Athens, The Parthenon, Corinth, Mycenea, Olympia, Ionian Coast, Delphi & Meteora.

Finished our travel and had an amazing time in Greece, followed the incredible journey of the ancient Greeks and their monuments….Tom & Heather.

Meteora a rock formation in central Greece. The 6 Eastern Orthodox monasteries are built on immense natural rock pillars that dominate this area.

Cheers…Tom and Heather

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Letter to Laura

My daughter Laura recently realised that, having reached the age of 70, my time on earth is beginning to peter out. “Would you please write me a letter that I can read once you’re gone, Dad?” she asked me recently.

“What sort of letter?”

“Just one I can read on days that I miss you.”

***

My dearest Laura

On the day that you popped out of your mum at the Royal Women’s Hospital here in Melbourne I was so happy to see you that I wept unashamedly. You were one of the ugliest babies that I had ever seen – yellow with jaundice and with a puffy face. Poor little thing, I thought sadly, no-one will ever want to take you out on a date. How wrong I was!

We bathed you in a small plastic bath on the kitchen table. The little bath was too big for you, so I would put my hand under your head and hold your head up to keep you afloat. I would look at you intently in the bath and try my best to imagine you as a schoolgirl and as a young woman, but I just could not. And look at you now!

When you were a little kid you were painfully shy, always clinging on to my leg whenever there was someone around that you didn’t know well. That certainly also changed. You are now one of the most extroverted people I know. But when you were small you were never shy with me. One morning they played Robert Palmer’s song “Simply irresistible” over the radio. “That’s you, Laura. You’re simply irresistible!” I picked you up and danced around the lounge room with you, singing along, while you shrieked with laughter.

We went to England when you were about two years old to visit Granny and Granddad. In those days we did not have much money and we were living on one income, so the overseas airfares for the four of us were a major expense. I suggested to your mum that she stayed on in England with you and your brother for a while longer after I had returned to Melbourne to go back to work. You remained in England for a further two months.

I was getting worried that you might have forgotten me completely by the time you got back to Melbourne. I was quite relieved when I met you at the airport and you put your arms around my neck when I carried you to our van. But as I was putting the bags in the boot, I heard you whispering to your mum, “Is that our Dad?”

Early in the piece I discovered that you had a really mischievous streak. Remember how you tricked me when we went to Warwick Castle in England. You were about six years old and we were walking on the castle wall. You peered through a gap in the wall and said, “Look down there, Dad.”

“No, I’ve got a terrible fear of heights. I can’t look down from here.”

“Just look down there, Dad. I want to show you something.”

Hesitantly I shuffled closer to the wall and peered down.

“Now just imagine you’ve fallen down and you are lying there at the bottom with all your bones broken,” you told me, laughing gleefully.

One of the highlights of my life was when the two of us went on that road trip to Queensland when you were thirteen. Your mum was visiting Granny and Granddad in England and we stayed behind. On an impulse we had decided to go to the Great Barrier Reef. It took us two and a half days to drive to Airlie Beach. You listened to a talking book and to your music CDs and read your books.

On the first day I stopped briefly to have a sandwich at a picnic spot next to the road. “Hurry up, Dad, we’re wasting time,” you nagged me. For a kid you were the best long distance traveller ever, never once asking how far we still had to go.

When we approached Airlie Beach in the late afternoon there was a hold-up in the traffic. In the distance we could see a bus and many cars, as well as the flashing lights of various emergency vehicles. As we approached I warned you, “I think there has been a terrible accident with a bus and there will probably be dead bodies. Close your eyes tightly and don’t look. I’ll tell you when we’ve passed the accident.” You peered eagerly through your window. Thankfully it turned out that the traffic jam was due to the torchbearer carrying the torch for the Olympic Games.

We went by boat to Hook Island and pitched our tent in the backpackers’ camping spot. It was sheer bliss.

Afterwards, we were just about to leave Airlie Beach to return home when you had your first period. I panicked. “Damn it, where is your mum when I really need her?” I groaned. In desperation I went into a pharmacy and asked the lady behind the counter for advice. You were totally unfazed by it all.

We had barely left Airlie Beach when you asked, “Hey, Dad, could we go to Sydney on the way back to Melbourne?” And that is what we did. Our whole road trip took a mere ten days. You never complained once. No wonder you have always been my very favourite travelling companion.

We sent you to a boarding school in Cape Town for six months when you were barely fifteen. I missed you so much that it felt as if my heart had been ripped out. Every week I called you. Your main topic of conversation was about money. “Dad, I’ve run out of cash. Can you send me some more please?”

The next year you went back to Cape Town, this time for the entire year. I’m not sure how I was able to survive it.

On your return to Melbourne you barely scraped through your VCE with very poor marks, despite having studied hard. Laura isn’t academically inclined, I thought to myself, but that’s not the end of the world. I’m sure she’ll find her place in life. But when you began studying nursing you aced everything and eventually went on to get your university degree. You certainly have found your place.

You haven’t lost any of that mischievous streak of yours. We would sit at the dinner table and you would describe in horrendous detail how you had seen a liposuction or a Caesarian operation at your work. I would start gagging on my food and beg you to stop. “Don’t be so precious, Tim,” your mum would admonish me. “You can see Laura is really interested in what she has experienced at the hospital.” But I knew full well that you were doing it on purpose to make me nauseous.

I am so very proud of you Laura, for what you have achieved and for the kind of person that you have turned out to be – one who respects and cares about your patients and about other people generally. You have brought me so much joy over the years. I will miss your cheeky smile enormously when I’m gone.

You will be reading this letter when I’m no longer here. You know me well enough to know that I would not want you to wallow in misery because I have departed from this life. You have your own life to get on with and other people who love you and who care for you greatly. You owe it to them to be positive and happy and to look to the future, instead of backwards over your shoulder at what has been.

Thank you for everything, dearest Laura. I was so blessed to have you in my life.

Love

Dad

Laura Jan 2017 - Fraser Island 01-1

Laura (January 2017)

Reflections of Spain and Portugal

Tom and Heather’s travels continue :-

The Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) near Madrid – a monument to those who died in the Spanish Civil War.
The monument precinct covers over 3,360 acres (13.6 km2) of Mediterranean woodlands and granite boulders on the Sierra de Guadarrama hills, more than 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level and includes a basilica, a Benedictine abbey, a guest house, the Valley, and the Juanelos — four cylindrical monoliths dating from the 16th century. The most prominent feature of the monument is the towering 150-metre-high (500 ft) cross erected over a granite outcrop 150 meters over the basilica esplanade and visible from over 20 miles (32 km) away.

A Snapshot of Morocco & Spain

In front of the Alhambra, ancient palace and fortress – Grenada

Having a great time traveling through Spain and Morocco. The temperature has been in the mid to high thirties and 44 in Marrakesh. Morocco was certainly different to what I expected, a very fertile country. Moving on to Tangier tomorrow then back to Spain and Portugal. Hi to all.

Jacko’s August Travels North

Our trip north was a dash to Narrandera for night 1…turned out to be
0c in the morning though. Then a long drive to Bourke and it was 1c the
following morning. Then we went on a bush road to Hungerford just over
the Qld border for some much better weather of mid 20s daytime, and cool
single figures overnight, so we stayed 2 nights at th CP….$11 per
night for power and full bathroom facilities….fantastic, but the pub
meal in the town of 9 permanents was superb. Currawinya NP was nearby,
so we explored the past of this vast sheep station, now NP

Shearing stands at the old wool shed -Currawinya Station

More bush road to Thargomindah for a snoop, then on to Quilpie on
another dirt track to camp on the banks of the Bulloo River. Nothing
better than a freedom camp with big camp fires for 2 nights. We had been
to Quilpie before, but didn’t see the Amy Johnson tribute, so nailed it
this time. An amazing adventure for a young British aviator in the
1930’s trying to beat a Bert Hinkler record crossing to Australia.

We have spent another 300km on a dirt bush road today from Quilpie to
Blackall where we will stay 2 nights…to do some washing and re-stock.
This “Channel Country” in Qld is amazing and challenging, for its
remoteness, flatness….hence the channels when it rains, and for its
harsh dry climate.

Here is photo of Blackall’s version of the Black Stump….this one
a survey peg from the 1860’s, but since blackened. All black stumps have
the common thread of marking the edge of nowhere!

Blackall’s black stump

Also some pics of the partially resurrected plant, funded by a
$100,000grant from PM Hawke, and massive vollunteer input from the local
community. The buildings have been recovered from desolation, and much
of the working plant stripped and overhauled to safe working order. The
plant was the only scouring plant for hundreds of kms, and sheep would
be herded for shearing and scouring from surrounding farms. Water at 58c
from the Great Artesian Basin (capacity…170,000 Sydney Harbours!!) was
heated and maintained at 60c for scouring, and the entire plant,
including workshop, and amenities, was run by steam from 2 boilers, and
the giant flywheel….returned to working order today. It is all started
up (now small diesel steam engine) to show the plant in running order
for every guided tour….every hour! They even have a dozen or so
merinos on hand to show what they would have looked like.

With the advent of synthetic fabric and subsequent demise of the wool
industry, hastened by the uncontrollable menace of wild dogs, there are
NO SHEEP in western Qld any more, now turned over to cattle. The
Blackall Woolscour Plant closed in 1978, and the town virtually
deserted. It is now making a steady comeback.

Nice town, with obvious civic pride and certainly RV Friendly

A Tribute to Kelvin Kaires *(KOM:NI) – Vale


It is with much regret that the men of OM:NI Diamond Creek reflect on the recent passing of Sir Kelvin (Kel) Kaires – friend, brother and much respected colleague. On 15th August 2017, at the age of 89, Sir Kel passed away peacefully in his sleep at home.
He spent 89 years traveling this planet meeting and inspiring people from all walks of life, excelling in electronics building his first television set and ignition systems still used in cars today, he was a small framed man with an inquiring mind full of wisdom which he graciously passed on to all that listened.
He understood the health issues and remedies of the human body and enjoyed a loving lifetime with his childhood sweetheart Val.
He joined the OMNI Diamond Creek discussion group as a founder member and became our mentor and grandfather/brother, we always looked forward to his input and humor in our meetings. He unified the whole group so much we created the Sir Kelvin Award, this became the annual award bestowed upon other worthy members of whom Kel would officiate having dressed in robes and placing a sword upon the shoulder saying rise Sir?
Illness prevailed over many months and Kel could not always attend OMNI but all that visited him came back with the same message I can’t wait to be with you all again, tell the boys I miss everyone of them and I love them all dearly.


Kel made such a difference at our Diamond Creek Group and he felt his time with us stimulated his thinking and re-invigorated his zest for life. How many times did he re-affirm his love for us and his gratefulness for making the last few years of his life worthwhile.
Ken Ramplin

What sad news that Sir Kel has passed away. I will always remember what a kick he got out of conferring the Sir Kelvin Award onto the next recipient. He always had some wise words for us all and he certainly enjoyed a joke.
Our memories of Kel will live on and always be remembered, may he be at peace.
Tom Hendry

Sad news indeed. A true icon and font of wisdom of OM:NI Diamond Creek. A lovely man, a unique man.
Nick Grange

Yes, sad news indeed. Kel was one of those guys who could always make the group laugh, with his humour and quick wit. He still always found time to listen to the rest of the guys. He will be missed as both one of the founding members plus the elder statesman.
Bruce McCorkill

Yes the sad loss of a real character. He acknowledged all with a cheeky word but an encouraging grin and respect.
A wealth of experience and jokes.
Phillip Davis

…Zebras and 2ltr vinegar bottles will just never seem the same again..
Anon

Sir Kel was at my first meeting, and his intellect and wit epitomized the essence of OMNI Diamond Creek. In return he genuinely loved us all with the humility he possessed and exuded. With great regret, I will be unable to attend Sir Les’s service or Tuesday’s memorial lunch for Sir Kel, but remain in the spirit of love and respect shared by every fortunate member of OMNI Diamond Creek.
Manhug and love to all
Barry Jackson

I met this wonderful man at my first OMNI meeting, and whilst warmly greeted by all present, Sir kel went out of his way to personally and privately welcome me into the group and assure me that I would easily fit in with all the guys as they were such a good group of men.
Over time I got to see what a wealth of worldly experience he possessed and how he was always willing to share whatever knowledge he had that he believed would be of benefit to all the blokes.
One of very few men I have met over my life time that never had any problems saying to another man “I love you”.
Sir Kelvin ,truly loved and missed.
Ron Wright

How lucky was OMNI that in 2011 you walked through those doors and into our hearts.
Thank you Sir Kelvin for role modelling that it’s okay for men to share feelings amongst each other.
That it was more than alright to show joy & pain, to cry and to laugh and to tell someone how much they really mean to you.
When we were looking for an icon to name our OM:NI Awards after, it was a no-brainer that you were the choice.
These are a few of my favourite images of you … and believe me there were many spectacular memories you so generously gifted.
Thank you for the privilege mate.
Larry Cahill

One of my favourite memories of Kel was when the lady journalist from the local paper came to an OM:NI meeting a few years ago to gather material for an article about our group. She asked Kel, “What exactly do you blokes get out of OM:NI?” To which Kel responded, “OM:NI has taught us to behave like women, that is, to talk to each other about the things that really matter to us and to open our hearts to each other.”
…Tim Bruwer

I met Kel some 5 years ago he was always jovial and serious but told many jokes repeatedly including the one about the Zebra; he was inspiring to be with. He also told stories of sailing around the Whitsunday islands off Queensland.
Daryl Morrow

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* KOM:NI – Knight of the Order of OM:NI

Leslie James Robertson (KOM:NI) – Vale

In memory of Leslie (Sir Les) Robertson who passed away peacefully on August 9, 2017 in his 88th year following a short illness. A man who contributed greatly to the Diamond Creek OM:NI group with his humour and poetry.

You’ll be missed Les.

The following poem was the first he ever presented to the group in October 2013.

 

STILL DREAMING

I ran around the kitchen, with a duster in my hand,
The family was coming and I wanted it looking grand.
You could see the footprints clearly, making patterns in the dust,
So, to keep them off my back – cleanliness was a must.

Since I’d been living here alone they sometimes check on me,
They’re doing me a favour, that much I could see.
Since my wife left for better care, that somehow, now she needed,
I also had outside to mind – and keep the garden weeded.

Often, I get lonely here, just me to make a noise,
The dog will sometimes bark a bit but I’ve not lost my poise.
The grass grows long and really thick, I have to use the mower,
Up and down and back and forth – I sometimes think I’m slower.

But I know lots of people who are not as well as me,
“Cos I can jog around the block, with the dog for company.
Now, I’m not as fit as I once was and I have to walk a bit,
And when that’s the best that I can do – I’ll make the best of it.

I’d like to have a woman here, to keep me on my toes.
Not too young and not too old, just middle-aged I s’pose.
perhaps I could just borrow one, if her love life isn’t finished,
She could show me all the tricks – till my love life’s diminished.

Then when I wake up and realize that I was only dreaming,
I wonder why my slow old brain hasn’t finished scheming.
If I’m alive at 105 and find I’m making plans,
I’ll have had a great life, not ever in strife ……
…………as good as any man’s.