friendly chappie that I am. “You are not allowed to fly here”.

“Yes I am, i’ve checked my maps and restrictions”.

“But you are too close to the building.” I’m standing in the shade (not the drone), it’s fucking 31 degrees C, the drone is 300m out to sea and 36m high. Well he’s going to call the cops. Doesn’t concern me too much but I tell him that it’s on the way back and programmed to land 6m from where I’m standing - 10m from the boundary wall of the property - about 20m from the actual building - all legally correct plus extra. He tells me to walk away and make the drone follow me. I told him to go home and suck on a cold one. While he’s calling the cops, I landed, packed up and as I walked away, told him I'd be at the coffee shop up the road if the wanted me or the cops wanted to arrest me.

All along the coast of Australia are these long boardwalks that go out to sea. Most of them don't seem to serve any purpose other than for people to fish from and walk along

Pier at Frankston near Melbourne at a seaside resort where they recently opened a huge shopping centre that's made the entire town derelict.

But we are in Brisbane. I made a batch of biltong which disappeared very quickly. They drink XXXX Larger here - not Chardonnay (Charddy). Spoke to neighbour Bill yesterday. He has bee hives and gave me a bottle of outstanding honey - I gave him a stick of biltong. A bit chewy mate. We enjoy each other’s company but I can hardly understand what he’s saying most of the time.

He retired last year and he and the missus have done a bit of traveling around the country. This afternoon we took the grandsons to a movie - they chose a Transformer film that was so loud I thought the building would collapse - managed to sleep through half ... Tickets around R200 each (X4). Special on small popcorn and small drink for kids R60 ea. Everything is automated. There are rows of popcorn dispensers and a row of a about a dozen drink dispensers in different flavours so they walk along the row putting a dash of each flavour into the cup. Maureen and I shared a medium popcorn and a medium Coke Zero for R200. When it’s time for the movie to start the doors close automatically. Got a lift there and caught a train home, 5 stops, one way 2 adults, 2 scholars ... R300.

An afternoon at the movies was around R1500! But that's only $150.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings ...

On Sunday we drove to Bribie Island, situated around a river estuary. At low tide, there are beaches along the exposed banks. All along the river are parks with trees, tables and benches under shade, stainless steel gas barbecues for free use and a seafood emporium (your basic fish and chips shop) across the road. The smell of old cooking oil permeates the air, there are also a couple of ‘Mackers’ on the roadside. MacDonalds in Australia have actually been allowed the use of this terminology and use it in their advertising! “Going to Mackers mate”.

If you can’t beat ‘em ....

When the tide started turning, we piled into the car and drove to the real beach at the sea. White sands and waves with ‘extreme cross current’ warning signs. Life guard banners about 100m apart indicate the swimming area. There must have been at least a dozen fully kitted, red and yellow uniforms on duty - carrying all the bells and whistles and swimming buoys that a good lifeguard requires.

A tall watch tower on top of a dune and a couple of smaller ones at sea level.

Beach was quite crowded. Every good Ausie has a beach tent of some sort - umbrellas are passé.

I thought it would make a good drone movie clip, so doing the correct thing, I asked a red and yellow man if it was ok to fly, “dunno mate” and he went into a soliloquy on the pros and cons that would have put Hamlet to shame! Then he made a decision and asked a red and yellow friend. “Dunno mate, never been asked that one”.

They then left the decision up to me - so I got my shot.

Tuesday, took the two boys to South Bank in the city. As the name implies, it’s on the South Bank of the Brisbane River. Three enormous swimming pools intersected by walkways. Two of the pools are made to resemble beaches - hundreds of tonnes of beach sand were brought in, palm trees planted etc. Kids build sand castles and all the other stuff they do at the beach. Only difference is no waves and an overpowering smell of chlorine.

Literally thousands of people swimming, sunbathing, sitting at surrounding restaurants and queuing at take-away kiosks.

More red a yellow uniforms on constant patrol even though children are not allowed unless accompanied by an adult. I sat in the shade watching the parade

(rhyming intentional).

I noticed a lot of large green electric scooters weaving around the crowded pavements. apparently, these are sponsored by the Brisbane Municipality. If you come across one unattended, with its foot stand down and a helmet hanging from the handlebar, you can simply take it, ride to where you want and leave it there for the next person. They must be rounded up and recharged every night. I’m pretty sure there's also be a zoning restriction.

Today is Friday. We drove up to the well-known beach resort of Noosa. Another river estuary lined by opulent holiday homes, a few like small hotels, all with private jetties. Some have 2 or 3 boats tied up. Many of the boats are raised above the water on floating dry-docks when the owner’s not home.

The ‘in’ colour for your boy toy with extreme outboard engines, is a very macho matt black.

We decided that while we waited to check in to our accommodation. We’d hire a dinghy with outboard engine and go fishing. It was 10 a.m.

There are 3 or 4 boat hire companies. The first available rental was 1.30! The waterway was packed, over-crowded. The signs said

No Experience Needed” and indeed, there

was none .


Finally got our boat, rented 3 rods, bought prawns and bloodworms, the boat boys untied us and off we went (if I was in South Africa could I still call a boat boy a boat boy? Although I must admit, these were white and about 15 years old so they really were still boys but definitely not garden boys as we knew them).

I studied a map of the estuary. Incoming tide, so I decided on a bend about 2 km from the mouth. Fish are inclined to go with the flow. Quiet spot, mangrove trees. Perfect. I started baiting the rods for the kids. One had the tip missing, only one line had a swivel (essential when you are fishing an estuary using a running trace). And there were no swivels in the tackle box supplied. On the 3rd rod I had to strip the reel because the line was tangled in the gears.

This was truly a tourist thing and not for serious fishing. But we fished and swam and fished. Four fish - 2 striped bream, a spotted grunter and a fish I’d never seen before - resembled a Galjoen, apparently a Bream Spikey but, because it’s black, also known locally as a Nigga Bream - and that's officially in the Australian fish identification manual!

All fish returned faithfully to their domain - - mainly because they were too small!

On our return, I made it known about the poor state of the equipment and lack of swivels.

Spoke to the man at the booking office, “we don’t use swivels, never heard of it”

I responded that that was the only rod that caught any fish!

Well you were lucky because no-one has caught a fish this week”

I rest my case, but bit my tongue!

We are staying in a chalet at a child-friendly resort. Climbing walls, miniature golf, trampolines etc. As the sun sets kangaroos come out of the forest and roam the grounds.

Last night there were possums running up and down the roof the entire night! Geckos chirping on the bedroom walls and a fair share of mosquitos.

We ate supper in the resort restaurant. There’s a sign at the door that informs diners that the minimum dress code requirement is a shirt, shorts and slip slops which rally means “no vests”.

Ordered a Greek salad starter for the table. It was a pile of rocket lettuce covered in a salad dressing with 2 slices of pita on the side. I queried the ‘Greek’ part of it and the waitress proudly told us that it was their “new menu” Greek salad!

I remarked that it was quite unusual to use rocket and also that there was no feta cheese - she walked off and returned with a saucer full of crumbled feta, chucked the cheese on the salad and informed that it was “Now a ‘proper’ Greek Salad!

Did the Noosa high street parade this morning - a sort of Rodeo Drive wannabe. Shoulder to shoulder people dressed and partly dressed. Must be a couple of wealthy plastic surgeons and a Botox wholesaler in the area.

Sales at every shop - LESS 70%! but they don’t say of what!

Black coffee around R60 a cup.

Curb-side are Porsches, Ferraris, Maseratis, Bentleys and drop-top Mercs.

Back to Brisbane tomorrow and then on

to Cairns.

By now, after over three weeks, I ditched my crutches and went to Cairns on my own two, legs.

In the hotter climes, typical dress is a singlet (sleeveless vest), board shorts and slip slops. Plus a sun hat. I bought a vest in Brisbane.

Our flight touched down in Cairns and it feels like you are walking into a wall of hot water!

Temperature was 34˚C and humidity was 82%!

Popped into a toilet and changed from my T-shirt into the vest, put on my “sunnies” and slip slops, hiking hat and walked into the arrivals hall. Maureen wouldn’t walk next to me.

Our friends where standing waiting for us. They looked right through me. I stood right in front of them and said, “g'daaiy mate”. She looked at me like “who is this doos?” He recognised me and ran out the door.

I took my hat off and then we all did the hugging bit.

At sunset we sat on the deck with a magnificent view, drinking mango daiquiris. Lots of gin, even larger quantity of vodka measured visually. Apparently there is no specified volume and therefore no way to measure the amount of liquor required. Pour gin and vodka into mango slush, stirred not shaken, and then pour the lot over crushed ice in a tall glass.

Then indoors into mosquito-free aircon for a great meal of Tasmanian salmon.

Next morning we drove to Port Douglas, compulsory coffee stop on the way. After strolling along the seaside, we drove on.

The swimming areas are large inflated pontoons (like a floating tidal pool) with a netting base. This is to avoid swimming in the open sea where there are often killer jellyfish and saltwater crocodiles.

Sometimes at night, the crocs sleep on the beach, so every morning the enclosed “pool” has to be scanned for these animals and if found, removed.

So we were now driving further north, turned left onto a small bumpy road through a tall sugarcane plantation. Alongside the road is a narrow gage railway line which is used by a small train that collects the cut cane and drops it off at a collection point.

The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas, about an hour, is virtually one large cane field.

Suddenly the road in front opened into a wide circular drive with an exotic wooden building standing proud on the hillside.

This was our lunch destination. Very upmarket forested individual chalet accommodation. As a non-resident, one had to have “contacts” to get a table in the dining area.

Crisp-skinned, fresh baramundi with black rice was our main dish – the rice was blackened with squid ink. Outstanding. Paired with a very nice sauvignon blanc.

We sat on a covered outdoors deck, looking down on a clear, flowing river.

This section was apparently crocodile-free due to rapids on either side of the clear stretch. I wasn’t going to put my toe in the water – and nor were our hosts.

But Maureen had a 10-minute swim. Not a bite.

Also on the roadside are palm trees with overloads of coconuts. We captured a couple of fallen nuts.

There is an interesting section on the coastal drive where some has take rocks and balanced them on top of other rocks - must have to taken hours of hard work. And people actually stop and look.

On our return to Cairns, we had to 'force down' a few more mango daiquiris and then were treated to another outstanding meal on the barbie. Could've handled the heat for a few more days ...

We returned to Brisbane the next day for our last night. I made a sticky marinade for the beef short-ribs and lit the fire. About an hour later, it was dark … I carried the meat down stairs into the garden and missed the last step! Extreme pain in the thigh! It tore some more but I braved it out and didn’t shed a tear, just lay on my back quietly, in the dark, for ten minutes. I picked up the meat and grit (maybe it touched a pile of dried dog shit even but I was too sore to care and just threw it all on the fire. Take that! Burn you bloody pieces of meat!

Then my son came down to the garden, switched on the light, "Everything OK here?" "Yup"

I was back to hobbling on crutches and riding in wheelchairs at airports.

No hassles at Brisbane airport – nor getting onto our connecting flight from Sydney to Johannesburg but the wheelchair slowed things down and there were all these beautiful shops that M was forced to bypass … but, but, but, there's eau'd this and odour that ...

I had made a mistake. I’m guilty. My own fault. No-one else to blame. I fully accept the mistake I made. Cardinal error - especially when leaving Sydney.

I put a half-used of bottle of expensive cologne in my carry-on bag

And the bottle size was bigger (though less than half full) of the allowable carry-on allowance AND it was an aerosol which apparently compounds the problem – the border patrol officer had the cheek to ask if I wanted a last spritz before he confiscated it!

I reckon he’s using it at home.

They served lunch on the fight and just before supper (whatever international time that may have been), I was still working on Queensland time, I stuck my head into the galley and and asked the koffie-moffie for a whisky – he was tipping the bottle to pour when the plane lurched and I got a full glass of scotch – perfect timing. Thank you very much.

At the end of this interminable flight, I was pushed to baggage collection in Terminal A at

OR Tambo.

M dragging our carry-on bags and my camera bag on my lap. Pushed through passport control.

Then to check-in for the last leg back to Cape Town in Terminal B. We were tired. Exhausted. Finished n klaar!

First they could only find my reservation, not Maureen’s. Then they lost mine in cyberspace and found Maureen’s. Then we were told the flight was full and it was already boarding.

Ah, we are really back home!

Our mini caravan, Maureen, me and my pusher with ALL our luggage on the trolley, was sent back to Terminal A, (quite a long walk from Terminal B) on the third floor to the Qantas counter where they immediately accessed our transfer booking but it was too late, SAA had over-booked the flight.

We were alone, this bird had flown. SAA does it again.

I got the feeling that computer was too complicated for the operator. He must have been amongst those lucky enough to achieve the required 31% pass aggregate for matric.

Then my pusher resigned. He’d had enough for the R100 tip that we had pre-paid and simply walked away.

Left us cold, bye, bye, in Qantas office.

So, back to Terminal B and three floors down.

Maureen pushed the trolley and I hobbled along behind leaving the chair with Qantas.

The next flight was at 9.30 pm, over 2 hours later. But we had no choice. Ate supper and waited.

The plane was empty. As was the boarding lounge

Luckily the SAA pilot found Cape Town, even though it was dark.

We collected our bags and I had to re-download the Uber App because it was still set to Australia.

Finally got home after 1a.m. The Uber driver helped off-load and he managed to put a carry-on bag behind me. I stepped back and fell over it. Tried to stop the fall putting all the pressure on the torn thigh but it didn't work.

It was too much and I think I may have opened the tear even more. The pain!

When it had eased slightly, I hobbled to the lift, the apartment, swallowed two pain capsules, fell onto the bed and left the luggage to my wife.

She has come off this trip a much stronger person …

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