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DEC 2001 - JAN 2002 - FEB 2002 - MAR 2002 - APR 2002 - MAY 2002 - JUN 2002 - JUL 2002 - JUN & JUL 2003
'Bye Sarena'
Australia - MAR 2002
'Hello England'
Friday 1st March 2002 Grampians

Rained most of the night and the tent was too wet to pack away, so we decided not to go walking today and take Betty to the doctors instead. So we drove to the nearest town and found a garage that could take a look at her. We left her with the Mechanic and went into Stawell for a few hours. The place was dead but we got some excitement as Clare got her purse pinched or lost so we spent the time trying to find it. Everyone in the town seems to now everyone else and lots of people said they knew who may of taken it, as she is always nicking things. Although when someone from the supermarket phoned her she denied it (obviously). Never mind Clare didn't have much money in it just some cards that she cancelled straight away.

I phoned the Garage and they claimed that they had fixed Betty so I went to pick her up. She ran like a dream, apparently all the points had seized so for just $50 she was fixed and ran smoothly up hills again. We headed back to the campsite for another big campfire.

Glad I had sprayed the tent with some water proofing stuff I had bought a couple of weeks earlier as it rained all night. We got up quite early and had some b'fast but was soon surrounded by loads of brightly coloured parrots who came and sat on my shoulder and hands to eat my food - we weren't aloud to feed them but it was very hard not to when they come so close were really tame, should be keeping them wild though!! naughty.

We had to go into town to get Betty looked at as she was running as rough as old dogs so we bundled off to the nearest biggest town - Stawell to find a garage. Toby went and dropped us into the town centre whilst he dropped Betty off at a garage for a couple of hours. We had a good old look around but I split up from the other 2 for an hour so I could get some shopping then bumped into Clare again who looked really white saying she had lost her purse. She thinks she had it stolen by a woman and her child, whom we later found out was notorious for thieving in this town. We walked around looking in bins etc to see if we could find it before cxl her cards and reporting it to the police - not a good day. The only good news of the day was that Betty had been fixed and had only cost $50!! fanbloodytastic. We then went back to the campsite and Clare sat and read one of my books in one evening, it is a fantastic book!!

Saturday 2nd March 2002 Melbourne

Raining again, but we did a masterful job of taking the tent down from the inside out so that must of it stayed dry. Back to Melbourne today so we pilled into Betty for the 4 hour trip back to Hotel Bak Pak in the city centre which we had booked a few weeks back for the Grand Prix.

Hotel Bak Pak is massive, it has over 700 beds and no charm, its horrible, but a beds a bed. I couldn't stay in the place so I decided to go walk about and try and meet up with Tom and Sally who are also staying in Melbourne. Grand Prix fever has hit the town as nearly every one is wearing the standard issue red Ferrari cap. I headed down to the Hostel that Tom and Sally are staying in with the hope that they would be their and also because it is right by the Grand Prix Entrance so I might be able to pick up some our tickets for tomorrow.

Tom and Sally are staying in the Pint on the Punt, an Irish pub with a hostel above it. Its really cool, just like a proper pub, and they server Cafferys! I hadn't seen Tom since Everest and he looked very slim from his last few months in SE Asia, anyway two Caffreys later and it was too late to pick up the tickets so I headed back to the Backpackers to find Sarena all on her own, and right miserable for it. She was hoping to meet up with Tom and Sally for a drink too. So I took her out for a Chinese to cheer her up, which was pretty horrible, and a few more beers.

We headed back to our room to find one of the staff putting mattresses on the floor and searching desperately for spare beds. It seems as though they have double booked people. I offered to sleep in the van but still use the facilities for our money back (it was very expensive) which she agreed to gladly. Beau and Clare still stayed in the hostel and got no sleep whatsoever. hah hah.

Wiped the tent down down before packing it up for the day as it was covered in mud and rain then headed back into Melbourne for the Grand Prix. Took 4 hrs to get to the prebooked backpackers in the heart of the city then unloaded and checked ourselves in. The place is huge!! and looks like it used to be a massive hotel but we all found it to be far too big and had no atmosphere,. not like the smaller ones we had stayed in. The 'Hotel Bakpak' had a lot of younger people who weren't really backpackers but just kids with some money travelling around Oz getting pissed and shagging - mmmm doesn't sound that bad..... oh to be young again!!

Anyway Toby buggered off to the pub that Sally and Tom were staying at (Everest friends) to leave a message that we were in town. Clare and Beau went out for the evening and I did some washing - oh how glamorous. When Toby returned eventually after having a few drinks with Tom and Sally we then went out to find us a restaurant - found a really expensive Chinese place which I thought was too costly but Toby insisted... anyway the meal was quite crap and found out later from Clare and Beau that the $6.50 for all you could eat restaurant around the corner was fab. We went back to the BP and headed down to the basement for a couple of free beers and watched the youngins flirting with each other before heading up to our room. It seems the place had over booked and one of the girls who worked there was setting up a couple of beds on the floor for some others so we offered them our beds saying we could sleep in the van for the evening. She was really relieved and was more than happy to do that so we gathered our stuff and spent the night in Betty.

Sunday 3rd March 2002 Melbourne

Grand Prix day. We got up early and caught the free tram down to the racetrack so that we could pick up our tickets and get a good spot on the track.It was worth it as we one some of the first there, at 7 am, and got a great spot between corners 14 and 15 just before the finishing straight.

Sarena, Beau and Clare kept the spot whilst I went to get Tom and Sally. We pretty much stayed in that spot for the whole day. We have never been to a Grand Prix before and where quite impressed by the amount of things going on, several other races where taking place along with motorbike stunts, jet flyovers, parachuting, water skiing and bands. A lot of which we missed as we didn't want to loose our place. The weather was pretty cool and drizzled for half of the morning, but managed to clear up in time for the main race.

What a crash! Ralph Schumacer shot straight over the top of Barichello just after the start and by the end of the race only about 10 cars where left, Michael Schumacer won easily (as usual) but everyone was more excited by an Aussie drivers debut, Mark Webber, for Minardi as he ended up coming 5th, everyone went mad. As soon as the race finished we stormed the track, with everyone else, and went up to the pits. I tried to see if I could find an old school friend, Nathan Hall, who now works for Jordan. And reckoned I caught a glimpse of him working out of the back of the pits.

We went back to the Pint on the Punt, which was packed with F1 fans, and got thoroughly largered (on Cafferys) then crashed out in the back of Betty for the night. What a great day.

Got up very early and went and woke up the other two who it seems didn't get a wink of sleep thanks to some of the girls sharing the room with them. We dressed quickly and caught the tram down to the Grand Prix and were there by 7am thanks to moi getting everyone up!! which meant we found a fab place to stand for the day right on a corner of the track, we could see everything really clearly. What a bloody fantastic day, we saw stunt planes and jet planes doing flyovers and they had about 3 different races using some yummy cars - dodge viper being my favourite. They also had a bike stunt driver who did some amazing things right in front of us! I stood with a grin on my face for a good few hours and that was before the big race. The weather was a bit drizzly but it was better than standing in the scorching sun.

At 2.00pm the big race started and what a start!! Ralph Schumacer did a flying stunt over the car infront of him in the first few minutes then all hell broke loose..... We were stood next to 3 guys, 1 from New Zealand and the other 2 from Oz who turned out to be the funniest blokes and kept us entertained for the whole day. Sally and Tom had come to join us in the morning and it was great to see them both, Tom had lost quite alot of weight since the last time I saw him but he still looked great. Us girls got on like a house on fire and were soon chatting away like a bunch of old women until a few Italian girls came and stood right infront of us or basically ontop of us. I wouldn't have minded but we had been there since 7.00am so that we could get a decent spot and these old bags turned up at 2ish. The worst thing was that one of them kept asking Sally the most ridiculous questions - ie 'who is going to win' and 'how do you know when someone has one' mmmmmm needless to say we got really very pissed off with them and the fact she kept shouting Ferrari and bolisimo all the time - stupid mare.

After the fab race the crowd went wild and ran onto the track, us included - after saying goodbye to the 3 friendly guys. We went to have a look at the pits and to see if we could see Toby's friend who is a fuel guy for Jordan.

After our exciting day we all bundled back to the Irish Pub where Tom and Sally were staying to have a couple of drinks, this was our first proper pub we had been in since entering Oz. It was really very good and was packed full of Grand Prix people celebrating the fab run of Mark Webber the Australian driver who came fifth on his first race. I only intended to stay for a couple of drinks but it ended up a complete session with Toby, Clare and Beau getting very pissed. When we went to leave I asked where the stool was that we had bought with us for the day ( we use it to sit on in the back of the van whilst travelling) Clare was the last person to have it, oh dear! seems she left it hanging on the back of the toilet door in the pub and now it had vanished - oops.

We said our goodbyes to Tom and Sally and promised to keep in touch, they are good people to have as mates! We went and raided the local 'Seven Eleven' for some snacks and Clare stole some chocolate very unsuccessfully, she dropped most of it on the floor!! On the way home she told me how much she liked Sally (lots of times) whilst Beau just looked very scary sitting on the tram - doesn't usually drink very much and was now looking rather ill.

We left them in the dorm for the night whilst Toby and I went and slept in Betty again - what a great day.

 

Monday 4th March 2002 Spirit of Tasmania

Still fired up from all the fast cars Sarena and I went to the Motor exhibition in town. Most of it was full of all the mundane factory cars, that all tend to look the same nowadays, but there where a few classics including a Ferrari Dino that was for sale for just $95,000 - very tempting!!!! There was also a Gas Turbine motorbike and a massive new Ford pickup truck (Ute) that was really cool. After visiting the car show I popped into the Post Office to find two Birthday cards waiting for me. One from Mum and Dad and one from Pat and Jack. Thanks everyone!

We met back up with Beau and Clare after lunch, they had both had haircuts in the morning and drove down to the Ferry Terminal to catch our 13 hour sail to Tasmania. Clare was being a little dozy today, must of been the Cafferys, as when we sat in the departure lounged she thought she was actually on the ferry. Then she went to the loo but got in the lift instead. Then she bought a cup of soup from the vending machine but forgot to put her cup under the dispensing nozzle. durrr dopey!

The ferry was packed with oldies all hobbling around and getting lost in the maze of corridors. The others didn't realise that the tickets included a buffer dinner and where very excited when I told them. A hot meal where they can eat as much as they like, can't remember the last time we did that. The food was really good to, but I ate it so quickly that I felt full up after just two platefuls, Bugger!

Attempted to watch a movie but the cinema was full of chatting kids so just retired to my bunk and read.

Another fantastic day!! we went to the Motor show and saw some beautiful cars and bikes - the best (even more than the Ferrari) was a huge Ford Pickup Truck that was so big I couldn't even reach into the engine to get the dip stick!! I would have had to get a chair each time. The top of the passenger doors were another 4feet above my head..... I want one!! they had a dodge viper as well which I wouldn't turn my nose up at, oh it's my birthday soon......

Went back to the van at 3oclock to meet Clare and Beau who had both had there hair cut, Clare has now got a bob style hairdo and it looks really very nice, they didn't go and buy a new stool though as they thought we were going to get it? hey we had cars to drool over.

Got to the ferry terminal for our trip to Tasmania- now this is where it gets funny.... Beau stayed in the van whilst we were going to go on the ferry as foot passengers so we got our stuff and climbed some stairs to wait in the departure lounge ( couldn't board the boat until 5pm so had about an hour to wait) we sat down and started chatting and Clare churped up saying 'I'm looking forward to seeing Beau's little face when he walks through the door' I looked up and said why would he be walking through these doors when he is putting Betty on the ferry?? and she looked up and said 'aren't we on the ferry now!!' Yes I kid you not she thought we were already on the ferry waiting to leave the dock....... well after we laughed hysterically about that for a few minutes she decided to go to the loo, so off she troddled only to come back 15mins later shame faced and once again laughing. It seems she went to look for a sign for the ladies only to see a sign with three people stood together in a box that she mistook for the loo's - turned out to be the sign for the lifts but she actually got in the lift which took her back down stairs!! she must think they have communal toilets in Oz. We then went to line up for boarding the ferry and Clare went off to get a soup - we both watched her put her money in the machine but she didn't move the cup under the soup nozzle, she then realised what she had done and tried to catch some of the soup but ended up with just half a cup. When she turned around and saw we had both been watching her and shaking our heads in bewilderment, she was once again reduced to hysterics. Really wasn't with it today but was bloody funny to watch......

We finally boarded the boat without anymore funny incidents and waited for Beau to join us.

He appeared about an hour later but hadn't looked at what level he had left Betty, and this was a big boat!! obviously the Clare syndrome was catching.......

The dormitory's were really very nice, much better than some of the backpackers we had been in. We dumped our stuff and then went and wondered around for a few hours before going down to the restaurant for a buffet dinner - the food was really good and we were all very hungry so we stuffed ourselves silly then I went to bed.

Tuesday 5th March 2002 Pontville

We arrived in Tasmania at about 8:30 am. Sarena and I walked of the Ferry and waited for Beau and Clare to bring Betty out.

Wahhay, where in Tas. But where do we go now??? after a couple of hours deliberating we decided top drive straight down to Hobart in the south of the Island in the hope that we would be lucky and find a really cheap cottage that we could hire for a week on the way. With 'Luck' being my middle name Clare managed to spot some cottages just before Hobart and although they weren't as ridiculously cheap as the cottage we found in Smoky Bay, South Australia. They looked like just the thing we where after. Somewhere to stay for a whole week! wow what would that feel like!

Before we booked the cottage we actually continued right into Hobart in case anything better turned up. It didn't! and the owner of the cottages give us a discount when Clare phoned him from Hobart so we actually hired two for a week. The cottages are very smart (4 star) and are old colonial English style cottages. So Sarena and I had one to ourselves for a whole week. Very exciting we haven't had a place to ourselves for the last 6 months. So we celebrated by curling up on the sofa in front of the Tele. Aussie TV sure is crap!

Had a really good nights sleep which is something I hadn't had in a long time but woke up at 4.30am which wasn't good. I went down to b'fast at 6.30am on my own as the other 3 were still fast asleep, very funny to watch all the old people running around trying to find the best tables like there lives depended on it! can't believe how bloody weird people get when they get over 60!

I found Clare later in the morning and then joined up with the others after they had eaten before leaving the boat at about 8ish.

We drove to the nearest carpark to decide where we were going to go first, and decided on Hobart which was about 4-5hr drive away. Tasmania - wow it is tons better than Oz, so much prettier and looked very much like Wales with lots of rolling green hills and wonderful scenery. Clare happened to see a sign showing accommodation vacancies so we stopped off to have a look, we all wanted to stay in a house for a week for a change and use that as a base. Well the accommodation turned out to be a row of old colonial cottages and were absolutely beautiful - it was like stepping into an old English village in the summer time they even had all the typical plants and flowers etc. They were a little expensive and each cottage was very small for all of us to stay in. We decided to think about it and have a drive into the main town to have a look around for prices of other places then had some chips whilst sitting on the bay. Well we decided to go back to the cottages and be very decadent and have two !!! I couldn't believe how wonderful it felt to have a place all to ourselves again and cuddle up on a huge sofa and being in a wonderful cosy house - my mum would love living here, we even had original flagstone floor in the kitchen and an open fire in the lounge. Missed Clare Bear though, even if she was next door...

Wednesday 6th March 2002 Pontville

Tried to have a lay in, but I think the bed was too comfy! so got up and had some weetabix and toast. Then set about sorting our stuff out. Clare emptied out Betty, to try and Identify a nasty rotten smell that was coming from her somewhere. She couldn't find it but betty is very clean now.

I spent the rest of the day updating the web site whilst Sarena went food shopping for the week. It took me all day to sort out the website. So Sarena cooked a curry. What a life!

Wow had a lazy day today, didn't get up till after 9am which was a lay in for me! then I went food shopping with Clare and spent a blinkin fortune on food for the week. Spent the evening waxing Clare's legs which I really enjoyed, weirdo!! then cooked a wonderful curry and had some white wine - ahhhh I could get really used to this. Can't believe we are going to be here for 7 days that will be the longest we have stayed in one place for blinkin months. Strange how you can miss the simple things in life.

Thursday 7th March 2002 Pontville

We all got up a little to late to go to Port Arthur which was our original plan. So Beau, Clare and I drove to Richmond, one of the oldest towns in Australia. If was just like being back in England as we took a walk along the duck river.

After Richmond we stopped of for a quick game of golf. Did I say quick. It took us three hours to do 9 holes so we didn't even get time to complete all 18 holes. I was totally crap at it (77 shots over par after 9 holes)!

Spent the evening in front of the TV. Its Amazing how quickly you can slip back into your old habits.

Had a wonderful lay-in again so it was too late to drive to Port Arthur so the 3 of them went to Richmond for the day whilst I pottered around and finished my web diary. I did some drawing and went for a short walk looking at all the birds, animals and insects which are really fascinating over here. The rest of them came back at 5ish and I cooked a curry whilst Toby sat in front of the TV - mmmm just like being at home!!

Friday 8th March 2002 Pontville

Got up early and headed off to Port Arthur. On the way we stopped off at a few scenic sights, The Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Arch, Tasman Blowhole and the Devils Kitchen all naturally formed coastal attractions. Then we discovered the Tasmania Devil Park. Sarena and I went in but Beau and Clare stayed in the van as they have already been to a wildlife park.

As we entered they had a free flight bird show and we got there in time to see a massive spray eagle, a frog-mouth tawny owl and a peregrine falcon. The frog-mouth tawny was amazing. He was called Oscar and looked just like Oscar the Grouch from sesame street. He was the weirdest and most passive bird I have ever seen. After the bird show we explored the park and soon found some Tasmanian Devils, with babies. And some more birds. Sarena was practically taken with the walk-through Cockatoo aviary as one of the inhabitants, called Cheeky, was particularly taken to her and scrambled all over her shouting, 'Hello' in a very distinct Aussie accent. By the time we left the aviary Sarena realised that she had been bitten by something and her and was already swelling up. So we made our way around the rest of the park, pass the roo's and wallabies and more birds of prey until we got back with reception and checked with one of the staff what the might might be as by now Sarena's hand was pretty swollen and had gone numb. The park attendant applied some first aid and recommended we should go and see a doctor or chemist.

We didn't bother with the doctor but instead carried on to Port Arthur. It was nothing like I expected. The whole town has been preserved as a museum. Beau and Clare didn't visit the museum due to the expensive ticket price. But Sarena and I found it really interesting. Port Arthur was a prison for re-offending convicts who had been sent to Australia back in the 1800's. We spent about 3 hours in there which was just enough to visit everything and take in a Harbour Cruise.

We met back up with Beau and Clare who had gone to visit some caves down the road and then decided to head back to our cottages in Pontville.

Left for Port Arthur really early today as it took about 3hrs to get there. We stopped off at a few place on the way - (look at Toby's) and went to a few sightseeing spots to have a look at the views but the best place was the Tasmania Devil Park which was fantastic. They had a bird show as we entered showing us the local and wild birds of the area, we saw a huge osprey eagle and a funny looking thing called frog mouthed tawny owl that was called Oscar after the puppet - Oscar the grouch in Sesame street, he looked just like him! funny ole bugger. It was really interesting seeing all the wild birds close up but it was soon over so we carried on walking around looking at the rest of the park. I thought the bird aviary that you could walk through was the best thing as it was full of huge cockatoo's and parrots. One of the parrots called Cheeky was the funniest bird I had ever seen and all he said was 'Hello' repeatedly. He was sooo friendly though and kept climbing all over me and nibbling my ear - it was love at first sight for me!! ( click here to view video (1,120 kb)) I could have taken him with me given half the chance….Anyway, after we had moved on from there we carried on walking around the rest of the park looking at all the most extraordinary birds and animals. Not long into our tour and I noticed I had been bitten by something; it had started itching quite badly, looked like just an ordinary bite so I just ignored it. As we were just finishing our tour of the park I noticed I couldn't move my wrist and had started getting pins and needles in my fingers…. The bite on my hand had started to swell up quite dramatically, it was then I thought - shite it could be a spider bite!!! Mmmm did start to worry and showed Toby my hand before going to reception and asking the lady if anything on the birds could have give me this bite, she couldn't think of anything and told me to get to the nearest doctors.We went back outside, met the other two, and told them what had happened. In the end we just carried on to Port Arthur as I was sure if it had been a spider bite I would have know about it by now!!When we arrived at Port Arthur, we found out it was a huge park that you had to pay to enter. Clare and Beau decided to give it a miss and went for a walk. Toby and I thought we would have a look around so bought some tickets and went in. The place was fascinating and full of history, (makes a change for Oz) it was a prison colony back in 1800 for British convicts. We spent about 3 hours wandering around all the cells and the governor's houses before getting on a short boat cruise around the small islands. We had a lovely afternoon and were soon wondering back to meet the others before heading back to our cottage

Saturday 9th March 2002 Pontville

Rather than spend or time rushing around an exploring as much of Tasmania that we can, I think we have all decided to just chill for the week and make the most of the cottages. The owner of the cottages, Rick, came round in the morning to show his new girlfriend... Sarena, a massive blue tongued lizard that he had found in the garden. It was pretty impressive and looked as though it had be sucking on a lollipop with its vivid blue tongue.

Clare, Sarena and I popped into Hobart in the afternoon so that we catch up on emails and I could download our newest version of our website. Then in the evening we decided not to sit around and watch television but played Trivial Pursuit instead. It got pretty tense each couple bickering with each other. I we didn't quite play long enough to finish a game. Back to watching the TV from now on I reckon!

Rick the owner of the Cottages whom I had got friendly with came round in the morning to show me a Blue Tongued Lizard that he had caught, it was really big!! And yes his tongue was extremely blue…… Clare, Toby and I went back into Hobart to look on the emails and download the website, also to order some flowers to be delivered to mum for mothers day. We then went back to the cottage for an evening of Trivia Pursuit….. should have stuck to an evening of TV as all we did is bicker about everything !!!

Sunday 10th March 2002 Pontville

Very very very very very very very very very very very very lazy. Got up at about 2 pm and then spent the rest of the day sprawled across the sofa. Only a minor interruption forced me to get up and wish Mum a happy mothers day.

Toby didn't crawl out of bed until 2ish!! Whilst I just wandered around the cottage grounds and went for a walk. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the sky was blue so I just couldn't stay in bed as long as Tobes. When he did show his face it was only to drag his sorry self onto the couch where he then stayed for the rest of the day - I cooked dinner again………

Monday 11th March 2002 Pontville

Went to Hobart town centre to buy some essentials for the 80 km trek that the four of us will be doing tomorrow. Only to find that everywhere shut due to Labour Day bank holiday. So we decided to postpone our walk by one day and headed back to the cottage for another lazy day, our last one.

The whole of Hobart was shut today due to it being Labour day, bit of a pain as we wanted to purchase some gear for the trek. The trek was going to last 5 days so we had to get enough food to last, and I had to get some waterproof trousers - I wasn't going to get cold and wet on this trek!!

Tuesday 12th March 2002 Hobart

Left the cottages and headed back into a more livelier Hobart. Everyone managed to get their trekking gear. Beau and Clare got thermals and warm clothes whilst I found a cheapy gas stove to use for cooking on the trek. Then we checked our emails. Sarena received one form her mum (Sylvia) saying that Del (her stepdad) has had a relapse since his operations and was know in hospital on life support. This very upsetting peace of news had Sarena in tears and she was feeling quite helpless in Australia, so we spoke to Qantas and found there was a seat available to Heathrow tomorrow afternoon. We tentatively reserved it while we went to phone Sylvia to find out what the situation was. As expected Sylvia told Sarena not to come home, But we both thought that Sylvia would need the help now rather than further on down the line. So we booked the seat. When we returned to betty we found Beau sitting on the side of the street in his thermals and woolly hat busking with the guitar. He had made 50 cents.

The walk has now been delayed as Sarena will be leaving me tomorrow and returning to England. So we found a campsite in Hobart and went out to find a pub for a goodbye beer. The Pub was pretty empty but the Beer was good and so where the tunes as Clare took charge of the juke box. Beau was still dressed in his woolly's with his little bobble bouncing around as he head banged to AC DC. we ended up getting all our rounds for free apart from Sarena's as it was Toss the Boss night and the bartender had to flip a coin to see who was paying.

After the pub we headed back to the campsite but passed one of those dreaded McDonalds TM (c)... things on the way. Beau went to order a Big Mac TM (c)... and seeing him in all his woolly gear the waitress asked if it was cold outside. Big Bad Beau replied. 'No, we are doing the Overland Track tomorrow in his bravest manliest voice. The waitress looked a bit puzzled and then said, ' But I did that when I was 14' we all just burst out into drunken fits of giggles.

Beau and Clare where very thoughtful and gave us the comfy mattress in the back of Betty for our last night together. A combination of a few beers and and thick queensize mattress mean that I was asleep within minutes.

Spent the morning in Hobart again to attempt to get the trekking gear, I got the waterproof trousers and then went to the internet café. Oh dear not good, Del was now on a life support machine and it wasn't looking rosey - mum was so upset and I just felt really helpless. I printed off the email and then went back to meet the others at the van. Toby thought I should go home and so did Clare so I went back into town to have a look at the price of flights and then phone mum. She was upset and told me not to come home, as she didn't want to upset our plans, she said to go on the trek and then call when I got back. I didn't feel happy about leaving things like that so Toby and I went back to the travel agents and booked a seat on a Qantas flight the following day. I couldn't believe I was going home It was a real shock, I really didn't want to leave Toby and the rest of them but knew I had to get back to mum. Toby and I then went back to Betty and found Beau sitting on the side of the road playing the guitar with his hat in front of him, someone had actually thrown in some money which he was really chuffed about. We went and found a campsite for the evening which turned out to be a pretty shitty place so after we had all eaten we decided to find a pub and get drunk. The only pub we could find was empty and had no atmosphere but we didn't care as It sold beer!! I bought the first round which went down a treat but when it came to Clare buying a round the bar man said it was now 'Toss the Boss' time which meant if she guessed the correct side of a flipped coin she would get the round free!!! Well she bloody well guessed it correctly and didn't pay a bean, as did the others all evening which meant I was the only one who paid anything for the whole damn night - Always happens to me.The other good thing about the pub was the very loud jukebox in the corner, Clare and I picked some cool tracks that got us all jiggin with it. On the way home we decided to fall into a McDonalds for some munchies ( note: I can't stand McDonalds or Burger kings) I have to also say before I forget that in Tasmania near to where we were staying in the cottages they had a McDonalds. To advertise the fact, they had placed a huge post on top of which stood a massive yellow 'M'. Bearing in mind that this place had the most beautiful scenery and mountains etc, how they ever got away with putting that monstrosity amongst all that picturesque beauty is a mystery to me and they should be shot!!Anyway, back to the evening… Beau ordered his food when the girl serving him remarked on the fact he was dressed up for a trip to the North Pole; he was in jumpers and woolly hats etc and did look funny. He retorted that he was going on a very hard and difficult trek very soon so needed the warm clothes (sounding like a professional) The girl looked up and asked which trek we were doing ….she said ' oh I did that walk with my school when I was 14!!! Well we all found this highly amusing and didn't stop laughing all the way back to the campsite. We slept in Betty for the night; a bit sad as it was our last night together for a while.

Wednesday 13th March 2002 Queenstown

Got up early in the morning to overhear some campers next door talking about a strike at Melbourne airport that was delaying all the planes out of Tasmania, Oh dear, hope that doesn't affect Sarena's connection flight! I phoned Qantas to find out that they had rescheduled her flight 5 minutes earlier so that anyone with an international flight would get to Melbourne on time. I then decided to reschedule our ferry back to the mainland from the 19th of March to the 23rd of March as we are getting delayed for our 5 day walk along the Overland Track through some mountains in the west of Tassie. I then managed to get hold of Joy & Spit. Joy took very little encouragement to offer to pick Sarena up from Heathrow. What a star. Sarena didn't want anyone to pick her up, said she will catch the train. But after a 23 hour flight she would be very tired.

We dropped Sarena off at the airport and waited around for a while. A TV news crew came in to film peoples opinions of the strike but for some reason decided to overlook 4 smelly campers in the corner of the waiting lounge. We finally left Sarena but as we left her she followed us out towards the carpark for another round of goodbye hugs and caught Clare with a tears in her eye. After our last wave goodbye we headed north-west out of Hobart towards the mountain parks of Tassie. Very Sad :-(

It was a very long and windy road but we made it as far as a mining town called, Queenstown. We were way up in the clouds now and everything seemed pretty damp but we managed to find a pretty respectable campsite to bed down for the night. I phoned a couple more people back at home to let them know that Sarena would be returning to help her mum whilst Del recovers.

Bit of a worry as we overheard some people next to us talking about cancellations at the airport so Toby rang them up and found out that my flight was ok - thank goodness. Clare insisted I phoned someone to pick me up from Heathrow but I didn't want to put anyone out and said I would catch the train back. Toby didn't listen to me and went and phoned Joy and Spit to organise her to pick me up… bless her she was said she would try her best. We pottered around for a while then went to the Airport for the flight. The 3 of them waited with me for an hour before I told them to go. They had a long drive ahead of them to get to the beginning of the trek so I told them to get started. We went outside and I gave them all a big hug goodbye then went back into the Airport to take a seat. I looked in my bag and found a couple of cards that Clare had sneaked in. One was for my mum and one was for me, she had written the most wonderful things, which made me, feel very emotional.. so I went and stood at the exit watching them walk toward Betty. I could see that Clare was really crying so I ran back outside and shouted goodbye to them, Clare turned around and saw me then ran across the road to where I was stood and gave me a huge hug whilst sobbing…….I felt terrible and really didn't want to be left on my own but I turned around and went back indoors to wait for my flight.The first flight was from Tasmania to Melbourne, which only took an hour, and then I had to find the International Airport for my next flight to Singapore. Everything went really well and I had no problems with anything, thank god!! The flight from there on in was a long and tedious affair that I won't bore you with only to say that if I ever have to watch 'Stuart Little' again I will eat my foot. Oh and we had a storm whilst flying over the Middle East which I found quite amusing. Everyone else was asleep (I slept for about 2hrs for the whole journey) It was dark outside and the lightning was all around the plane which was fantastic to watch. But then I started worrying that if something happened to the plane and we had to land … (not a good country to land in) I then thought my mother would kill me if something happened to me trying to get home to her specially as she didn't know I was going home!!

Thursday 14th March 2002 Cradle Mountain

The plan was to walk the Overland Track today, but Beau managed to pull some muscles between his ribs in the night when he got out of the van to take a pee. Obviously a very dangerous occupation... peeing! So we decided to drive to Cradle Mountain which is the start of the track and spend the day looking around whilst Beau rested his ribs.

It was a beautiful clear day by the time we got to Cradle Mountain, something of a rarity I believe as it rains for about 260 days of the year in this part of Tassie (and snows on 104!) so Clare and I took a 2 hour walk around Dove Lake at the bottom of Cradle Mountain. Beau waited for us, still in his woolly hat and thermals, then we found a campsite just outside the park. It had to be one of the nicest campsites we have stayed at, everyone had private bays to camp in and the kitchens and toilets where amazing. It got really chilly in the evening so we spent our time in the camp kitchen. Managed to see my first Wombat on the way back to the tent.

Cannot remember what day I landed or even what date it was!! What I do know is that when I was picking up my rucksack from the conveyor belt I kept hoping that Joy was at the airport ( they might be a chance she couldn't make it) and that I didn't have to catch a train home as I was sooooo tired and really disorientated. I walked into arrivals and couldn't see Joy, my heart sank and an afternoon of trains and undergrounds whilst carrying my backpack flashed into my head. I then felt someone jump on my back and turned around to see young Joy grinning from ear to ear whilst trying to bear hug me! She bundled me into the car and then called my mum asking how she was and what she was up to. Mum was off to the hospital to see Del, she then told Joy that she had spoken to me and that I was thinking of coming home. Joy was very sneaky and told her she would pick me up from the Airport if I did decide to come home. She then took me straight to the hospital to surprise mum, but we had to wait another hour and a half for mum to turn up. I kept getting up thinking she was coming down the corridor but I eventually heard her coming around the corner and hid back in the room. She saw Joy first and then I jumped up and stood there, she just looked at me with her mouth open then threw her bag on the floor and grabbed me giving me the biggest hug in the world whilst sobbing. Delphi (Del's daughter) mum and Joy were all crying as well. I was just relieved to finally be at home after that long journey. I went in to see Del with mum and was surprised at how bad he looked; he was not with it at all. At least he was now off the life support and now In high dependency unit, which meant he could now breath on his own. Joy later dropped me back home where I then changed into my dressing gown and settled down on the sofa. I didn't go to bed thinking it would be better for me to go to sleep in the UK time, but by 8.30pm I was knackered and crawled up to my room where I had set out my sleeping bag ( couldn't get out of the habit) and got some sleep.

Friday 15th March 2002 Waterfall Valley Hut

And then there where 2! Beau's pulled muscles hadn't gotten any better so It was decided that Just Clare and I would do the walk now. The weather forecast for the next few days was pretty bad, Storms and Gales, so Clare bought some waterproof trousers before we set off. Probably one of her best ever purchases.

The Overland Track is about 80 km and we have arranged to do it in 5 days and meet Beau at the other end, Lake St Claire, on the 19th. We also prearranged the huts we would stay in every night so that he could meet us at the last one if he felt better.

Finally we where on our way just the two of us now instead of 4 dressed head to toe in waterproofs, with Beau's departing words still ringing in our ears. 'I don't want you two having any sex!'

Today's part of the walk was only 10km but was pretty hard as it included a very steep climb to the top of Marions lookout, not much fun with 5 days clothes, food and a tent on your back and gale force winds. The clouds and drizzle was all around us and we couldn't see any of Cradle Mountain as we walked right beside it. Good job we got some photos yesterday!

We made it to the first hut in good time. The hut was not what we expected. It had four walls and gas. The Waterproofs had done a good job too and we weren't too wet. There was about 12 walkers staying in the Hut by dusk and it wasn't long before we were all wrapped up in our nice warm sleeping bags.

Got up early for some strange reason and then just watched TV all bloody day feeling quite tired whilst mum just carried on around me. Also went to Asda to get some food for the week - Christ how many people can you fit in one shop? The amount of people, cars etc is very weird to get used to again…Toby called to make sure I was ok - bless himWent around Deon and Shelly's for the evening, which was nice and we had a beer and a catch up.

Saturday 16th March 2002 New Pelion Hut

The longest walk of the trek today, 25 km and the wettest too. It rained all day and most of it was horizontal too blowing straight into our faces as we trudged across the high moors. As we made it into a forest I heard a yelp from behind and turned around just in time to see Clare sinking up to her knee in a muddy puddle. hah hah.

We made it to Windermere hut by lunch time, or snickers time as we are now calling it and rested for half an hour before carrying on to our hut for the night, New Pelion. The track just seemed to go on and on forever. Even when I thought we must be pretty close we still had another 2 hours of struggling uphill in thick mud and slippery roots. When we finally had the Hut in our sights the track we where following seemed to lead us the longest way around to the front door. So in the end I cheated and cut across a small bit of moor land. - it made all the difference.

Bugger! We where absolutely soaking and this massive hut was full of 50 odd trekers and NO gas heater, so nowhere to dry our clothes. So I put my fetching Long Johns on and sat down to a Pot Noodle. hmmm delicious.

Phoned a few people today and told them I was back in the UK . I once again spent the day catching up with all the news and soaps. Dad, my sister, and her boyfriend came around and said their hellos today.Missing Toby like mad and want to see him, Beau phoned me to find out how I am. It was nice to hear from him and to find out that the others got off on their trek ok.

Sunday 17th March 2002 Kia Ora Hut

The storm had passed in the night and there was actually spots of blue sky in the morning. As a bonus it was only 9 km to our next hut, but we had the option of taking a 6 km side trip up Mt Ossa (Tasmania's highest mountain). When we got there it still had clouds over the summit so we decided not to bother and just carried on down to the Hut, which we reached by Midday in glorious sunny weather. I spent the afternoon soaking up the sun while Trekkers from the night before turned up. Kia Ora hut was pretty small compared to the last and was soon completely full up with people.

One of them was a completely mad lady called Adele, who had entertained us in last nights hut with her mad stories and banshee style screams of laughter. She arrived like a vision with her wild straggly hair and all in one rainbow stripped thermal jump-suit attire. She continued to entertain us with her stories of Phillpe and Bernard her two imaginary friends that where walking with her, and Anton a boy she met on this track 10 years ago with his parents whom she still fantasies over even now. We were convinced that she wasn't on holiday but lives on the the track feeding of trekkers sensibilities and the local fungi! But she has invited us to stay at her house in New South Wales on our way to Brisbane. So we can check that she really does leave the Overland Track.

Was wondering how to help with things but mum said it was just nice to have me home. Toby's brother, Gus came over to take our Camera Tapes so that he could transfer them over onto video. Did not do much once again, as I didn't have a car so just mooched around the house.Also had a wonderful surprise………Tracy and Darren and baby Ellen came down to my mums house which had previously been arranged to have lunch together, they didn't know I would be around so they were both gobsmacked to find me there. We went out for lunch and had a lovely time. I finally met Ellen, she is very beautiful. I gave them the present that I had sent home ages ago which was a quilt for the baby and they both thought it was lovely.

Monday 18th March 2002 Narcissus Hut

The easy days are over now. We have 19km to walk today. The weather was still good again, not sunny though, which makes it much more comfortable to walk in.

After yesterdays rest we bolted along the track taking in some of the magnificent mountain scenes. But we where soon passed by some very determined groups that were walking 60km of the track in 2 days for charity (they where then kayaking the last 20 and cycling another 100km).

During the mornings walk we took a small side trip off the track to see a couple of waterfalls and then made our way to Windy Ridge Hut for lunch. Some of the charity walkers where there too, including some helpers. One guy, John, actually does the track in 7.5 hours!!!! (and his friend does it in 5.5 hours!!!!!!). John spent the day running up and town the track between the different teams to check that they where okay. We must of passed him 3 or 4 times.

We made it to Narcissus hut by about 4 PM to find Beau standing outside waiting for us. This hut was pretty old and was by far the worst we had stayed in along the track. This is probably because a ferry service runs from this point and takes most of the walkers to the end of lake St Claire, missing out the last 17km part of the track. CHEATS. Were not though as we stayed the night to walk the last section, which Beau had done to meet us at the hut.

Had dropped mother's phone down the toilet and had to get the thing working so I walked down into Romsey to see if I could get it mended then had a walk around the town, which was a very strange afternoon.I have offered to work at Kimbridge Tea Shop (my mum is the manageress) for a couple of days - Thursday and Friday to get some money. Also Joy has offered to give my her Jeep from Thursday for a week which will be a god send and I can get to see people.Went out for a drink with my dad tonight and had a really fantastic evening

Tuesday 19th March 2002 Lake St Claire

The last day of the Trek and only 17 km to go. Most people don't walk the last bit and catch the ferry instead. This is because the track just follows the edge of the lake in the forest and there isn't much to see. But we were determined to walk it anyway.

The sun was out in the morning and as soon as we set off we saw a huge black snake on the pathway. It didn't seem too bothered with us as it laid there to soak up the sun. And after our attempts to scare it off by stomping our feet, 2 more huge black snakes appeared. They weren't going to let us pass with out a fight and as all snakes in Tassie are deadly poisonous we didn't feel much like fighting and thoughts of the ferry ran through my mind. After a bit more stomping though they slowly slid away into the bush, although one of them only went as far as sliding underneath some tread boards on the track. Big brave Beau went first and ran as fast as he could passed the spot where the snake was hiding under. Then Clare who looked genuinely terrified and then me who WAS genuinely terrified. I ran as fast as I could whilst lifting my feet as high as I could with my backpack on and without falling over but as I ran passed the spot of the last sighting of the snake it leapt out and bit hold of my right ankle. The pain was terrific as it sunk its huge venomous teeth into my flesh and I could actually feel my blood burning hotter and hotter from the point of attack. It seemed a good few minutes before the snake released its grip and then a few minutes later I was dead...

...Only joking just thought I would liven my diary up a bit now Sarena is back in blighty.

We made it passed the huge man eating snakes with no problems at all. And started our days trek in earnest. It took us about 5 hours to walk the 17km (including breaks) and it was quite a relief to see Betty waiting for us in the Car Park.

The first port of call was a nearby Garage that does the biggest greasiest home-made hamburgers in all of Tassie, and probably the most undercooked chips in all of Tassie too, but they still tasted great. Then we went to find somewhere to stay for the night. Beau had thoughtfully booked some space in a bunkhouse but they where pretty grotty. So we ended up back in the park and at a free campsite. They had showers for 50 cents ago so I wasted 15 dollars and 50 cents on it then we headed to the pub for a good ole beer around a good ole log fire. Beau spotted that they did roast dinners so soon ordered one. I was still full up from my burger. As soon as he finished eating a storm blew up and took the electricity out. So we spent a few more minutes standing around the log fire in the dark then headed back out to the campsite. No power there either, but I managed to find a phone box to giver Sarena a ring. It was engaged for the first hour and then the bloody answer machine, how thoughtless of her not to wait by the phone for me to ring.

Popped into Asda with mum today Del Is still bad and mum is driving into the hospital everyday to see him which is tiring her out. Her bad arm is hurting badly due to driving a car without power steering, she is due to have an operation at the end of the month, she has waited 2 years for a date to come through for the operation but has now got to turn it down due to having to look after Del.

Wednesday 20th March 2002 Burnie

It poured down all night, the tent was soaking and cold, but I still managed to get a decent nights sleep. Finally managed to get through to Sarena (she was on the Internet all the time yesterday!) only then to get cut off just before I had finished talking to her. Managed to find out how she was though and Good news that Del is getting better. I really miss her now.

We packed the tent up in the pouring rain and headed north towards an Town called Burnie. We will spend the last few days in Tassie on the North coast. Betty Seemed to be driving particularly well today, despite the rain, and we made good time. As our Clothes and Tent where soaking and smelly we checked into a motel in Burnie so that we could wash everything and dry it properly. I even got a bed with sheets so I didn't have to cocoon myself in my sleeping bag for another night.

Mum went into Hospital all day again whilst I watched to bloody Tweenies……..Bought a bottle of wine yesterday and got mother quite drunk on just one and a half glasses, she came up to my room very late at night and started talking to me about jibberish and eating copious amounts of hula hoops!!

Thursday 21st March 2002 Marrawah

A bit of a tourist day to day as we have decided to spend our last few nights in Tassie on the west coast, so we popped into a few tourist attractions along the way.

The first was a cliff top lookout on the north coats called, Table Cape, from which you could see right back across Tas. Then we stopped at a beautiful beach called Sisters Beach. One of the biggest attractions of Tas is, 'The Nut', which is a huge volcanic rock on the coast much like Ayres rock. We weren't quite touristy enough to take the chair lift to the top so we walked. After a breath stop in a town called Smithton to get some much needed razor blades we ended up at the most western point of Northern Tasmania, Marrawah.

Marrawah is a one horse town, like most towns in OZ, but has the bonus of a free campsite on a surf beach complete with free electric BBQ's - cool. So we just pitched up for the rest of the day and watched a few surfers. A couple from England then turned in there huge(ish) camper bus. Mat and Sian were really nice and after Mat had been for a surf we spent the rest of the evening chatting around the electric BBQ (for warmth).

Went into the teashop to work in the kitchens and found that I really enjoyed it!!It was nice to do something for a change and not think about Toby….. oh I do miss him. Joy and Spit dropped of the jeep for me in the evening - it's very big!

Friday 22nd March 2002 Marrawah

It was a cold night but I think I was warmer in the tent than everyone else in their vans as I got a great nights sleep.

The surf wasn't up to much and to our delight Mat produced a guitar so we spent the most of the day sitting around playing songs whilst waiting for Mat and Sian's friends to turn up. Much to Clare's disgust! Then someone passing by told us where a sperm whale had been washed up on a beach nearby. So we all headed of for a look just as Mat and Sian's friends turned up, Jason and Naomi.

The beach with the whale seems to be a popular marine graveyard as we passed remains of a Dolphin, Sea Eagle and a Penguin. Then as we turned the corner we saw a huge Sperm whale that had been washed up on the beach around a week ago. As you can imagine it stunk and due to the heat it had also exploded so there was a huge whole in its stomach. The whale must of been around 15 metres long and was obviously a male. I couldn't believe its size. It must be amazing to see one of these swimming around. Unfortunately the park rangers had removed the whales Jaw to prevent the teeth being sold on the black market. But you could see from the remains just how big its teeth where. Just its head makes up about 1/3 of the whales entire length. Anyway, we didn't stay too long because the smell was starting to get the better of us.

We all headed back to our free campsite as Mat and Jason wanted to go for a surf so the rest of us stopped in the pub for a quick refreshment. Soon after we got back to the camp site all the local surf dudes turned up for their start of there surfing weekend. They all must of been between 16 and 18 and it wasn't long before they where all pissed. This was bad judgement on their part as they all got pissed before they put their tents up. Their pathetic attempts to erect their tents left them giving up to just sleep under any bit of canvas they could find. Ohhh to be young.

Working at the Teashop and had another good day. Got some videos for the evening and another bottle of wine.

Saturday 23rd March 2002 Spirit of Tasmania

All the surf dudes where up and gone pretty early so that they could catch the best waves. The camp site looked like the Armageddon scene from Terminator II.

We pretty much packed up as soon as we got up. Then said are long goodbyes to the 4 new friends we have made and headed back to Devonport to catch the 4 pm ferry back to Melbourne.

Went into the hospital to see Del, he was now in a normal ward which was good news. He looked shit though and was still very very weak. He has had some very strange hallucinations, which he was talking about - I told him some people paid good money to hallucinate as vivid as him!Spent the evening over my dads house having dinner.

Sunday 24th March 2002 Canberra

Breakfast at 3:30 am. wots goin' on here! Beau didn't make it for breakfast - sensible. The ferry docked at 5:15 and it wasn't long before we where off and on our way across the mainland again.

Its a bit of a mission for all of us to get to Brisbane now. So we got straight onto the main freeway and headed for Canberra. 12 hours later and one exploded tyre. We arrived in Canberra and booked two nights in a Caravan park n

Went over Joy and Spit's house so that they could use the jeep for a few hours. I was at their house for about 10am, Joy was already with her horses so Spit took me up a little later. We had a wonderful morning shifting hay bales and traversing through mud, I fell into a huge pile of mud whilst trying to shift some hay. The funny thing was when Joy came over; I thought it was to help me on my feet. But oh no! It was to get the camera out of my pocket and take a picture of me flat on my back in horse poo and mud!

Monday 25th March 2002 Canberra

Canberra city is a pretty small place, not what I expected from the capitol city. We walked into the city centre via the Botanical Gardens and along the lake. Nothing much in Canberra really. Spent the day checking emails and developing photos.. Clare spotted a cool pub that did Mexican lunch for 5 dollars. After which we walked back towards the government buildings and then to the caravan park. Watched the Oscars, and went to bed.

Went over Hannah's house (Beau's mum) today to drop over Beau's camera films and to have a big hug. I had a lovely few hours having a chat then went over to see another friend and her new baby, made sure I took lots of photo's to take back to the gang!! Del also came home today; mum went into hospital to see him only to be told he was to go home. She didn't have any clothes or anything and she was supposed to be working this week as well. It was very bad of them not to tell her earlier. Bad thing though was that Del's brother died today of a brain tumour so mum had to tell him - not very good.

Tuesday 26th March 2002 Katoomba

Drove back through Canberra on our way out towards Sydney. The first stop was a view from Canberra from the Telstra tower 800m above the city and then we drove past the Prime Ministers house, John Howard. That's about as exciting as Canberra got! I was hoping to visit some friends I had met in Tibet, just east of Canberra on the coast, but couldn't get in touch with them so we have decided to head straight upto the Blue Mountains for a day before we head for Sydney for the weekend.

It was only about a 4 hour drive to the Blue Mountains, The only mountain range we have been to in OZ that has a freeway running right through it, very pretty - not. Found a cool little campsite at a place called Katoomba, but not long after we set up camp a Thunder storm blew in, causing a couple of campers tents to be washed away. They ended up sleeping in the campers kitchen. My tent was OK. It leaked a little bit but I still had a great nights sleep, as usual.

Went and bought a new Microwave with mother and then drove over to See Pat and Jack for a few hours which was lovely.

Wednesday 27th March 2002 Sydney

Last nights thunder storm had left the Blue Mountains in a thick blanket of mist. so we couldn't actually see anything. We hung around one of the major attractions in the park, the three sisters. And waited for the mist to clear. Whilst waiting we where joined by loads of Japanese tourists who where busying themselves with photos of the mist from several different angles. The mist did clear for about 30 minutes causing shrieks of excitement from all the Japanese as they pushed themselves around the viewing platform clicking and flashing madly. The view was actually spectacular as the mist swirled around the bottom of the three sisters. But it soon closed up again and that was all we where going to get for the day so we decided to head into Sydney. Beau phoned his friend, Andy. Who lives there to say we would be popping in for a cup of Tea. And we arrived 2 1/2 hours later.

I felt pretty bad that we had just turned up out of the blue. But Andy, Wendy and Phil (Andy's friend from Whitchurch, UK) seemed really pleased to see us. After a few cups of tea Andy and Phil took us to Bondi for a few more substantial drinks. Wendy had to work. I crashed on the Sofa that night while Beau and Clare found a flat piece of road in the neighbourhood to park Betty up for the night.

Went into Southampton to find a tape to take back to Oz with me (an old favourite of Clare's and me) but couldn't find it in tape form. Ended up buying the CD and a blank tape….. also bought some sleeping bag cleaner, my bag is very dirty. Spent the afternoon in the garden helping mother then went out with Sally for a drink in the evening. Went back to her house to watch a crappy film and drink some more wine - ended up staying

Thursday 28th March 2002 Sydney

Clare and Beau want to do the Sydney Bridge walk this weekend. So Phil accompanied us to the city centre, where we then split up. Beau and Clare went to book there walk and take a look around. I just had a quick mossey around. Did a few emails and headed back to Wendy and Andy's flat. Beau and Clare arrived soon after as I caught a different bus back and got a little lost when the route changed. Not wanting to invade their already busy flat, the three of us headed into Bondi to find a backpackers for a couple of nights. Luckily we found one right on the main strip in Bondi at a pretty good rate. Andy and Phil drove back out to meet us for a few more drinks that evening. Bondi is a pretty Lively place with loads of pubs and characters parading their sun bronzed bodies up and down the strip. We decided to grab a Kebab and sit and do some people watching before retiring to bed.

Del sat today as mum had to go to work - didn't take much looking after as he just lay on his bed all day in a lot of pain.

Friday 29th March 2002 Bondi

The Backpackers (The Biltmore) is a pretty run down place but has loads of energy about as most of the guests are 18 year olds all on their year out from Uni. By 8 am they are all competing with each other with tunes from their stereos. It was pretty cool taking a shower to The Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill.

Wendy, Andy and Phil turned up at about 11 and took us on a walk along the coast from Bondi Beach and towards Botany Bay. It is such a busy place where all the Pretty People seem to live and work out. We even spotted one guy skinny dipping in the middle of the day. (Just to show off his body probably). All these perfectly formed bodies where making me feel slightly uncomfortable. So I decided to eat a huge BLT and forget about them.

Wendy had offered to cook us all dinner tonight. So Beau, Andy and I went for a swim at Bondi. Some of the waves where huge and several times I was washed up onto the beach after being spun over and over in the wave. We then headed over to Andy and Wendy's flat for dinner only to find a $63 parking fine slapped on Betty's windscreen. Bugger. Wendy had cooked us up some amazing fish (Red Snapper) and Andy had mashed us up some amazing potatoes We met Wendy's mad sister, Chucky, there who supplied us all with wine. Chucky offered to let us stay with her at her flat just down the road. So we took her up on the offer and said we would see her tomorrow at a BBQ we have all been invited to.

Went over to Joy and Spits today so that I could give them back their Jeep. Took them over a bottle of red wine and a card to say thank you, only to walk in and nearly trip over loads of boxes of red and white wine that they had bought back from France the previous day!!
I can now tell people that Joy and Spit are officially engaged !!! Wahey cannot believe it - I'm really very happy for them and I cannot believe they have made the plunge, making me feel old now.
Joy and I went food shopping whilst Joy went and did the horses. I then cooked some pasta for all of us which went down a treat then drunk a huge amount of white wine whilst watching the 'Parole Officer' had a lovely evening and laughed a lot (especially at Joy!!) she became quite loud on the old vino.

Saturday 30th March 2002 Sydney

I got up pretty early at the backpackers so that I could try and find a free parking spot for Betty and avoid another fine. I managed to find one surprisingly easy, well at least one that gave us free parking for 2 hours. Just enough time for a slap up breakfast. To update our website and check out of the Backpackers.

Once we had all checked out we went on an Easter egg and alcohol hunt for presents for everyone and for this BBQ we have been invited to this afternoon. We then headed back Andy and Wendy's flat who in turn took us to Chucky's flat who in turn took us to the BBQ.

The BBQ is being held by an Italian born Brazilian Communist called Biscuito (Portuguese for Biscuit). Biscuito had cooked us Goat. When I first heard this I was instantly reminded of the Goat Feast I was invited to by my friend Ram in Nepal. This goat however was stewed in a variety of vegetables and contained no organs or brains, or at least none that I could identify. It was very nice. But for some reason I have a thirst for alcohol. After several bottles of beer and a few games of Ping Pong. We returned to Chucky's Flat with her Brazilian friend, Anna who was slightly pished and didn't shut up all the way home.

I didn't take much persuading from these two girls to carry on drinking in Bondi. Although Beau and Clare had their Bridge walk tomorrow and get breathalised for it so sensibly they decided to stay at home. We went to a bar called the Blue Chip where Chucky's Thaekwon-do mates (both Chucky and Wendy are black belts) where all playing in a Latin/Salsa style band. Chuck and Anna danced the night away whilst I found myself drinking at the Bar, with a very forward girl called Amanda. A bit of a fight broke out in the bar, but was soon dealt with. Amanda said she was impressed with the way I held them off and would I like to go to bed with her!!!!!.....

...I have a problem with bars. I am slightly deaf and as soon as there are background noises I find it very hard to decipher what people are saying to me. My usual response is to smile politely and nod my head to anything that is said to me. In this case the response was a tug on the arm towards the exit. It was then that I had worked out what she had said So I insisted that we have another drink. By the time I had finished that drink the band had also finished playing and Anna and Chucky suggested we go to the Bondi Hotel next door for another drink and maybe a game of pool. By 3 am Amanda went home. Without me! Chucky and I also left leaving Anna taking to her Lebanese friend, Hooman Been (serious).

It wasn't until I got back to Chucky's flat and attempted to blow up my airbed that the effect of all the alcohol hit me. I think it was seconds before I was out cold on the living room floor.

Dad picked me up Sat morning on the way to a market in Pool and spent the next couple of hours wandering around looking but not buying which was very good for me!
He then dropped me back into Romsey where I then went to a Rugby evening with Sally and Nathan, which turned out to be a fab night. Saw a good friend of Toby's who has also got engaged and had a good chat with him. I then had a very strange moment when a young woman came over and started telling me how attractive I was… but she was not a lesbian??
Anyway, I'm proud to say I didn't get drunk unlike my friends Sally and Nathan!! And got picked up by my mum. Toby rang today as well and told me all about his drunken night out with two women at a salsa club!! He also got chatted up by a third woman who asked him to sleep with her and wouldn't take no as an answer… he left at 3.00am trying to get away from his new woman friend (or so his say's) and went home very drunk. I found this very funny bless him; I'm sure it boosted his confidence no end.

Sunday 31st March 2002 Sydney

Open eye...Open other eye... need water... find feet... stand up... wobble...sit down... stand up... walk to door... walk into door... open door... walk to kitchen... stick mouth under tap... turn tap on... choke... yelp... turn HOT tap off... stick mouth under other tap... turn COLD tap on... drink... Go back to unconscious position on living room floor. ( Click here to view video (1,336 kb))

Beau and Clare came in all bright and cheerful. Seems that their doing a sodding walk over Sydney bridge. So What! Why do I care! Leave me alone!... So they did. Soon after though Chucky emerged from her room and tempted me out with the promise of fried breakfast at the cafe on the street. It worked and made me feel a whole lot better. But I didn't venture far from the flat and just sat there taping some of Chucky's CD and watching crap Aussie TV with great interest. Anna came around at around 3 and we waited for Beau and Clare to return before heading back out to Bondi. Chucky kept us amused whilst waiting by pouring out glasses of wine. Clare had a bit of a dodgy tummy so decided to stay in while the four of us headed back into Bondi for a few more drinks.

I felt pretty rough by 10 PM but managed to keep going until 2 am before grabbing a hot dog and returning back to Chucky's flat.

Got up early to go to London but had to wait for mother to get back from church at 12.30pm so that I could find out what patrol her car took. I then whizzed up to see Tracey and Darren and baby Ellen for the afternoon. Also went and saw my old next-door neighbours, Paddy, Neil and Paul and had a good chat with them. Darren then took us all out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, which was very kind of him. Later that evening I went over to see my mate Jon who took me out for a few drinks in Twickenham - very weird to be in that area again. I went back and watched a video - Kevin and Perry. Stayed at his house for the night - he very kindly let me sleep in his room, I had my sleeping bag and slept in it on the bed which he thought was really weird!! He slept downstairs on the couch with his new kitten/ cat called Jack who thought it would be hilarious to play all over him all night. He was a bit tired in the morning whilst I had slept peacefully all night!! Not as exciting as Toby's night out.

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