The Last Beach Before My Travel Began, No 43: Lady Martin’s – 17 May 2015

Is this a bit of a cheat? I visited Lady Martin’s on 17 May 2015 – one week before I departed for my midlife gap year – but never posted about it. I don’t want to visit it again so I’m going back to my diary from the day to write it up now. Lady Martin’s is a wee crescent of beach at the bottom of Point Piper. I suspect in any other country it would be privately held and divvied up among the millionaires whose mansions hover nearby. These include the current Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull. Of …

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BERLIN! And a flight to Ireland (30 September to 2 October 2015)

We rejoin our story on day 129 of my mid-life gap year. Wednesday 30 September 2015 I wake in Berlin to diffuse autumn sunshine and breakfast in the sparse kitchen before reorganising my gear in preparation for putting my bicycle in storage and slimming down to just a carry-on bag for the next leg of my journey. With those chores done I set out for lunch and bit of exploration. Hummus & Friends proves too inviting to pass by and, oh my God, it’s so good. The hummus is creamy with just the right amount of tang – I could …

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From Zurich to Mainz and Berlin (27 – 29 September 2015)

Sunday 27 September 2015 I feel less than certain about everything. I feel like I am in a miasma in the middle of my mid-life gap year. I’m worrying that the year will be a series of experiences and nothing more, that I’ll return to Sydney and pick up my life where I left it – in a confused and ill-directed place and edging ever closer to 50. I want, and expect, this journey to change me and to clarify for me what should come next, but I also think these things must come organically, that I can’t force them. …

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Riding in Switzerland: From Brugg to Zurich for my day near Christoph

We re-join our story on the morning of my 123rd day on the road. I am in Brugg, Switzerland and poised to ride to Zurich in time for the Zurich Film Festival and a screening of Inglorious Basterds to be attended by Christoph Waltz. If, as you are reading this, you find yourself wondering what my thing about Christoph is, I’d point you to the explanation in this earlier post. Thursday 24 September 2015 Today is my last day riding in Europe. I wake with that thought and it weighs upon me. I have 40 kilometres to pedal and I …

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Riding in France: Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne and a train to Strasbourg

We arrive on the 114th morning of my mid-life gap-year as I awake at Hotel de la Cathedrale in Reims, France. Tuesday 15 September 2015 I wake to an overcast day which quickly becomes a steady rain. I breakfast in my room, setting up the camping stove and a Mini Moko in the shower stall – I must have my coffee, but I don’t want to risk burning the place to the ground. I’ve been doing for a while when staying in hotels – shhh, don’t tell them. I spend the morning working through plans and details, sending emails, and just fifing …

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Beautiful Bayeux: A pink room, loneliness, and a tapestry (28 – 29 August 2015)

Friday 28 August 2015 (Day 96 of my midlife gap year) 8:20 pm A Restaurant in Bayeux It’s nice to be in a city again. Bayeux is compact, beautiful, and busy with visitors. The helpful tourist office found me a reasonably priced chambres du hote on the edge of the city centre which I’d never have noticed myself as it’s located over a hair salon. My room is quite pink, and I like it. Sometimes I ride past ‘old’ buildings, but mostly I’m riding in modern France – physically and mentally. This past week I’ve been mired in World War …

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Back On My Bicycle in France – Riding from Cherbourg to Jonville

Flag of France against a blue sky above the city of Cherbourg.

Bonjour (again) France Sunday 23 August (Day 91 of my midlife gap-year) 11:35 am , Cherbourg YHA:  I woke to the ferry-wide announcement that we were soon arriving in Cherbourg. It was raining;  perhaps I wouldn’t start riding straight away after all. Waiting for my passport to be stamped and returned to me, the driver of a car – also awaiting their passport – sought my attention. “Excuse me!” he said, “Yes?” I replied. “Are you from Australia?” The guy waiting for his passport was also Australian and as a huge Oils fan, noticed and loved the Head Injuries t-shirt …

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In Northern Ireland the Troubles Still Bubble Beneath the Peace

13 – 15 August 2015 (Days 81 – 83) Thursday 13 August 4pm, Connect Hostel, Derry Small cities, I should only visit small cities. It’s 4pm, I’ve done the lot and feel I’ve given everything it’s due. It’s been a gorgeous and sunny day. I started things off revisiting the Guildhall – where President Clinton spoke in 1995, a trip I worked and wrote of in my last blog post. Derry isn’t as much changed as I’d expected. It still has a working class, slightly hard-done-by air but with more tourists and tourism-related businesses. There are new cultural institutions and …

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Heading North to Stroke City: Wednesday 12 August 2015 (Day 80)

3:50 pm – Train to Derry Jim asked about my quest – if I had one, which I mostly don’t. That is what leaves me often asking: “What am I doing here?” “Why am I doing this? Is is just the seeing? The doing? The meeting of people?” Maybe. Maybe that’s all there is to it – to all this endless movement. He spoke of his quest around trad music and Irish culture. I said that while, likewise, I have an interest in thinking more about the Jewish stuff that, by and large, there’s no where I can go and …

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In Ireland They Offer Chips with Your Chinese Food: Tuesday 11 August 2015 (Day 79)

9:10 pm: A Chinese Restaurant, Kilkenny I may regret this but I’m so hungry. I’ve ordered sweet and sour chicken – it’s like battered and fried balls of chicken in the usual flouro sauce. It’s Ireland: I had the choice of rice or chips. Being here, in Kilkenny, is becoming normal. I run into familiar people on the street. I know my way around town really well. After a couple of months on the road, of being someplace new every day, every hour, this is nice – this being of a place and part of a community. I slept in …

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