Friday, April 3, 2020

Let them drink wine

C brought us some essential supplies last night. The Police Commissioner has clamped down on alcohol sales, so I can’t get these delivered any more and there are limits on sales at bottle shops. I’m not going shopping. It’s two weeks since I visited a supermarket.

JL’s grandson got married today. It was to have been a splendid affair, months in the planning, at Wise Winery near Dunsborough. The new law on social gatherings states only 5 people could be present, i.e. the celebrant, bride and groom, plus two others. 10 are allowed at funerals.

One of the passengers from the Artania cruise ship has died in Joondalup Hospital. It turns out that most of the crew are Filipinos and Indonesians. No wonder they don’t want to go back home. The Norwegian captain is apparently a TV star in Germany in a long running series about cruising.

Essential supplies!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Let them eat chocolate

Marie Antoinette famously said “Let them eat cake.” At the weekend, C replenished our chocolate supplies after a visit to Aldi. We only buy Woolworths Lindt when it’s on special, which it never is nowadays. I find it hard to make up a weekly order for Woolworths delivery, because I’m used to shopping every few days. I invariably forget something. We are now out of bread and my attempts at making focaccia have not been brilliant. JL said the first one was a bit hard; the second would have broken our teeth. It’s only good for croutons. I give up!

I am glued to Covid19 news. West Australian Passengers off the Vasco da Gama are now in quarantine on Rottnest Island. A group of sick German passengers off the Artania were supposed to go to two private hospitals, including Hollywood Hospital, where I had my hip replacement. The medical staff protested, saying they had no training for that kind of work, so the Government changed its mind and sent them to Joondalup where JL was treated for bowel cancer and broken ribs after falling off a ladder while pruning a grapevine. He is indestructible.

Incoming Australians arriving by air are now going to hotels for 2 weeks, paid for by the Government: first the Duxton in town and then, so we hear, the Crown next door to us. The Premier says he doesn’t care if they complain about lack of fresh air because they can’t open windows or if they don’t like the food. Tough! The policy is protecting the community because people coming home previously were not self isolating. Getting home is not easy for some and many people are stranded in S. America unable to get a flight.

I’ve been watching the vlog of Greg Virgoe, an English van lifer, who had to drive his campervan back from the Algarve in 3 days. He travelled in a little convoy with some others who had dogs and needed a lot of paperwork from vets to pass through. He is now appealing for people to offer a parking space for vanlifers who have nowhere to go in the crisis.

The weather is beautiful and we are lucky that we can still get out for a walk. I was down by the river this morning, giving others a wide berth.

Hissing swan statue. 

They can be quite fierce. Once one flew straight at me in a ferocious manner. Years ago in England, one tried to steal C’s rag doll and bit off its head because she held on to it so tightly.

Friday, March 27, 2020

More Moroccan memories

This follows on from Rachel's post. We are all armchair travellers now!

Fifty-odd years ago I was in Morocco. Allen, my late husband and I went on a camping trip every year, mainly to Spain but also to surrounding countries. We had quite a large tent, which took a long time to put up and take down. We ate out every other night and survived on M and S tinned goods for the rest of the time. Usually, we took a ferry from Southampton to Northern Spain. I was often seasick if the Bay of Biscay was rough; we were in separate, segregated cabins for four - the cheapest - low down on D Deck, where the waves bashed against the ship above our heads!

Anyway, on to the Moroccan trip.  We reached Tarifa in Southern Spain and had to while away an afternoon in a beachside cafe, awaiting the car ferry to Tangiers. We ordered Sangria and they served us a huge jug, liberally laced with alcohol and lots of fresh fruit pieces floating amongst the ice cubes. It was the best ever and allayed any anxiety we had about the unknown territory of Africa.

I wish I had kept a diary of those days. All our photos were on slides, long since lost as I've moved around the world to work. I can only remember bits and bobs. Once some local boys offered to guard our car for us and spat "Jews" when we refused to avail ourselves of this service. We must have visited the famous Roman site of Volubilis, as Allen was an archaeologist, but I have no memory of that. We certainly went to Marrakesh and visited the teeming central square. I think we hired a local guide to show us around the maze of the market. We didn't buy a carpet but we both acquired a hand-made djellaba to wear.

The next adventure was over the Atlas Mountains to Erfoud and Ouarzazate. It was hot driving along those desert roads, and hardly any other cars were on the roads. I remember arriving at one camp site which was beset by hungry stray dogs. A French woman in a caravan advised me to pick up a handful of stones whenever I went across to the shower block, in order to throw them at these dogs. Somewhere we saw the famous "blue men" come to trade at the market. There was nothing much to see at the time (now it's very developed for tourists), but we did hire a guide to take us on a breathtaking drive to see the sunrise over the dunes - in our own car, which somehow survived the trip! It was a newish Renault 6.

After the Coronavirus crisis, I want to go again. I've already bought the guide book. I think I'll have to go with a group tour as women on their own are suspect over there.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Where in the World...?

I’m into blogging, but other people do vlogging and post their videos on YouTube. These vlogs require a lot of work in the final editing, but the best ones make a decent income from advertising and sponsorship. Some of my favourites are listed below. I watch them on long boring afternoons. You can easily find them on YouTube.

Sara Dhooma

She is a Canadian long distance hiker. I first came across her when she hiked many of the Spanish Camino trails, but she has been everywhere! Her latest treks were in South America, in Patagonia, and then she was lucky enough to get a discounted ticket on an Antarctic cruise. Sometimes she posts everyday; then there is a few weeks’ hiatus while she travels elsewhere. I think she’s back home in Canada now. She tries the local beer wherever she goes, much of it paid for by her loyal followers!

Eamon and Bec

This Canadian couple are currently trapped in Morocco in their campervan, a Sprinter which they converted themselves for a nomadic lifestyle. They post a video every Sunday, which gives them a substantial income, together with online sales of their special blend of chai. They are vegans and have also published a recipe book of healthy meals. They have travelled in England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Spain in their van and seem to have come to a full stop on a beach near Agadir. They have just started posting daily work-out videos from this beach in a 21-day challenge which you can join in.

Athena Mellor

I’m interested in this girl because she must be a distant relative of mine. My maiden name was Mellor and we both come from Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. She vlogs about hiking and climbing in Britain’s National Parks, and is writing guide books to these. Currently she is confined to her lovely rented cottage in the Peak District and goes for lonely sunrise and sunset walks with her dog. She captures brilliant photos, including snow scenes from a recent trip to the Cairngorms.

Gathering of ducks on my early morning walk: they don’t know about social distancing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Not so long ago, we were watching Cruising with Jane MacDonald and enjoying her infectious enthusiasm and broad Yorkshire accent. Now these huge floating palaces have become a time bomb waiting to go off. There are two off the coast of Fremantle and another the Vasco da Gama expected tomorrow. Only the latter has Australian citizens on board and they will be sent for quarantine to Rottnest Island. We’d like the other two to go on their way to Europe; take on fuel and supplies and just go. Our borders are closed so this is quite a moral dilemma for the government. One ship has 7 infected people on board.

This is in the light of what happened in Sydney, as a Labour Senator wrote in an opinion piece:

Kristina Keneally:

We have worked with the government to support their health messaging even as we have called for more to be done and more to be done more quickly. But when we look back at this coronavirus crisis, we will see that the Ruby Princess cruise ship is a tipping point. Let’s understand what this one ship has brought to Australia’s shores. We have now 133 passengers and counting from the Ruby Princess cruise ship that have tested positive for coronavirus. The Ruby Princess cruise ship coronavirus cases account for 10% of the cases in New South Wales and, quite tragically, there has already been one death.
Now, on the 15th of March, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced to the Australian public and I quote, “The Australian government will also ban cruise ships from foreign ports arriving at Australian ports.” Those were the prime minister’s words. 
He looked the nation in the eye and said there will be no more cruise ships. Except there was. There was another cruise ship – the Ruby Princess. It disembarked 2,700 people just four days after the prime minister made that statement. Just four days later, 2,700 people disembarked that cruise ship and now we have seen the disastrous results. As I said, 133 passengers and counting already tested positive. And as these people got off these cruise ships, they spread right across the country.
They went into taxis and public transport. They took domestic flights, they interacted with friends and neighbours They went to shops. Yes, they were directed to self-isolate but they were allowed to travel freely across the country. It is gobsmacking that we are in this circumstance today.

It appears that one quarter of all Coronavirus cases in Western Australia have originated on cruise ships.  It seemed like a good idea for a relaxing holiday, with no packing and unpacking. When the Vasco da Gama set off from Fremantle, the trip was heavily discounted and many hopped on board to take advantage. It was a really good bargain, they thought!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

At home

Life closes in with the Coronavirus numbers growing. Western Australia is not yet in lockdown, but JL and I are gradually getting into isolation mode because of our age. I last went shopping on Friday and will not go again. Our groceries will now be entirely via Woolworths Delivery. I’ve been using this for several years for heavier items; now it’s for everything. Not all items arrive, because of shortages. However, my freezer is full and my cupboards are well stocked. I am determined to have a good clear out (which has needed doing for a long time).

C is still going to work in Fremantle in the import/export company. Freight is still moving, and it’s difficult to work from home because there are big files of documents to access apparently. E is still going to school, which is only 3 minutes walk away. They have decided not to come over for our regular Friday night dinner in case they inadvertently bring the virus with them. E is sad because her Dad and half sister were supposed to come over from England at Easter. All that is cancelled now. They had booked to go glamping on Rottnest Island. We now hear that the island is being cleared in case it is required for large scale medical isolation.

On the bright side, all large outdoor concerts have been cancelled. All through summer there have been noisy events across the river at Gloucester Park and at The Camfield, WA’s biggest pub next to the Stadium. I make a point of emailing a complaint about the disturbance. They always reply that noise levels are monitored, but they don’t take into consideration that wind direction can greatly amplify these.

Perth is now experiencing another bout of unseasonal hot weather (35 degrees forecast today). Sadly our swimming pool has just closed. Libraries suddenly closed last week, but fortunately I had gradually collected 8 books which will keep me going for a while. We are lucky to have a big balcony and a lovely view to enjoy. Hairdressers are closed and I need a haircut...

Two black swans crossed my path at 7.30 am. Is this a lucky omen? An early morning walk is the best part of the day:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Camino 2020?

I don’t think so! I started this blog in 2013 and I’ve been on a Camino every year since then. These have all been brilliant holidays (even when injuries stopped me in my tracks). Now I can only read about it! This is a small part of my book collection:

Fortunately, I haven’t made any bookings that have to be cancelled. This is unusual for me, as normally I have everything planned and sewn up by January at the latest. I was toying with the idea of travelling along the Norte and into the Picos de Europa by public transport, since my bad knee will not cope with long days on the trail. Now my plans are on hold.

The Coronavirus is closing in. I’ve cancelled my weekly Seniors Exercise Class, as I’m not convinced the equipment is cleaned properly. Hopefully the weather is cooling down, so that daily walks in the fresh air are still feasible. Our weekly delivery of groceries from Woolworths is becoming problematic as more and more people try to jump on the bandwagon of online shopping. I used to order on Fridays for a Saturday morning delivery, but now you need to order two weeks ahead, such is the demand. At least we got some toilet rolls last week without having to fight for it in a supermarket aisle!

One blogger wrote that she had 5 bottles of Scotch stashed away. My stash is woeful in comparison: half a bottle of gin, half a bottle of whiskey and some Aperol. We do have a couple of cartons of red and white wine and one bottle of Aldi’s champagne. Should I get more?