The transition was quick; well, twenty five hours of flying swept swiftly past as we in our aeroplane chased the Sun towards the western horizon. We never did catch him however as there was an extra nine hours of time that Janis and I had to add on to our day to bring us in line with the massive difference between Tasmania and UK to which it would take us about a week to become fully acclimatised. Nevertheless the change was quick. One morning we were basking in tee-shirts and shorts enjoying the southern summer and the following one I was putting on my large overcoat again that I had tediously carried over my arm from aeroplane to aeroplane for the previous three months. It was all most confusing.
Colourful Parakeets at Surfers Paradise
But we were home after a very momentous three months which had all gone as smoothly as clockwork. Because of my previous travels in the Merchant Navy I had always considered myself a worldwide traveller but this time I saw sights and heard sounds that I had never experienced before. Apart from the earlier sea cruise around the North Island ports of New Zealand, the hundreds of miles that Janis and I journeyed on the West Coast of the country as well as those in Queensland and Tasmania were all parts I had never visited.
Large nocturnal Spider (web not visible)
We finally said goodbye to Janis’s sister Sharon on Wednesday 23rd February when she was kind enough to give us a lift from Burleigh Heads to Brisbane Airport through thick morning traffic. From here we were taken by Qantas down to Hobart where we picked up the local city shuttle which delivered us directly to the door of the Hadley Hotel in Murray Street. This accommodation was first class and in complete contradiction to the somewhat adequate but nonetheless comfortable facilities offered by the back packers hostels we had experienced up till then.
Tame and friendly Ibis
On the Friday the celebrations began for the Blue Star Line Reunion and carried on for the whole weekend. On Friday evening we old shipmates got together at a bar on the Elizabeth Street Pier, where our ships used to berth in their heyday. This was a getting-to-know-you-again time for me as I hadn’t met some of the ‘middle aged’ gentlemen there for around fifty years.
Deep in the Springbrook National Park
A Crimson Rosella
On Saturday evening there was a sumptuous dinner during which the memories came flooding back. Generally there was an exchange of these as things I remembered about our relationships my old friends had forgotten and similarly I was being reunited with experiences that had in turn totally slipped my memory. But all the reminiscences, as they should be, were happy ones and we had a great time. Even the wives and companions seemed to enjoy themselves and Janis of course, in her usual manner, soon began to mingle with great ease.
A dark blue Bindweed (?)
On Sunday morning the weekend event came to a close with a boat trip around Hobart Harbour. The weather was fine and remained that way as we made our fond farewells, promising to meet again at the next reunion in Christchurch in two years time.
We arrived at Heathrow early on Tuesday 3rd March and ironically it took us as long to travel from there to Warwick as it did from Singapore, where we briefly stopped for refuelling, to London. At Marylebone Station we experienced our first travel hiccup of the whole three months. Because of various stoppages along the Chilton Railway line we had to shuffle all our belongings from train to bus, back to train and then bus again before our final two minute train journey delivered us to Warwick from Leamington. Phew!
My hardy little Adventurer on the Hobart boat trip
But now, at last, our body clocks are back to normal, we are at beautiful Leamington Spa having covered the two miles from Kate Boats in Warwick yesterday morning. We are on our way south towards the Kennet and Avon Canal for our Summer Cruise, though before then we stay in Banbury for a while to have ‘Futurest’ and ‘Roots and Wings’ dry docked at Tooley’s.
Croci in Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa
Small Crocus with a big welcome home
It is lovely to be home; to hear and see all our familiar friends. Though there is a thrilling feeling at experiencing exotic Lyrebirds, sweet Frangipani blossom and exciting Kangaroos, it is wonderful to be loudly shouted at again by Mrs Mallard, to experience the sight of newly born lambs as white as snow and listen to the thin and tinkling ‘tseep’ of the Dunnock as he darts in and out of the hedgerows. Finally as I enter the Saloon of ‘Futurest’ there before me is a vase of smiling golden Daffodils happily promising the arrival soon of a fabulous English Summer. For what better welcome home could any man wish.
Smiling Golden Daffodils