This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2013 Travels August 3


It rained really heavily through last night. Those clouds yesterday were really serious. As a result, this morning was really humid and not pleasant. I drove to the shop for the papers, rather than walking.

Stormy weather…

John went off to bowls at Macknade.

I did some housework – so much easier without anyone else in Bus! Defrosted the fridge, which led to having to wash the floor.

Couey and I went for a long walk along the beach at low tide, going almost to the mouth of the southern creek. The beach by the park was more populated than usual, but once we’d walked about five hundred metres, had it to ourselves.

Almost deserted beach

John was right! Two circus trucks and two animal trailers arrived to join the strange trailer. A few people proceeded to set up a marquee – about thirty metres from us. Unbelievable! It seemed to be a small affair, maybe a family group? They tethered a llama, alpaca, and a couple of goats about the place. Couey was not impressed by the smells of these strange critters, wafting up, and looked distinctly puzzled. Their terrier dog roamed loose about the place, which meant that I was not impressed, either.

One of the other campers, who I’d spoken with a few times, summed it up when he commented in passing: “This place gets weirder by the minute!”

John came home from bowls with winnings of three bottles of beer. He was amused by the circus – literal and figurative.

We ate our roast chicken dinner to the background noise of the circus “music” and a very noisy group of revellers at the hotel.

The circus put on an evening performance, which was very noisy, but mercifully over by 9.30pm. They did not seem to have many people attending. There were competing events on at the Festival in Ingham.

In the early evening, the Ladies was jam packed with females getting ready for a night out – and with circus people getting made up for the performance. Bedlam.

We heard, later, that the terrier dog was supposed to be an important part of the performance, however it had absconded in favour of visiting other dogs around the park! It definitely seemed to be rather an amateur operation.

I’d done some computer research and found that the Cohen concert in Geelong was being put on through the Day on the Green organization. So I’d joined that, in order to access pre-sales tickets through them. Phoned friend M about doing this. She was already a member and, as pre-sales closed at 4pm tomorrow, said she would get the tickets. Some friends of hers might be interested too.

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2013 Travels August 2


I woke about 7am. Walked Couey along the foreshore path. Again, she rebelled part way along. Damn smart dog had realised that breakfast came at the end of her morning walk, and food was much more important than exercise.

After human breakfasts, we drove into Ingham to do a food shop.

Victoria Mill, on the way into Ingham

It was a hotter day, with cloud building up through the day.

This weekend was the annual Italian Festival in Ingham, celebrating the heritage of so many of its residents. Sugar growing commenced in the area in the 1870’s. Initially, as in other parts of north Qld., Pacific Islanders (kanakas) were brought in to work in the cane fields: under deceptive promises or plain just kidnapped. By the 1890’s this practice was declared illegal. A trickle of immigrants from Italy began to fill the labour void, and in the early 20th century many came from Italy and Spain and settled in the region. Ingham came to be known as “little Italy”. (So too, did an area near Coraki, in northern NSW, also a sugar cane region, where a friend’s family hails from).

I’d looked at the Festival program earlier in the week, but did not see much that was of great interest to us – particularly since dog limited what we could do.

Whilst we did the shopping, she stayed in the car, with windows part-down. She seemed to be ok with that, and we made sure not to be away long. Had a quick look in shops for a polar fleece throw. The one I had on the bed was just not quite enough in the chilliest part of the early morning. Couldn’t find such an item, so texted daughter to buy me one and mail it up.

Cane train loaded with cut sugar cane, waiting at the Mill

When we got back to the park, there was a strange trailer type of thing parked across the grass area, down in front of Bus. I thought it might be something associated with the Festival, but John said it looked like it belonged to a circus. Neither of us really thought it could be, though.

Grassed hollow in front of our site, used for unpowered camping… amongst other things…

After lunch, walked Couey on the beach, as far as the Cassady Beach houses.

Beach and distant mountains

The park became really, really full. Through the day, campers and caravans had multiplied on the grass area below us, even though there was no power down there. A slabbed site further along from us that had not been used to date because there was no power, was occupied, and the park manager came and changed the power leads from some rigs, around to other poles, doubling up, to remedy the situation. Probably wouldn’t have passed any regulatory inspections, but hey, this is north Qld!

Just after dark, a couple with young children set up a camper trailer across the access road from us. It must have been the last empty “proper” site, as opposed to setting up in an ad hoc way on the central grass.

I wondered how many people the park was actually permitted to have – if they even worry about such things up here? There must have been in at least two hundred bodies in residence. There were only five toilets and four showers in the Ladies’; going to be queues in there for sure.

I cooked threadfin salmon in tempura batter for tea, while John went off to buy chips and potato cakes. We didn’t factor in the new crowds, he was gone a long time, and the fish was over-cooked as a result. We found – again – that the shop food was too greasy. From now on, I would be cooking our own fries while here.

A TV advert came up for Leonard Cohen concerts in North Qld, in November. Obviously, that meant the great man was doing another concert series in Australia. I immediately texted daughter to check if there were any scheduled for Victoria, remembering the great time we’d had at his brilliant Hanging Rock concert in 2010. She found out there would be one held at a Geelong winery, in December, but she was not interested in one that far away from her home. I texted friend M about it – she was definitely interested. Emailed former work friend T to see if he would like to attend, too. That was really something to start looking forward to; my mind was already mulling over the logistics. John was not enthusiastic. He didn’t come to the Hanging Rock concert back then. Doesn’t know what he’s missing!

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2013 Travels August 1


I woke at 7.15. Couey and I walked along the foreshore path until 8am. She didn’t want to walk as far as we went yesterday; makes it very clear when she wants to turn around, by simply stopping and waiting until I get the message. Overall, she seemed just about back to normal today.

Had the usual sort of morning, pottering about camp.

John went off to bowls about midday. Thursday bowls at Macknade was already his set routine, here. He had an enjoyable game and won a small chook. A substantial afternoon tea is served to the bowlers, so our Thursday night dinners would need to be light ones.

While John was gone, I washed Bus floor and generally tidied the place up.

Couey and I went for a good long walk on the beach. She did not take in as much salt water when John was not along, because I walk further away from the water line, and do not encourage her into the deeper water pools.

Just about the perfect beach…

Chicken sausages and potato for tea.

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2013 Travels July 31


Couey woke me before 7am, by whining and nudging at me. This was unusual behaviour, so I got up and took her out. She had certainly needed to be out of Bus – upset stomach, big time! I presumed she took on too much sea water on yesterday’s  walk. Either that, or the tick collar had affected her.

Because it was so early, we went for a long walk along the foreshore paths and through the park areas – about 3kms. There would be no beach walk for her today.

Again, it was a superb day, about 26 degrees, blue sky, no wind, gentle sea. This was what we’d ordered!

Beautiful day at Forrest Beach

After his breakfast, John decided to check the pressures in the vehicle tyres. Actually, he wanted to do the Terios, but decided to do Bus too, since he had the gear out. Terios tyres, at 31, were higher than the recommended 26, but he wanted to leave them at that. He discovered that he didn’t have the right gear for checking the inside rear bus tyres – would have to rectify that at some stage. We really didn’t know what pressures the Bus tyres should be running at anyway. Just had to hope the Toyota service centre at home had them right. Still on a learning curve with this Bus thing, us.

Later, we all walked up to the shops, to buy some vegies  for tea and to post mail. There was a post office agency at the newsagent. Or was the Post Office also a newsagent? Either way, the postal location is Allingham, not Forrest Beach, just to confuse everyone. We both had cards and letters to post.

John had ordered, online, a dashboard camera, that he had delivered to M, for forwarding. That parcel was now there for him.

Back at Bus, he fiddled about with the dashcam for a while, then went for a drive in Terios to get it going.

I read, knitted, wrote up the diary, spent some time on the laptop.

We had steak for tea, with sides of broccoli and mushrooms. I used a packet of green peppercorn sauce with the steak – not the sort of thing I usually bought, at home. John loved it and wants it again, next time we have steaks.

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2013 Travels July 30


It was a lovely sunny day, with no wind at all.

Usual morning activities, then walked Couey on the beach, right on low tide. So there was a wide expanse of firm sand, with occasional small sea channels and pools of water. For me, this is just the best sort of beach walking there is.

Low tide at Forrest Beach

Dog was very bold with the water. She seemed to have realized that sploshing around in the water was great fun.

Now that dog was venturing into water, we had to take off her tick collar before going to the beach, then replace it when she was dry.

Just having a rest…..

We walked to beyond the south houses. My ankle was much happier with the flatter, firmer going, but John’s legs were sore and he said he wouldn’t walk tomorrow.

Had my hair cut by neighbour A. She took a lot of care with it and only charged me $15. I was very pleased with the outcome. Wished  she lived near me at home.

I drove up to the local SPAR supermarket, leaving John and dog napping. The supermarket wasn’t great, and was not going to be a substitute for regular trips to Ingham, unfortunately. I was able to get the milk and jar of apple sauce I wanted, but couldn’t get any decent fruit.

Had soaked Couey’s bedding, which was starting to smell distinctly doggy, in a bucket, this morning. After lunch, went along to the laundry and washed it out in one of the troughs. Hung out on a nearby clothesline, it didn’t take long to dry.

I read for a while, then finished a letter to M, begun back in Charleville. Wrote some postcards. Started the next lot of knitting – another dog coat.

There were lovely blue winged  kookburras about. We’d heard them making their raucous calling, periodically, resembling a chainsaw more than laughter! That sound still amused me, even after years of encountering these birds in many places across northern Australia.  One perched for a while on a nearby flag pole, so I tried to photograph it, not very successfully. Should have used John’s camera with its big zoom lens.

Blue-winged kookaburra

There were also some thick knees calling at nights, making their scary screaming noise. I sometimes saw one, when taking Couey out at night. She acted like she’d like to chase them, but that was definitely on our forbidden list of dog activities.

Since the wind stopped, there were now some mozzies about, at dusk. Only to be expected with the swampy areas  on the inland side of the park.

When I unwrapped the pork steaks destined for tea – use by date 31st – I didn’t like their smell. John said he would eat the meat, regardless, so he had pork, but I threw out my serve and just had the accompanying vegetables. John survived the night, so the meat must have been alright, after all. Sometimes vaccuum packed meat does have a distinct smell when opened: maybe Queensland pork smells different to the Victorian product?

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2013 Travels July 29


Mornings had begun to settle into a routine. I would get up by 8am, take dog off for a walk and her morning toileting, give her breakfast, get my breakfast and sit outside with it. Then I would read and maybe give dog some ball chasing down on the grassy hollow, until John eventually got up.

Today was pleasant weather. Very good for sitting outside and not too hot for walking.

We managed to almost crack low tide for today’s beach walk, meaning the sand was firm to walk on, and there was a fair expanse of it between the water and the start of the soft sand beach.

The palm Islands Group in the distance

Couey was getting bolder. The waves, without the wind blowing, were fairly low. She started running into the water and trying to chase the waves. Seemed like she had stopped being a wimpy dog and learned to love the beach.

Keeping away from those unpredictable waves!

I kept a pretty careful eye out, as we walked along the beach. We had been told there was a fairly large croc that sometimes cruised along between the creeks to our north and south, a distance of several kms. It had taken several crab pots recently. Crocs love to eat dogs and I didn’t want ours to become a meal for one.

We walked as far as the houses to the south. We didn’t speed walk, so took about two hours, out and back. My problem ankle was sore from the previous soft sand walks.

South of Forrest Beach

Back at Bus, after lunch, I knitted and finished a dog coat that would be put aside to go to the animal refuge back at home. I’d finished all the e-books borrowed from my local library; John didn’t want me to download any more until the end of our data month. He was not sure how much of our allowance we were using, yet. God forbid that he should run out of data capacity for accessing WOW! So I decided to try to finish the biography of John Howard that I’d begun over a year ago, and brought along in case I needed hard copy books. Even though my days of teaching Political Studies were well past, I retained an interest in that subject.

Late in the day, we gained a new neighbouring rig, the previous one having departed this morning, presumably to chase the next community markets. The new ones put out a sign saying haircuts were available. Now, that I could relate to. I went next door and booked to have mine done, tomorrow.

Used a bottled sauce on fettucine, for tea – pretty ordinary.

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2013 Travels July 28


The sky was still cloudy in the morning, so again there was that moody light on the sea.

It was not as windy today – a hopeful sign – so we were comfortable sitting outside for some of the time.

After breakfast, we took the walking path that goes from near the hotel, along behind the foreshore, to the lawned area near the surf lifesaving club, where the monthly markets were set up. Wandered around the rather small number of stalls. Bought a pineapple and some bananas. The neighbour from the rig that came in yesterday was selling massages at the market.

Took our purchases back to Bus, then walked Couey on the beach. We got as far as the southernmost group of houses – Cassady Beach. The water was high, the sand soft, and the walking hard work. The sea was still a bit rough. Couey began to play with the waves – following them out then dancing back away as they came in. She was a bit of a hazard to us as she bounded back away from them.

Back at Bus, I looked up the tide times, finally, and found we were definitely trying to walk at about high tide times. So, hopefully, the walking will get better, with time.

Below our site level is a large grassy hollow, behind the sandy low hills at the back of the beach. At one end of that was a set up of some large tents, and a couple of boats. We were amused to see, our first night here, that these tents were draped with coloured flashing lights. They had obviously been here for some time. Clearly, the minds of some people work differently to mine – it would never even enter my head to carry strings of flashing lights to decorate our camp. Guess that makes me pedestrian and unimaginative.

Unpowered camp area below the row of vans. Bus just visible, dwarfed by large neighbour

I packed John’s doona away under the bed too.

Read for a while, then got out my hardanger embroidery and tried to work out what I had intended to do, when I started it, nearly a year ago. Finally decided to make up a new pattern as I went. Thought I’d intended for it to be a place mat? Anyway, that was what it would eventually become.

For tea, made up a chicken stir fry, with Singapore noodles.

Since I’d put up the solar screens, the dog didn’t seem to want to sleep in my front seat at night, but stayed  sleeping on a mat by the door. Wonder why?

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2013 Travels July 27


I got up just before 8am. Couey had continued to be good in the mornings, not getting out of her front seat “nest” and coming down the back of Bus to try to wake us up. She just waited quietly and patiently until I was ready to take her for her morning walk.

The day was still windy and cloudy.

I walked up to the shop to collect the papers, with dog. She was a bit reluctant to leave, without John, who was still asleep, but once we’d left the park, was happy enough. She didn’t object to being tied outside the shop, this morning. I bought a couple of postcards, too.

John left, in the car, before midday, for bowls, bearing a cut lunch.

I enjoyed my own space, for the afternoon. Packed my doona away under the bed. The nights now were warm enough for just the sheet and a light fleece throw.

Couey and I went for a walk on the beach – my first time on the beach since we arrived!

There were not the wide, firm expanses of sand to walk on, that I remembered from last time. I wondered if cyclones since had changed the shape of the beach drastically. Then decided it was probably towards high tide and that might explain it. I would have to do some research and find out the tide times.

High tide at Forrest Beach

Walking on the soft sand was hard work, but we got almost as far as the row of beach front houses, a distance along the beach, an area called Cassadys Beach.

The sea was quite rough, due to the wind.

Couey free-ranged on the sand, but kept well away from the waves.

Back at Bus, I read the papers – inside, as it was still too windy to sit out. If this pattern of weather was the norm, at this time of year, the stay here would not be as pleasant as hoped.

There was much in the papers about the Prime Minister’s recently announced Manus Island policy for asylum seekers arriving illegally by boat, and about the upsurge in numbers trying to reach here before that policy came into effect. It seemed the people smugglers were trying every trick.

A rig came in next to us this afternoon – neighbours on both sides, now.

John enjoyed his bowls at Macknade. Last time here, he’d preferred the atmosphere at that club more than at the Ingham one.

Made a salad for tea, inventing it as I went along – potatoes, beans, olives, capers, capsicum, with a balsamic dressing. Put some prawns on lettuce, with sliced avocado, and my salad beside that. It all worked out quite well.

Again, football was on TV at night. Keeps the man of the establishment happy. Except when Carlton loses!

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2013 Travels July 26


I was up by 8am. John slept later.

The day was windy, and cool. Not really tropical at all.

There was an interesting light on the sea, through cloud, and I took some photos. It occurred to me that watching the changing moods of the view across to the Orpheus and Palm Island groups could be quite intriguing…….the different moods of Forrest Beach.

Morning light, Forrest Beach

I walked to the newsagent, taking Couey with me. It was probably a bit under a km each way. Ordered the Saturday papers to be kept for me. Couey was not happy about being tethered to a pole while I went in the shop – will have to do some work on that.

After John got going and breakfasted, we drove into Ingham and went to the Information Centre, where I picked up some material about the area. The Centre was at the Tyto Wetlands, which were quite extensive. Last time here, we did the walks around the lagoon and bird-spotted. I’d have liked, today, to walk the paths closer to the Centre, but that was not possible with dog, and she’d have howled blue murder if we’d tried to walk off without her.

At the fresh seafood outlet, across the road from the Centre, bought prawns, threadfin salmon – my favourite – and some frozen whiting, for John.

He dropped me off at the supermarket to go do some food shopping, whilst he went off to buy some hair clippers. These would live permanently in Bus – just one less thing he would have to try to remember to pack for future trips.

We had to get petrol for Terios, then had to wait for ages to get back out onto the highway. A long cane train had trundled over the highway crossing and caused a really long back up of traffic. Seasonal hazard of these parts.

At the Victoria Mill, some liquid was being sprayed onto an adjacent paddock area. I supposed it was waste water from cane processing, in some form.

Near Victoria Mill – spraying…..something…..

Spent the afternoon round camp.

I peeled all the prawns I’d bought, before putting them away – reduced the bulk, for storage.

I cut John’s hair with his new clippers. There is no art to that. It is more akin to hedge clipping than hair dressing!

It was too windy to sit outside for long.

I put up the solar screens on the front and side windows at the front of Bus – in the hope that it might get warm enough for us to need sun protection!

John took Couey for a walk on the beach – her first. He reported back that she seemed to like the sand, but stayed well away from the water. I was pleased to hear that – really didn’t want to have to deal with wet and sandy dog!

John drove to the take away to get  tea: chips, potato cakes, fish for him. I cooked some threadfin salmon for me and had some chips. He found the fish batter pleasantly crisp, but also very fatty. His fish – mackerel – was not great. He decided to have home cooked fish, too, next week, and maybe only buy chips. With age, we have both lost our tolerance for greasy foods.

There was AFL football on TV at night.


2013 Travels July 25


Our near neighbour was also leaving today and announced the fact by starting his engine and running it for about 20 minutes before he even started to hitch up his van. The stink of diesel fumes…….

We left at 9.30, starting out on a warm day of clear blue skies. Later, close to the coast, some clouds appeared.

Today’s was a varied and interesting drive.

Railway bridge east of Charters Towers

About 20kms of Charters Towers was the Burdekin River bridge, with the flood height marker just before it. We wondered if the flood events of the past couple of summers had put a new top marker in, above the one we saw when we stopped there in 2009, but didn’t pull in to see.

Passed through the Range at Mingela. Easy going, scenic.

The road surface was excellent, for the most part.

Newly surfaced section of highway. You wouldn’t want to pull off here at speed!

There is no doubt that this route from Charters Towers to Townsville is one of the easiest ways to traverse the Great Divide, from the inland to sea level.

Great Dividing Range

We were back where there are big, blue, sharp hills, after the inland plains.

The driver of an Elgas truck was merrily passing other vehicles over the solid double lines – very bad and arrogant driving. It reminded us that we had long thought that – at least in relation to ignoring road rules, and unsafe overtaking – north Qld drivers are the most reckless in the nation.

Saw our first mango plantation of this trip. We relate to mango plantations, having worked the harvest near here, in 2002……

On the outskirts of Townsville, followed both the signs and our GPS directions, to get onto the Ring Road – a new section since we were last here. Spotted a new Woolworths fuel outlet, by a new Bunnings, and it was easy to divert around to it. It wasn’t quite so easy to get out of though, as we took the scenic route through a couple of carparks and round the same roundabout twice.

The diesel was $1.519 cpl. 32 cents a litre cheaper than at Belyando Crossing, two days ago!

Townsville seemed to have grown so much since 2009.

The Ring Road was excellent. The smooth traffic flow made it so easy getting to the Bruce Highway, about 10kms north of the city centre. For once, the GPS really helped, as I’d left my detailed street maps of Townsville at home. However, GPS lady got herself quite confused, later, in Ingham. There is still work for the old-fashioned navigator.

I made a note to check out the Blue Water Caravan Park, north of the city. It looked OK from the road, as we passed. Must see if it takes dogs, as our preferred park from past trips (Woodlands) did not. According to Google, later, Blue Water was pet friendly.

By the Rollingstone Beach turn off, saw our first sugar cane of the trip. Then our first cane train of the year. It was, of course, harvest time.

Definitely starting to feel we are in the tropics now.

Sugar cane

There was a lot of traffic on the highway north. The Bruce is notorious, at the best of times! Today, some sort of large bike ride event was causing long traffic tail backs.

The cyclists were split into groups. with escort vehicles in front and behind. A few kms separated each group – just enough to get back up to speed after eventually getting past a group, before having to slow right down behind the next. Signs indicated there were ten such groups. We counted ourselves lucky to only encounter five – all things are relative! There were some really, really lengthy tail backs behind some of the groups.

GPS lady wanted us to turn off the highway well south of Ingham, but we kept to the route we knew, despite her protests, and went straight through the town to the Victoria Mill/Forrest Beach turn off.

Leaving the Bruce Highway – thankfully……

It wasn’t long before we could see the Mill (the largest in Australia), in front, all chimneys steaming away. It felt like an old friend…..Loved seeing it again – the activity there at this time of year is fascinating.

Victoria Mill ahead

At Forrest Beach we parked out front of the hotel and asked to see our allocated site. We’d been put on Site 42, towards the front of the park, on the grounds there was nothing else available. They obviously had a lot more long stay winter people there now, than four years ago.

We walked down and inspected the site. Grassed, no slab. It was not a very big site, but adequate, with a nice outlook over the grassed hollow towards the sea. There was a bit of a garden at the front, and between us and the next site too. It was a bit of a hike to the amenity block though, as it turned out, with the septic system not always coping well with the challenge of numbers, the distance was a good thing!

John found there were five bars on the phone – hence good internet cover (I’d forgotten to ask when booking in and he couldn’t remember what it was like last time). He quizzed the reception lady about TV reception too. She said she’d heard no complaints about it…..

We couldn’t see a better empty site, so said we’d be fine there. It was probably better for dog for us not to be on a back site, close to the mangroves and forest, where we’d hoped to be – more chance of ticks there? There was a big bus occupying “our old site” – 26.

We paid $350 for a two week stay – very budget friendly.

Parked Bus on the site front first, so the living area under our awning would face the garden that separated us from that next site, empty when we arrived. There was a caravan quite close on the other side. Hooked up to power and water – and then realized that not all sites were so supplied. We were lucky! Things were still a bit haphazard in this park.

There was a nice area for Couey to be tethered in front of Bus, and a great ball throw area in the grassy hollow below. There was just room to park Terios behind Bus.

Forrest Beach site

It was very windy here today – probably pretty normal at this time of year.

After setting up, I put the tick collar on Couey. In paralysis tick areas, one should closely inspect dog for ticks, every day. I didn’t like our chances of finding black tick on black dog – especially one with a double coat of fur.

There had been some cleaning up of the amenity block since 2009. I suspected that cyclone damage may have led to some roof repairs and a repaint. Being painted inside made it look cleaner. But the tiled floors and composite stone basin surrounds really showed signs of age, likewise the cracked and broken tiles in the showers. The laundry had been neatened up, too, and more machines installed. There had only been one last time. The whole park appeared tidier and more cared for. These front sites, where we were, had not been turned into proper sites, back four years ago.

I had a chat with a Trakmaster owner, whose site was near the amenities. He was rather unhappy about the occasional waft from the septic tank, plus that from the large rubbish hoppers nearby. I was getting happier about our site, by the minute!

Once set up was done, John went off in Terios to the McKnade Bowls Club, near Halifax, and arranged bowls for Saturday.

Tea was a chicken stir fry, made with a packet sauce mix, and rice.

John was quite satisfied with both the TV – lots of channels and a good picture – and the internet – augured well for the stay here.

So, we were settled  by the sea, at last!