How quickly a year disappears! After almost a year in Italy, it was time to go and visit family and friends.
We left Italy at the beginning of December and spent a week in Vienna – read more here. (Dreaming of a white Christmas… – Mitchell News)
The next leg in our round trip was to Sydney Australia (via Dubai). With Sydney having been our home for over 20 years, we decided to spend 2 weeks catching up with friends and attending to things like doctors appointments. We stayed with our good friends Ric & Brig. They had a full calender of events scheduled for us. It was good visiting old haunts and seeing a number of our friends. One of the highlights was being invited to an impromtu gig where a number of musicians where playing in a warehouse. With a number of artists, we listened to a wide range of music. With many of them being our age, there were some good oldies from the 60’s and 70’s in the mix.
Our next move was to Brisbane, principally to see Glenda’s Mom. It was good being able to spend some time with her. At 90, she is still mentally sharp even if not able to walk as much as she used too. We also had an opportunity to catch up with some of our Brissie friends and family. It was good to be able to complete a few Parkruns in Brisbane as well as some long runs along the river. We spent New Year at a BnB where and we were invited to celebrate new year with our hosts who happened to be an ex South African couple. A memorable night.
With the challenge of finding affordable accommodation in Dec/Jan, we took an opportunity to go Hervey Bay (300km north of Brisbane). Hervey Bay is one of our favourite Queensland beach locations. We have stayed in Hervey Bay a few times previously. It was a good thing we got in when we did. Doc’s BnB closed soon after we stayed as he was going to spend more time in Brisbane with Kim his wife who got a long term contract in Brisbane. We enjoy the Hervey Bay Parkrun and always seem to run well there. We looked at a few properties for sale but the prices have gone up a lot and it did not seem like a good time to buy.
On the way back to Brisbane we could not resist stopping off at Dreambird (Maidenwell) for some R&R. Deb and Pete have a nice little cottage on their farm. This ‘elderly’ couple have amazing energy. They run the their farm, the BnB, a café on the property and they are now opening a store in Maidenwell. It is nice spending time away from the business of the city and it is so nice in the Jacuzzi under the stars. We ended up back in Brisbane for another 2 weeks and left for South Africa after 7 weeks in Oz.
In all honesty, we were a little apprehensive going to visit South Africa. It had been over 8 years since we last visited and we keep hearing how dangerous it is. Spoiler Alert – whilst not downplaying the need to be alert, at no time did experience anything to be concerned about. The most obvious thing for us is that SA looks like any other country in Africa. There are lots of people on the streets and lots of round side enterprises. Walking into the supermarkets, we were pleasantly surprised to see that they rival the best in Australia. The display and range of products is amazing. Where South Africa does have a real challenge is that their electricity supply is cut numerous times everyday (8-12 hours per day). The quality of the water cannot be relied on, again because they lack sufficient power to properly treat the water and ensure the quality of the water.
It was a great opportunity to visit family and friends in SA. Not having seen Walter’s Mom for 8 years, it was nice to finally catch up face-2-face. We also got to see Glenda’s brother and wife together with some of their children and their families. Notforgetting, we also saw Walter’s sister and her husband and family and finally one of Glenda’s friends for over 50 years.
It was interesting to see how everyone has responded differently to the electricity and water challenges. In some instances, it was a full suite of solar panels, batteries, generators, water tanks and filters – in which case we did not experience any impact. In other cases, it is doing nothing other than using bottled water. In this instance we had to plan when to eat and even when we could shower.
We could not resist some of the local Parkruns. Hmmm, so different. Firstly they do not have briefings before the run and with almost no marshals, it was difficult figuring out where the run went. The courses were also amongst the most difficult we have run. Not only did we have to contend with high altitude, but the courses are through through grass, dodging potholes and then there were some big hills. These runs were amongst our slowest.
All to soon our time in SA was over and it was off to Florence via Frankfurt and Munich (were we spent a few days).