Location: London (& home), UK
"We Will Rock You" is an ABSOLUTE HOOT!!! If you love to spend the night with a big grin on your face, then this show will do it for you. Great live band, big sound, the set, all the stage performers, everything about it is fab. Except the story, that's a bit corny...really it's just there to string a whole load of Queen songs together. Its been running unbroken at the Dominion Theatre since early 2002, and is the longest-running musical in the theatre's history. The audience was packed and we all had a really good sing-song. Fun. And great to be in London's world-famous West End, too, when all the theatres are disgorging crowds onto the streets at 10.30 pm.
The next day, Wednesday 2 July, was our last full day in the UK. After several days of perfect summer weather it got a bit drizzly, nothing to stop anyone heading outdoors. Had a nice lunch on the footpath outside Cafe Rouge near Covent Garden, nice place.
The coffee was good too. Mentioned only because its an undeniable fact that the British hospitality industry CAN'T MAKE A DECENT CUP OF COFFEE. There will be no arguement about this.
That night we met Terry and Mo at a restaurant on the South Bank. I've completely forgotten the restaurant's name. We had a table next to the full length windows. What a view - the Thames only metres away with St Paul's just a short way east on the opposite side. We have certainly fallen in love with London. It's a fantastic city and would take weeks to explore fully. Every time you turn another corner there's something else to take your breath away, and another famous place name full of associations from a life reading books, watching movies and TV shows, and listening to music set in London.
We had a great evening with Terry and Mo. Two of life's genuine folks. There's no getting away from it, we've been munching our way through a gigantic shit sandwich for the last couple of months and some days we've really had to dig deep to discover the positives. But, our stay in the UK was enriched by this couple's warmth and generosity to us and we look forward to picking up the thread on our return.
So we caught Qantas flight QF 30 from Heathrow to Melbourne via Hong Kong. So now we can say we've been to Hong Kong - for an hour. We've been thinking, it might be worthwhile next time breaking our flight with a stopover for the night. We'd get to have a meal in town and might arrive at the end of the journey a bit less brain dead.
Qantas were very generous to us. We'll contact them and thank them. Dave's ticket was upgraded to Premium Economy by our travel insurers (so he could travel with his leg elevated), but Di's remained Economy. That would have been a really ordinary experience for both of us, and not very practical in the light of Dave's need for assistance with nearly everything. A short conversation with the right person at check-in (it needs to be someone with some authority), a quick phone call by said person to Qantas and - 2 upgrades, to Business! Fantastic! Good on you blokes it was lovely. There's no way in the world we could have afforded the several thousand pounds extra cost after our recent experiences.
So now we're in Mt Gambier. We arrived from Melbourne via REX Airlines on Saturday morning. We could have kissed the tarmac. Dave's parents and 2 of our 4 offspring (Ben lives in Queensland) were there with boyfriends and dogs to give us a really lovely welcome home. It was seriously freezing though. We called in to see our lovely daughter Tegan at her workplace. Later that day we had a houseful of family and we wouldn't have wanted anything else, right now. Beautiful.
After an hour at home, we attended a pre-arranged appointment at the Mt Gambier hospital with a local Orthopedic surgeon, who will take on Dave's recovery to full mobility and health. That could be up to a year. We were SO pleased when he told us he thought the best place for Dave the next 2 weeks is at home with his leg elevated. We were prepared for the possibility of Dave being admitted to hospital number 4...
We'll upload a few more miscellaneous pictures, mainly from our phone cameras once we've worked out how to do it. But, apart from that, it's likely we'll take a break from this blog for a while. Its unfortunate for all of you who've been reading it that we weren't loading pictures of sun-kissed Spanish villages and bikes being joyously ridden along perfect twisty roads. But you have to play with the hand you've been dealt, and this time it was a hand without a lot of aces...but we're already planning our return. There'll be more London, a touch of Wales, a whole load of Europe and a LOT LESS churches next time. We knew that the churches would still be there by the time Dave managed to hobble his way over to one, you see. Hopefully, people have enjoyed what we have been able to share anyway.
Location: London, UK
We've spent yesterday and today sightseeing. We woke up this morning to a complete absence of street noise. Turns out there's been a fatal stabbing overnight on the footpath a few doors down from the motel which is an all too common news item in London. Anyway some poor bugger in his 30s was killed and the area around our motel has been cordoned off most of the night and all day so far - its about 3.25 pm now. When we left this morning we had our names taken so we could get back in through the police lines. When we got back at about 1.30 pm the cop who dealt with us this morning remembered us and let us through. So we wobbled along the footpath to our motel door and a different cop trotted across the road and asked us to get lost immediately. So we had to point out cop number 1 to cop number 2 or we would have been in strife trying to get to the motel. Very minor inconvenience compared to the tragedy of a murder of course. All the businesses on this small block of the Old Kent Road are closed except the motel, which is very very quiet - new guests can't get through the cordon to check in. Some of the folks trying to argue their way through the police cordon have been getting the teensiest bit tense when denied access.
All the way back along the road from the city there were police cars and bikes blasting along with sirens and lights going, heading to and from here, so there's got to be something going on in this immediate vicinity. There's sirens going now as I type, and helicopters overhead.
We're heading out late this afternoon to see the musical "We Will Rock You" in the West End. Mo and Terry strongly recommended we go to a live show in London and they reckon this one's a hoot. Looking forward to it. We'll grab an early dinner in the area and make the most of the experience.
Location: London, UK
Our friends Terry and Mo are hoping to travel down from Wales on Wednesday to spend an evening with us and see us off. Now, Wales is a bloody long way from London. We're looking forwards to catching up with them again and it will give us a really nice parting experience to end what has been an EVENTFULL stay in the UK to put it mildly. We'll understand if they can't make it. It's a very big ask.
We're off to pick up a wheelchair so we can do some sightseeing. We video'd the drive from the Elephant and Castle to Earl's Court yesterday as it follows the Thames and is one iconic landmaek after another.
Location: Hastings, UK
We're now staying at The Premier Hotel on the Old Kent Road in London, counting down the days until we fly home. This is Dave writing this entry. I was released from Conquest Hospital in Hastings, Sussex on Wednesday 25/6 after 13 days in the Cookson Devas (trauma) ward. Once again the people of the NHS demonstrated in their care, kindness and senses of humour that the citizens of the UK (and accident-prone foreign tourists!) are lucky to have such great quality service. From hospital attendants through health care assistants, nurses, doctors, everyone - thank you all. And I sincerely hope I don't have to cross your path again on this trip...
I've got a plastic shopping bag full of exotic medications designed to stabilise my leg enough to get Di & I back to Mount Gambier. The specialist at Conquest has contacted the local orthopedic surgeon at home and I'm to be admitted to the hospital on my return so he can take over the nurturing to recovery of my troublesome and unco-operative limb.
We have a departure date of this coming Thursday 3 July from Heathrow. Scheduled arrival is early Saturday morning Melbourne time, a night in Melbourne then home to our family via Rex flight on sunday morning. Fingers crossed.
The night I ended up in conquest, Friday 13 June (spooky date...) we'd arrived in Rye, Sussex and bought our tickets to a gig by Circulus for that night. That was why we were there. It was after buying the tickets that we realised my next stop was going to be the hospital A & E, not a gig, so that was that.
I didn't get to see any of the accommadation we'd booked. Di tells me it was very pleasant. She proved herself to be a a gem to me by spending hours every day with a very out-of-it partner dribbling disconnected sentences and moaning about his leg. Incoherent and cranky - somes up my persona at the time.
Our first act was to head for 'Sudden Impact' in Essex to check out our motorcycles. They've done a great job on them - they look fab. We recommend them highly for crash repairs and/or custom paintwork to all bikers visiting the UK. And in person they're lovely bubbly people. The person we dealt with most was Carol - worth her weight in gold. She took over communications once it became clear we weren't getting a lot of sense out of Carole Nash, the insurance brokers. We were disappointed with Carol Nash's comunication, but the repairs were done well and on time, so in that sense they did what they were paid to do.
Sudden Impact even organised to deliver the bikes to Imorex at Felixtowe. We're also very happy with Julie's service to us - cheerful and efficient. And thanks to Dave Milligan of Get Routed who contacted us with his best wishes and to assure us he'd make sure our bikes get home. We can recommend Dave to get your bike across the ocean on time and undamaged.
Location: Buxton, Manchester, Nottingham, UK
Dave here again. Bikes sorted, we headed for Buxton, Derbyshire, for a few days 'oop north'. Nice town, lovely area in fact. Sue at Ash Court B & B on Ash Street provides a warm, friendly efficient service. Stay with Sue if you want to visit the Manchester area; you'll be well fed and comfy. 3 flights of stairs on my cripple sticks was a challenge - and pretty funny for the queue of fellow guests watching me flailing around in my regular battles with gravity. I'd have laughed too, if it wasn't me providing the entertainment.
And we finally got see Circulus - the band we missed seeing in Rye. This is evidence of my bloody-minded stubbornness. The only other gig they were playing for the next few months was at the tiny Dulcimer club in Chorlton. I had no idea if Circulus are good or complete crap. I just got a bee in my bonnett that a little matter of 2 weeks in hospital wasn't going to stop me seeing them. The manager of the club set up chairs for Di and me ( it's standing only) near the stage so I could attend ( I can't stand for more than a few minutes). That was nice of them. The Support act was 'Sam & The Plants" - whimsical, eccentric, very 1968. They reminded Di of Donovan in some of their poetic and gentle approach. Anyway, they were really good. And - RELIEF! - Circulus are GREAT! If there's anyone (a) old enough and (b) sad and obsessive enough to remember a band called Gong who sang about pot-head pixies and flying teapots, then if I say Circulus own a few Gong albums...but they were funny, trippy, chatted to the audience as if they were friends, sang songs about travelling to Jupiter and played a mixture of instruments - fuzzy distorted electric guitar mixed with medieval wind instruments. Funny, happy, great gig. I'm going to join their mailing list and buy their albums. I actually told Tom, the bass player, my story of missing them in Rye and why we were at the club that night, hoping for a nice gig. So no pressure then...he was friendly and polite and didn't even back away nervously from this obsessive jabbering away at him while he tried to get his stage clothes on in the club's bogs.
We tried to find my father's family house in Wellington Road, Ashton-Under-Lyne. Many landmarks like his old primary school are there, but where his house should have been - a block long, modern brick wall with the rears of houses behind it. Such a shame. We snapped some photos and video'd a drive around the block for him. It's an area with it's share of battlers I think it would be fair to say. We had better luck with my mother's family house in Carlton Road, Sale. It's on a lovely leafy street and has the British rarity - a front garden.
After several frustrating hours we tracked down my paternal grandfather's grave. There's 2 cemeteries in Ashton-U-Lune, and of course we spent ages in the wrong one first. It took ages but we found the grave site. He died when my dad was about 13, and there are no photos of him. So this is the closest connection I'll ever have with this man who's genes I inherited but who no living member of my family except my dad ever met.
The same day (we can certainly be obsessive) we headed south to Nottinghamshire to look for evidence of Di's maternal grandparents. Her Grandmother's family home in Byron St, Bestwood Village is long gone, and we couldn't even find the street number. We think a big block of public housing type flats has erased the history at that end of the street. I witnessed a pair of idiots in a hatchback screaming abuse at someone in a park - and I'm dead sure I heard them firing off a hand gun several times before they tore off, still screeching foul mouthed threats.
We found the Church of St Mary The Virgin in Bullwell where Di's grandfather sang in the choir as a boy. Again, the house he grew up in is long gone.
Location: Kent, UK
The situation remains almost unchanged since the last entry, Dave in hospital - me visiting.
Our return date is currently the 1st of July, but this could just as easily change again.
When the travel insurers contacted me last week, saying they had us booked onto a flight on the 28th, what they really meant was that they had a seat for Dave & at that point I was still booked onto an earlier flight. I was a bit alarmed by this to say the least!
There was no other seats available on this flight unless I paid for the upgrade so they had to rebook us onto a later flight. I think if we don't make this one, we may be stuck here for even longer due to the summer holiday rush.
On a positive note, the leg appears to be stable with the infection, although still present, certainly no worse. I think it looks better but it could also be wishful thinking.
Although I felt guilty doing it, I headed off for a little sightseeing & got a few photos to add to the list.
The latest word on our bikes is that mine is ready to go & Dave's is waiting on the stickers for the tank & then it too can be finished off. I'm heading for Dagenham this afternoon, which is where the repairers are located, to have a look at them. I think it's about 50 miles from here & mostly involves driving along the motorway.
If we escape the clutches of Hastings Hospital we will head for the north & hopefully get a quick look at where Dave's parents are from & my grandparents.
Location: Kent, UK
It's been a few days since the last entry so I thought I'd better update you all as to where we're at now.
With regards to Dave's leg, the story changes each time a different doctor walks into the room. Fortunately the stories are improving.
At the moment he is still in hospital, the one in Hastings, & will be there for another day or two. He is continuing on with iv antibiotics for another 24 hours & will then go onto more oral antibiotics. The hope is that the infection will be wiped out & that this will hopefully also remove the need for further surgery.
It's still a big unknown but things are looking more promising now than they did even as recently as Monday.
Assuming all the stars line up appropriately, the travel insurers have just told me they have us booked on a flight on the 28th. Here's hoping.
Will try to get some more shots for the blog soon. Not a lot of fun sightseeing on your own, so I haven't really bothered.
Staying in a really lovely place at the moment in a converted stable. Not sure what the next stop will be as it depends on when Dave gets out, but hopefully we will spend another couple of days in London before we leave.