Author Archive

Summer of 2022.
Part 6: Return to Berlin.

Monday, May 20th, 2024

July 18, 2022. Arnex-Sur-Orb, Switzerland, to Berlin, Germany. 

On the move again, this time back to Berlin by train. 

On the train, from Yverdon-les-Bains to Olten, there was a woman with a dreadful cough. We just hoped that it wasn’t Covid.

This train wasn’t very crowded, which meant we could keep our distance from the coughing woman.

However the train from Olten to Berlin was full and we had to wear a mask – yuk. 

It was a fast train and at some points we were travelling at 250kph but it didn’t seem like it. 

No sooner had we arrived in the capital, we were greeted by the welcoming call of the emergency sirens. 

The sirens are a very distinctive sound in Berlin, so much so that young Brianna can imitate them.

Dinner was at Lemke, a Berlin brewery very near our hotel. 

We had been there before. It’s a beer hall with good food and a variety of beers on tap. 

My favourite beer was a Hopfên Weisse, a Weizenbock IPA. At 7% it was a meal in itself. 

July 19, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

H, A and B were back in Berlin from Rome and they are now starting to make plans to move to Granada, Spain, later in the year. 

To keep out of their way we are staying in the H4 hotel. It’s in a good location, midway between Hayden and Andrea’s place and the commercial area of Alexanderplatz. 

It’s also not far for us to walk to our favourite eating area near H and A. 

After checking into the hotel the previous night, our first task of the morning was battling the hotel internet.

We needed to get this sorted, as I had work to do and we also wanted to start planning the next stage of our journey.

In the afternoon we were out with Brianna for an ice cream and then some park time. This is always special and there is a range of playgrounds, nearby, that she enjoys.

Having visited Berlin many times since H and A moved there in 2015, we have noticed just how well this part of the city is set up for family apartment living.

Playgrounds and parks are everywhere and some apartment blocks, like H and A’s even have their own ‘child friendly’ space within the complex.

Plus, there seems to be acres of space for bikes – well, we are in Berlin and everyone rides one.

That night we had a family dinner at Metzer Eck, our favourite German restaurant, that’s not far from their apartment.

This is one of the oldest, family run restaurants in Prenzlauer Berg, dating back to 1913.

This was before the two World Wars and the division of Berlin, into East and West, after the second.

It has a very cozy interior, where you are surrounded by antiques and family heirlooms.

The food is traditional German cuisine, served with friendliness and warmth.

Surprisingly, given my dislike for potatoes, Bratkartoffelen is one of my favourite dishes.

This is simply roasted potatoes with fried Spec or pork pieces and roaster onion.

There is an abundance of very good Asian restaurants in the area as well, but we much prefer the beer halls and simple, homely, restaurants like Metzer Eck.

We can eat Asian food at home whenever we feel like it.


The Red Rathaus at dusk

July 20, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

It’s a scorcher today, with the temperature getting up to 38ºC. However in other parts of Europe it’s in the 40s.

Even Switzerland.

As I have previously mentioned countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland are not built for these kind of temperatures. For one, no one has air conditioning, only heating.

Even the asphalt melts on the roads, as it’s not designed for the heat.

The cities are also much more crowded, with high density housing and narrow streets, that have little tree cover. 

Sadly Brau Factum, the craft beer hall, is in decline.

It was so close to our hotel, that I was looking forward to a pint of their excellent beer before dinner. 

Just like we did in 2019.

However now their hours are limited and the offering isn’t as extensive. 

Another victim of Covid19 I’m afraid. 

Dinner was at the iconic Hofbräu House, which is almost next door to our hotel, then a short walk down to the Spree River. 

It was still around 33°C, so no exertion was needed. 

July 21, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

Thea needed to visit the doctor for more tests, to see if she was on the mend.

After her appointment in the morning, we had a walk through the Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate, while we waited for the outcome of the tests.

Late in the day we returned to get the results – great news, she was on the improve.

After that we had a celebratory drink at Kaschk, a coffee and craft beer bar serving Brlo. It also has good wine. 

And the wine was cold, unlike the offering from the Hofbrau House the previous night. 

It was then to Khushu, an Indian restaurant, for dinner. We had been here in 2019 and it was great. 

History repeated itself. 

July 22, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

Now Thea had the all clear from the doctor, it was time to plan the next stage of our adventure. 

As we can only spend 90 days in Europe, we will now head to the United Kingdom. 

That night dinner was with H, A and B, this time at one of our favourite Thai restaurants, Anjoy. 

We do occasionally go to one of the numerous Asian restaurants in Berlin.

July 23, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

It was a Saturday and H and A weren’t working, so after coffee at The Barn, our go to spot in Berlin, then the market and two playgrounds, we had lunch at H&A’s.

Then in the afternoon another coffee and two more playgrounds. 

Brianna loves her playgrounds.

The evening concluded with a light dinner at Schankhalle in Pfefferberg. 

We discovered this restaurant, bar and brew pub, that’s very close to Hayden and Andrea’s apartment, in 2019 – it was good then and still is. 


A constant reminder of Russia’s ‘Special military operation’ in Ukraine

July 24, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

Avocado on Toast at Kaffee Käthe for brunch.

We have been here many times before, as their take on this Aussie favourite is worth returning for.

Their coffee isn’t that bad either.

Then later in the afternoon, it was an Ice cream for Thea and a coffee for me. Then a slow walk down to the Spree and Museum Island.

There were still Ukrainian flags flying on many of the buildings, a constant reminder of Putin’s ‘Special Military Operation.’

It’s summer in Berlin and nothing seems to be open, especially the Craft Beer bars. 

So many of these places are privately owned and those owners go on holidays during, what they see as, the quiet period.

Pity about the poor tourists visiting Berlin.

That night we went to Tsomi, a Georgian restaurant, for dinner. We had passed this place a number of times and really wanted to try it.

Especially after visiting Georgia in 2014.

July 25, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

Another warm day, this one in the mid thirties.

We spent most of it getting ready to move on Wednesday. 

There was clothes washing at the H and A Laundromat, followed by a playground visit with Brianna.

Late in the afternoon there were thunderstorms and heavy rain, with the temperature dropping.

That night we went to an Italian restaurant, near our hotel, and were given a table looking into the kitchen – we were very close.

It was like watching ‘Master Chef’ live, while having dinner. 

Normally we eat outside but we wanted to stay dry, so opted to move in and their wasn’t much space left, so that was the seat we were offered.

July 26, 2022. Berlin, Germany. 

It was a quiet day planning the next steps, then a park and playground excursion with Brianna in the afternoon.

Our last dinner, before heading to Britain for a couple of months, was at Hayden and Andrea’s.

Summer of 2022.
Part 5: A short stay in Switzerland.

Monday, May 20th, 2024

The train trip from Geneva to Yverdon-les-Bains

July 13, 2022. Barcelona Spain to Arnex-Sur-Orb, Switzerland.

Another country today, this time to catch up with Denis, my mate in Switzerland. 

Denis had also missed the wedding in Italy, so this would be a good time to talk bullshit and relive old times. 

A common pastime of old farts. 

In the morning the lifts in our hotel in Gràcia weren’t working, so I asked to get someone to help us with the bags. 

When we got to the lift we discovered they were working again. 

The trip to the Barcelona airport and check-in was very smooth, as was the flight to Switzerland. 

Vueling performed well, even the disembarkation was handled in an orderly manner –  yet again. 

We found the railway station, within the airport, and booked our tickets. We weren’t due to catch the train until 14:05 hrs so we had some time. 

We then got some lunch. 

Two very small ham and cheese rolls and a glass of wine. 27SF or just over A$40.

Our short stay in Switzerland isn’t going to be cheap.

However we aren’t paying for accommodation, which will be a saving. 


Around the Restaurant Chalet du Surchet

July 14, 2022. Arnex-Sur-Orb, Switzerland.

After a chatty night with Denis we had a latish start to the day. 

Even Switzerland was feeling the heat of the European summer, so we weren’t about to exert ourselves too much. 

It’s so dry in Switzerland that they have imposed water restrictions. 

Who said that climate change is a hoax?

Afternoon tea at the Restaurant Chalet du Surchet, then we had a short walk, along the hilltop near the chalet. 

As you would expect from the Swiss countryside, the views were spectacular.

We then drove around the area to get a better look before heading home.

That night’s dinner was at The Toucan Restaurant. 

Located in an old farm building and offering local food and wine, this is an institution in Arnex and we have been there a number of times before. 

With the weather being so warm, we ate outside, in their large shaded terrace area, as did everyone else.

This is unusual but so is the climate at this time.


The town of Grandson on Lake Neuchatel

July 15, 2022. Arnex-Sur-Orb, Switzerland.

It was another unusually warm day in Switzerland.

Denis is a fan of art and we always seem to gravitate towards a museum or gallery when we stay with him.

Today was no exception and we decided to go to Lausanne to see an exhibition of Art Brut.

I won’t even try to explain what this art form is, but rather I’ll cheat and copy the the introduction that was on a poster near the entrance.

‘What is Art Brut?

Art Brut or Outsider Art, is made by self-taught people who often live on the margins of society, either as rebellious souls or as beings that are impervious to normative and collective values.

Among them are prisoners, residents from psychiatric hospitals, eccentrics, loners and outcasts whose creative expression exists for itself without any concern for public criticism or what other people might think.

They invent their own creative space, seeking neither recognition nor approval. 

Totally original in their chosen means and materials, utterly singular in their creative process, they produce works that are untainted by artistic tradition.’

As you would expect, from this description, the exhibition was somewhat of an eye-opener and very left field.

The term Art Brut was created by the French painter Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985).

He was also responsible for gifting the museum, that housed this exhibition, to the City of Lausanne.

It was opened in 1976.

Dubuffet also donated much of the art featured in the show.

We then drove to Lake Neuchatel (Newcastle) for an afternoon drink at Terrasse du Pécos. 

It was then a walk into Grandson, a beautiful village that was also on Lake Neuchatel, where we had another brief walk around.


Lausanne around Lac Léman

July 16, 2022. Arnex-Sur-Orb, Switzerland.

While Australia has been going through a cold spell, the temperatures in Arnex have been in the 30’s.

The interesting thing about the type of heat that Europe is is currently experiencing, is that nowhere is designed to handle it.

All the homes, public buildings, restaurants and cafes have heating, not cooling.

Now the hot spell has spread to England and in some places the temperatures are expected to reach the 40’s. 

We spent the afternoon with a couple of Denis’s friends by Lac Léman, near Lausanne.

It was great to get views of the city from over the lake.


The beach at Lac du Jeux

July 17, 2022. Arnex-Sur-Orb, Switzerland.

Rather than staying in Arnex during the day, we felt it was best to get into the mountains.

At least the temperatures were bearable there.

So the drive this afternoon was to Le Pont for a coffee.

Then on to Châtel (Altitude 1,432 m) for a walk to the viewpoint for a pre dinner snack, which included a rather tasty wheat beer, at Restaurant Châtel.

Denis is a real ‘tooth’ and always has been – it’s impossible to fill him up.

And now, the same can be said for Thea as well, who’s appetite certainly wasn’t abating due to her current medication.

We toured more local villages on the drive back to Arnex.

Over the years Denis has taken us through many of the villages around his home in Arnex and they all seem to have one or more of Martine’s relatives, the Morels, living in them.

I suggested to Denis that when the locals marry they need to get a DNA test, just to make sure they’re not marrying a cousin.

This was our last day in Switzerland, as we would be heading back to Berlin tomorrow.

Summer of 2022.
Part 4: Barcelona.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

July 4, 2022. Granada to Barcelona Spain.

Granada’s airport was very efficient, as was the disembarkation from our Vueling flight in Barcelona. 

It was done five rows at a time, which stopped the mad panic that you usually get. 

Why don’t more airlines adopt this approach?


El Gato de Botero in Rambla del Raval

July 5, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

We were staying in Rambla del Raval, at the Abba Rambla Hotel, where we have stayed before.

It’s a great area just off the Rambla, the iconic walking street in Barcelona.

Thea’s health wasn’t improving, so we decided to get a doctor to assess her.

The hotel was fantastic and had an English speaking doctor come to visit us in just under two hours.

The doctor suggested that Thea go straight to the hospital for tests.

She was admitted into the Hospital HM Nou Delfos and after an initial consultation, told she would be there for a few days while more tests were carried out.

This particular hospital had an English speaking ward, with both doctors and nurses being able to communicate with Thea.

This was certainly a help.

The hospital was in Gràcia and about 25 minutes by taxi from our hotel in Rambla del Raval.

This was a real change in our plans and meant that, unfortunately, we would no longer be going to Rome for the wedding.

July 6, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

As we had the Abba Rambla Hotel booked and paid for two nights, we decided that I would stay there and get a taxi to be with Thea during the day.

Then I would find a hotel that was close to the hospital and move there.

So it was another day in the hospital again, while we tried to rearrange our plans.

In the evening, after returning to my hotel from the hospital, I had a guilty pint at OLDGOD. This is  a craft beer bar, just near the Rambla del Raval and has 20 beers on tap.

I had a Freddy Fox West Coast IPA, it was excellent and brewed, right there, in Barcelona. 

What a strange name for a Spanish beer.

At €7 (A$11.50) for 500ml it wasn’t cheap but then good craft beer never is. 

While having dinner, which was in Parc Infantil, the square in front of the restaurant, I was warned by a local not to leave my bag on the ground, as it might get stolen. 

Luckily we have learned to strap them to the chair, and the table, so it was pretty safe.

We think we have a diverse culture in Australia. However looking around at the faces in Raval, we have nothing like that at home. 

Obviously there are Europeans, from all countries, but also African, Asians, Indians, Pakistanis, Central Asians, North and South Americans, and of course the odd Australian. 

July 7, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

Thea was still in the Hospital HM Nou Delfos and undergoing numerous tests.

I moved to a new hotel, Catalonia Park Güell, near the Gràcia area, that was walking distance from the hospital.

It was a very quiet area with not a lot of eating options.

That night I finished up dining at Lascaleta, a restaurant that was just over the road from the hospital. 

I got a feeling that they might get to know me there. 


Tibidabo at sunset

July 8, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

Thea was still in the Hospital HM Nou Delfos and waiting to get the full analysis of all the tests she had undergone.

These should come though on Saturday. 

As expected I returned to Lascaleta, the restaurant over the road, for breakfast. The service was excruciatingly slow and I missed seeing Thea’s doctor. 

Today is Brianna’s third birthday and it’s such a shame that we can’t celebrate the event with the rest of the family in Italy. 

Now was the time we were meant to be in Lake Bracciano, north of Rome, for Cam and Fran’s wedding. 

An event that we started to plan for in 2019. 

Then due to COVID it was cancelled in 2020 and here we are, missing it again. 

July 9, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

Thea was discharged from hospital, now it’s a matter of what we do next and how do we recover the expenses. 

This hasn’t been a cheap experience and we have had to move money around in order to pay the hospital bills. 

This was made more difficult by the 8 hour time difference between Barcelona and Melbourne.

And, to make it all the more complicated, Thea was discharged on a weekend, so everything was shut, both in Spain and Australia. 

My afternoon task was to find a pharmacy that was open and get Thea’s medication. 

Apart from the anxiety and worry of Thea’s hospitalisation, significant world events happened over the time of her stay. 

In Britain, Boris Johnston resigned as Prime Minister and in Japan, former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe was assassinated. 

What an eventful time this is.


Hospital HM Nou Delfos from the roof of the hotel

July 10, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

We are in the Catalonia Park Güell Hotel now and, fortunately, back together again. 

Thea is still taking it slow and will be for some time.

I think the rest of our trip will be done as ‘Slow Travel’ which is the way I like it anyway. 

But not under these circumstances. 

We did a bit of a casual meander around the Gràcia area and enjoyed some of the local architecture.

Especially the Art deco buildings.

Afterwards we had an ‘accidental lunch’ at Askadinya a Mediterranean, Palestinian, fusion restaurant in Gràcia.

These accidental meals pop up from time to time and are mainly due to circumstances changing.

This one, like so many we have had, turn out to be a pleasant surprise.


The beach at Badalona

July 11, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

After breakfast, again at Lascaleta, we crossed the road to the hospital and settled the bill. 

Hopefully this is the last time we have to go there. 

This has been a very expensive exercise and now we have to go through the laborious task of claiming it all on the travel insurance. 

This won’t be easy, as most insurance companies are very reluctant to honour their commitments. 

We then caught the underground to Badalona, one of our favourite spots from the time we lived there in 2012.

Lunch was on the waterfront, next to the train line.

We then walked up and down Carrer de La Mar, the main shopping strip in Badalona and eventually caught the overground back to our hotel.

That night we discovered the fresh fruit platter at the hotel, was a great dish to end the day, especially after a long Spanish lunch.

Interestingly the medication Thea was on meant that she had developed a voracious appetite.

There was no way I could keep up with her.

July 12, 2022. Barcelona Spain.

It was a slow and quiet day in the city, then another long Spanish lunch.

Unfortunately there was no siesta to follow. 

After a drink and nibbles back at the hotel, we returned to our room to pack. 

Tomorrow was going to be an early start and a long day.

We had talked my mate Denis into letting us stay at his place in Arnex-Sur-Orb in Switzerland.

After everything we had been through, a few restful days in the Swiss countryside would do us all good.

Denis was due to be in Rome for the wedding as well but unfortunately he also had to miss out, as he can no longer tolerate the heat.

Summer of 2022.
Part 3: Granada with the family.

Monday, April 29th, 2024

June 29, 2022. Lisbon, Portugal to Granada, Spain. 

We arrived into Granada late in the day and got settled into our apartment.

Then we all went out for dinner with the family.

It was great to get everyone together, especially our two young granddaughters.

The plan was to get the cousins, Aida and Brianna, together, before the wedding in Rome, so they could get to know each other.

June 30, 2022. Granada, Spain. 

We were in another Airbnb, which was yet another example of how poor the system has become. 

I believe that these places are never tested, by real people, to see if they are usable. 

There was one huge pot to boil water, no dishwasher and no tea towels, a washing machine but no pegs.

Also there was nowhere to hang bath towels to dry and there was a bathroom door that couldn’t be shut, let alone locked.

And this was a three bedroomed apartment, so more than likely the facilities would need to be shared.

After breakfast and discovering all the foibles of our Airbnb, we went off in search of a playground.

An essential activity when there are kids travelling with you.

It was then was back to our rooms to tend to washing and a bit of ‘housekeeping’ like onward bookings and reconciling the last week’s family expenses in Portugal with Ev and Steph.

That night it was another dinner with the family.

This time it was at Capitán Amargo (Captain Bitter) a craft brewery. This wasn’t Hayden and Andrea’s first choice, as that was booked out.

It certainly would have been mine. 

The local craft beer was excellent, as was the food. 


Capitán Amargo (Captain Bitter) Craft Brewery

July 1, 2022. Granada, Spain. 

As the big event on the upcoming calendar was the wedding in Rome the ‘girls’ needed haircuts.

Granada is Andrea’s home town, so it was left to her to select and book the salon.

That night it was another dinner with the family. We were sitting outside the restaurant and looking up at the Alhambra.

What a unique Granada experience to have while eating.

After dinner we all had an ice cream at a Heladeria los Italianos. This Italian gelateria has become an institution in Granada.

It certainly pays to have local knowledge.

Everything operates on a different time zone in this part of Spain. 

At 2pm, sharp, the city shuts down for lunch and then siesta. Dinner doesn’t really get going until at least 9pm, however 10pm seems to be a very popular time to start.

At 11:30 the streets are still full of people.


Alhambra in the background

July 2, 2022. Granada, Spain.

Another consequence of the upcoming wedding was that we needed to get congratulatory cards for Cam and Fran.

It wasn’t that easy, however, as usual, El Corte Inglés came to the rescue.

In Spain we have always found this department store to have ‘whatever’ we needed.

We then found more playgrounds, to entertain the little girls, and afterwards spent more time just wandering the streets of Granada.

That night it was Brianna’s early third birthday celebrations at Sonia and Toni’s. It was a warm night and the little girls and their dads all went for a dip in the pool.

Brianna’s birthday celebration was about a week early as she was going to be in Rome for the wedding on her actual birthday.

July 3, 2022. Granada, Spain.

This was our last day in Granada, as we were headed to Barcelona tomorrow.

Our flight was at midday, so there wouldn’t be much time to do anything more than pack and get the to airport.

I have always enjoyed Spanish coffee but after the last few weeks I feel that it isn’t as good as what we had in Portugal.

It was the size of serve and the strength that made the Portuguese coffee more enjoyable.

Summer of 2022.
Part 2: Portugal with Ev, Steph and Aida.

Monday, March 25th, 2024

June 13, 2022. Berlin, Germany to Porto, Portugal. 

Today we are off to Porto in Portugal. Getting to the airport in Berlin was easy, as we again used our €9 monthly ticket. 

However once we got there things started to go downhill. 

We had to check in via a machine, as Ryanair wanted €50 each to have their staff do it. 

It was going to be late by the time we arrived in Porto, so we felt we needed to get something substantial to eat.

There were plenty of places advertised in the airport but nothing was open. 

So it was a salami baguette for dinner. 

Then finding out what lounge the aircraft was leaving from took a long time. When we finally got there, there were nowhere near enough seats for a plane load. 

Half the passengers ended up standing, or sprawled on the floor. 

Then the flight was 20 minutes late. 

I have never had much time for Ryanair and this just confirmed my dislike of this airline.

They are not only a low cost airline they are ‘cheap’ as well.

It was an evening flight to Porto, so on arrival we went straight to an airport hotel, The Park Hotel Porto Aeroporto.

June 14, 2022. Porto, Portugal. 

Today was rather an inactive one, as we were just getting settled into Portugal and our first big adventure. We were also waiting for the arrival of Ev, Steph and their young daughter Aida, who were going to be travelling with us.

Late in the morning we moved from the airport hotel to our Airbnb in Porto.

Later that afternoon E, S and A arrived and then we all settled into our accommodation.

We were going to spend just over two weeks exploring this beautiful country. 

It would mainly be by car, travelling from Porto in the north, to Lisbon, the capital, in the south.


Dom Louis 1 Bridge over the Douro River

June 15, 2022. Porto, Portugal. 

It was 1974 when we were last in Portugal – this time was very different.

Back then, we were a young couple, living in Manchester, England and had brought our VW Kombi Van across the channel to tour Portugal and then travel down to Morocco.

Forty eight years later we were with our son, his wife and their young daughter, travelling together and staying in Airbnbs, not living out of our van and cooking for ourselves.

Fortunately we had a Metro station close by, so it was easy to get into Porto city centre to rediscover city. 

Tiles were the architectural feature I had forgotten about and now they struck me the most.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, an 18th Century church, was our first tile encounter.

This was followed by many more examples of architectural tiling. This ornamental art form is highly decorative and a symbol of Portugal to the world.

Tiling was first developed in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, almost 3,000 years BC, but it was the the Muslims that introduced the art form to Europe in the 7th Century.

In the Iberian Peninsula, it was the Moors who introduced tiling to Portugal and Spain.

The colours of blue and white seem to dominate Portuguese tiles and that, according to history, comes from the influence of Chinese porcelain.

Porto is regarded as the tile capital of Portugal. However they can be found all over the country, from small villages to major cities.

We wandered the streets and everywhere we went we encounter Portuguese Tarts, either being sold or consumed.

Needless to say we had to try them.

The Dom Louis 1 Bridge and the Douro River dominates the city, as do the steep, narrow streets.

On our walk we came across the monument to Prince (The Navigator) Henry of Portugal (1394–1460).

The Prince was a central figure in the maritime discoveries of the Portuguese Empire in the 15th Century.

We finally got to the river late in the day but rain and lack of time stopped us from crossing it.

This would have to wait for another day.


Train trip across the Dom Louis 1 Bridge over the Douro River

June 16, 2022. Porto, Portugal. 

Today was spent doing what we didn’t finish yesterday, mainly crossing the Douro River on the Dom Louis 1 Bridge. 

On the other side of the river we found a park for Aida to play in – they seem to be in short supply.

Then it was down to the river to have lunch, followed by a port – naturally.

We were in the Port Wine District, on the Douro River, and there was a huge sign, atop a building, for Sandeman, a very popular Portuguese port. 

Sandeman was established in 1790 and is world famous, especially the logo. This features a man known as the ‘The Don’ who is wearing a Portuguese student cape and broad brimmed Iberian hat.

It was still overcast and rain threatened.

After lunch we took a trip on the Funicular Teleféyico de Gaia. This gave us a great view of the river and the city.

Then, after a bit more city walking, we headed back over the river and visited the São Bento Railway Station, which is a UNESCO listed site in the Old City Centre. 

Built in 1905 the station is regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of Portage tiling.

It certainly is impressive and had to be seen.

It was then back on to the underground for a return trip to our Airbnb for dinner.


Casa da Música (Concert Hall)

June 17, 2022. Porto, Portugal. 

We stayed close to our accommodation in the morning, as we had to return to the airport to pick up a rental car in the afternoon. 

We felt that the best way to travel to Lisbon from Porto was to get a rental, that way we were in control.

Firstly it was a coffee at Ponto 2, which was right next to our Metro station.

It became our go-to in Porto, as it was a short walk from our accommodation and had a large indoor and outdoor space and the coffee wasn’t that bad. Aida loved the Portuguese style croissants there.

Then Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular, for a photo opportunity before continuing on to the Opera House (Casa da Musica).

This is the home of the National Orchestra of Porto and an amazing piece of architecture.

Completed in 2005 and designed by Rem Koolhaas, it was the result of an international architectural tender that was motivated by Porto becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2001.

The interior is just as impressive as the outside and it even boasts it’s own original typeface for the signage.

It was built on the site of an old tram terminus.

It was then off to the Mercado Bom Sucesso for lunch with lots of aggressive and hungry pigeons.

Back to the house and then the Metro to the airport with Evan, and Aida, just to make sure we got the child seat that had been pre ordered. We felt we might need some living proof that we really did need the seat.

The seat wasn’t an issue but we were faced with a very aggressive sales woman who made sure that I took every ‘On Sell’ on offer.

I took what I needed as I did have my own insurance and felt that would cover all contingencies.

We did get a rather nice Renault 6 speed, manual Kadjar Diesel, Black Edition.

As I was going to be the designated driver, my task then was to get my brain around driving on the right, with a left hand drive vehicle again.

Once we got back from picking up the car, it was off to the local supermarket to get food for the next few days. 

We had real fun driving out from the supermarket site, as it didn’t seem to have a clear exit plan.


The House of Sandeman at Quinta do Seixo

June 18, 2022. Porto, Portugal. 

Fortunately our accommodation had good parking underneath, so we could do day trips and always be able to return to a free spot.

After finally getting one of the SatNavs to work properly, we drove to Amarante. The Renault had one, I had one and of course we all had phones but we did have trouble getting the one in the car to work properly.

Our first photo opportunity was the Church and Monastery of St. Gonçalo. Built in the Italian Renaissance style, both were established in 1543, by João II and completed in 1620. 

We then wandered around Amarante for a while before driving east to Pinahão.

This charming little town, is in the heart of the Port Wine country and sits on the banks of the Douro River.

We had lunch overlooking the river and then walked from there to the Pinahão Railway Station.

This is on the main train line from Porto and attracts many tourists. Again the blue tile work at the station was stunning.

It was then off to the House of Sandeman, at Quinta do Seixo, for a Port Wine experience.

As I was the ‘designated driver’ it was only a sip for me, however we did buy a bottle for Ron – ‘Later on’. 

This is the main outlet of the famous Sandeman brand and sits in the heart of the Douro Region overlooking the Douro River valley and river.

Out the front, with the best views, is the iconic Sandeman Don, complete with his Portuguese student cape and Jerez sombrero.

We had seen him atop a building in Porto and now here he was again.

Sandeman Wine was founded in 1790 by Scotsman David Sandeman. It wasn’t until 1928 that the iconic logo came into existence. It was designed, also by a Scot, George Massiot Brown.

The company was sold to Seagram in 1979 and is currently owned by the Portuguese company Sogrape. However a descendant, George Thomas David Sandeman, is a member of the board of Sogrape Vinhos.


World Famous Sardines of Portugal

June 19, 2022. Porto, Portugal. 

A delicious morning coffee in Porto, then off for another day of touring.

This time we headed north, for about an hour, to the historically significant city of Braga.

It hosts Portugal’s oldest Catholic archdiocese, the Archdiocese of Braga.

We were in the midst of Catholic celebrations, as the Festival of John the Baptist was in full swing when we arrived.

The actual festival wasn’t for a few days yet, on June 23, but there was still a lot of celebration and preparation happening when we arrived.

We enjoyed the atmosphere in the town centre then went for a wander around.

Portugal is famous for its sardines and they were certainly being celebrated in one particular shop.

The walls were lined with hundreds of cans of the salty treat.

We visited the Gardens of Santa Barbara, the Archbishops Palace (16th, 17th and 18th Centuries), the Town Hall (1754-1865), the Arch of the New Gate (1770) and Braga Cathedral (1089).

All the time the sky’s were darkening – rain was certainly on the way again.

We drove to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, which is high on a hill overlooking Braga.

And by the time we got there the rain had found us.

This sanctuary, was first developed in 1373, however the present structure was started in 1722.

The Baroque church, at the top of the stairway, was built around 1725 by architect Manuel Pinto Vilalobost.

After dodging the storm and trying to stay dry, Ev, Steph and Aida took the funicular back down. Thea and I then drove down to meet them and headed back to Porto.


Views of Nazaré

June 20, 2022. Porto to Nazaré, Portugal. 

Today we left Porto and drove to south to Nazaré. It was a relatively easy 2 hour drive, mainly on the freeways. 

Even though our Renault Kadjar seemed spacious, it did take a bit of an effort to get everything in for the move to Nazaré.

But then we were travelling with a small child and this therefore included extras like a cot and portable pusher.

Nazaré is a very popular seaside resort on the Costa de Prata, or Silver Coast. This is understandable, given the size and length of the sandy beach.

This  beach area is known as Praia, which is one of three neighbourhoods that go to make up the town.

The other two are Sitio and Pedermeira, which are elevated.

The earliest settlements were in these two towns, as they were high up and a refuge from the invading Vikings.

The Nazaré Funicular, from Praia, is an easy way to get to Sitio, which sits on a clifftop overlooking the beach.

Once we got settled into our apartment we went for a stroll around town. We were staying very close to the beach and an easy walking distance into the main town centre.

We also had good on-site parking again, so we didn’t need to worry about the car.

Now the weather was more pleasant with blue sky and moderate temperatures. However nothing like the heat wave that other parts of Europe were experiencing.

It wasn’t the ‘Tourist Season’ yet in Nazaré and the streets and beach were rather quiet.

Our accommodation was very spacious, with a large kitchen area as well as an equally large dining and living space.

That night’s dinner was a home cooked affair.


Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo

June 21, 2022. Nazaré, Portugal. 

It was a late start to the morning, then off for another great Portuguese coffee. 

We found the coffees in Portugal to be very much to our liking. They are full of flavour, strong and never too large and drowned in water.

Fortunately the ‘Americano’ style hasn’t reached here yet.

We then explored the Nazaré Municipal Market, which wasn’t exactly buzzing. 

In the afternoon we took the Nazaré Funicular or Elevador da Nazaré to Sitio, which sits on the cliff overlooking the main beach.

From the top of the funicular it was a good walk to Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo but unfortunately it started to rain so out came the coats and umbrellas.

Before reaching the fort we stopped to look at Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré.

This is an ancient and imposing Marian shrine, that was founded in the 14th Century and is in memory of a miracle that occurred under the intercession of the Virgin Mary. 

Praia do Norte is the beach below the Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo and home to some of the world’s largest waves.

Within the fort there is a tourist centre and memorial to these huge swells with many photos and stories of the feats that have occurred here.

Currently the record for the biggest wave surfed at Praia do Norte is held by the Brazilian, Rodrigo Kota, and stands at 24.4 metres or 80 feet high from trough to crest.

Also near the entrance to the fort stands the Escultura Veado Surfista. This is a 6.30 metre, steel and marble sculpture of a surfer with a deers head and antlers.

Created by the Portuguese sculptor Adália Alberto and installed in 2016, it honours the legend of Nazaré.

‘When in Rome’ or in this case ‘When in Portugal’ do as the locals do. So tonight we had sardines for dinner at Taberna d’ Adélia.


Around Ōbidos

June 22, 2022. Nazaré, Portugal. 

The weather was still unusually cool for Summer. In fact it had been warmer in Berlin and that was so much further north. 

After our day in town yesterday we were off to explore some of the surrounding areas today. 

At the price of a rental you can’t leave the car in the garage for too long. 

We headed for Ōbidos, a UNESCO City of Literature. 

This was about an hours drive south of Nazaré, on the more scenic route, as we didn’t need to take the toll roads.

Just before we reached Ōbidos we discovered a Roman Aqueduct just outside of the town. Apparently there are about three kilometres of aqueduct, which connects to a further three kilometres of tunnels, which all begin at a natural spring near Usseira.

One of the city gates in Ōbidos was decorated with Azulejo. This is a form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work.

Yet again more beautiful Portuguese tiles.

St. Mary’s Square was a big tourist draw and surrounded by many cafes and restaurants.

Naturally this became our spot for lunch.

On our walk and just on the edge of the main township is the Castle of Ōbidos. This is a well preserved Medieval building.

It was a relaxing day of touring and that night we ate at home again while preparing to move again tomorrow.


Sardines are very popular in Portugal

June 23, 2022. Nazaré to Sintra,Portugal. 

Again we were heading south, this time to Sintra.

It was a easy two hour drive to Sintra but once we got there it was hell finding a parking spot. 

We did get a spot, that was about 100 metres from our room. However it was on a corner and possibly not legal. 

I’ll wait and see if I get caught. 

Our accommodation was yet another Airbnb and on the top floor of the apartment block. To get to the top, with all our gear, they were steep steps to climb.

This was a sign of things to come.

The village was set in the mountains outside of Lisbon and had some of the windiest streets I have ever driven around. 

It was a labyrinth of hairpin bends, some required a three point turn to negotiate. Plus there were a multitude of one way streets and very steep hills. 

There was very little available, or easily accessible parking anywhere in the city and not just near or room. 

We walked into the town centre and had some lunch. I wasn’t about to give up our precious parking spot, legal or not.

This was mostly down hill and it was only on the return journey that we realised just how steep the streets were. 

I’m glad we are only here for two nights.

Lunch was at Cafe da Vila and at €65 for all of us not to bad. They were really pushing their lower prices, which was evident by the €8 MENU signs all over the cafe walls.

We needed to get food for breakfast and provisions for Aida, so our next task was to search for a supermarket. We found a small one, near the centre of town, so had to lug around our purchases for the rest of the day.

We continued our walk around the town, fortunately most sights weren’t too far apart.

Near the centre was the National Palace of Sintra. Unfortunately it was getting late in the day and there was no time to explore the whole site, so we just settled on visiting the garden.

This is said to be the oldest palace in Portugal, with a royal structure on this site for as long as Portugal has been existence.

The palace is dominated by two, giant conical chimneys, hovering over the palace kitchen.

For dinner we found a craft brewery, Villa Craft Beer and Bread. It was not in the main tourist area so not crowded. 

The food was good and the local craft beer was excellent.

Then it was a very steep walk back to our accommodation.

Thea was starting to suffer from the climbing and we became a little suspicious about her health.


King Ferdinand II (1816-1885)

June 24, 2022. Sintra, Portugal. 

Raining again – where has summer gone. 

Today was one of visiting palaces – the first was the Palace of Pena.

It was a nightmare getting their by bus, as we didn’t want to drive and then try and find parking spots.

In Sintra you are more a mountain goat than a tourist – everywhere is a climb. 

I have never been in a tourist attraction that was so crowded. It was one continuous line right through the Palace interior. 

The Pena Palace was a former monastery that has suffered over the centuries.

It’s history started in the Middle Ages, when it was a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena.

A small monastery, that only housed 18 monks was built on the site in the 15th Century. Then in the 18th Century it was severely damaged by lightning. However it was the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 that left it in ruins.

In 1838 King Ferdinand II transformed the remains and turned it into his summer palace.

The current structure was built in the Romantic style and constructed between 1842 and 1854. Over time the dominant colours of red and yellow faded and it was only in the 20th Century that the colour was restored. 

In 1995 the palace and the Cultural Landscape of Sintra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over one of the entrances to the Palace was a relief of Triton. Was it male or female, animal, vegetable, fish or even human?

The creature is perched on a giant shell that’s surrounded by many nautical symbols. It is holding a tree trunk that is combined with vines and other flora and fauna.

In the afternoon we trekked over the valley to the 12th Century Moorish Castle. 

Again this was an exercise in mountaineering. 

The Castle of the Moors, as it is sometimes called, was built in the 8th and 9th Centuries and is included in Sintra’s UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Only the walls, some parts of the entrance gate and one tower remain of the castle. The rest was also destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1755.

The return bus ride was even a bigger stuff up than the one going out. 

Sintra is a huge tourist destination but it’s transport system fails at every level. 


The view from our window in Lisbon (R. Cap. Renato Baptista 32)

June 25, 2022. Sintra to Lisbon, Portugal. 

We moved from Sintra to Lisbon, with a good break in Cabo da Roca. This is the most western point of Continental Europe. 

Once we arrived in Lisbon, the main task was to drop the car off at the airport. 

However our climbing wasn’t over yet. The apartment in Lisbon was on the second floor, the third for us, and there wasn’t a lift.

However the view of parts of Lisbon from the top floor was spectacular.

This was another Airbnb and like so many of them these days the owners or managers never check to see if everything is operational.

The electricity supply had serious issues and the power points seemed to go out when we put the oven on.


Old Lisbon trams

June 26, 2022. Lisbon, Portugal. 

Today was our day to explore Lisbon but before that we discovered Depozito. This was a very eclectic store that had many old posters, collectibles and packaging.

We had a shortish walk to the tram and then a ride into the centre. Lisbon, like Melbourne, is a city of trams and also like Melbourne they proudly show off their antique ones.

Travelling with Ev, Steph and Aida is very different to the way we normally do things. For one, they insist on having lunch.

Now it’s not that I deny Thea lunch when we travel alone, it’s just not that important and I usually only have a coffee and that’s it.

Lunch today was in Rua Augusta, a beautiful walking street in the heart of Lisbon, which ends at the stunning Rua Augusta Arch.

The arch and accompanying buildings were built between 1755 and 1873 to commemorate the devastating earthquake of 1755.

There was a lot of construction happening around the arch and I had my time cut out trying to crop out the cranes that were constantly in my shot.

Not far from the arch was Commerce Square and within the square was the Dom José I Statue. Then, just a little further on, was the Tagus River river front with great views of the April 25 Bridge.

Walking on even further, we then came across the Rossio Train Station. This beautiful station overlooks Rossio Square and was completed in 1890.

A feature is the two intertwined horseshoe portals at the entrance this is done in the Neo-Manueline style. This was first used during the 16th Century in Portugal.

To save our legs and to get on the right path for home we took a funicular. The ride lasted less than five minutes and cost €15.20 for the four of us. Not great value, but it did save us having to climb yet another hill.

Before reaching our apartment we came across a weird park, with all sorts of birds, including roosters and hens. 

Just near the ‘Bird Park’ was a monument to Dr. Sousa Martins.

Because of his work with the poor in Lisbon, he was certainly well liked. Testament to that was the number of notes, memorials and flowers around his statue.

That night we ate in again and battled with the electricity.


The view from Miradouro de Santa

June 27, 2022. Lisbon, Portugal. 

View points was the the theme of today’s tour around Lisbon .

This was partly driven by our desire to see more of the city sights from high up. The view from our apartment was rather good and we felt it could only get better.

We bought a day ticket on the public transport system. This gave us 24 hours travel on the trams, trains, buses and funiculars

The view of Lisbon from Miradouro da Senhora Monte was voted the best after we visited Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro de Santa Luzia.

However we did see some more beautiful Portuguese tile work at Miradouro de Santa Luzia.

We went up to the Castle of St. Jorge but the queue was too long and the guide books suggested that it wasn’t worth the effort to go inside.

Then we tried, for a second time, to get the Santa Justa Lift, but again the line was long and we were running out of time.

That night Ev and Steph were going out for a delayed wedding anniversary dinner and we were on baby sitting duty.

Then the power went out again just as we were preparing dinner

This AirBnB has serious problems.


The Refectory

June 28, 2022. Lisbon, Portugal. 

We caught the train to Belēm, which sits on the Tagus River.

The main reason was to visit the Jerónimos Monastery, however we did stop by the river for a bit of a stroll before putting our tourist hats on.

It was here that we got another view of the April 25 Bridge, this time from the west.

Surrounding the Monastery were lots of green space and parks. In one of them was a very imposing monument to Afonso de Albuquerque (1453-1515).

Alfonso served as the Portuguese viceroy to India from 1509 to 1515. He became known as a strong military leader who helped Portugal to expand its territory across the Indian Ocean.

I wonder how long it will be before the anti colonial movement will push to have his name wiped from the history books and the statue pulled down?

The Jerónimos Monastery was erected in the 1500s, near the departure point of Vasco da Gama’s first journey. It was built in the Portuguese Gothic Manueline style and funded by a tax on the profits taken from the Portuguese India Armadas.

In 1880 Vasco da Gama’s remains were moved there and in 1983 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There was a very long line waiting to enter and we took it in turns to hold our position in the queue.

It has been very well maintained and restored and we did take some time to wander around its vast interior, visiting the Refectory and the Church.

It did take 100 years to build and with the funding coming from the Portuguese Empire no money was spared.

After the Monastery, we returned back to the river and visited the Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument.

This Monument to the Discoveries was opened in 1940 and designed by Portuguese architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo, and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida.

It was only meant to be a temporary beacon during the Portuguese World Exhibition of 1940 and was demolished in 1943. However there was so much resistance to the loss that this new and permanent monument was erected in 1960.

A constant sight, over the Tagus River, is aircraft coming in from the south west to land at Lisbon Airport. They were arriving at a rate of about one every two minutes. 

I guess they are all full of tourists. 

Over the course of the last few weeks I have been playing the ‘Kelpie’ and spending a fair bit of my time rounding up Aida.  

It’s been a lot of fun.

Tonight we gave up on battling with the apartment’s electrical issues and went out for dinner at Ortónimo, a restaurant that was just down the street.

This was our last night in Portugal, it was off to Spain tomorrow.

Summer of 2022.
Part 1: Berlin with Hayden, Andrea and Brianna.

Friday, March 22nd, 2024


Berliner Lustgarten

The main reason we were in Berlin again was to catch up with Hayden, Andrea and young Brianna. 

We were there for Brianna’s birth in 2019 but Coronavirus (COVID-19) put a stop to any return travel. The other reason was the wedding of my mate Rob’s son Cam to Fran early in July.

This was planned to be in Rome in 2020 and had been postponed, again due to Covid.

The family had been invited to Rome for the celebrations and this was a great chance to get everyone together.

Our first three weeks was spent with H, A and B, with only this excursion to Große Wannsee.

Not having been to Berlin since 2019 we noticed a lot of difference. This was mainly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On a day trip into the city we were surprised to see that one side of Unter den Linden, the road that houses the Russian Embassy, was blocked off and guarded by German police and armoured vehicles.

There was clearly a fear that the embassy could be attacked by pro Ukrainian supporters.

Support for Ukraine was everywhere, with flags flying from many buildings, including public ones.

Another thing that surprised us was the German’s attitude to the Australian lockdown during the pandemic. They were shocked to hear how severe it had been and many felt that it was infringing on our ‘Human Rights.’

We did try to point out that it was for the benefit of the society as a whole and to many Australians that outweighs individual selfishness.

Another shock was the rise in the cost of living.

It was much more expensive to live here than it was back in 2019.

Even before we embarked on this trip, I had decided that architecture was something I’d missed. As we wandered around the streets of Berlin, I was richly rewarded with an abundance of architectural sights.

Just simple apartment buildings, that had survived WW2, were a delight to see again.

Also as a result of the pandemic, the government introduced a monthly €9 train ticket. This was designed to stop people using their cars and therefore valuable fuel. As far as I was concerned, this was the only positive to come out of the Ukrainian war.

Monkey in a palm tree (I must be in the tropics, not Germany)

June 12, 2022. Berlin to Große Wannsee, Germany.

Coming into Berlin we flew over Große Wannsee, a lake area to the south west. So we decided to visit it on the train and utilise our €9 monthly train ticket.

This was the only touristy style adventure undertaken during our first stay in Berlin.

There was a long sandy beach on the lake with small, two seater, beach seats and a tiny section for the nudies at one end. 

There was a €5.50 entry to the beach and it was crowded.

After visiting the beach on the lake we had lunch just near the entrance to the Berlin-Nikolassee Station. This station, built in 1909 and designed by Fritz Bräuning, is noted for it’s prominent Neo-Gothic entrance.

We then walked from Nikolassee to Schlachtensee. There you could swim and sun bake for free.

If you really needed to spend money, then you could hire a canoe or rowboat or go back to the Große Wannsee.

It was then back onto the train for our return trip to the city. 


Look what was staring at me.

Monday, February 26th, 2024

On our trip north last year, we were having dinner in our apartment near Torquey, Queensland and I got rather a shock. 

I went to serve myself some salad and this little feller was staring at me from the bowl. 

I doubt a really good food stylist could create this, even if they tried.

It was just a freak of nature.

You Don’t Own Me.

Saturday, January 27th, 2024


At night, we very often listen to Spotify and most often we listen to the songs of our era.

These I regard as the soundtracks to our lives.

Just recently Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit single ‘You Don’t Own Me’ was playing. As I listened to the lyrics, I thought just how far ahead of its time this song was.

It was Gore’s second most successful hit after ‘It’s My Party’ recorded in her debut album of 1963, when she was only 16 years of age.

‘You Don’t Own Me’ was also a winner in the pop charts, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964, where it stayed for three weeks.

Its rival for the top spot was taken by the Beatles ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’.

Surprisingly it was written by two blokes, David White and John Madara.

I wonder what their mates thought of this song back then.

Since its recording the song has been hailed as an early feminist anthem. It has been seen as a deciding factor in influencing the Second Wave Feminist Movement, that started in the early 1960s.

In 2016 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Better late than never. 

Gore was very much our contemporary, being born in New York City in 1946. She unfortunately died, at a relatively early age in 2015, aged 68.   

Just read the lyrics and you will understand what I’m saying about the song.


You don’t own me

I’m not just one of your many toys

You don’t own me

Don’t say I can’t go with other boys

And don’t tell me what to do

Don’t tell me what to say

And please, when I go out with you

Don’t put me on display ’cause

You don’t own me

Don’t try to change me in any way

You don’t own me

Don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay

I don’t tell you what to say

I don’t tell you what to do

So just let me be myself

That’s all I ask of you

I’m young and I love to be young

I’m free and I love to be free

To live my life the way I want

To say and do whatever I please

And don’t tell me what to do

Oh, don’t tell me what to say

And please, when I go out with you

Don’t put me on display

I don’t tell you what to say

Oh, don’t tell you what to do

So just let me be myself

That’s all I ask of you

I’m young and I love to be young

I’m free and I love to be free

A marketing tool that’s been forgotten here.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

Beermats, as we know them today, were developed by Friedrich Horn, a German printing and board mill company in 1880.

Before that they were originally developed, to not only absorb spills but to cover the beer and stop insects from drinking your precious ale.

A practice that can still come in handy today.

Once they were made from absorbent board and printable, they became an advertising tool.

As I have mention, in a previous blog, collecting beermats has become a hobby, as they remind me of where we have been and what beers were on offer.

I have noticed, over the time, that overseas beermats now have many marketing uses. They are a great way to get attention for a brand, raise issues and even to tell history.

The Scottish craft beer rebel, Brew-Dog, uses their mats to tell the story of their carbon neutral approach to brewing and also their 50/50 sharing of profits with their staff.

Something that may have been forced on them by the mis-adventures of their founder James Watt.

Budweiser Beer by Budvar, in the Czech Republic, tells the world that their beer is the original Budweiser, not that crap copy from the US

While Scapa Special, from Swannay Brewery, in the Orkney Islands, at the very north of Scotland, has taken a historic approach and featured the 1919 scuttling of the German fleet at Scarpa Flow.

Here in Australia, the availability of beermats seems to be in decline and certainly those that are around are not putting the medium to it’s best use.

Like any advertising, they cost money, but they are certainly an engaging marketing tool that can bring recall to the brand.

Seagulls and some Americans
share a lot in common.

Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

Have you ever watched a flock of seagulls when there is ‘human food’ to be had?

They may live in a community but it’s a community where the individual rules. 

They are self serving. 

They always put themselves above their cohort. 

If there is any chance that another gull might get to the food first, or even be in a better position to score, they take over. 

With this individualistic approach to life, I can’t help but see similarities with parts of the American culture. 

Many in the US put themselves above the community. They regard their own needs as more important than those of the group. 

The louder I squawk the more attention I get. 

This attitude seems to parallel a certain US president of recent times.