I’ve been following Tegan Philips’ adventure on Unclipped since the begin … such a great and simple blog. Today, this reminder – I’ve been feeling a little stressed about my To Do list and the disappearance of days as I move toward a mid-April departure. I have the bike. I’ll get the most important stuff I’ll need. Adventure will happen. Thanks Tegan.
I feel like I’ve mentally turned toward the trip and that it is now front and centre in my mind.
This morning I was catching up on some emails and watched the videos Matthew Harris had posted, in two parts, of his ride so far: from Eindhoven to Dubrovnik and from Dubrovnik to Istanbul. They were excellent.
On his blog post, I commented as much and he replied quickly with thanks. Matthew is an Australian who has been living in Europe for 21 years and is cycling home. He’s taken a winter break and come to summer in Australia. I suggested that if he came to Sydney I’d gladly shout him a beer/coffee to hear his stories in person. He replied he was in town now – how about this afternoon? 5pm Newtown? Ha ha – the internets.
Matthew is a lovely bloke – I really enjoyed meeting him although it was a little weird as it came together so randomly and quickly. We had a few beers and a big bowl of chips at The Court House Hotel. He inspired me with tales (and photographs) of riding under the midnight sun toward the North Cape in Norway.
Afterwards I met my friend Jonathan for dinner and we ended up chatting for several hours with Boris and Carla from Hamburg (he’s originally from Sibera). They have just arrived in Australia for a holiday. She had been an exchange student in Mackay QLD when she was 17 – 10 years ago. It was a really good night that went much longer and involved more beers than I’d anticipated – but was just the sort of encounter I’m looking forward to having many times over come my Big Ride.
Ritsi (the young man in the photographs) and Albert share an experience of re-connection to country and community by following the movements of their ancestors.
Part of what I’ll be doing on my Big Ride is, in a way, just this: I’ll be re-connecting with the places my antecedents lived for thousands of years by following their movements across Europe. I will visit reminders and remainders of their culture and, hopefully, connect with my fellow descendants who still, or are again, living there.
The European Jews were, of course, displaced by the awful tides of hate history bore down on them. My families have done well in the diaspora, I’m not complaining. They were fortunate to have been driven out by the pogroms before Hitler’s Final Solution was enacted. But still, they were displaced. They were disconnected from their places and their communities. They had to learn from scratch how to make their way in the world.
As a still new, and happy, immigrant to Australia I suspect I see Australia’s Aboriginal history and people somewhat differently than I would if I had been born and raised here. The relationship between new and old Australians is complicated — as are these relationships anywhere in the world where there are New and Old.
Tony Albert’s work had me thinking about two things. How can I, living my modern peripatetic non-religious assimilated life connect with my not-to-distant Eastern European Yiddish-speaking shtetl-living observant Jewish ancestors? And how can my efforts to do so connect me with these, my fellow Australians, the descendants of the first Australians.
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I was also taken by the exhibition of Tom Carment’s small watercolour sketches of parks and street scenes. These reminded me to put a sketch book and watercolour kit on my shopping list for the trip. I have basically no experience drawing or doing watercolours – not since I was a kid anyway – but am keen to give it a go. It seems like the time one would take to really look at a scene to try to represent it in pen and ink would be good — just taking that time to really look, will be a good exercise.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. (Helen Keller as quoted in Two Wheels)