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Sent Friday 27 September from Melbourne

Hi there friends, loved ones and unnameable horrors from the depths of the earth as envisioned by H.P.Lovecraft (if you get these e-mails),

Welcome to the final edition of my Travel Updates TM. "Final edition?" you ask! "But, that must mean..." No, it doesn't mean that I'm dead and have procured the means to communicate with you, AT LENGTH, from beyond the grave, but merely that our travels are, sadly, at an end. Yes, you may now cease your feelings of envy and, in some cases, abject hostility as we have returned to our loving, somewhat dull, hometown of Melbourne, Australia, and must now embark upon a campaign of work, drudgery and soul-sapping routine until we die of bitter sadness, cold and alone.

But that's all in the future! "What's happened in the recent past?" I hear you say, effortlessly changing the subject. And I'm glad you asked! May I present to you the last, and the longest, Travel Update:


When I last left you, we had recently arrived in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. For the fourth time. But I still love it. Love me four times, baby. If I had the choice and a UK Working Holiday visa, I would much rather live and work in Edinburgh instead of London.

And don’t you know? That’s just what I did.

And, as you also know, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, along with thousands, nay, millions of other festivals, were also on or about to be flicked "on" when we arrived. I have a feeling that the Scots are so insecure about their weather (and with good reason) that they simply host everything in the month that is most likely to have the least rain. The place was full crazy! Like Animal House times ten, without John Belushi, but still funny. And foggy and rainy.

That metaphor is really just for me, I think...

Perhaps Lisa’s description is a little better: Edinburgh had “many of the festivals going on simultaneously, filling the city to bursting point with lost tourists and (unfortunately not-so-lost) mime acts and standing-still buskers.” Tempting, hey?

Tasha and I got to Edinburgh a week before the Fringe Festival started, under the assumption that such a pre-emptive strike, "USA vs Axis of Evil"-style, would ensure that we would find work very easily, so that we could work for the whole month, allowing us to pay off our credit cards and bar tabs while still seeing shows at night. All of which would work in theory. In theory, communism works. In theory.1

In actuality, we spent that week trying to find work, being consistently rejected and getting very depressed and destitute and demoralised and drunk until the festival started and our mates showed up, at which time the sun came out and the world was beautiful again. (It rained very soon after). Once Lisa, Duff, Dan and Hoa arrived, our blasters were well and truly set for "fun".2 And we got just plain drunk.

A few days after Lise and Duff arrived, and Dan and Hoa had left, Tasha and I, under the cover of darkness, surreptitiously moved into the flat they had rented. This cloak-and-dagger routine was necessary as Lise and Duff (let's call them "Leasanduff", for ease of writing/reading and to offend their illusion of individuality) had expressly stated when renting the flat that there would only be two people staying there. Every morning for the next couple of weeks I would arise at an ungodly hour (nine am or even, on a bad day, eight – Dear God, NO!), pack up our sleeping mats and sleeping bags and creep out of the house, just in case the landlords or the agents made a surprise visit. I must note that this soon became very tedious and we were instead sleeping in until eleven or twelve, leaving our sleeping bags on display on the floor and calling the landlords from the flat and taunting them with four-part harmonies.

The other reason I crept out early, though, was to obtain free tickets to shows. An absolutely MARVELLOUS thing about the Edinburgh Festival(s) is that there is plenty of free stuff to see for the astute (and cheap). Our favourite's were the tapings of Greg Proops' shows: the Greg Proops Chat Show and We Say Tomayto. Available free if one was willing to arise early and pack one's sleeping bag away, out of sight.

Lisa, in a recent and, I must say, vindictive e-mail, wrote out ALL of the various shows that we have seen and I was going to reproduce it here, but then I thought that, in the interests of keeping you interested, I’ll just list a few of the best shows we saw: “Today of all days” by Cambridge Footlights (where some of the Pythons started), Dara O'Briain (Irish comedian), “Lords of the Ring”, “Mullets and Daughters” (Sarah Adams – Aussie comic, hilarious show), Chris Addison – “The Ape that Got Lucky”, Velocity, Noel Fielding (and the moon) in Voodoo Hedgehog, Daniel Kitson – “Something”, the Proopdog in his shows, Sunhoney (excellent Scottish band), the Free Beer Show (blatant marketing stunt (which worked) where you get comedians and, yes, a free beer), Rich Hall and Mike Wilmott – “Pretzel Logic”, “A Billionaire” (a film in the Edinburgh Film Festival by Kon Ichikawa), the Stonewall Gala (including Daniel Kitson, Rich Hall, Lee Evans, Omid Djalili, Ross Noble, Tim Clark, Jimeoin, Mike Wilmott, Jason John Whitehead, Jackie Clune, etc), after which Duff met Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Simon Munnery in  “Noble Thoughts of a Noble Mind”, Ten Minutes Older (a collection of short films by Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Wim Wenders et al), Finisterre – a live performance by Saint Etienne with their new film as a backdrop), Flight of the Conchords (spectacular Kiwi folk…comedians) and Ross Noble – “Sonic Waffle”.

But, let’s see… I guess you want me to relate the REAL highlights? You got it!!

Working at the Perrier Awards – the Perrier Award for Comedy recognises the funniest show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and, since the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is widely recognised as the biggest and best comedy festival in the world, the award is seen as being for the funniest show in the world. Thus, a fairly good award to get. Lano and Woodley won it a few years ago and Rich Hall won it 2000 for his Otis Lee Crenshaw show.

Anyway, Leasanduff knew a girl who was working at the Perrier Award ceremony who said she’d be able to get them on the door for the evening. Later on, she also got a call asking if those layabout friends of hers would be interested in working at the ceremony. The answer was an unqualified “Der!” with the result that Tasha, Vicky and I found ourselves meeting and greeting the Who’s Who of the comedy world later that evening. We asked Claire, the girl that got us the work, how much a ticket would cost if you didn’t have an invite to the ceremony. The answer? “You can’t buy tickets – it’s invite-only!” And WE were there! All we had to do was stand at the door, tell people to “grab a free drink and head inside”, listen to the 6 protesters outside the gate (Perrier is owned by Nestle) and drink beer from recently-emptied cans of Perrier that Vicky conned the bar-staff into giving us. Adam Hills (Aussie comedian who was nominated for the Perrier) was very impressed to find that the door was staffed by fellow Australians. And Tasha patted Jimieon on the backside as he went in, saying “Go for it, you little Aussie Battler!” It was very emotional for all of us.

At the end of our shifts, we (including Leasanduff) managed to appropriate VIP passes and get into the (free) VIP bar all night, drinking double spirits, yakking it up with the Dara O”Briain and the like, and dancing with (near) Noel Fielding until 5:30am.

For those of you who are interested, the nominees for the night were Noel Fielding, Adam Hills, Omid Djalili, Phil Nicol (former Juice Pig), Jimmy Carr and the incredible Daniel Kitson. A roar of approval went up for Kitson when he won, followed by a self-deprecating, anti-Perrier Awards speech from the comic genius. In succeeding nights after he received the Perrier, he was seen drinking bottles of anything-but-Perrier-water, stating as his reason: “I don’t drink fizzy water. (dramatic pause) …And they kill children…”

Perrier Pick of the Fringe – another highlight that weekend was scamming tickets to this prestigious event, which had sold out months before the Festival began to real nerds (they’d have to be, wouldn’t they?). Again, Claire and her sister came through, getting tickets for us on the day so that we could see each of the Perrier Award nominees (and the winner, as Kitson liked reminding the other “losers”) in one fantastic show.

Late and Live (the grand finale) with Daniel Kitson compering (as well as Adam Hills, Jimmy Carr, Rich Hall and a small cameo by Boothby Graffoe (before being heckled offstage by Daniel Kitson)) – Late ‘n’ Live is an Edinburgh Festival institution. It starts at 1am every morning, finishing around 5am and involves hordes of drunken Scots heckling the poor comedians who are booked for the night until they slink off stage, quivering wrecks. Which is why Daniel Kitson’s dominance of Late’n’Live so mystifying. I should mention that, in Daniel Kitson’s own words, he’s “a stuttering, myopic bloke who looks like he touches children.” This is not a joke – it’s all hilariously true and sad. Watching him in full flight at the very last Late’n’Live was probably the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame I can’t replicate it, or indeed any humour, here for you…

All of these highlights occurred on the last weekend of the festival, actually; an excellent weekend to end on, as we had more visitors to join us in the festivities: Vicky (as mentioned above), Tori and Lisa’s friend Cheryl. What was not as excellent about this was that Tasha and I had to share our floor with the newcomers, meaning the seven of us (flagrantly disregarding and, I would argue (in a Court of Law, representing the good guys, being the landlords, you communists), breaching, the terms of Leasanduff's lease agreement) all squashed into the two-person apartment for those fun-filled, beer-soaked days.

That Sunday, Tasha, Lise and I also caught a bus across to Glasgow for the only non-Edinburgh Fest-related-thing we were to do in our time in Scotland, to go to Gig on the Green. Highlight – seeing Jane’s Addiction, baby! Also good to see and hear – the Strokes, the White Stripes and, according to Tasha and Lisa, Paul Oakenfold.

But, really. Jane’s Addiction, baby.

Now, I don't want you to think that it was all fun and games while we were in Edinburgh. It was, and how, but I don't want you to think that. So, I'll briefly tell you about the work that we did.

As you know, we were fairly desperate for work, as our Australian peseta wasn’t getting us very far against the mighty Scottish pound, so we signed up with a number of agencies. Which is how we got our jobs working at Prestonfield House for the “Taste of Scotland” show that I mentioned in the last e-mail, working alongside all the other Spanish staff. We only worked there three times, taking drink orders from the fat coach tourists (who had a median age of two hundred and eighty, I believe) while soaking up the sounds of Scottish-Denis-Walters singing his authentic Highland tunes (like “Doon-toon” etc), spilling entire bottles of red wine on the patrons (okay, I only did this the one time AND I got a tip – silver service is what you’ll get from me), eating leftover haggis and learning Spanish.

Apart from this, the only other work I did, apart from at the Perriers (did I mention that?), was working in the fruit and vegetable section of the newly-opened Edinburgh Harvey Nichols! Finally, my Safeway experience was paying off!! After a couple of days, they actually offered me a permanent, full-time job there. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had already bought a ticket to get to Newcastle the following week, and the fact that I had a ticket to (and wanted to, of course, Mum) fly home in September and, I guess, the fact that I never want to work in another department store, I may not have so politely refused.

Strangely, though, Harvey Nic’s (as we staff tended to call it, says he, buffing his fingernails) is really upmarket – equivalent to Harrods, apparently. People were coming in just to get plastic Harvey Nichols bags. And a woman bought an apple from me, saying “I have to buy something at Harvey Nichols.”

You must believe me.

Tasha also got some work looking after kids at nurseries and then looking after one particular little Scottish lassie whom she couldn’t understand for the first two or three days. But she loved it.

What else?

I should also mention that it was while we were in Edinburgh that we discovered (along with most of you, no doubt) that most of Central and Eastern Europe was drowning under unseasonable and unreasonable floods. We couldn't believe what was happening - mostly because the news reports about the stricken regions read like our recent travel itinerary. "Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Dresden..." We had only just been through each of those places a little over a month beforehand. It was quite distressing. I was convinced I’d left a tap running…

The worst news reports for us had to be the updates about the Prague zoo. We heard that (and saw some footage about) a male elephant had to be put down because they couldn't get him out of his water-filled enclosure. His trunk was obviously of no assistance, rendering years of my scientific experiments invalid. And there was also a sea-lion that recognised an opportunity when it saw one, made a break for it, and headed up the Vltava into the Elbe River, only to be caught five days later right near Dresden (only took us two hours by train, says he, buffing his fingernails...), to be hauled back to Prague zoo and die due to some disease it caught on the way. The world's not safe for sea-lions like it used to be...3

So anyway, my time in Edinburgh was drawing to a close. The last Late’n’Live finished around 4am, at which time I went “home” (to my cozy floor) and packed. The next morning I got up at 6:30am, said my goodbyes to my house and floor-mates and caught a bus to Newcastle to start my trek along Hadrian’s Wall, so very lonely.


When I’ve been telling people about my plan to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall, and then after I had done it, instead of the expressions of wonder and awe that I’ve been expecting, generally I get an extraordinarily bored look, followed by: “All right. What is Hadrian’s Wall?”

Well, nosey, since it’s so important to you, I’ll tell you.

In AD122, the Emperor Hadrian wanted to consolidate the boundaries of the Roman Empire. In Britannia, they hadn’t been entirely successful in subjugating the Pict tribes to the north, so his solution was to simply wall them off from the rest of the Empire. This he did by commissioning a wall to be built across one of the narrowest parts of the entire country – basically from Newcastle in the east across to Carlisle, and a bit beyond, in the west – a total of 73 miles (around 120 kilometres). This wall was manned, by men, for almost 400 years, until the Romans left Britannia to defend Rome unsuccessfully from the barbarians. (I have a feeling that basically, at that time, anyone who wasn’t a “Roman” was a “barbarian”.)

The Wall was originally around 15 feet high and around 3 metres wide (the Romans being familiar with both Imperial and Metric measurements). It has since been plundered for it’s stone by farmers, churches and castle-builders, but good stretches of it still remain, which is impressive almost 1800 years later.

I, having no life of my own, had always been interested in Hadrian's Wall and wanted to check it out for myself. I also thought that it would be quite cool to walk from one side of a country to the other. You can’t really do that in Australia without dying terribly.

So I got to Newcastle at around 10:30am, briefly visiting the Museum of Antiquities and the South Shields Roman Fort at the mouth of the River Tyne. I then caught a ferry across to the appropriately named suburb of “Wallsend” (appropriate except that it should be called “Wallstart”), where I started the walk. The walk through this section was fairly uninteresting, as most of the course of the wall is underneath the streets of Newcastle. However, there are still some sections to be seen. One of the strangest things I saw that day was a shrine to a Roman god in a quiet suburban street off the main road. The street basically went: House, House, House, Ancient Shrine to Roman God, House, House… Just around the corner from there, in a different street, was a well-preserved “Vallum crossing”.

When deciding to keep the Picts out, the Romans didn’t rely solely on the wall, which you’d agree was sensible if you’ve seen pictures of what the Picts were like. Naked, blue people intent on smashing Roman skulls in. So the Romans also built a large ditch in front of the wall as well as a large ditch around 200 metres behind the wall, creating a military zone across the length of the island. This second ditch was called the Vallum.

I tell you this because, for a large part of the first two days of walking, all I could see of the course of the wall was the ditch to my right and the Vallum to my left. In the 1700’s, when Bonnie Prince Charlie was having some success attacking the English, an English general was frustrated that he couldn’t easily get supplies and men from Newcastle to Carlisle. His solution? Build a road from city to city on top of Hadrian’s Wall. Not next to it – right on top. This means that, while walking along the road for the first two and a half days, I was walking on top of the wall, though I couldn’t really see or even smell any of it.

At the end of each day I was able to stay in a B&B, which shattered any misconceived ideas I may have had that I was doing a hardcore hike. Part of the house of the B&B that I stayed in on the second night – St Oswald’s farm – was actually built from Wall stones. And the owner told me that when they had bought the place, they had dug up the living room floor to do some renovations and found the Wall running directly under the house! So they covered up their excavations and asked me not to tell anyone, which I haven’t.

Everyone I met while walking through Northumberland and Cumbria (the two English counties through which the Wall passes) were really friendly. It’s great to get out into the country and meet the real people that…people the…country…you’re…in. (Note to self: learn more synonyms.)

On the third day I met up with Leasanduff who came down from Edinburgh to see Hadrian’s Wall and walk with me (Natasha was still in Edinburgh ‘til Saturday). Well actually, Duff, one half of Leasanduff, walked with me (he walked with me the whole way for the next three days), while the other half, being Lisa, walked until we came to a bus stop, any bus stop, at which time she caught a bus.

I won’t go into too much more detail (though I could, you know I could), but the rest of the walk was excellent. Except for the time when it rained and we couldn’t see anything and our feet were very wet and Lisa caught a bus and I fell over two or three times. Sober! Falling over sober can really hurt. Duff did not fall over but merely helped me up with the aid of his sturdy walking stick. I failed to see the connection until that night.

But it only rained that one day and even that was a quintessentially English experience. Oh yeah, and one time Duff and I got lost and then chased by a herd of demented cows. And one time, when we were meant to meet Lisa at Housesteads Fort, we were over an hour late and the place was shutting and Lisa thought we were dead in a ditch. Not just dead. But also in a ditch. But we weren’t. We were alive (though, periodically, we were in ditches). And we also got really lost, this one time, and had to jump fences and hay bales, like Indiana Jones if he’d filmed a lame adventure movie on an English farm.

Speaking of Housesteads, that’s where we saw the “Murder House”. A house that, when the archaeologists were excavating, they found some bodies buried in the back room, one with a knife tip still embedded in its ribcage. According to Roman law, all bodies had to buried outside the town walls, so these bodies had to have been buried secretly and, thus, murdered. A present-day Law and Order case, in the past.

Also visited “Costner’s Tree” – the tree that features in the movie “Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves” when Kevin Costner beats up some bad guys after getting back to England. Apparently, Robin landed at Dover, trekked hundreds of miles inland up to the border with Scotland to get a photo of Hadrian’s Wall, and then walked hundreds of miles back to Sherwood Forest. No wonder it’s called Costner’s Tree!!! He must have really liked that tree…

Over the three days, we also checked out a number of Roman forts (well, the ruins of a number of Roman forts), milecastles (ruins) and Wall turrets (ruins). Sometimes we even got to see the Wall! The Wall was often in ruins. And it was all through beautiful English countryside.

On the fifth day, we, being Lisa, who arrived by bus, and Duff and I, who walked almost 30 kilometres that day, met Natasha in Carlisle, who had been getting drunk and then hungover with Bessie and other bad influences (I walk across countries! I’m a good influence, unlike those pisshead mates of hers…) in Edinburgh. All three of them decided that, just because there was no more Wall to be seen for the remaining 15 miles (again, the Romans were familiar with both Imperial and Metric measurements), I could walk by myself the next day. So I finished the walk, nay, The Walk, that Sunday in glorious sunshine, only getting lost once – and then, only briefly, and no-one saw. Finally, six days after starting, I walked into the (only) pub at Bowness-on-Solway and ordered a well-deserved pint. The guy behind the bar said “You look like you’ve been walking!” I replied that he was a remarkably observant fellow and that I had, indeed, been walking, having just finished walking the Wall after leaving Wallsend on Tuesday.

“Have you got a certificate?”

I replied that I did not have one on my person, which sent him into a flurry of activity, finally locating a “Certificate of Achievement” for me (numbered 47), “in recognition of completing the 73 mile walk along Hadrian’s Wall between Bowness-on-Solway and Wallsend”. I asked “Wouldn’t a free pint be better?” He told me I should be happy with my damned certificate. I thanked him.

And that was it. The next day we drove to Edinburgh, picked up our bags and caught our train to London. As usual, our time in London consisted of organising things and catching up with friends. I’ve probably spent around two months in total in London, and still haven’t been to the Tower of London or to Whitechapel to see where Jack the Ripper strutted his stuff. I believe there are other touristy sights in London as well.

It was cool catching up with Colette and the Crespins (cool band name?) and with everyone else the following night. Thanks to Vicky (and friends), Marilyn (and friend), Bern (and friend), Steve the Dentist (and friend), Tori (and mutual friend, Matt), Janey and Paul (each the friend of the other), Mariano, Cracka, Jo and Paul Sando (no friends – apart from us…) for coming along! It was a fitting send-off.

Next day: Caught our flight to the City of Angels.

“L.A. or, as I like to call it, ‘Hell A’” – Bill Hicks, Arizona Bay

Going to L.A., for me, was just a chance to quote Bill Hicks all the time. It was “hot and sunny, every day, hot and sunny” (only reptiles feel this way about the weather), we got to see “the pedestrian right of way law” in action and could imagine “gusts of lead coming up Sunset” during the L.A. riots, after Officer Coon, Officer Nigger-Hater and Officer Keep-Darkie-Down were acquitted on all racist charges.

To understand the preceding paragraph, you’ll need to have a copy of Arizona Bay by Bill Hicks – funniest comedian ever, may he rest in peace. And, while you’re out buying it, get yourself a copy of his biography, “American Scream”, as well. It can’t hurt unless the monkeys start hurting people, which they almost certainly will.5

It was also an excuse to sing Doors songs all of the time that I wasn’t quoting Bill Hicks. For example, every girl we met was an L.A. Woman. See how I did that? Bringing song lyrics and people together.

Most of the people that we know that have been to L.A. haven’t liked it. So our expectations were suitably lowered when we arrived – lowered so much that we actually quite enjoyed our time there.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch up with our good mates Chelsea and Zhanna, having timed our arrival in L.A. quite poorly, getting there during College summer holidays. Still, we booked into a hostel in Hollywood, in between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard and just took it easy for the next few days, checking out what L.A. has or does not have to offer.

Because I know you need to know, Los Angeles got its name from a settlement established in 1781 by Spanish settlers and was called, originally, El Pueblo de Nuestro Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula (“The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River.”) (Hel)L.A. is a little easier to pronounce.

And I think that river is now the concrete canyon that Arnie drove the truck up in Terminator II. I’m a culture vulture.

In our days there we wandered around Beverley Hills and Bel Air, seeing the Playboy Mansion, John Candy’s former Gaudi-esque place and the house that Axel took over in Beverley Hills Cop II, amongst others. Also wandered up and down Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard a number of times, checking out Whisky-a-Go-Go, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, the Capitol Records building (as seen in “Ford Fairlane” – culture vulture) etc etc ad infinitum. It’s bizarre being somewhere that is familiar, yet so unfamiliar and alien like the bug planet in Starship Troopers at the same time. Caught a bus to Venice Beach and walked up to Santa Monica one day and also walked up into one of the many canyons in the Hollywood Hills to check out the hazy (though not as hazy as it used to be, apparently) skyline of Hell A.

But what about the Angelenos, themselves? I hear you ask. You must lengthen the e-mail a little more to tell us about the people that inhabit that urban sprawl, I hear you demand, thumping your fist on the table. Calm down, already, I’m getting to that!

I’ve gotta say that the people of Los Angeles were generally really helpful and really friendly. Even the bums who opened the doors for us, expecting, but not receiving, payment. L.A. is HUGE and pretty difficult to get around if you don’t know where you are, where you’re going or how to get there, but everyone we met was really keen to help us out. People even chatted to us on trains and told us which stations we should change at (without the use of knives, as expected).

Strange things, though, which are peculiar to L.A. and, in some cases, Americans in general:

There were American flags everywhere. Which was lucky, because there were a few times there when I nearly forgot which country we were in. And what happened on September the 6th or whatever.

Because roads are long and just go, like, forever, address numbers can get ridiculously large – 84,560,789 Sunset Boulevard, for example (a good Mexican restaurant).

Mexicans all over the place actually, and all the signs were bilingual – English and Spanish. Good way to learn how to say “You will be fined for not having a ticket” in Spanish… This also means that there’s heaps of good Mexican food around, too.

Bad eighties hair metal is alive and well in L.A. “Dr Feelgood” by Motley Crue is seen as a legitimate form of musical expression.

We caught the train from our hostel to L.A.X. airport (which involved changing twice to catch all three lines) and during the entire hour-and-a-half journey, we were the only non-black/non-Hispanic (that is, white, I guess) passengers on the entire route. I just found that interesting.

And then, we finally boarded a plane to return to our spiritual and (according to the Australian Taxation Office) actual homeland for tax purposes. Though we had convinced ourselves that we would be the victims of a terrorist attack, to the point that we were willing to stage one, everything was fine and we made it home safely. Actually, the airport and airline security procedures are pretty good. Our bags got a random, extra-special security check at L.A.X., which was comforting, except for the fact that Tasha had found two bullets in the water off the beach at Gallipoli and had them in her backpack and she was freaking out. But the security staff didn’t find them, proving that you can at least take 87-year old bullets on to a plane in your luggage, no worries.

The airlines are also very careful about what you can take on a plane with you in your carry-on luggage. One time, Tasha had her nail clippers taken off her, because they are understandably quite dangerous. I was fine standing next to her and happily boarded the plane wearing a balaclava! This is no joke – I had the balaclava rolled up like a beanie, but it was a balaclava, nonetheless, an item that I associate more with terrorism than nail clippers.

And then the cabin crew gave us meals with METAL CUTLERY.

Good on ya.


I knew I was back in Australia when I saw a huge billboard advertising Virgin Blue's flights: "Bugger off for Bugger all". Ah. I still call Australia home.

Except that you people drink tiny little beers. A man is not a camel.

So: home, sweet home. The adventure is at an end. Or is it?

Yes, actually, it is.

Currently living with my parents. Yep, doing a George Costanza. However, I’ve gotta say that, although living with your parents sucks when you're 18, when you're 29, and they live in a penthouse on St Kilda Road and the fridge is always full and your Mum washes your clothes and they have Foxtel, I find it difficult to justify why I ever left in the first place. They’re gonna have to drag me kicking and screaming from the place, in a straitjacket, next time.

We are kinda looking for places of our own, too, as well as kinda looking for jobs. You know, just keeping our eyes and ears open. Kinda. It’s real difficult getting back into this. Tasha spent the first couple of weeks up at Geelong and I was, and will be again, going up to my brother’s farm for a while, just to take some time off, you know. From our holiday.

But we would also like to catch up with everyone again, so please let us know if ya wanna get together-like.

I’ll now also try the long, laborious process of replying to e-mails that I haven’t replied to in the past 13 months. I don’t really want to, but I might need to borrow money from some or all of you in the foreseeable future.

I’m going to put all these updates on the web along with our photos soon (40 rolls of film, 3 CDs and another 600 or so photos still on the digi camera…) and I’ll be sure to let you know when that happens, so that you can waste years of your life re-reading these updates. I’ll send a few photos after this e-mail, actually, for those who can’t wait for the website…

Thanks to everyone we stayed with or caught up with, thanks to all the people we met along the way, thanks to everyone that sent us e-mails while we were gone and, really, thanks for just being you.

Don’t become a stranger, now!!

Signing off,

Love the rilestar (and tasha, of course)

And go Lions.


1. Homer J Simpson, The Simpsons.

2. Despite the obvious (that is, that I shouldn’t be), I am particularly proud of this pun.

3. (This is for the politically minded who can be bothered to read footnotes): "You know, before humans enslaved them, destroyed their habitat and poisoned their (the humans') own environment." Here endeth the (this) lesson. Actually, I probably shouldn't moralise. I'm not sure if there's a moral to that story. It could just be some stuff that happened.4

4. Homer J Simpson, The Simpsons, again.

5. Ditto. A true prophet.

Next exciting instalment...