Barcelona..Travellin’ with the Penguin

Sunday 19th May

This morning I met Glynnis, ftom Perth, who was at breakfast and participating in our small tour. Our meeting drinks are tonight when we meet the others and the guide.

I woke at 4:00 am as young people poured out of clubs, drunk,  singing sporting songs as loud as they could, fully lubed. Sporting songs sound the same in any language.

I fell asleep very early last night and felt rested. Once it got light, around 5:45 I walked around the block and took photos. Several people with their well oiled mates stopped and posed for me. It was very funny.

After breakfast my Florida friend and my new friend, Glynnis and I set out to explore Las Ramblas street. A popular tourist destination. We walked a long ways down the street until we hit water. Overall I walked 10 kms today. I will leave you with some of the photos.

Markets, families, tourists, balloons
Colourful cafes
Art and statues
Street entertainer, Don Quixote
Penguin and I share a beer.
When Mr P and I travel I always take a photo of his first beer of the trip. He’s home with pets so I had to do it for him. Here’s to Mr Penguin.


Have Arrived in Barcelona

Those who live in Australia will understand the no man’s land that is “travelling to Europe”. One hour from Hobart to Melbourne, 14 hours to Abu Dhabi, a couple more airport hours then seven hours to Barcelona. It does seem never ending but I did watch three movies, read some of The Joy Luck Club and dozed a bit.

My bags stayed right with me and Penguin jumped out completely unscathed.

I met up with my Florida friend who arrived a couple of hours after I did and waited in my room while the hotel got her room ready.

We were a bit hungry so walked across the street and found a nice bakery with beautiful pastries, sandwiches and pizza. They also had nice coffee. It feels like it should be midnight but is only around noon.

Next door to the bakery is a beautiful book store. We noticed it immediately. No flies onnus. We headed straight into it. Too tired and flaky to notice the name of it but we are in this hotel until Wednesday so might remember to look at it. Our tour group of no more than 20 people begins Sunday night with a welcome drink. I’m having fun teasing my American friend who joined us from Florida who will be amongst all the Australians.

I will put photos at the end of my posts as I’m using my tablet and it doesn’t seem possible to configure images. You might have giant images with little writing. Here are a couple of photos.

The camera bag and home for Penguin are ready
Hobart airport
Leaving Abu Dhabi
The beautiful little journals I found in the book store. Penguin got right onto them.
Yes, this photo is fuzzy. It’s how we are seeing things at the moment.

Don’t believe all those glossy, glorious photos you see of people travelling on Instagram. The reality is not that fresh. Until later…

The Joy Luck Club for Travel Reading

I leave for Europe on Friday morning for approximately one month.  I’m catching up with two women friends travelling to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

I wanted something

Although I travel with Kindle books I do love this Penguin cover of all of the covers I’ve seen of this book.

big but not too heavyweight to read on the plane and in my hotels.  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a book I have always wanted to read. I remember reading the wonderful book Wild Swans years ago by Jung Chang. What I loved about that book was not only learning much more about China and the politics of the Cultural Revolution but I loved the families involved. I never forgot that book and the Joy Luck Club seems a similar type of novel.

Good Reads describes it as:

Amy Tan’s beloved, New York Times bestselling tale of mothers and daughters

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.Snip20190515_2

Wikipedia describes:

Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) as an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese American experience. Her novel The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a film in 1993 by director Wayne Wang.

Tan has written several other novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement. Tan’s latest book is a memoir entitled Where The Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir (2017).[1] In addition to these, Tan has written two children’s books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series that aired on PBS.

Despite her success, Tan has also received substantial criticism for her depictions of Chinese culture and apparent adherence to stereotypes. (Hmmmm…We’ll see.)

I downloaded a Kindle Read/Listen copy of this book and began it a couple of days ago. It has already drawn me into it a bit. As I seldom sleep well on a plane,  I look forward to settling on my long flight with my headphones and tablet, ready to disappear into another realm.

This book was developed into both a play and a film also, neither of which I have seen. I’ll let you know what I think of this once I finish it.

I hope to put up a few travel photos and stories of my trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  I will be more focused on photography than book stores but if I come across anything interesting about either I will be sure to save and hopefully share it.

I do find travel exhausting and night time often has me stretched out on a lovely hotel bed with my tablet, books and reviewing the day’s activities. I don’t like television in hotel rooms as at the end of the day I prefer silence.

I return home about mid June. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll produce a few things on this blog but it will be basic as I’m not taking my laptop and my tablet does funny things with photos on Word Press.

PS-  Penguin is leaving the page tomorrow and getting in the suitcase to share the experience. I will send photos of him as it is always fun to travel with a Penguin.

Camera Penguin
Looking forward to snuggling in my case.

A Day Spent in the Cemetery

thumbnail-14I have a friend who I spend time with once a week taking time out to draw.  Neither of us have a great deal of drawing experience and although I feel I draw on the level of a five or six year old I really have fun doing it. So if people think it’s ridiculous, who gives a flying ……fox?

Yesterday my friend chose the venue of the large Hobart cemetery in Cornelian Bay. We arrived with our coloured pencils and pens and went to an old section of the cemetery.  We knew we would perch on the edge of a grave so we chose older ones as we didn’t think anyone would arrive to visit.  There must be several hundred thousand graves in this place.

Nobody was around. We did notice a service going on in the chapel but that was on the other side of this very huge landmass of graves.  There are bushrangers buried in this cemetery from the 1800’s. As we drove around we looked at the various areas and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place. thumbnail-3

We spent quite a bit of time looking at the beautiful pots that were cemented in place on many graves. The ceramics and designs are quite old and beautiful.  I should have photographed those but I wasn’t thinking at the time I would write a post about this.

My friend chose a place to sit down and then I walked a bit away from her and chose my own spot. If we sit too close to each other we talk and don’t get any drawing done.

We never would have made it in the same school classes as young people.

This grave had two hens and a rooster on it.

I found a grave marked George xxxxx, (I won’t reveal last names) who died in 1943. He was alone with no other family stones around so I perched on the edge of his grave and told George I was going to spend some time with him.

I recently found this book of drawing faces at Amazon when I was browsing and thought it would be fun to have a go at some of these.  Once it arrived I fell in love with the book. It is full of whimsical and unusual faces, bright colours and heaps of directions for drawing faces.  I haven’t had time to really read it so while sitting there with George, I began to read the first chapter. thumbnail-6

I then proceeded to sketch out my first face.  The only sound was the birds and the pencils scratching on paper. I could raise my head and look out over the river and the autumn colours.

Then a small car drove by. It turned around and drove by again. I said to George, “Hey, what do you think they think if they see me sitting here with you drawing.” Of course he didn’t reply but I thought he must enjoy having a bit of company.

The car turned around once more and stopped. Right in the line of sight of a monument my friend was sketching. The car blocked her view. I looked back at her and she had put her pastels down and was waiting.

thumbnail-4.jpegWas someone going to jump out and tell us to get the hell out of the cemetery or wonder what we were doing?  Two women in their 60’s can’t be that threatening armed only with coloured pencils and chalk.

Then an elderly man got out and walked towards me. Just when I was getting ready to pack up and move away he stopped at the grave next to me.  He started pulling weeds. He straightened the flowers in a jar. He paused to reflect.  I put my head down and kept sketching pretending I didn’t see him.

He looked over and smiled.  I stood up and handed him a silk rose I had picked up that was unattended on a walking path. I was going to leave it for George but instead gave it to him.  He thanked me, put it in the jar and said, “Oh, that looks better.”

He then walked back to the car but said to me before he left, “Bye now, I have others still to visit” and he got in the car and the woman driving put the car in gear and they left. thumbnail-13

We didn’t see anyone else for the rest of the afternoon. My friend and I both looked at each other and laughed. All we could think of was, “for heaven’s sakes, there are a million graves and he visits the one next to us. What are the chances?” and burst out laughing.

Next time I’ll get the Penguin off the page and take him along. I think he might like that kind of humour.



Interesting Travel Writing

Snip20190506_4My favourite genre of books has always been travel writing. I enjoy reading books and blogs and looking at Instagram photos of people who travel a lot.  With my added interest in photography and street photography in particular, I can never indulge in too many of these books.

I am almost finished with an audible book I’ve been listening to by a young American, Christian, gay man (in his 30s) named Jedidiah Jenkins. The title of the book is To Shake the Sleeping Self.

He and a good mate ride their bicycles from Seattle, Washington to Patagonia in South America.  I am really enjoying their story.  He paces himself well with his writing and there are interesting conversations between the two friends about faith, gayness and being Catholic and the conflict that involves while also sorting his relationship to other family members. He grew up in Tennessee but moved to California once he became an adult.

His parents divorced and he was raised by his devoutly Christian mother who lived her life by the teachings of the bible.  His mother believes being gay is a choice and she does not understand why he would choose the lifestyle. She believes he can change if he puts his mind to it and will not accept her son’s truth.

He comes out more and more as he has time on his long rides through endless deserts to really get to know himself and think about all the issues that are raised. He has a strong Christian faith and his thoughts are interesting.

He also describes his mate, Weston well. Weston doesn’t have much money, worries

Jedidiah (Jed) Jenkins- author

about nothing but is a really deep thinker about the world and the purpose of life. He has cycled through being born again Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and is now an atheist. He also loves weed, mushrooms and tries cocaine once they get to Columbia.  He decides he doesn’t care for coke. He embraces life experiences completely and nothing seems to upset him on this journey. Their experiences with the local people, the hostels and camping they do off road in hammocks hidden from view, their illnesses and the beautiful places they visit really keep me interested in the story.

The audible copy I have is narrated by the author and he is a good writer and a great reader. I feel like I’m really in their heads as they experience this trip.  They took this trip around 2013 or 2014. They were on the road for more than a year and I’m currently in Ecuador with them.  I am assuming they make it to Patagonia but I have not finished the book yet so I don’t know if they’ll get there or not.

There are parts where I think he’s a bit self indulgent but I imagine if this were my trip I would be too,  simply because you’d have so much time to think. Some of the stretches of road they ride really do seem unending and writing about it and the thoughts that go through one’s head do tend to go on.

I remember in 2010 when I rode my 250 cc Scooter on a charity ride from Hobart to Longreach, Qld then to Rockhampton and back down the coast to Hobart. I rode 7300 kms in three and a half weeks.  There are very long stretches of very straight roads in Queensland that go on forever and I only had my own thoughts in my helmet.  I would sing songs from childhood I remembered, I relived lots of memories, I had creative ideas for future plans. You just don’t know what you’re going to think when on these long trips with only yourself for company.

I can recommend this book if you are interested in these topics.

Speaking of which….. I leave for Europe Friday week so stay tuned as I hopefully will have enough energy to write at the end of some days.  I should have time to write as I’ll be in a room by myself each evening as Mr. Penguin is staying home taking care of our menagerie and I’ll be with two girlfriends. We’ll see.  I will post some photos up on Instagram here and there but hopefully I can get a blog post or two together.

Until then….Snip20180427_2

Weekend Wander – April

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My view when I got up.

When I woke up the other day I looked out the window and saw sun, bright leaves and no wind. As I am off to Spain, Portugal and Morocco in three weeks time with two girlfriends I thought I’d better get a bit fit. We are on a small tour (with our own rooms so we’ll continue to be friends) and the tour company requires one is able to walk at leasts three kms on cobblestone and up and down stairs. I got dressed, grabbed my camera and decided this was another walking day. I’ve had quite a few of these over the past couple of months.

I had Mr. Penguin drop me off in South Hobart which is only three kms down the road and I decided to head into the city, another three to four kms to the centre. I needed a plan. Elizabeth Street runs north and south through Hobart. I decided once in the city, I’d head straight up this street into North Hobart. It is a slow incline uphill as one walks, enough to get your heart rate up and the next task was to plan my destination. There is a Cat Cafe in North Hobart and I thought I would go there and get some toast and have a coffee to reward myself. Off I went. This is the walk.


I began the journey at the top of MacQuarie Street and headed into the city.
Once in the city I sat in the Elizabeth Mall and practised a bit of street photography. I do enjoy watching people. This woman had her husband under control and following her without argument.


I liked the shop front signs as the woman seemed to ponder the 3INA Makeup 
On the north end of the Mall I headed towards North Hobart in the distance.
I thought I should look up once in awhile. When in cities we tend not to see what is above us. Hobart has some lovely old architecture if one just stops and bothers to look at it. 
Here is another building that will be 100 years old next year.  
As I walked along this fenced in churchyard an older man came up to me and stopped. I thought he would ask for directions. I stopped and looked at him. I enjoy talking to people on the street. He smiled and said, “If you ask for sustenance, it will come.” I said, “Yea, you’re probably right.” He smiled and walked on. That’s what I love about walking. 
I arrived at the Cat Cafe and they were closed. I guess they are taking Easter week off as so many people are doing. I squatted down and took photos of the cats through the window. They all looked fat and happy. 
Farther on there is a corner restaurant that has all day breakfast. I sat outside and noticed how many dogs were sitting quietly under tables. There were more dogs than prams which always makes me happy. This collie was attentive to a Rottweiler puppy across the way who was chewing on everything he could find under the picnic table while the two women above chatted quite happily. When he started eating the dirt out of a pot plant they intervened. 
This couple on the left intrigued me. I would guess newly dating. He talked and talked and talked and talked some more. They were dressed in very trendy clothes and have their whole life in front of them. I kept thinking though I wanted to tell the young woman to get up and leave and don’t look back because he had no interest whatsoever in anything she had to say. I think I saw her open her mouth once.  When I went to pay for my coffee, eggs and toast he was still talking. It was definitely all about him today. 
Now, This guy has a bit of a story. In the Mercury Newspaper there is a classified ad that makes absolutely no sense published several times a week. It is always :Attention- Croatian Name. It mentions something that happened in the 1990’s but is not coherent and monetary figures are involved. It’s like a secret code you’d see in those British crime dramas. He walked past me, stopped turned around and handed me a note. It was a classified ad he had photocopied of the ones seen in our newspaper each day. His English was bad as he explained it to me. I smiled and thanked him for it and he walked on. When I got home, I showed it to Mr. Penguin and he said, “Oh that guy is nuts. He’s in the paper, blah blah blah”. I googled his name and there is an actual facebook posts with more than 1000 followers of people who are trying to decode the messages. People photograph the ads and then between them try to work out what they mean.  I thought, “Wow, a Hobart underbelly.” I followed him down the street and he cut off the main road and went around the back of a pub and disappeared.  I won’t put this photo on the FB page as they have enough to talk about. 
This is the coded message he handed me. Any thoughts?

I then headed back into the city and turned up the hill towards South Hobart to wait for the next bus home.

Camera Penguin.png
8 kms under our belt today.


A Bit More About the Sailing Vessel I Wrote of Yesterday

thumbnail-6I had some interest by some to know more about the boat trip I wrote about yesterday on the Huon River in Tasmania.

I found the brochure from Yukon Tours this morning and thought I would share the information from it with you.  Just a short post.

thumbnail-7The blurb on the back of the brochure describes the boat as this:

Built of Oak in 1930 the privately owned Danish sailing vessel Yukon was rescued in 1997, by Australian shipwright David Nash and his Danish wife Ea Lassen, from the bottom of a harbour near Copenhagen and carefully restored Yukon is available for private and corporate group bookings, accommodating 8 overnight and 28 day guests The crew are ask experienced sailors. They always aim to give you a joyful and safe adventure.thumbnail-5

All Photos are taken from Yukon Tours Brochure.

Remember to take your camera.