"Journeys start one step at a time . . ." sirgaw's Profile
About the SirGaw "handle" - no I'm not a member of the aristocracy, it was a name given to me on a Yahoo email group by another member as we had so many "David's" on the list. Somehow we had to make it easier for everyone to know who was posting - I got SirGaw and it stuck. Until recently I used a Viking type helmet for my photo as some years ago we were in Toledo, Spain, and I wandered into a souvenir/gift shop selling all sorts of knives, swords etc and then I spotted the horned helmet that was shown in my photo - I just had to try it on for size. No I didn't buy it - 80 Euro - the weight would have had me banned from flights and trying to wear it on an aircraft was just not an option - LOL
I decided to 'retire' that photo and for now, here's another - my Conductors hat at Puffing Billy Railway 'doctored' with a pair of devils horns that I bought in a joke shop, Took all of 2 minutes for an instruction to be issued for me to remove the horns. It was a few days before Halloween.
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Aged 67 and now retired, there's a world of travel to be done and so little time to see the world.
Five years ago we returned from a 2 month trip to parts of France, Spain and Italy. Throw in the 2 smallest countries on Earth - Monaco and The Vatican and that made 5 European countries. On the way home to Melbourne, Australia, a 3 day stop over (or was that "shop-over") in Dubai, U.A.E. and finally Perth in Western Australia to help my dad celebrate his 85th birthday.
That 2 month trip started in Paris for 7 nights, then Bordeaux for (3) nights, followed by journeying into Spain - San Sebastian (3) and Bilbao (2) on the north Basque coast, followed by Madrid (4), Toledo (3), and Barcelona (7). Back into France to Avignon (3), then Marseilles (1) and Nice (4). To end our European trip into Italy and Manarola on the Cinque Terre Coast (3), followed by Venice (4), Florence (4) and finally Rome for 7 nights.
Favourites - Bordeaux and Avignon in France; San Sebastian and Toledo in Spain; Manarola and Venice in Italy. What order - no I'm not going to answer as they were all different.
If your interested in reading about our trip, well it's a long story and starts at Trip 07
About the lead photo
It was in Dubai that we sat and relaxed and watched the sun set over the heat-soaked, parched desert and wondered where and when our next trip would be.
In 20 years we've done a bit of travelling:
1984 - Singapore and Malaysia
1986 - Fiji
1988 - West coast of US and Hawaii
1990 - UK (London and Bath) and Paris
1999 - New Caledonia
2002 - Hong Kong and Macau (Hong Kong page amd tips now complete)
. . . and then there's the many trips within Australia. Our most recent Aussie trip (July 2012) was on the famous train 'The Ghan' from Darwin to Adelaide and there are new pages for those 2 cities as well as Kakadu National Park, the towns of Katherine, Pine Creek, Batchelor and Alice Springs and of course there is a special tip and travelogue all about 'The Ghan'.
My first ever overseas trip was a cruise to other Australian ports, 2 ports in New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. I've just recently found a packet of bits and pieces from that trip done in 1968, although I can't remember too much seeing that beer cost 13 Australian cents for a 13 ounch can. There's a write up of that trip - click below on, "Package from the past - first overseas trip."
Its just such a huge wide wonderful world and there is no way anyone can see it all. Cities like London, Paris and Rome can take a life time to know, so how can most people do other than scratch the surface.
I could not bear the idea of a 15 day see 25 cities type bus tour where almost every minute is scheduled. To me a trip is to explore at our own pace and yes make mistakes too - but that's part of the fun of travelling. An itinerary should be a guide only and be made to be broken as a better sight or opportunity rears its head - part of travel.
A little about me: Married to Sandra (Lady Gaw), 2 grown up daughters, 2 grand children and one cockatiel by the name of Zorro. I've had a variety of jobs and like to describe myself as a vocational vagabond, however for the last 26 years I've been hacking cabs (taxis) in my city. I'd like to say it's been good, but, well, you need to have driven cabs to understand that its not the best job in the world. In that 26 years of cab driving I've seen it all from the great people of the world whom I have had as passengers all the way to the back streets of humanity, who I'd prefer not to meet again - ever. I've seen enough to write a book, in fact I did. It was an ebook titled "Are You Free? - Confessions of a taxi driver."
The book is no longer available through the publisher who decided to cease ebook publication - ah well and as Ned Kelly is reported to have said, "Such is life."
Talking of Mr Kelly, I did a tour guiding course some years ago and became a volunteer tour guide at "The Old Melbourne Gaol" the place of Ned Kelly's execution by hanging in 1880. I used to do "hanging tours" and would talk visitors to the jail through the hanging process - gruesome stuff, particularly the part about how the death masks were made.
Some time ago I penned a little imaginary tale that I used to tell at the Old Melbourne Gaol and called
One solitary flickering candle illuminates the interior of the former prison. Gentle breezes force the candles glow to rise and fall in intensity, making the shadows dance a morbid jig on the bare, cold flagstones.
Just within the orb of light cast from the candle is a silently oscillating hangman's noose dangling from a rope that disappears into the darkness above you.
The three story prison is empty save you, the lone occupant tied to a chair in the middle of the void of surrounding metal walkways where so many poor incarcerated humans tramped all those years ago. Your skin is crawling in terror, your eyes have become accustomed to the gloom, your scenes are on full alert as you can feel the presence of the ghosts of former tortured in-mates.
The noose begins to swing through an even widening arc as if pushed by un seen hands. A demonic scream is heard and then re-heard echoing and echoing yet again from the cold stone walls.
Suddenly the rope's swinging stops, the noose tightens around an un-seen object, the rope quivers for a few terrible moments and then a strange creaking sound of taut rope against an aging timber beam begins. You can feel a strong breeze and your candle is extinguished and you are even more alone as the darkness envelopes you on your restraining shackles expertly tied to prevent any movement - except your fully alert eyes and ears.
The sound of the rope's creaking is joined by the banshee wailing of dozens of ghostly voices as the un-seen re-live with relish the hanging of yet another of their number. This ghoulish opera is repeated over an hour as more of the un-seen are re-hung for the sadistic enjoyment of, it seems, so many.
The prisons doors are locked and barred, the only escape from your night of terror is the rising of the sun still five hours away. There is no point screaming for help and therefore escape from the living nightmare that envelopes you in sound - and the occasional bluish glow - as ghosts scurry to take their places in further acts of that demonic opera that you are the only living witness.
Will you loose your mind, or are you strong enough to survive the night and be released from your bonds and tell the terrible tale of THE HANGMAN'S NOOSE?
I mentioned "Zorro" above, well he's my little mate who sits on my shoulder and peers at the computer screen to make sure all is well. He's not too clever but then again how many Cockatiels can poop on request? He listens to my complaints and sides with me against the women of the house - always good to have a back up when in the dog house - or is that bird cage?
As time permits I'll add to home page and other tips from our travels - but as someone said, "Rome was not built in a day," neither are my travel pages.
March 09 Lady Gaw (aka Sandra) and I travelled across to Perth for 5 days of catching up with family and sorting out of parents possessions - sad task, but just had to be done. We spent as much time as possible with my father - 86, poor health and now lives in a nursing home in Subiaco. He is well cared for and the staff at the home are really caring and great, but its still sad to see him the way his life has changed in the last year. We feel that every trip to see dad will be our last.
After Perth we headed down the coast to Bunbury for one night and an early morning dip in the Indian Ocean with dolphins and then spent 5 great nights in Margaret River where it was time to relax and unwind and our first holiday in 20 months. Sadly too short, but that's life. We returned to Perth via a stop over to have our first 'meeting' with a fellow VT'er and her suggested stop over to see the Gnomes at Gnomesville.
You can read all about our adventures on new pages for Bunbury, Margaret River, Augusta and Burekup.
Update Jan 2011 - my father passed away Feb 2010 and there is a tribute web site including an off-beat video, which starred Dad's teddy bear - see Colonel Bogey Bear
With thanks to rosie235, 10 of us met in the evening of Saturday 5th September at Aasiana Indian Restaurant in North Balwyn.
Five members plus 3 non-VT members all came to meet the star of the night waaleweiner (better know as Hansi) who is in Australia to see what we can do in the way of entertaining – well we had a surprise visitor. None other than a Harry Potter look-a-like (actually Rosie’s son)
A great night and too much to eat, but some did get to take home doggie bags, so the meal will continue.
Lady Gaw and I traveled to Sydney and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Stayed in style at the Harbourview Hotel with an amazing view out of our window looking at "The Bridge," the harbour, the city skyline and the constant passing parade of ferries and other boats as they criss-crossed that spectacular harbour. See my Sydney page and tips for the story.
Late last year (2010) and after 26 years behind the wheel of taxis, I decided to take the pension and retire. Now I’ve hit that age when I’m supposed to go out and have fun – well I am . . .
. . . and called "A tale of 2 hats"
Hat number one - and a new one – I'm a conductor on the Puffing Billy Railway(PBR), which is a narrow gauge steam tourist railway running through the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne.
For a time after I started at PBR I wore a borrowed hat that said TRAINEE and if asked why I wore that cap would recite a little poem called
I'm not allowed to run the train
The whistle I can't blow
I'm not the one who designates
How far the train will go
I'm not allowed to blow the steam
Or even ring the bell
But let the damn thing jump the track
And see who catches hell.
But wait there’s more . . .
Hat number two - until recently I was a site guide at the iconic Cooks’ Cottage, which is a little bit of northern England transported to Melbourne in 1934 and during the time frame 1750's - 1770's was the home of Captain James Cook’s parents in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, UK. Here's me wearing a tricon (tri cornered hat) from that era. The cottage is, by default, Australia's oldest building.
There are Belgrave pages with lots of photos and other information on PBR. As well there are tips on Puffing Billy Railway and Cooks' Cottage in “Things To Do” on my Melbourne Page - and which of the two sites do I enjoy working the most? Very hard question to answer, but I'll just say that the jury is still out. OK the trains won and I'm now busy at Puffing Billy Railway 2 days a week and have recently completed writing a childrens book centered on the trains and a little guy who works on them - psst, if you happen to be a book publisher and looking for a run away best seller to add to your collection, please, please PLEASE contact me - pretty please!!!!!!!
ps Lady Gaw is more than glad to be rid of me 2 days a week - LOL
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