The Local Holiday – Part Three

Review yesterday’s reflections on why people travel for their holidays before we go on.  And then consider why staying at home may meet all your needs.

a.  You wanted a change of scenery. There are new sights to see within a mile of your easy chair. You can go to them on a bus or train ( for free if you’re old enough ). You can walk to them in some cases. I’ll bet few of the readers have been to all four corners of their respective towns. Who knows what sights are to be seen there – I rode a local bus through what I thought would be familiar suburbs and found that the town has changed into a new place. And I was not riding some death-bus full of grinning bandits into unknown peril, at $ 10,000 a go.

b. You wanted a change of weather – this really amounts to wanting cool when it is hot and warmth when it is cold. Or dry when it is raining. Got news for you – Cool comes out of air conditioners – if you have one, use it. If you don’t, go to a mall that does.

Same thing when it is cold. Sit in front of the fire or go to a warm café. Libraries are warm and quiet and they have free entertainment for all ages. They also have seats and let you sit there reading all day if you wish.

Weather will eventually change anyway – in Melbourne, four times per day. Just be patient.

c. You wanted new food and drink. Oh, please…there are more restaurants in your town than ever you have eaten at. And more bars, pubs, taverns, etc. for exotic drinks. You cannot eat or drink more than a certain amount in any one day and all you have to do is go into a new joint and sample their menu. Most Australian cities have more ethnic variety in their eateries than any of the countries that they emulate. Where exactly is Generia , anyway? Their cuisine seems familiar, if bland.

d. New people? Go to a new pub, club, mall, church or temple, and look around. Go clean, friendly, and polite and you’ll meet people you want to meet. Every newspaper and radio station advertises groups looking for new members every day.

e. Duty Free? Really? Is it really a good idea to pay $ 10,000 in holiday money to come back with a giant half-price bottle of Johnny Walker? You could go to the local Dan Murphy and whack down $ 100 and come away with all the whiskey you can handle. A queasy liver at 1/100th of the cost.

f. Relaxation? If your idea of relaxation is sitting on a beach getting skin cancer, you can do that at Cottesloe or Swanbourne. If you want to break your arm surfing, Margaret River is just three hours away. If you want shows and movies, there are plenty going on every day right here at home.

If relaxation for you is sitting in a café, there are a number of districts here that want your dollar.

g. Peace and quiet. This is the best news of all. You can get this in your lounge room for just a few dollars. Here’s what you do:

  1. Clean the house. Not a major campaign – just a day’s tidying. Sets the scene.
  2. Get in a week’s worth of ready-to-cook meals or a handful of local restaurant menus.
  3. Get a carton of beer or cola or whatever. Or a few bottles of the local vin ordinaire.
  4. Get an armload of new books from the library or book shop.
  5. Put on your holiday clothes – loose ones.
  6. Unplug the land line phone.
  7. Put the mobile phone under two pillows.
  8. Turn on the air conditioner and make yourself comfortable.
  9. Watch TV, read, practice your hobby, write letters or postcards, sit and think, nap, or eat and drink. All week, if you wish. Go to bed as early or late as you please.

Amazing how good it feels, isn’t it? And you are not dependent upon airport transfers, bell hops, tour guides, airline schedules, or any other travel hazard. You will not be stranded anywhere, as your bed is a room away. You are near your medical base. You can ring out for food if desired and ring friends to invite them to share it. You can binge watch on telly. You can be as vacant as you wish.

You can write internet weblog columns undisturbed.

 

Holiday At Home – Part Two – In the Mood

Having established in our minds that forking over $ 10,000-$20,000 to go somewhere might be a bad idea, we are left to think up some way in which we can get the holiday experience without the holiday expense.

The first thing to get straight is what you really want from a holiday. This’ll differ with different people but here’s some of the things we look for:

  1. A change of scenery. Some place different from the neighbourhood. It need not be good or interesting scenery as long as it is new. This explains why people go to some of the world’s pest holes and regard it as fun.
  2. A change of weather. If you just cannot face another fortnight of heat, cold, rain, or anything else that your local met department serves up, you get on your camel and ride to where someone else is uncomfortable. I must admit that this has occurred to me in the middle of oppressive seasons.
  3. A change of food and drink. Whatever you normally eat and drink, you do rather fancy something exotic. Of course you’ll probably reel back in horror as it plops on your plate and demand home cooking, but the restaurants are used to this. They just take it back to the kitchen and fry it; you’ll eat it later.
  4. A change of people. You always think that you’ll encounter wonderful wizened old people who will impart the secrets of life to you – or a romantic partner – or cheerful peasants. Boy, have we got news for you. The wizened crones are 17 but have been standing close to a nuclear waste dump, the romantic partner wants to steal your passport, and the cheerful peasants are high on goat shit. You left home and flew Economy 17 hours straight to get this…
  5. Duty Free.
  6. Relaxation.
  7. Peace and quiet.

All these things are good things, seen in themselves. We look at travel brochures and imagine that they are in the photos – in fact, the images we really see are in our own minds. They may be totally false views, but as they are pictures that we show ourselves…how could we be wrong? We trust us, even if we shouldn’t.

In reality, we could achieve nearly all we want in the holiday trip with a little readjustment of our minds and some clever use of local resources. We need not lock ourselves in the bathroom – we can go on trips – but sometimes we need not go as far as all that.

Read tomorrow and see how far.

The Ten O’Clock Highway

I live a retired life, which means I push my nose into all sorts of places. This is fun if you time it right – and the chief requirement there is to coordinate your movements with the road traffic.

Or, to put it more accurately, without. You choose to venture when others do not – you go places they are not. The shining goal os a day is an unobstructed road ahead and no arrogant BMW driver or tradie in a tray-top pushing up behind you. In some cases it is worth seeking out a road that doesn’t even go where you want to go to so that you can enjoy the peace.

It gets harder, as our metropolitan area expands and the suburbs in-fill themselves with multiple dwellings on older blocks. Just more people on the roads. I try to use the bus and train system when I can – the attraction being free travel in air conditioning with time to rest rather than drive. However, there are places poorly-served by public transport so the car has to be wheeled out.

I’ve learned to only venture after 10:00 AM and to bring myself back home before 4:00 PM.  If the route is planned well you can get through the flak defences, accomplish your mission, and be back before they can catch you. Of course there are always road crews out playing Tetris with the traffic barriers as they lean on their shovels and you do well to learn about them from other road users on the net the night before. They really do affect where you travel for shopping – they steered me away from a certain sale at a shop last Saturday by the simple expedient of blocking the shop’s street from both ends. I hope the shopkeeper and his assistants do not stave and die behind the counter while the paviours play – it would make the shop premises stink awfully…

Shall I resort to the net and on-line shopping more? I hope not – I like the establishment of physical shops in our city as a way of giving employment and providing convenience for me  – after I have run the gauntlet of the roads. On-line doesn’t benefit our state or nation in the end.

 

 

 

About This Time Of Year…

I get antsy.

It’s not the calendar and it’s not the temperature. It’s the approach of an interstate holiday trip. I’m going to Melbourne and Sydney in a few weeks. And the mental engine is starting to rev up.

It is not like a trip to either of those cities is great wampum amongst other people – there are no end of Facebook posts from my 223 contacts that list trips to Europe, North America, or Asia and glory in the tourist sights that will be seen. Melb. and Syd. do not have that bragging pressure.

Yet…they have a real place in my psyche. I am comfortable in each city, having visited them annually for years. I know the shops, galleries, and restaurants. I know the transport system. And yet…I do not know them…there is still adventure enow.

There are always shops that wink out of existence – sadly. And others that appear. I adopt the wise Western Australian practice of never assuming anything I desire in shops will ever be there again – and I make sure that I have enough money saved to swoop while the swooping is good. Oh sure, I make some duff choices, but I also make some brilliant ones.

The same goes for the amusements and the nourishments of the towns. Not every plate is a winner, but there is a memorable event and taste somewhere each day. All you can ask is one per day – and in Syd. and Melb. you can find them.

Parochial? Dull? Staid? Why thank, you, don’t mind if I do. Please let me have a glass of water that is not a swimming pool for guardia and a sandwich that does not wriggle. I have the money to pay for it. And the hotel room? The one with the clean bed and bathroom…? Fine, and I shall be down at the bar in an hour.

Sentimental Journey

We all know the song ” Sentimental Journey “. It’s very good – music and lyrics are spot-on. But they raise a question for the listener; what do you do if there is no such thing as a sentimental journey that you can go on?

Migrants and refugees who moved from dreadful places or people know this feeling. They ran like buggery to get away from whatever it was back there and going back there is generally not an option – it’d be the poorhouse or the jail house at best. The only sentiments that they could reasonably expect to experience would be fear and regret.

People who have come from easier circumstances might be able to return to a former location and feel a bit better. If they came from a place that is conservative, well-off, and untroubled by war or invasion, they might be able to enjoy a vestige of their former culture. If time has erased this and substituted something else, the sentiment would be loss and sadness. It’s a risky business – the wise traveller makes a study of Google Earth to see what the old neighbourhood has become. Smoking holes or multiple McDonald’s are a warning sign.

The same caution that you exercise toward the place should also be extended to the people. You don’t need Google Earth to prepare. Go to a mirror and look at yourself. If what you see is grey and saggy or red and swollen, expect to find that the rest of your high school graduating class will look the same. You may have to see yourself, but decide whether you have to see them as well.

One sentiment that you can encourage in a journey is  longing for adventure and new experiences. To do this all you have to do is avoid the old haunts – the new ones may be awful, but they will be a novel pain. If you survive it you can file it under the ” Goode Olde Dayes ” and stay home next time.

Note: it is perfectly alright to not feel any sentiment toward any place at all. It is far better so to do than to generate a false attachment to some imagined location.

 

The Local Traveller

World travelling, we read, is a marvellous thing. It is said to broaden our minds and make us one with humanity.

I expect everyone who has ever stood in line to get their baggage checked onto an international flight…and then stood in line to board, use the toilets, get off again, pass the immigration and customs desk, and then collect the remains of their luggage has an appreciation of the delights of the experience. Then as they are attended by taxi drivers, desk clerks, tour guides, cafe owners, street beggars, local militiamen, and all the varied members of the aforementioned humanity, they get a warm, fuzzy feeling.

In most cases it is a yeast infection.

I have done my share of it, but as I’ve not re-enlisted in the Traveller’s Regiment and I’ve kept my discharge papers, I feel I’m safe for the foreseeable future. The world may turn, but I’m required neither to push it around nor grease the pintles.

But I do like the occasional drive in the country or air hop to another city in Australia. And, contrary to the overseas experience, I find the actual travel quite relaxing.

In the air, whether you are in the Business seat or Cattle Class, you are provided with a number of entertainments and stimuli – videos, music, frequent meals, etc – that you are allowed to ignore. You can sit there with a book, or a notepad and a pencil, and think. No-one that you are with ever interrupts you to stick another household chore or family revelation onto you. Your phone and tablet are in Aeroplane mode which means you are officially ordered to ignore them. ( Yay! ) and even Mark Zuckerberg cannot pester you.

Likewise on the road. As a driver you need your wits about you and cannot be talking on a telephone or reading a Mills and Boon while at the wheel. You need to obey increasingly complex speed and passing laws, and to avoid those who don’t. So you are in a cocoon of concentration. Break it every hour or so for a coffee or a wee and the experience becomes all the sweeter – you might step out of your Suzuki a little more fatigued than fresh from a Boeing but then you’ve seen more interesting things on the side of the road. And if they are recently flattened, you might have been able to scoop them up for dinner.

The trick is to pick a place to go that is worthwhile going to for your own reasons – not just the fulfilment of some travel agent’s urging – and to go there at your own pace. I pick country towns that might have a friend or an event nearby or a city that has stores I’ve not visited for a while. These will cheer the heart both in prospect and retrospect, and as long as you don’t overstay your welcome, every journey will be a gain.

Overstay? An Australian capital city is worth about 1 week, a regional city three days, and a country town 2 days. If you think the time too short to justify the return journey, then combine several destinations in a round trip. In all cases, leave ’em wanting more of you rather than less…

Taking Back Life – Part Four – From Whom?

The catch line about taking back life begs a question – where did it go and who has it now? I’ve only just started to find out that answer for myself.

It’s one that all the readers can ask themselves – because the answers that they find will all be as different as their own lives.

In my case a great deal of time went out to learning – all the years from 1953 to 1972 were spent in formal education. It was not unpleasant, and paid me handsomely by giving me a profession that I could trade upon. Subsequent years also educated me in a subsidiary art that I could turn to employment after the initial profession petered out. So I was set for earning power.

A great deal of time was spent in travel – this means re-location, socializing, and the discipline that comes from experiencing the solitude of the newcomer.

And a certain amount of time was spent in pure amusement – in my case I found most of it from the construction of scale models. All through my life I have had a chance to try my hand at a number of types of modelling. Most were successful – the only exception being model flying. But even here the act of constructing the failed airplanes was rewarding – training hand and eye to small tasks. Teaching visual proportion. And also teaching patience – very few models were ever dashed to the ground in the workshop. Most of them suffered that fate at the flying field.

So what am I now going to take back in my retirement? Why the pure amusement. I now collect scale models and make scenes and dioramas with them. I then use these in my studio for art and commercial illustration. I have discovered the joys of scratch-building as well as kit assembly. I look daily to solve new problems at the workbench – I haunt hobby shops and toy stores looking for parts. I have even started to exhibit some of the models at fairs and shows.

The real benefit this gives is internal – it brings me back to my roots – the little kid at the kitchen table making models – and stimulates my memory. I’m starting to get back some of the scenes and scents of my youth. Daily life took them away for 50 years and now daily routine can bring them back.