Tuesday, 3 November 2015

...No children run to lisp their sire's return, Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share

That quote is part of Grey's Elegy. I have chosen that for a title because I know of one little girl who has lost her father this past year. I know her mother found her hugging his picture and sobbing at 3 AM in he morning.... something a 10 year old should not have to experience!

Terrance Murray Lewis Jnr was my friend....

And I have written about him on other parts of this blog when we were young.. a long time ago.

On New Year's Eve in 1970 I was standing outside the Pearson family home in Bardon when I was introduced to Terry Lewis. He was tall at a tad over 6 feet and wore a wool cap. For some reason he reminded me of Mike Nesmith of the Monkeys. We were planning what mischief we might get up to on that particular night... and he and I just clicked!

Our youth consisted of many Friday nights at the Lennon's Pacesetters Disco at the original Lennons in George Street, drive in movies with any girls we might be dating at the time and Sundays spent at Lakeside or Surfer's Paradise Raceways.

I even dragged him into the Ford car Club of Queensland in the early 70s.

And then one day in late 1975, (around 40 years ago this month in fact) he introduced me (purely by accident) to my future wife... so he wasn't perfect.. but he was a great mate.

We grew up from our teens to our twenties, spent a week in Fiji together, got married, got divorced and got remarried. Me to the wonderful Debra and Terry to a not so wonderful lady from the Orient. But.. she had a small daughter and Terry loved her. And she loved him right back.

But in between those two marriages Terry had a great life. Management in the Westfield organisation, his own rally car and support team and all the time.. we were mates. Sometimes we might not see each other for 3 months.. and when we caught up.. it was as though we had seen each other just yesterday.

When Terry Lewis Snr was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons... most of Terry's friends deserted him. I wrote to him (as he wasn't taking any calls) and said we were still mates and he should come visit.

And come visit he did for around 3 months as his marriage was a bit strained at the time. We had a good time at my bachelor pad at Albion. (The former matrimonial home of the Bell-Taylors as the lawyers called it) Lots of loud music, John Mellencamp comes to mind, lots of wine and lots of good food from our kitchen.

And then he was gone again.. reunited with his wife.

Which was just as well as it was around this time that I met the lovely Debra... and ... well... three's a crowd.

The last couple of years had not been kind to Terry. His not so wonderful Oriental wife left and took him to the cleaners.. and he found work near impossible to find.

But worst of all.... his health failed him big time.

Terry was diagnosed with diabetes around 8 years ago and did it knock him around. To be honest smoking a large pack of fags every day didn't help him. He ended up living in the tiniest studio apartment I have ever seen. We would have him for dinner regularly and we would always send him home with a mountain of left over food to help him out.

His life continued to go south, car repossessed and virtually nothing to live on. His brother Michael (we always called him Tony) helped him out with cash hand outs as did Debra and I when we could.

Finally, he developed Charcot's Ankle, a complication of diabetes and he could no longer drive. The day he saw the orthopaedic surgeon, I collected him from the hospital and took him home. When he got into my car with his walking stick, I asked him how he got on with the Doctor.

"I'm fucked!!" was his brutal reply.

We stopped in and bought milk and coffee and headed back to his place.  As we settled into a coffee together like we used to do over 40 years ago late at night on his parent's rear deck at 3 in the morning, he said to me.. "They're going to cut my lower leg off! Shit!"

Terry knew my late father was a below the knee amputee and asked me a couple of questions about prosthetic limbs.. I know nothing to be honest. But I did assure him that we would be there to support him along with all of his family. Well.. those with whom he had a relationship. This was also a bit strained too.

A couple of weeks later in March this year, Friday the 13th actually, Debra is having a girls weekend away and I am on my own for the weekend. As she was leaving, Deb asked me my plans. I told her I would buy an enormous pizza, take it to Terry and we would have dinner.. he could freeze the left overs.

So I rang Terry.. no answer.. just voicemail. Not an uncommon thing. I rang him again.. no answer.. same story.

Later that night as I was getting ready for bed, my computer sounded the old "You've got mail" tone. And there was an email from Tony, Terry's brother. He had not been able to get in touch with him.. he was worried. So we both agreed I would go and check on him in the morning.

Sleep did not come easy.. what if Terry was very sick? Tomorrow might be too late.

Out of bed, dressed and into the Holden and away I go.

And as I drove.. I somehow knew what I would find.

Looking through the screen door, I could just make out that Terry was sitting in the dark in his flat in a big chair in front of a fan to keep cool.

"Hey you slack prick, why don't you answer your phone?" I called out.

But Terry did not answer me.

I found a torch app for my iPhone and shone it through the screen door.

And there was Terry.. sitting in that big chair..... and deceased.

And he had been for a few days it would appear.

No.. "This cannot be right", the words whirled through my brain... I rang Tony and as I tried to tell him, the tears came.. as usual for me.

A lot of family drama has occurred in Terry's family since that night I found my mate of over 44 years dead in his big chair.

And I will not air them all here, some are too outrageous to publish, except his ex accusing me of masterminding his death. Sent me an accusing text when we were in New York this year.

But apart from all of that banal rubbish, two things stand out for me.

A small girl has lost her dad.. and I have lost my mate.

Terry Lewis was my friend...... and I miss him every day!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

When Dickens wrote that.... he could never have known that he would be describing a 30 day window of my life.


Let me explain...

Last Saturday, September 26, we sold our family home at auction. A simple event really, all set in motion by your's truly after around nearly 3 years of planning. Time to let somebody else have the joy of living here and for Debra and I to move on to new home being built for us in Hendra.

Settlement is 30 days from date of sale.

All sounds simple enough.

But then with every cardboard box I pack with our stuff, I stop to think about what this house has meant to me this past 57+ years. Ever heard of buyer's remorse? Well I am suffering from seller's remorse!

So I have the excitement of a new home to look forward to... and the immense sadness of disposing of the family home for 3 generations of Taylors.

Hence... my own personal "Best of times, worst of times".

You see this house was unloved and un-lived in (if such a word exists) for nearly 3 years when my father bought it as our new family home in 1958. We spent that Easter moving in here. The place was dark, dirty and frankly scary to a small boy of 5 at the time.

But all that came to pass as Wally Henry made us a new bathroom and kitchen. Wally was a carpenter and I remember coming home from school in 1959 to the smell of fresh sawn timber. It must have been the first time I experienced that smell as it has stayed with me all theses years.

New friends came to visit me here.. the Clayfield Cowboys as big brother Max called us. Roaming the incredibly big back yard armed to the teeth with cap pistols with Roy Rogers face on the side. Days seem to last for ever. Sunny summers and bloody freezing winters. (Perhaps the winter of my discontent?)

The years went by... scooters gave out to bicycles to an old clapped out Mini to motorbikes and on it went. Friday nights spent as a newly minted teenager with an astronomical telescope out on the front lawn with my high school buddy Robert Fysh (Hi Rob.. see you when you get back mate) and all of those memories.... they are as clear to me now as if they happened last night.

1975 came around and found me on the first of my overseas jaunts. Man did the travel bug bite.. and hard. Over 40 trips in the past 40 years. I actually stopped counting at 40. But no matter where I roamed, 5 Armagh Street was the place I came home to. I was even married here in the lounge some 39 years ago. (Marriage number 1) As was my brother Paul some 3 years later.

I left this old home to move in with a group of girls at Red Hill.... and married one. From there houses at Wavell Heights and then Albion... but even though I lived away, this place was always my home.

Actually, it is the centre of my universe.

And now it will belong to another family. Because of my actions in selling it.

Strange how one can become attached to a building. In 1995 I was faced with the decision of moving in here again, or selling it. We chose moving in, although in my heart I knew that one day I would have to let it go.

These last 20 years have flown by in a heart beat.... and now that day has come.

It seems that I have been blessed with a great and very detailed memory. Recently I read in the paper of a guy who also has a memory that works like mine. Like me he remembers things from 30 or more years ago and others who were with him then, cannot remember that particular event. Now there is a name for people like us... with those great detailed memories... but funnily enough, I cannot remember what it is.

Anyhow... as that man discovered, as have I, that the downside of  a great memory is that we also remember the sad things in our life in immense detail too.

And so it is with the leaving of this fine old home.

You see I remember so much about every Christmas, every barbecue, every party, wake, wedding and conversation etc and  on it goes for the past 57 years.

Being a sentimental person can be a drag when you need to toughen up I can tell you.

Back to packing....

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"..... and 57 years of my life covered by that phrase are about to come to an end at 5 armagh Street.

Friday, 24 July 2015

So whatever happened to outstanding customer service?

Lately this year I have become increasingly aware of poor customer service.. and talk about it a lot on Face Book. I guess that most people just think I am a cranky old buggar.

Perhaps I am.

But I do know poor customer service when I see it.. or worse still when I am on the receiving end of it. And then you get the service provider telling you fibs while they give you poor customer service.. as the cops in New York say.. "Don't piss in my ear and tell me it's raining!"

The memorable events of both good and bad customer service stick in my head.. and it's a good thing because it reminds me to ensure that I give good customer service here at the studio and in the small part I play in Deb's boutique.
In 1992, Deb and I are in the UK and we want some lip balm. So into Boots we go and find a tube of the good stuff. Now we take it to the checkout where the check out girl is in animated conversation with another staff member about her date the night before. I place the lip balm on the counter.. she looks at me, picks it up and scans it. I know it is 99p so I put a 1 pound coin down.. she puts the change and the receipt on the counter and all the time.... she kept talking to her work mate. Not once did she acknowledge that we were even there. We picked the tube up and left.. and vowed never to shop in Boots again.

Then on the other side of the coin.. in the early 90s I was doing a fair amount of business in Singapore. We would land at Changi, the doors would open and 20 minutes later we are in a limo on our way to the hotel. The hotel sent the car (a Jaguar) and the driver would find us at the airport. He would load the luggage and once in the car he would offer us a cold towel to clean our hands and face, offer us a small selection of CDs to listen to as we headed to the hotel. At the hotel.. the door would be opened and "Welcome to the Pan Pacific Mr & Mrs Taylor." Check in was in the room some 27 floors up. All very civilised and.. on the desk was personalised writing paper with my name on it. (Mark Taylor, in residence at the Pan Pacific Singapore.) What amazing service!
To me customer service, actually exceptional customer service is to go that bit further and do the things that people do not expect. 

Like our approach to wedding photography.

When I was shooting 20 - 30 weddings a year.. this photographer used to carry in his camera bag (apart from cameras etc) 3 pairs of pantyhose, 4 bottles of different coloured nail polish, hairspray, a hair dryer, lipstick in a few shades and cold bottles of drinks in an esky in the back of the SAAB. Why all of this? In case I needed to save the day.. and it blew everyone away when you could produce a new pair of stockings when somebody laddered theirs. Now it wasn't part of my "job description" but it booked me a lot of weddings. It was stuff that others didn't do you see.

The same with MAX Instruments.. if we had a customer from the bush we would run him to the local sandwich shop and buy him lunch if he was there over the lunch break. Whenever a customer dropped in to say hello, we would always give them the time of day and make them a coffee. Our place was open house. A lot of times they were "social visits" by the customers,  but often as they were leaving they would make a purchase decision that they had been thinking about. Once when I was in Mackay on my way to the coal mines who were customers of ours, I came across these neat little pocket penlight torches in the local Coles store. I bought about 20 of them.. and at every mine I went to, I gave one to the purchasing officer and the auto electricians on site. They loved it. Yes, we went through a lot of coffee (and torches sometimes) but we were number 1 in sales in Australia most years when Max & I ran the place.

What about airlines? Well they take people, stuff them into cramped seats in aluminium tubes and fly them all over the country or the world. So what makes one airline better than another as far as the experience goes?

Debra and I have just come back from a round the world trip and flew Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Delta and QANTAS. So we had the chance to do a direct comparison. I will say at the outset QANTAS was good. Not quiet up there with Singapore, but certainly up there.

So here is how it goes... we walk down the aero bridge in Brisbane and hand my boarding pass to the Singapore Girl. "Welcome aboard Mr Taylor, your seat is along this aisle just behind the wing, on the right hand side." Not hard to do.. my name is on the boarding pass. (Take note Lufthansa)

So we walk down the aero bridge in Singapore and hand my boarding pass to the Lufthansa Frau. "Other aisle!" is the response.

We find our seats on the SQ Airbus and along comes a Singapore cabin crew member, "Can I help you with anything?"

We find our seats on the LH Airbus A380 and along comes the cabin crew. Deb asks, "Do you have a place I could store my coat please?" The reply is.. "In za locker!" Deb says, "Sorry but the lockers are full." "Well then, you just have to find an empty .. never mind, give it to me!" And with that she snatched Deb's coat and stormed up the aisle opening and slamming the lockers until she found an empty one. "Your coat is here.. do not leave it on za plane!" I should point out that Boeings have much bigger lockers than A380s!

And it just went on from there. At meal times.. "Tray table down! Chicken or beef?" Deb asked.. "How is the chicken served, with vegetables?" And the reply was. "I don't know! Chicken or beef!"

Most airlines have name tags for their staff... "Shirley" or perhaps "Bob Smith" but not Lufthansa.. "T. Schmidt" Having worked in association with a German Company for over 30 years, I was so looking forward to flying Lufthansa. What a disappointment. Intelligent pilots flying what I would bet are meticulously maintained aeroplanes. But the failure of  that "Moment of truth" that occurs every time their staff interact with a customer, the whole feel good thing falls flat.

(Google Moment of Truth and SAS. Jan Karlzon got this right.. you would thunk Lufthansa and every other bloody airline would have read his book)

Actually don't bother Googling it.. here it is for you!

So airlines are on the hit list with me.. what about freight companies. We order stock for overnight delivery from Melbourne. It arrives in Brisbane at the airport first thing in the morning.. and then gets delivered around 4 o"cook in the afternoon. The driver's response.. "I didn't  think it was a priority." My response is.. "Did all the parcels in your van come overnight? If they did, they are ALL A BLOODY Priority!" A lady going in for surgery in the afternoon needs her post surgical garment in the morning.. before she goes to the hospital.

Australia Post are the same... a Red Postal Bag for a customer doesn't arrive for 2 weeks Turns out it's at the Post Office because the postal contractor doesn't know where the street is. I found it on Google maps and emailed it to him. How hard can this be? Delivering parcels and letters is all they bloody well do!

Banks.. we are so lucky here. For over 10 years now we have banked with the Bendigo Bank. And they have been brilliant. Highly personalised service that reminds me of the old days when my father would buy a new car. He would ring his bank manager and say something like.. "I am buying a new car, I need fifteen hundred pounds... good. I'll come in tomorrow and sign up." Almost the same at Bendigo. After being jerked around by ANZ, I would never bank with them or any other big bank  again. I once was part of a focus group where they gave us a list of 10 items related to our banking experience and asked us to put them in order of importance. After a bit of arg bargy, we had the list in order from 1 to 10. With one being the most important. The same list was given to senior banking staff to sort. They almost did the inverse of what we did. They had no idea! So here's a tip, instead of working out how to rip off the consumer, find out what he wants.. supply that and the money will come!

Cafes.. lucky here because we know the owner of one of our favourites (hi Bev) and always get good service. The local coffee shop near the boutique.. if Deb is busy they run the coffee around to her. Brilliant! They also know our names and know what we like. Magic stuff.

It's not hard to do you know!

Now the other side  of the coin is this.. if you get good customer service (as we did in New York) then tell the world about it and tell the person giving you that great service how much you appreciate it.

And tell their boss too if you can!

Friday, 26 June 2015

A new bike for a 12 year old.. and the magic of a handshake!

Funny how random thoughts can run through your head when you are actually trying to focus on something else.

Like this morning....

So I had a client in the studio for some hi key head shots, and it all went very well. So here I am sitting in front of my beloved MAC editing and density correcting images when I suddenly think about my approaching birthday. It's no secret.. 62 on July 3. Wow.. all those years.. where did they go?

And then I remember my 12th birthday... and in fact it was 50 years ago today my dad took my old bike (a hand me down from brother Paul) to Tom Wallace Cycles to have it restored for my 12th birthday.

Tom had been there a long time.. even then!

It is still so clear in my mind. We met Tom himself at the back workshop in the side street where he inspected the bicycle. A Rockhampton bought machine about 10 years old with a coaster/brake hub. Of course I chimed in with.. 3 speed Sturmey Archer gears, dynamo lighting, please... and on it went.

The bike was to be rebuilt, repainted in red with white pinstripes, fitted with new chromed rims, new tyres, new front and back brakes etc. Man.. it was everything a soon to be 12 year old could dream and wish for. So Tom and dad worked out the details like price (above my pay level) and a deal was done. Oh boy!

But my smile soon vanished....

"Now my son turns 12 next weekend.. will the bike be ready by then?" enquired my father.

"I am so sorry Mr Taylor, we are so far behind in the workshop.. best I can offer is two weeks!" lamented Tom Wallace.

Oh no thought me.. two weeks is a bloody lifetime away when you are in the late 11s...

Much to my horror, my father said, "That's fine Tom, a deal is a deal, let's shake on that."

And as soon as they shook hands.. Mr Wallace looked my dad in the eye and said.. "Mark's bike will be ready next Friday morning!"

Now this was right over my head... and when we got home..

"May.. Tom is a Mason!" said dad to mother.

To me it was amazing.... and sure as eggs.. next Friday morning the mighty bike was delivered. Turned out to be a new bike.. not Paul's old one. Talk about fooling me!

Ah.. happy days!

Better get back to these pictures...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

London, Gray's Elegy, Ron Taylor, his parents... and his son.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
         The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

In March 1979, as my father lay in his death bed at Royal Brisbane Hospital, he would often recite poems and verse he had learnt as a young man. In particular he loved "Elegy written in a country church yard" by Thomas Gray. More commonly known as Gray's Elegy it was composed by Gray as he sat in the church yard of St Giles in the village of Stokes Poge. In fact my father went to that same churchyard as a young man to think about just what had inspired Gray to write that piece.

So that was 1979 and now 2015 finds me here in London.. catching up with cousin Mark and also chasing family ghosts. Despite many trips to London this past 32 years, I had never seen the old Taylor home in Sydenham. The home where my father lived with his 9 siblings and from where he set out to join the British Army in 1914 to serve in the Great War. Cousin Mark knew the house and so we visited there...  I had no idea what I would find. And I had no idea of the emotions it would awaken in me. The home still stands despite the Blitz destroying homes just near by in 1940. It is now divided into flats. One upstairs and one downstairs. How did I know this? Well I didn't  until I knocked on the door.

The Ghosts of Taylors past!

 A man who was keen to hear of my quest to lay some ghosts to rest, answered the door. I suppose he was in his late forties and greying slightly. We went to the back yard with the well that my late father spoke of. (Now covered by a wood shed) He then left me to wander around and went back to his day... telling me that this was the most rewarding knock on the door he had ever had! So as I took the pictures and thought about my father and his journey from a boy to a man in the heat of battle, and then becoming my father some 39 years later.. the tears welled up in my eyes. And fell. Amazing how a house in the suburbs of London can have such an emotional impact on one's life. I only wish I had of had wisdom in my youth to come and see this while he was still alive... so many questions that now will never be answered...

From the back garden.

The woodshed on the RHS that covers the well.

This is it!

The shrubbery covers the front of the semi-detached home.

But back to Gray's Elegy....

My father's parents both died when he was living in Australia. (Christina in 1940 and George in 1947) Once he emigrated to the antipodes in 1925 he never saw them again. He returned to England for the first time in December 1968 and visited their graves in Kent. And despite my many trips to the UK.. I had never even thought about seeking out those two grave sites.

So off to St Mary's on our pilgramedge  to find the graves of my forebears. 

As we drove to Kent to St Mary's to search for my Grandparents' graves, cousin Mark told me of how he had last visited here when he was 16.. some 30 plus years ago. St Marys has a policy of letting the graveyard grow out of control to allow God's own creatures to have a place of refuge. 

But sometimes.. these things are not to be....

We searched but alas could not find the head stones that would perhaps give me more pieces to the story of my life as squirrels ran up trees much to Debra's delight. 

Despite our best efforts....

I stood in the back of the graveyard and took the following picture.. and I thought of that first verse of Gray's Elegy. It is worth repeating...

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,        
 The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

"Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, 
         Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap, 
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, 
         The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."

Just exactly where in that grave yard lie Christina Regina and George Baldwin Taylor I do not know. But having been there on that cold afternoon was a very emotional experience. I actually tried to recite to myself the first verse of the Elegy.. but again the tears welled up in my eyes.

A very overgrown yet very beautiful scene.. and as the night began to fall, the English rain came down and hid my tears.

Time to leave.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bikes: GTM out for a Duck!

Well it has been some time since I have written about a bike trip. That might be because it is some time since I have been anywhere of note. (Apart from delivering stuff to the hospitals for the bride's shop.)

So.. all the way from the USA is Todd. A fellow member of the Global Community of ADV (Adventure) riders. Todd is in Australia on business and had a day free for a ride. When he was last here, my riding buddy Gregor organised a day out.. so this time I went along for the ride too!

So yesterday morning at 07:30 hours finds me outside the Marriott Hotel in Brisbane where I meet Todd. I notice Gregor has brought his 650 Suzuki, not his 990 KTM.. this usually means the roads less travelled will be "interesting"... and here I am on Maximus Obesus.. all 260 kg of him.

First stop is Canungra for coffee and ice cream for Gregor and Todd while I have breakfast. (OK.. I slept in!) From here it is off to O'Reilly's Guest House. At this point I am in the lead and come across this series of signs on the fence at a turn off along the road.

Are these signs for real?

The ride up to O'Reilly's is great and eventually you come out through a canopy of rain forest. It is so long since I was here last. They now have a regular car park instead of cars all over the place and the road is bitumen. My first trip here back in early January 1970 with Ken Brand piloting his mother's Morris Major Elite was hot and dusty. Today it is just hot.. but as we rise into the plateau the temp drops.

Todd's view of me on Max in the forest!

Now Bernard O'Reilly who founded the guest house dynasty up here was a national hero when he found the crashed missing Stinson Air Liner back before WW2. The authorities were looking closer to the coast and even out to sea for the wreckage. There were three initial survivors and two eventual survivors ... and Bernard organised the rescue of these two men. I have been fortunate to have visited Westray's Grave on Running Creek and even the crash site itself. But even in 1971 the souvenir hunters had taken so much of the wreck away. Sad really. Tip: Google Stinson Crash QLD and read all about it!

In 1988 during our Bi Centennial year, they made a movie about the incident starring our own Jack Thompson. For the movie they made a life size prop.. a Stinson Airliner. This prop is still there but sadly it is falling apart in the weather, much like the crashed original.

This plane will never fly again.. actually it never flew at all!

Expanded foam radial.. must run cooler; has plastic exhaust pipes!

So.. after inspecting the Stinson, there is time for a quick drink and a rest break while Todd meets a couple of the local birds and then we will be off again!

Meeting a new bird!

Meanwhile back in the car park....

So from here.. Gregor decides we should be out for a duck. Duck Creek Road that is. This is a steep alternative route up and down from O'Reilly's.. and is 4WD only.. and "Do not use this road in the wet". Now I know why Gregor brought the Drug Runner and not the Kato. Naturally.. me being the biggest.. I get sent first. I think Gregor's theory is that I will make for a soft pillow if he lands on me. Just as we run into the start of the road a 4WD comes up.. and tells me there are 3 more behind hm... and as we find out later even more behind them.

This road is very muddy and slippery at the top and just when you get past all of that.. it goes down.. right down and so steep too with wash outs and tricky mud at the sides just waiting for fools like us!

At some more "flat" sections of the track I mange to capture these pictures.

Gregor and Todd. Todd had road tyres on.. well done mate!

Gregor the sneaky one left his KTM 990 at home.. I'll get even mate!

This road was formally opened in 1988 as a "Do it yourself road" according to this plaque.

On this spot in 1988 etc etc..

At this point we grab some more pictures before the final terrifying descent to the valley floor below us. I still don't know how I managed to get the beast down here and not drop it once. But I do know I used full 46 years of motorcycling experience and it seems to work.

Two thirds of team GTM.

The view ain't had bad from up here.

So finally we get to the bottom. I have no pictures of this because it is so steep one cannot really stop and get off for a photo opportunity. A couple of Pajeros and Land Rovers pass us going up in low range.. finally when we are on the valley floor we pass a Nissan X Trail heading up. Good luck mate! At this point we have lost Todd. He has literally fanged down the mountain on that Yamaha 660 like the man from Snowy River.  Eventually we find him at the gate where a donation box is set up asking for funds. I think it is to raise donations to cover the cost of the funerals for those who die making the trip up or down!

Here's Todd.. looking for any dropped money! (Not really)

So it is off to the bitumen and across a magic hill to reconnect with the highway. This hill is steep, well bitumened and deserted.... so I switch the S10's engine map to sport and wind up the wick. Just magic. The tacho needle sweeps to the redline, up a gear, throttle wide open  and back to the redline and well.... we are now are speeds that would be viewed upon very sternly by the members of QLD's finest. But talk about exhillarating!

The rest of the trip is something like this:

1. Drinks at Rathdowney.

2. A Tour of some diggers farm as Gregor's GPS takes us up into the hills to a locked farm gate.

3. Refuel for Todd at Boonah and we manage to lose Gregor. (Really sorry about that mate)

4. I escort Todd all the way back to Capalaba to return his bike.

5. The bride rings and asks me to collect a chicken on the way home for dinner.

Here is my Spot Satellite tracker map showing the trip:

The magic of the space age!

All in all a magic day out. Some 415 kilometres covered and really great riding. Arrived home with no sore back or bum (bonus!) and some great memories. Gregor, the trip was magic, even the Duck Creek part and Todd.. well mate you are easy to get on with and we hope you come back again really soon.. so we can do it all again!

It is magic being part of a Global ADV community that allows for trips such as this to be arranged.

I am indeed a lucky man!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Have you written anything lately?

Well that's what my friend said.. and the answer is ... no! My prodigious output of fluff has dried up as we sort out a new home. At last we have a block of land in Hendra and a builder lined up.

At this point I must thank Aaron my local Bank Manager who has been fantastic sorting out all of the details for us to go ahead. I had not realised how stressful this would be.. and they haven't even surveyed the site yet. But this will be a learning curve for both Debra and me.

Our new home (basic plan) will be much smaller than this old rambling Armagh House, but it will be modern with lots of insulation and ducted air conditioning. even into the garage so I may tinker with the bike in comfort. A lot of floor space here is my studio and gallery/sales room.. so we will have a scaled down studio that will double as a home theatre, a client lounge area and a small office. Probably more comfortable for clients that what we have now!

And.. a toilet they can use without having to walk through our kitchen too! Bonus! Add to this a small pool, and a new shed (a bloke has to have a shed) and this should be neat. Of course all of this change will mean Deb needs to drive to work rather than walk... and we do have one slightly used 125 year old house to sell.. but there you have it.

How hard can all of this be?

Yes.. that's what I thought too! I was supposed to be at the movies tonight for a fund raiser with Debra.. but even though I have prepaid to see the Second Best marigold etc.. I just wanted some quiet time to be still!

That's it! I have seemingly forgotten to take time out to be still!

And just to be controversial... here in QLD we now have a Premier and her Government who didn't expect to win and an opposition who didn't expect to lose.

Watching the new government bringing down their budget while keeping all of the election promises of no cuts. no sales of assets and no new charges and/or taxes.. will be interesting.

Yes thats it.. this government may find itself in interesting times!

Lookout Queensland!