Cake day

The story this week is about work, I am working out of a different location and it’s the first time I have worked in an office environment. I know how to perform office tasks, my position at the bakery has an office and that’s where I manage the bakery from. Just never worked in a big office with so many others.

A baker by trade sees me with a more hands on approach to my vocation. I like to get out on the floor and help with the manual tasks (although not too strenuous), occasionally mix a dough and get my hands working shaping and moulding the loaves.

The different location is our head office, the big boss sits in the corner office, we underlings of middle management have a suite of offices that stretch away from the corner . Then the guys in cubicles; the backbone and engine room of the place, the guys that know how to create a spread sheet, not just pretend read it. They do the work, type up the memos, keep the minutes, make sure the place runs smooth.

The first thing I notice is the language is clean and correct and a welcome change from the usual gutter talk that grown men when working or living together seem to come up with. There is a mix of sexes, cultural backgrounds and ages, this has everyone communicating in a civilised manner.

 

I thought that by working away from the bakery I would be able to really take charge of my appetite and start eating healthy. No fresh bread rolls straight from the oven, no more sausage rolls with the flaky, crumbly, buttery pastry. This is where I was wrong.
In the office environment, there is this thing called “Cake day”
I’m sure some of you may be familiar with cake day, when it’s someone’s birthday, or if left over cake is brought in to clear a home fridge, even a charity; this week it was jeans for genes day. A worthy cause, but just eating a cake isn’t going to help the cause. So here is me, trying to be healthy and true to my clean-living pledge (well this weeks pleadge anyway) and all around me is pavlova and sausage sizzles. It’s enough to drive a man crazy, or at the very least break his latest pledge.
Just glad I didn’t tell them it was my birthday on Thursday as the one of the girls in the engine room would have raced down and fetched another cake.

Rural Romania

There are good days on the bike, and there are better days on the bike, but some days are just magical.

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Terry and I crossing the Danube river from Bulgaria into Romania

The day, back in 2013 when we cycled from Bran Castel Transylvania deep into Romania was just one of the most magical days to go cycling.
We broke camp and were on our way around 8 in the morning. It was a little cool and for the first time on the trip I needed to start the day with my riding jacket.

The pine forests were alive with the summer, the air was not only for breathing, but you could taste the freshness and purity of the day.
We had the most magical first 30 km making our way through small villages and waving to locals who all waved back, man woman and child.

We stopped for morning tea and was greeted by the owner who made us apple tea and an apple Danish type pastry. It was lovely and we all sat in the morning sun enjoying the day.
We continued our meander through the country side, stopping to talk to local farmers tossing and baling the hay all my hand. We could have made this journey 100 years ago and the view and people would have been the same.

 


My soul filled with joy as we pasted through village after village of country Romania.
We were getting close to the 1000 km mark of our journey and we all agreed to stop and mark the occasion with a photo.

As Terry was setting up the tripod all the kids in the village came over to see what we were up to. A local man stopped and the lady whose house we stopped outside of came out join in on our 1000 km celebration.
The lady did not speak English but a little Spanish and I was able in a very mixed up sort of way to translate basic information back and forth. Ema would have laughed if she could have heard me bastardise her native tongue.

The lady went inside and came out with 4 coffees for us to have, it was a very memorable stop and we rode away talking and chatting our adrenaline on high, and the kids chasing us down the street.

 


We cycled on, the road was flat and the wind on our backs, perfect.
Lunch was at a small village, we found a small shop to buy some bread and ham and make sandwiches whilst talking to the locals as they all come out to see what was going on.
We rode on and into our camp site by 4.00 pm, 110 km of easy flat roads with plenty of stopping to take it all in.
We managed to set up our tents and then the thunder storm rolled in so the 4 of us made for the cover of our tents with the gift from the campsite lady of homemade cherry liqueur.
Terry does not drink but I did the honourable thing and drank his, it would be rude not to.


So we toasted our day from different tents as the rain came tumbling down.
Now some might think that to sit in a very small tent with all your gear in a thunder storm is a pretty ordinary way to spend a holiday, but not the slow cyclist, this is living……..

1st Sunday Writers Club

 

The first Sunday of the month sees me meet up with fellow writers in our area, we do this mainly to keep ourselves accountable to our writing goals. I really enjoy the monthly catch ups, as we are a diverse group, we come from different backgrounds, we have different paths and places we feel we fit into this life. As creative people we support and encourage each other in our imagination. We also have afternoon tea, one of my favourite pastimes 🙂

Last Sunday our host Jane set us a simple writing task, pick a random picture and you have ten minutes to write a short story.

Below is my efforts at this undertaking;

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Wednesday Football

There comes a point when you must say, ‘enough is enough’. That’s what Tara thought.
A Wednesday night game of mixed 5 a side football would be fun, but this guy Vince was getting a little too creepy.
The wall was up and the free kick about to be taken; It’s your own responsibility to protect your “parts” so why does Vince feel he must protect her by trying to cover her “bits”?
She knew; he never actually touched her, no, that would be too easy to object too. He just held his hands a few inches from her crotch as if protecting the holy grail.
She has made comments in the past; ‘Getting a little close there Vince, no need to look out for me’ all to no avail, he just wouldn’t take the hint.
Yeah so enough was enough and finally Vince realised as he lay on the pitch holding his groin in the most excruciating pain as Tara sent from the field smiled and contemplated what she would do next Wednesday evening.

 

My Little Girl gets Married

17th February 1989, about 8 pm at Shellharbour hospital, I should have been a nervous wreck, it was my second experience at the attendance of childbirth, and if the first time is anything to go by I should have been extremely nervous.
But I wasn’t, I was calm, the room was calm, there was no fuss or commotion. Britt came into the world in a relaxed and calm manner, there wasn’t even a doctor in the room to oversee, and there was no need. Britt just made her way to us with the quite reserve that she has carried throughout her life.
About an hour later I jumped in my car, turned the engine over and on the radio the song started playing “A little ray of sunshine” the Brian Cadd song, those lyrics stuck in my mind
“A little ray of sunshine has come into my world, a little ray of sunshine in the shape of a girl’


The calmness and composure continued; a few weeks later we had a birthday party for her older brother Matt at our place, can you imagine 10 – little kids running amuck in the house when you’re looking after a newborn baby, but true to her character she remained tranquil and unruffled.
Along with her grace and calm is her infectious laugh. I was lucky enough to be the one to take her to mothers group when she was just a toddler. It was fun and Brits first social venture into the world. A lot of kids have trouble sharing, or even acknowledging the other toddlers in the room. Not Brit, she took on her new social roll with her sense of humour and began giggling her way through play group. She even earned the nick name of “giggle pot’ from the other mum’s, she would always be giggling at something, knowing early that a good sense of humour is essential in life.
I am always affected by her laugh it carries you along for the ride, even if you’re not sure what the joke is, an inclusive laugh that gets everyone in.
She is always and always will be the most beautiful soul ever created, but it’s her smile that melts my heart, the smile of an angel, of an individual who loves life and loves to laugh.


Brits work role sums up her compassion as a person, as a gentle soul, “Child protection Caseworker” there were a few people with raised eyebrows when she landed this position, “Why would you want to work with these people, these people who can’t look after their own children” I knew why she took this role and always have.
Britt has a mission statement and has always lived by this oath. “To look out for the little Guy”
I remember a trip we were lucky enough to have in Northern Thailand; we visited many places and got to meet and talk with many people.
Brit met a single mum who had her kids selling pencils to make ends meet, after a long talk with this girl, she wasn’t much older than Brit at the time, Brit brought some pencils.
Our fellow travellers told her that she may have been ripped off and that she could have brought the pencils cheaper if she haggled a bit more.
Brit replied, “I brought these for me, to remind me of how lucky we have it, and that we must always look out for the little guy” She still has those pencils.
So that trip had a very positive affect on her upbringing; but deep down it was always there, the watching out for the little guy.
There are two things which we as parents try to give our children, one is roots, an identity, a place to call home, the other is wings to fly, Brit, with her approach to life has soared.
She has always made me proud.
Brit our walk down the aisle was very special and means the world to me, be assured that I will always be walking next to you; you will always be my little girl.
I love you

007 on a Bike, finding accommodation can be like a secret mission…

Boris leans in close and in a heavy Eastern European accent whispers “Listen very carefully as I shall only say this once” I raise an eyebrow but kept listening not wanting to upset him. “First you must go straight on this road, at zee church you must go right” he is hard to understand and uses lots of hand gestures. “Then when you get to zee semaphore” we stop him at semaphore and ask for more details. He grunts and says, “Just listen please semaphore like flashing” he is opening his hands in a twinkle little star fashion. “Traffic lights“ I say. “Ya, ya, then you must go left, then straight on, then you will get to where the trains go over the road” “Like a bridge” I say. “Ya, ya” he waves me off uninterested in my understanding. “Then you come to Hotel Costa’s, there will be a white car with a lady, she will flash her lights at you, she is your contact” Now is this a part in an Ian Fleming Bond novel or another story from the Slow Cyclist ?

 

 It was our first night in the mountains of Montenegro and I was looking forward to some authentic local food. We walked into the small town of Centinje and sat for our meal at a street side café.

The menu was not in English and there was nobody there to help us so we just let the waitress order for us. We needed a very big meal after climbing out of Koto; one of the biggest days of the tour climbing and climbing.

Good thing is Beer is pretty easy to translate and if you hold your hands up and apart to indicate a big beer then you usually get a half liter, Turns out the waitress did well and we had pork fillets with chips, basic but very nice.

 

 

We planned to have a relatively easy cycling day to the capital Podgorica, our reasoning being that the last day was a very heavy day and the day before a long day in the saddle. So in the morning we were in no hurry to set out on our 40-km ride to Podgorica.

Ok I shall make my apologies here, I know I am a visitor to this country and I have respect for all her people, but Podgorica is not going to win the tidy town of the year award anytime into the future. The capital is littered with graffiti and rubbish, guessing they don’t get many tourists here and it appears there is only the big hotels with hefty tariffs in the city. No pensions, rooms or even campsites. We were asking every one we could and having trouble finding someone who spoke English, that’s when we met Boris.

 

Ok so my first paragraph may not have expressed how friendly Boris was, he was a real nice guy and when he found out about our plight he was on the phone ringing around looking for somewhere for us to stay. That’s when we got the instructions to meet the woman in the white car, so off we cycled looking for the mysterious woman.

15 minutes later and on the other side of the city we met her, I was amazed as I thought it was some sort of gee up. She had an apartment we could let for 1 night at a very good price, I questioned her occupation, because she looked and I say this without judgment, like a hooker.

Maybe letting us rent the place for one night was more financially beneficial to her than her normal activities. We slept in many strange places on our tour of the Adriatic coast and up into Montenegro, we seem to have a lot of luck when it comes to places to stay, we have literally stumbled across so many bargains and good accommodation that I could write a book on how to tour Europe on the cheap.

This message will self-destruct in 15 seconds………

 

The Time of our Lives

‘Hey Brit, how you going’ talking on the phone with my daughter, she was 2780 km away working in the northern territory.
‘Hi dad, how are you?’
‘Matt and I just came across a really good deal for flights to Kuala Lumpur, what do you say we head there for a few weeks to have a look, be like celebrating your 21st’
‘Sounds good to me Dad, I could do with a break from working’
So, it was settled, instead of a 21st party why not spend the money on a sneaky little 2-week trip to Malaysia.
The flights were cheap, very cheap as the carrier Air Asia tried to get a foot hold in the Australian market. $49 flights to KL not to be passed up. Problem was we had to fly out of Perth, Matt and I living in Wollongong and Britt living in the Northern Territory a plan needed to be formulated. We still had to arrange fares home, with the proviso that economy was a factor.
That trip was so much fun, me spending quality time with my grown-up children before they became burdened with the responsibilities of adulthood; I know what goes on tour stays on tour, but me being the responsible adult I feel I can divulge some of the more humourist aspects of the time we spend together.

Matt and I flew out to Yulara to spend a day or two with Brit whilst she finished up her work, then the 3 of us flew on to Perth and spent a day wandering around. An early morning flight had us landing in KL around lunch time. We had no accommodation booked, we never do favouring the seat of your pants style of travelling. Matt bragged about how good he was at getting local information out of the people, so Britt and I challenged him to see what he could get out of our taxi driver on the way into town.
‘How are you mate, has it been busy today?’ Matt starting up the conversation
‘Uhh’
‘So, is there a good place we can stay that’s cheap?’
‘Uhh’
What’s your favourite place to eat?’
‘Uhh’
In the back-seat Britt and I thought this conversation was hilarious, Matt was struggling and his claim of the guy who is at one with the locals was in serious doubt.
‘Ok can you just drop us off near the centre of town, maybe in China town’ Matt was beat and he knew it, so the first joke of the tour was on him.
‘Uhh’
Britt and I lost it in the back and roared with laughter.


We spend the next few days in KL and enjoyed every moment, we hung like mates drinking beers, eating with the locals on the streets and generally taking the piss out of each other. Another funny story, we were wandering around the city and the afternoon thunderstorm hit bringing with it torrential rain with added thunder and lightning. We headed for cover at a bar (we are Aussies) and ordered 3 beers; wasn’t long before we realized it was a bar frequented by working girls, and as it was only afternoon not very busy. They left us alone; It was obvious we were just after a bit of shelter from the rain. One of the girls out of boredom, and I imagine practicing her English came over for a chat with no thought of drumming up business. We chatted for a while, and whilst Matt was in the bathroom Britt in a rather mischievous way told her Matt was looking for a wife. It was so funny watching Matt fight off the advances of this young lady, I even think she knew it was a joke and pushed it further. We had to make a run for it in the rain when she had to go back to work, we laughed and made our way to a more suitable place to have our evening meal.


I didn’t escape the ridicule of the guys either, I probably copped the most, but as the author of this I won’t go into too much 😊
A few days later we were navigating our way through the language barriers and heavy crowds of the very busy KL bus terminus. I may have accidently knocked over a lady with my back pack, the people of Malaysia are on average a lot smaller than us from the west. We were late for our bus and I found the bay we were to hustle too so I turned (with back pack on) to the guys to point out which direction we needed to go. I didn’t even feel the poor woman I knocked over and it was only when I turned again (nearly taking out her kids) that I realized what was going on. Britt was helping her to her feet and Matt was smiling, knowing he had years of material he could use to ridicule me into the future; and he has.

We caught the bus south to the city of Malacca where we set up camp in a two-bedroom apartment close to the centre of the city. Matt being the pest he is shot gunned (to call shotgun is to claim a seat or room for oneself) the biggest room with the queen-sized bed and left the cupboard like room with 2 single beds too Britt and I; We were not having this so Brit and I raided his room and pulled all the bed clothes and general messed the place up. This horse play soon turned into full on wrestles in Matts room throwing pillows and generally acting like children. The poor bed could not handle the pressure and collapsed, the three of us could not stop laughing, it was hilarious, it took us many minutes to regain control of our giggles. Britt and I got up and left Matt in his very “rock star like” trashed room ‘All right you can have the big room’
We did report the bed and all was ok with the owners, although we were joking around were not hoodlums 😊


Many funny stories from our few days in Malacca; Matt and I stumbling into a bar run by the local bikie gang, the heat of the night markets, Brit if your reading remember “Sweat bombs”.
I may save these stories for another post.

After a few days, we again found ourselves on a bus heading south, this time to Singapore. At customs, the Singapore officials decided that Matt was due for some extra attention and held him up for more body and bag searches. They tried to hustle Brit and I on, but I refused to go anywhere without him, it got a little heated as I bluntly refused, common sense took over, one of the experienced officers intervened letting me hang around, more to save the hassle I would imagine. Not sure how much longer I could have stayed, what if they drew weapons, would I still refuse to leave, I just knew I wasn’t going to let Matt out of sight.
So, with Matt well and truly searched we headed into Singapore, found some digs in the Indian quarter and spent 2 days exploring the wonderful city, it was in this metropolis that the famous “Singapore KFC Incident” unfolded.
I will not be releasing the details of this incident here, for several reasons; the main one being Brit gets married in 2 weeks and it makes a wonderful addition to my father of the bride speech 😊

We made it home via several cheap flights, taking way too long, but keeping with the theme of the trip. We had a ball, we had a laugh and for this I am forever grateful.
As I mentioned Britt marries Dave in less than 2 weeks, Matt married Margot 4 years ago; well into the journey we call life. Both well and truly making their way in the world, but every now and then when the three of us are together the conversation will lead to ‘remember on the KL trip when Dad did………..…..

Opinion Poll

This blog is usually a light hearted look at my life, but this week politics has really got on my nerves so I am sorry, but I will be talking about the elephant in the room.
I could have changed my Facebook photo with the hands that shape into a heart, and I probably will, but below I give the main reasons why our government is pissing me off this week.

I won’t be taking part in the 525-million-dollar non-binding opinion poll, the main reason being that my opinion doesn’t matter.
As a citizen of Australia, a country with clear antidiscrimination laws; my opinion on how others live their lives is irrelevant.
The hate talk has started, poor Tony Abbot is worried about his religious freedoms, his freedom of speech, and here was me thinking the opinion poll was about marriage equality for all citizens of this country. I fail to see the link between marriage equality and people’s religious freedoms or their freedoms of speech. Just a reminder Tony, political correctness is not just a clever name, it is that, “correct”.
Political correctness stops right winged bigots from spreading hate, and I for one have no issues with that.
The “postal plebiscite” also sets a dangerous precedent in our Westminster system of government, the leader of the government is unable to lead and call for a free vote in the parliament, instead spending millions on a non-binding postal plebiscite to keep his position as puppet prime minister; doesn’t have the courage to quiet the noisy ultra conservative back bench from where this hate spews.
What’s next, a reality TV show called “Plebiscite” to recognise the indigenous peoples of this land. Don’t laugh, you don’t have to look to far to see how low global politics has gone in the digital age, politics as a reaction to opinion polls, not thought out well debated policy.
My vote is the most precious right I have; I find it insulting that the government ask me to cast it in this very expensive opinion poll; I will not be using my vote to judge how people live their lives, to do so would sanction the judgment of people’s rights to be treated like all Australians.
Why are we putting the LGBT community through this?
Is this one last gay bash before the inevitable comes, because it will come, when we have a government with courage to do what’s right and not what’s popular.
I support marriage equality, but not this way, please not this way.