…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - The Wide Brown Land 1

A pimple on the bottom.

Back in June you had a glimpse of a trip that was to cause a major shift in my life.  It was quite some adventure, as a few of you noted.  I have decided it is time to begin at the beginning of that particular journey.

Settle in.  This could take a few posts.

There I was, getting on with life in Edinburgh, working in the agricultural research wing of the Edinburgh University - East of Scotland College of Agriculture [ESCA].  (This has some relevance that will become clear later).  My good friend, mate of school days and moments of mayhem, sister of spirit, 'Aitch' calls up one fine day and says, "I have to go to Hong Kong and I think I will drop by Australia after, are you coming too?"

Now I had many things in life that I could choose to do and at that point, most would have won the battle over which comes first… e.g. eat hot chips by the rocky shores of the Firth of Forth or visit Australia?

"Why do you want to go to the 'pimple'?" I asked back.  You see, in geography when we had researched that part of the Earth's anatomy, it was not a place that sat up and demanded to be known any further than the pages on the map.  I had parts of Europe, North America, India and such still to get to.  It must be said, though, that one of the places I DID want to see, was Hong Kong.  By offering that first, my attention was caught.  I just wasn't convinced of the need to go swanning around the nether regions of the planet.

"Mum has long-term friends in Perth and also over in NSW that I would like to visit," said Aitch.  This triggered a memory of having had a pen-friend in Adelaide.  Nothing he had ever written struck me as being encouragement to travel in his direction.

Mostly what embedded itself in my mind had been mentions of multifarious poisonous critters in back yards and the advanced risk of swallowing flies.

Oh - and cricket.  That was a plus.  Mac3 having played for his school in cricket (not a big sport in Scotland, but he went to a posh place), I had become rather enamoured of that particular activity and one thing was clear, Aussies LOVED it.  So they had something going for them.  The other attraction was sheep.

Let me explain that briefly.  My mother's side of the family were shepherds.  Specifically, the elder and younger uncle were the 5th generation of a genuine shepherding tradition in the crofting and hill-farming style of Scotland.  I can recall even in my very early years, that grandad still ran the sheep to market by walking them over the hills.  Then trucking became the thing and that tradition disappeared with many others.

Thus, ending up in connection to farming, albeit in a city-based environment, my understanding of what farmers had to deal with grew significantly.  A project of particular interest was the wool industry and the Australian classifications on Marino wool were world standard.  I should make clear I was merely the number cruncher on a variety of different research projects, but naturally one's own interest was stimulated.  

I digress; but this demonstrates how I had to dig deep to justify to myself why - even for Aitch - I should subject myself to such a trip.

Then the brochures arrived.  The planning began.  The Blurb designed to lure the Sceptical Tourist Fishy began to work its magic.  STF began to feel the call of adventure - travelling for endless miles over featureless lands, leaving one point of worth to arrive at another, with not a lot in between.  Adventure genes had been discovered early in life when mini-STF had scared the bejingles out of the parents by going rock-climbing on a summer trip to the Cairngorms.  At all of two and half years of age I apparently showed great promise and I am certain that if any true mountaineer had been present they would have offered money to apprentice me.  Parents tend not to be of the cliff-face ascending mentality however.

Apologies, that was another mental side trip, but it all goes to show how involved this major journey decision was for the STF.  However, a major factor in saying "yes" to Aitch, was that she was, after all, my best friend and her brother was getting married and required two witnesses of long acquaintance.

That would be us.  I won't linger on the details of it.  It was good enough reason though, to organise some fascinating sight-seeing - including the going up to high places and seeing the vista which is this amazing island.  Experiencing lychees for the first time began a life-long love.  However, by the time our handful of days had ended on that part of our six week journey, I had seen enough to know that the Orient was perhaps not the place for me.  I appreciated being there, but felt no great pull to return.

Our market shopping trips had ensured, though, that we both carried to OZ a Chinese-style sun hat - you know the type, made of palm leaves and bamboo - or maybe they were bamboo leaves too…  wide of brim and guaranteed to start a conversation.  Effective shade-shedders.  Not that great for packing.  Remember these hats, Dear Reader.

So it was that we finally headed down-under.  First stop Perth, Western Australia.  At this point, STF still had a soupçon of reservation about going to what amounted to an enormous desert island.  However, as we were met by the R-family friends (still with their Suffolk accents), driving to their property in the Swan Valley region, something started to happen.

Regular features tomorrow and Tuesday, but this tale will continue on Wednesday!


  1. Hari Om, Yam! The story begins! This is what I have been waiting for! Indigo x

  2. Can't wait for the bus episode. Keep it coming. Oh aus election called for 6th sep. you might have to vote at the aus embassy in Mumbai.

  3. Hari Om
    Indigo mate - hold yer water cobber!

    Mahal - not if they can't find me...

  4. Looking forward to Wednesday. I've never been to Perth. Explored much of coastal Queensland, did a bit of Sydney (the Zoo, because I had young brother-person with me, and a play at the Opera house because I thought young brother-person lacked culture).
    I did, however, have a longtime friend who came from Perth. She died last year, and is much missed.
    Luv, K

  5. Hari OM
    I really like Perth as a city - but it's so far away from everything else - even in OZ!

  6. Thank you for your comment on my blog. Usually I reply by email, but alas, you have a no-reply thingymebob, so no couldn't do.

    I find it fascinating to see how and why people end up over there as opposed to over here where it's safe and sound and secure and known. So, count me in!

  7. Hari OM
    Welcome Mara! (Didn't know I could have a choice on email return in Blogger...will investigate!) Thanks for joining in!


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