The trip overland from London to New York finally came to life last Sunday. Read all about it at www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/retiredandcrazy or click on the right hand side bar for a link through.
Yesterday we heard on the news that there was going to be a TUC/Public Sector Workers Rally protesting against Government spending cuts. The march was to take place in central London, the biggest for decades, with an expected turnout of 250,000
When we looked at the Metropolitan Police website it seemed that practically the whole of the area was being closed to traffic. As my friend Jean and I were going to spend my pre-trip night in a The Grand Trafalgar, right in the thick of the action, we decided to leave early before things heated up. Good decision. We had a clear journey in and were dropped off before things heated up.
This is a photograph of the march as it was assembling by Cleopatra's Needle, the place where we will be assembling to start our trip at 7 am tomorrow morning.
We took a walk around and things seemed pretty amiable.
Until this happened. At midday several hundred marchers dressed in black, wearing masks, with many carrying batons and sticks passed by our hotel. They were obviously intent on trouble.
Sure enough we later heard that the Socialist Workers Party had thrown molativ cocktails, tear gas and amonia filled light bulbs at the police. They also attacked banks and shops. So far there's been 13 arrests but the night is yet young! Not an auspicious start to our adverture
Tomorrow is my last day of normality for a few months. On Saturday morning I take off for London where I will meet up with a couple of Oz-Busers and on Sunday morning we board the adverture bus along with 16 other fellow travellers to take off for the wild blue yonder.
My friend, Doglover, the richest man in Surrey, drafted a press release which was sent to our local paper. Yesterday I was a no-body, now I'm a celeb! Take a look at this - good or what?
I am taking my laptop with me and, WiFi permitting, will keep both this and my travel blog updated. Toodle pip!
I had a great weekend. Unbeknown to me my family and friends had organised a surprise "Bon Voyage" afternoon tea party prior to the departure of my "around the world without flying" journey next weekend. The weather was perfect, warm (but not too warm) and sunny. One of those very, very rare beautiful spring days. And, stangely for this area, NO WIND!
We acquired a taste for afternoon tea parties after our wonderful "Afternoon Tea at the Ritz" day out several years ago.
This is the amazing spread with me holding on to the tablecloth in case anyone should decide to steal it! Although, I was on the verge of executing my awesome "jerk the teacloth and see if everything still stays on the table" trick. It's quite spectacular (when it works).
With great self control I decided not to attempt this great spectacular because after spending all day preparing this feast Kimberley would never had forgiven me if it had all gone wrong. By the way, don't be misled by the teapots. Thankfully, the main refreshment of the day was wine.
I would also like to point out that this was a SURPRISE party. I say this in defence of my scruffiness. But, hey, this is the real me.
Quickly, feed the children, before they all riot! But, hold on a minute, how did daddy Dan manage to get into this pile? It looks suspiciously like he has a gob full of food.
The weather was absolutely perfect! Is it true that God smiles on the righteous? I mean, come on, the weather has been gruesome for months - and now this???
Noah (one of my greatgrandchildren) dragging his blanket while daddy Dan looks on and mummy poses.
My daughter, Kimberly holding court! "Yes, I arrange the day, made all the sandwiches, cooked all the cakes, made the tea and ordered the sun".
Not to be outdone, my friend Jean then holds court! "I turned up".
And finally, last but definitely not least, me holding court "without me none of this would have been possible, I made the family AND the friends - SO THERE!!"
Here is my favourite man (after Professor Brian Cox of course!). His name is Alpesh Patel and he is occasionally invited to discuss the daily news headlines on the BBC World Report. He is an absolute gem and, apparently, has never read the book "How to Make Friends and Influence People".
If you want to hear the truth, here it is. I apologise to our friends abroad who aren't always able to access these BBC IPlayer links, but you should be able to go directly to it on the BBC website. As I said, the programme is BBC World Business News, the date is 10th March and the item is 15 minutes into the programme. The link will stay live for, I believe, 2 weeks so enjoy.
Here is a "taster".
Headline, "Why doesn't the world help us?" referring to the Libyan crisis.
Answer, "By "the world" they mean "the west" and the reason that the west won't help is because look what happens when you invade countries for oil. Oil still goes to $110 a barrel. We don't have the military appetite, we don't have the money, oil isn't worth it and who needs the perception of the west going into an arab country?
But you are obsolutely right, the world has not yet found a solution when there is a humanitarian crisis whether in african nations or middle eastern countries. So what to do and when to do it? Sanctions are counter productive because the man at the top causing the problems has already got his money. Even if you put sanctions on the people and then arm them, you are not actually solving the problem." He then goes on to talk about what happens when you DO arm countries.
The topics covered include the two Icelandic bankers who have just been arrested in particular and the banks in general, Trade Unions, the Irish Crisis and finally the supermodel Kate Moss.
And this man is no slouch. At one point you will hear him mention that he will be attending a UN Association Board Meeting in London later that day. He knows what he is talking about.
So ladies and gentlemen, I would like to present Alpech Patel
Not long now until departure of my trip to circumnavigate of the world by land and sea. That sounds grand doesn't it? Maybe not quite so grand when you take into account that we will be travelling mainly on coaches and trains and staying for the most part in hostels, campsites and a sleeper bus.
Rob, our excellent Oz-Bus co-ordinator, has done a great job in pulling this whole trip together, culminating in the production of this detailed map of our journey. This map has suddenly bought the whole adventure to life. We are all now beyond being nervous and excited. Just scrape us off of ceiling.
On a more worrying note, I see this morning that there has been a catastrophic tsumani in the Pacific Rim, an area that we will be travelling across enroute from Russia to Alaska. There has also been talk of unrest in China because of crop failures due to bad weather, causing food prices and inflation to rise. They are not happy bunnies. But I guess if we worried about what could happen we would never do anything would we?
So, with house sitters arranged, visas granted and bag packed (notice I said bag, not bags"!) we launch ourselves into the unknown, meeting up at Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment at 0700 Sunday, 27th March. Don't forget to keep up with the travel blog by clicking on the sidebar logo.
As some of you may know I am taking off on an amazing overland trip around the world on 27th March. I began writing a travel blog describing my preparations, thoughts, fears and aspirations on 11th September http://www.travelpod.com/dashboard/entry/1/1284206261. To read the lastest entries simply click on the right hand side bar "read the blog now" link.
The "first lap" involves meeting up with my fellow adventurers at 0700 on a chilly London Embankment, culminating in our arrival in a hot and stiffling New York 87 days later. There are 19 of us on this multi-generational journey orgnised by the Oz-Bus Company.
A fellow traveller and I then decided to travel home from New York on the QMII, thereby making this trip truly an "around the world without flying" epic.
Finally, one of our group posted this on facebook a couple of days ago. My excuse for recommending that you take a look at this beautiful film is that the Gobi desert is one of the places we stop off at on the journey and it gives us all a "taste" of some of the treats waiting ahead of us and some idea of what it will be like to stay ovenight in a Ger,
So... if you have 87 minutes to spare, grab a glass (or two) of wine, sit back and enjoy a real treat. The Weeping Camel is about a family of nomadic shepherds in the Gobi desert trying to save the life of a rare white bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) calf after it was rejected by its mother and was nominated for an Oscar in 2005 in Best Documentary catagory.