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I’d just left Uganda and was on my way back to Australia…
June – KAMPALA to ENTEBBE to MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
…and before I knew it we were over Oz! It doesn’t mean we were nearly there though as there’s a lot of Australia to fly over (a good few hours-worth). I tried to stay awake because I wanted to sleep in Melbourne (it’d be late night when I arrived). I couldn’t understand how we’d overtaken the light since leaving Doha (it’d been dark, then light and now it was dark again)…! Then I realised that I’d left Qatar the previous night and was catching up with the next night in Melbourne.
Melbourne was absolutely freezing! I got through immigration and customs ok but thank goodness for my Mum sending me my Yellow Fever vaccination certificate because I was asked for it for the first time ever. The hotel picked me up and I checked in. I really didn’t like where I was staying. It was one of those motel type places where all the doors opened to the outside and because there were sooooooo many doors in my room (am sure it was lovely in the summer, with the French windows and the balcony) it was absolutely freezing cold. I got a much needed call from my lovely friend Jo in Brisbane (boss at the travel agency) which made me feel better so I settled down to sleep. I think I had 4 blankets on my bed by the end of the night. I didn’t sleep well, it was so windy outside and I was really jumpy! So much for getting good a good nights sleep once out of Uganda!
July –MELBOURNE to BRISBANE
I woke up in the morning feeling pretty miserable and sorry for myself. I was missing Drew and had absolutely no idea what to do with my time in Australia until the 21st
June when I’d be flying to New Zealand. I made some phone calls and talked to some lovely friends and thank goodness for my friends Hannah and Anthony Schiavon who saved me! They were more than happy to welcome me back into their home in Brisbane (where I’d lived for nearly 6 months before leaving for Uganda) so I headed for the airport (bless Anthony, he even called me to reassure me I wouldn’t be imposing). It was a new thing for me, heading to the airport without a flight and Melbourne isn’t the best airport to arrive in without one, simply because all the domestic airlines have their own terminal. Which one should I go to?! I opted for Jetstar and tried to book at their counter but the price they quoted was way more expensive than it’d been online when I looked earlier. So I booked it on my phone (smartphones really are wonderful!) and checked in. I had quite a wait so had something to eat and looked around the shops. I was just happy to be heading back to my favourite place in Australia (and one of my favourite places in the world…) Brisbane.
I sat next to a nice couple on the plane who lived at the next suburb over from Greenslopes, they’ve done a lot of travelling and it was interesting to talk to them about their experiences, and get tips on places I haven’t been yet. They insisted on giving me a lift home. I had flashbacks of the ‘grooming’ incident in Thailand (if you don’t know the story and want to know just ask!) but these guys seemed ok…!. They dropped me off at my Brisbane home (this was the 6th
time I’ve arrived there to stay, poor Hannah and Anthony!) and I walked up the steps to ring the buzzer. I heard a scream (of happiness, not fear I presume) and Hannah came flying out to give me a big hug. I was so so happy to see her. Once Anthony was home we had Jaffles (toasties with puff pastry) for tea. It was all very familiar but I definitely felt Drew’s missing presence, I supposed that would be therapeutic. We watched the highlights of the Queens Jubilee Concert and then the live coverage of the Jubilee parade. It made Hannah and I feel quite homesick! I had to stay up really late to watch the balcony appearance, and my favourite bit… the flypast but it was worth it. The British are quite good at that sort of thing.
June – BRISBANE
I slept so well! I’d finally found somewhere I felt safe enough to sleep properly! I woke up to a text from Caryl asking me to try and get a picture of the ‘Transit of Venus’ and immediately jumped out of bed and ran outside in my pyjamas. This was stupid firstly because it was really cold (the temperature had notably dropped since I’d left just over a month ago) and secondly because I looked straight at the sun (it was a ‘my eyes, my eyes’ moment like Phoebe in friends). I then went back to sleep and didn’t wake up until Anthony got home from work at 2.30pm! How embarrassing! I blame it on the jet lag. I spent the day catching up with him and doing my washing and that.
June – BRISBANE
I spent all day at home after getting up quite early. I really had to catch up on Uni work (this has been a theme of my whole trip, if I ever suggest I’m going to study whilst overseas again someone tell me how stupid I am) so spent most of the day doing that. I cooked dinner for Hannah (it was something very simple) and then we sat down to watch REVENGE! We were nearing the end now and it was getting better and better. It’d been Hannah and my thing so it was another bonus being back in Brisbane so I could finish off the series with her.
June - BRISBANE
I went out with Han in the morning, first to All About Fruit to say hello to everyone. It was especially lovely to see Anthony’s Mum Maria looking fantastic, his Dad Tony and his sister Stef. I went into town to see the doctors about my random rash. A circle had appeared now, to add to the triangle and line, and I’d noticed they eventually turned into bruises. I thought it was a reaction to the malaria tablets but wanted to make sure I hadn’t picked up something random in Africa. I then met up with Jo (my boss at the travel place) and it was so great to see her. We surprised Emma (friend from the travel place) at work and went to Tinbillys for lunch. The food there was lovely, the glass of wine helped too 😉 Emma had to get back to work and Jo and I headed for a look around the shops. We found ourselves at the ‘Winter Wonderland’ which had nice wintery food stalls and an ice rink. It was June and it felt like Christmas! On Queen St Mall there was a stage set up and some cameras so we waited around to see what was going on… it turned out it was the Wallabies team (Australian Rugby, think they’re Union) doing a signing. It was quite exciting, we wouldn’t have minded getting something signed but by the time we realised the queue had got too big.
We said bye and headed to our respective homes and I got ready to go out for dinner at Amici’s with all my lovely Brisbane friends – Hannah, Anthony, Amanda, Phil, Becky, Bill and Jen… we missed Jane who wasn’t able to make it. As soon as Hannah knew I was on my way back to Brisbane she’d got busy organising a get together J We had a lovely dinner and it was so nice to see them. I really do wish I could collect all my friends across the world together in one place (home of course…unless everyone in England fancied some sunshine in Oz). We got Baskin Robbins on the way home and Hannah and I were in heaven eating it watching more Revenge.
June - BRISBANE
I had a Uni work day today – ALL day. I did it whilst chatting to Hannah and Anthony and watching the horse racing but it was still pretty much ALL day! We ventured out to the shops to get something for dinner but as it was a Saturday of a public holiday weekend all the shops shut early (we’re talking 5pm). We had to try 3 supermarkets before we found one that was open. We had our dinner at home then headed out to Max Brenner’s in South Bank. Well, it’s unbelievable, the ultimate decadent experience. If you’ve never heard of it (I haven’t seen it outside of Australia) Max Brenner’s is a desert café, specialising in chocolate. We had to queue for 1 hour to get to the counter to order (know it sounds ridiculous, Han and I queued, and Ant saved a table) but it did come within 5 minutes of ordering. I had the ultimate chocolate brownie ice cream thingy, didn’t manage to finish it because there was so much of it (really struggled with thoughts of Uganda here, thought if I was going to spend money on it I should at least eat it all). Back at home Han and I watched the last two episodes of Revenge and OMG what a brilliant ending! I absolutely loved it, thought it was put together so well with the music and what a cliff-hanger! Han and I sat there in stunned silence after the ending for about 10 minutes then spent a good half hour trying to find spoilers for Season 2.
June – BRISBANE
I was up and out early to catch the train to Nerang (on the Gold Coast) to visit Kerry (our family friends daughter) and her family (husband Paul and children Chloe and Alfie). I’d spent the afternoon with them two years ago when travelling before and was looking forward to seeing them again. We had such a lovely afternoon. Bacon butties for lunch and a few drinks whilst chatting with the neighbours and dancing with the children under the disco lights Paul had put up. I had a nice phone chat to my Mum’s friend Wendy (Kerry’s Mum) who was pleased we’d all met up and then headed home on the 8pm train. At home Hannah was Skyping the Coles and Gillies family so it was lovely to see them (especially humorous to watch Drew, Greg and Ross out the window trying to break up some old sofas!).
June - BRISBANE
I slept way too much again! It was a public holiday though so I think that’s allowed… Anthony had been up early watching Italy’s first game in the Euros. I got up and did some Uni work before we all (Hannah, Ant and I) went into Garden City for a look around the shops and a massage in one of the cheap but brilliant Chinese massage shops. It was so painful but I really needed it. We headed home and Ant and I popped up the IGA to get lasagne for dinner and some other supplies whilst Hannah went to do some home hairdressing. I turned on the TV to find the Wallabies playing WALES in Brisbane. I’m so useless, have always wanted to see a professional rugby game and who’d have been better to watch than Wales and I’d missed it! It was early to bed because England was playing their first game of the Euros in the early hours of the next morning.
June – BRISBANE
We were all up for 2am. I repeat 2am (!!!) to watch England in the Euros. I’m not even sure it was worth it! I then slept late, spent the day doing Uni work and cooked another successful Cottage Pie ready for when Hannah and Anthony got home. I forgot to get Bisto Granules though so had to use Oxo stock to bind it together. I didn’t think it was a good but Ant thought it was better than the last one I did!
June – BRISBANE
I had a chilled out Uni day, I was so ridiculously behind and had to do 4 weeks work in 1 week as usual. Hannah saved me again, took control of the situation and helped me do some research for the project I was doing on flooding. I’d decided to focus on flooding insurance in Australia and the UK so Hannah found me sources in Australia whilst I found the UK ones. I was so grateful!
In the afternoon I met up with Marnie, my lovely personal trainer and now friend, for a catch up over sushi. I’m going to really miss her because she’s just so lovely. It was good to talk to her about the gorilla trek because she’d done it before and given me loads of tips.
That night it was the second of the three ‘State of Origin’ Rugby League games. They’re between Queensland and New South Wales and the players return to their ‘state of origin’. I’d seen the games on TV two years ago whilst in Western Australia and it builds up into quite a frenzy. We had a gathering at our house (Amanda, Phil, Jane and Becky) and it was a great night. We watched whilst painting our nails (not including Phil and Ant...)! Just a shame Queensland lost (think they won overall after the third game though).
June – BRISBANE
I went into the city to meet Rodney, a second or so cousin of my Dad’s. I knew I had relatives in Australia and knew I should have got in touch 2 years ago so I was making up for it this time and contacting everyone to see who I could say hello to and share family tree information with. I recognised Rodney immediately because he looks so like my Dad! We spent a good few hours reminiscing and sharing stories and information. It was really nice; he’s a lovely fascinating man. I was sad to say bye to him, really should have got hold of him whilst I was living in Brisbane so I could have seen more of him.
Back at home I cooked pasta for Hannah and Anthony, it was one of Drew’s recipes and I’d never tried it before so it was a bit of a challenge. I think it went ok… just needs more wine next time!
June – BRISBANE
I’d booked a flight back to Melbourne for tomorrow (very said to be leaving but it did mean I could catch up with people there) so it was my last day in Brisbane - for the 6th
time! L I spent most of the day with Hannah J And after a slow-ish morning we went to Faye and Ken’s for lunch. I’d met Faye several times at the fruit shop and they’d both hosted Drew’s (and mine) leaving drinks. They’re so lovely and I wished I’d got to know them better whilst living in Brisbane because they have such a nice homely way about them. We had a delicious salad for lunch with bread and wine and a nice pudding sat under the gazebo amongst the plants. It was lovely and rustic and better than a Jamie Oliver show. We had to leave too soon to go and get our eyebrows threaded (my 1st
time, pretty impressed) and then get ready to go out in the evening with the girls. Becky came round to ours and we ate pizza and drank before Jane arrived. Hannah was driving so we picked up Jo (I got Hannah lost) and headed to Oxford 152 (where I’d had my birthday) to meet Amanda (who’d been out for a birthday dinner). We spent a brilliant couple of hours dancing! Hannah had to leave at about midnight because she had work early and Jane wasn’t feeling well so Hannah dropped off Amanda, Becky, Jo and I at Downunder (!!!) in the city (I redeemed myself giving Hannah clear instructions to get there and home!). I love that place! It’s a dirty backpacker bar under the Base Central hostel but it’s sooooooooooo good for dancing! We had a great time and met poor Jim who’d looked very out of place in his smart suit. He’d just arrived into Brisbane for work and was looking for somewhere to have a drink and ended up in Downunder (think that was a ploy!) but he was a nice guy so he danced with us.
We decided we had to go home at 3am (I was supposed to be up at 5am to watch the second England game!) so put Jo in a taxi whilst Becky and Amanda came home with me. I stayed up until 4.30am to say bye to Anthony ( L ) and then waited until 5am for Hannah to get up for the football. I managed to watch 10 minutes of it football before deciding I really had to go to bed.
June – BRISBANE to MELBOURNE
I got up at 7.30 to say bye to Hannah ( L ) and then went back to bed. I really don’t like saying bye to that girl (thank you thank you thank you Han for looking after me again!) I was up 10ish to re-pack for my flight to Melbourne. Becky and Amanda went out to get us Macdonalds and then took me to the train station. I’d left it a bit late to leave so it was a close one. They literally threw me out with a quick hug and I had to run up the steps with all my bags and onto the train. I just made it but there’d been nowhere to click on my Go card or buy a ticket! I spent the journey chatting to an older couple about Africa, they gave me some useful contacts in Namibia, and stressing about being asked for a ticket. I confessed to the couple as didn’t want them to think I was awful but no ticket person came on so I just paid the other end. I queued up at Tiger Airways check in knowing they were going to charge me for extra baggage as they were weighing EVERYTHING, even coats and small handbags. I was overweight and they told me how to re-pack my bags so it wouldn’t cost me too much. Tiger have a bit of a bad reputation for being rude, tight on weight and tight on timings. I didn’t find them at all rude and understood about the bags and the timings but was concerned they were talking about closing check in whilst people were still in the queue. Anyway I got checked in and went straight through for the flight which was quite enjoyable; had some cheese and wine and watched some programme on my computer. I should have been doing Uni work but was too hungover.
I landed in Melbourne and was immediately hit by the cold, wind a rain. We were in the lonely Tiger Airways terminal, practically a shed and the wind was blowing in! I got on the Skytrain to Flinders St station in the city centre and then headed towards Urban Central (the hostel where my friend Gemma who I’d worked with at the travel place was staying). Gemma met me half way and was very excited to see me! I got checked in and to our room whilst we gabbled non-stop. We were due out for the night so headed to Macdonalds for something to eat (those observant people amongst you might have noticed it was my second of the day…I had a healthy version this time). By the time we’d finished Gemma’s friends were back from the Wallabies vs. WALES rugby game (I couldn’t believe I’d missed it again! I’d been confronted by Wales shirts when I’d come out of the train station, could almost hear the game from there and the hostel) and we got ready to go out. It was a bit of a non-starter. It had got quite late and nobody knew where we were going and there were some dramas going on the hostel (so many people live there long term, it’s like being in a soap!). We headed out for a couple of drinks then went home, I didn’t mind as was so tired from the night before!
June – MELBOURNE
I had a nice sleep, the top bunk was very comfy and a bit of a novelty for me as I’d been so spoiled with proper beds. I headed out to meet my second or so cousin Carla (grand-daughter of my late Granddad’s youngest sister Jean), her husband Sam and their son Alexander (a lovely little lad) at the Melbourne Aquarium. Auntie Jean always talks about Carla and put us in touch this time. I got a bit lost on the way and had to get a taxi but made it only 5 minutes late and spotted them all straight away. Carla looked just like her granny Jean! We said our hellos and went to a nice restaurant at Southbank where we sat by the river eating pizza and chatting. We had a lot in common and shared lots of stories. Then we headed to the Aquarium which is really good and educational. They have a lot of penguins which we were all fascinated by, they’re so quick in the water, and plenty of different fish (some that were see through) and sea life including Sea Dragons (Weedy and Leafy species) which are incredible, look like seaweed with heads, and I finally found out what a Billabong actually is. There were some horribly fascinating Starfish (the Northern Pacific Sea Star) which actually eat each other’s legs and even their own legs if they’re hungry and no other food is about. It doesn’t seem to be a problem because the legs always grow back! I liked the big aquarium where you walked through the tunnel and the fish swam over you… I’ve always wanted to walk through one of those. There were some BIG fish, sharks and a Manta Ray in there! And divers who were in doing the shark feeding, I wouldn’t have wanted to do that with an audience! After saying bye to Carly and family I headed back to the hostel to wait for Gemma who was at an Aussie Rules game. I did Uni work and once Gemma came back we headed to Chinatown for dinner because one of her friends was leaving Melbourne. And then I went to a Shisha café to meet up with Alexis and Sham, two of our most favourite customers from work at the travel place. They’d been living in Brisbane but had just left to start their road trip around Australia. I spent a nice couple of hours with them and their friends, they’re good lads J
June - MELBOURNE
I had the day to myself today because Gemma was at work. So I had a very long lie in, chat with the stripper who was also in our room (lovely girl, fascinating listening to her talking about the industry from her point of view, she told me she hoped she looked like me at 30… I was chuffed to be told that by a 21 year old stripper!) lazy shower and did Uni work before heading out to see a dermatologist about my weird rash and looking round the shops to find some warm flat boots. I found some and headed back to the hostel to do more Uni work…had an assignment due in on Thursday. Gemma’s friend Sam cooked dinner (although he was poorly so we had to take over…) and it was such a nice Chilli. We spent the evening chilling, eating Ben & Jerry’s and doing my Uni work. And before I went to sleep I watched an episode of The Vampire Diaries which I’m completely addicted to (that became a habit in Melbourne).
June – MELBOURNE
It was a morning of Uni work and then out to meet Emma Gilligan’s lovely friend Jo! I really like Jo and have always enjoyed her company when Emma has brought us together. Jo’s been in Australia for about a year (randomly bumped into her once when she walked past the travel place) and she’s going home on Thursday (jealous she would see Maff and Em soon!). I found her by the riverbank and we stopped for some lunch (I literally had a block of cheese, really odd) and then for a wander around the shops. Jo introduced me to the amazing graffiti in the alleyways and we had Starbucks. All too soon we had to go our separate ways and I gave her some hugs to pass onto Maff and Em. I then met up with Scott (Jenny, my New Zealand god mothers, son) for some dinner and drinks. He’s now living in Melbourne but despite being big on surfing hasn’t been to any of Victoria’s surf beaches! He walked me back to the hostel along the river, was nice to see the city view at night. Back at the hostel I joined in with the weekly quiz with Gemma and friends and it was really hard! We did ok though. Scott text me part way through to see if I’d felt the earthquake which apparently happened as we were walking back… nobody had felt it! It was really random (turns out it was worse in the suburbs). We had a few drinks but not a late night.
June – MELBOURNE
I was up early and on the train out to a suburb (wish I could remember the name, it’s also a London borough) to meet up with Rodney’s (who I’d met in Brisbane) daughter Samantha, who was as fascinated by family history as I was. I met her daughter Celeste and we swapped information and found some amazing coincidences. My brother is Matthew James… Samantha’s brother is Matthew James… and both their birthdays are on the 18th
January! Random or what?! We went out for lunch in a café before heading back for more chatting. All too soon (again, too many flying visits on this trip) it was time to get the train back to the city. I did some more Uni work on the train (was getting ridiculously close to deadline day!). In the evening Gemma and her friends went out to a really smart pub where they were doing a deal on steak and red wine. The steak was absolutely delicious, and the red wine went down well too. Back at the hostel I packed (had to leave early for my flight to Auckland the next morning), had nice chats with Gemma and Caryl at home and finished the draft of my assignment whilst watching Seinfeld with the others.
June – MELBOURNE to AUCKLAND, New Zealand
I was up bright and early and very excited to be going to see Jenny and Terry (my godmother and her husband) in Auckland! I got ready quickly, gave a sleepy Gemma a hug and checked out of the hostel. I had to get a taxi to the train station because it was raining and then the Skytrain back to the airport. It was a really horrible journey, there was nowhere to put my bags (people with small bags had stored them really badly and used up all the space) and no seat so I had to stand in the aisle with my rucksack on my back propped up against a pole going down a motorway. It was dangerous and so painful! In the airport I checked in no problems, had some breakfast and waited for my flight. I was all settled in at the gate when we had a last minute change, everyone was in a huff especially when the flight was delayed. The flight with Virgin Australia was nice, I spent all of it tidying up my assignment ready to submit from Jenny’s. I found a slight problem with my visa on the plane… it had the wrong month of birth on it… I hoped they’d let me in to New Zealand!
I’m nearly caught up now! My next update will be posted only about a week after the events happened. Phew, I can concentrate on Uni work again now…
NOTE: I use these updates to capture my memories and share what I'm doing on my travels with friends, family and anyone who’s interested enough to read. The views are my own and I try my best to ensure any information I share is fair and accurate but I do sometimes get things wrong. I welcome any feedback so I can make improvements and corrections for future readers. Thank you.
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