Alone at Lake Como


How can it be that a place like this actually shuts?

Even the trees were closed!

Even the trees are shut - Bellagio

A closed tree – Bellagio

The signs of how quiet it would be were evident when we got on the bus to our hotel. We were the only ones with suitcases.

The town we stayed in had only one restaurant open on the day we arrived, a Wednesday, and it wasn’t full for dinner!

Lake Como is truly idyllic and being able to have it largely to ourselves more than made up for the fact that pretty much everything was closed.

Our hotel

Our hotel

We took largely empty ferries between Tremzzo, Bellagio and Varenna. There were just 5 of us on the ferry to Bellagio, so it wasn’t surprising that the town was close to empty. It’s hard to imagine that only a couple of months ago it would have barely been possible to get a table at the lakeside restaurants or a room in Bellagio. During our visit they were pretty much all closed, a ghost town, just a chilling wind whipping down the narrow streets. We travelled onto Varenna, where there was a little more activity, including a delightful little bar, where we were able to shelter from the biting wind and have a pizza and a glass of red.




We decided on a day trip to Como on our third day, Friday. Unless we wanted a dawn start, Continue reading

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So,  how do you order a coffee?

Duomo - Milan

Duomo – Milan

One of the joys of Italy is coffee, particularly if you know how to order it!

After two days my desire for a decent coffee has seen me get

  • an Americano, when I wanted a long black
  • a glass of white wine, when I wanted a white coffee
  • an espresso because my favourite person couldn’t get the waiter to understand macchiato.

All of this is of course our fault because we can’t speak Italian and when we try the results are hilarious.

However, the last straw was making a dinner reservation last night for two “due”, to which the restaurant  queried whether my booking was for “three” or “twelve”. Clearly I have some work to do!

In frustration, I have now downloaded the Google Translate App which has been successful in me being able to ask where the toilet (gabinetto) was and actually making them understand! This is progress, Continue reading

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We saw elephants and much more 


So after 3 days in Sri Lanka I definitely want to come back. It wasn’t even on our wishlist until it was suggested by the travel agent as a stopover.

Colombo is a bustling city. You take your life in your hands (many do!) walkng across the road. There are cars, tuk tuks, buses and bikes stretched across the road. It seems the road markings are only for decoration. It’s a form of organised chaos. This is definitely not a place to get your international drivers license out hire a car. You’d be taking you and others lives in your hands.


We packed plenty into our short stay.

Friday afternoon Drinks at the historic nd recently renovated Galle Face Hotel and walk on the beach at Galle Face. On a bright hot sunny day this was pretty special and a far cry from drinks at our local (albeit very pleasant bar).


We searched for a tuk tuk for the return trip to our hotel from Galle Face, looking for one with a metre as instructed by the hotel. One of the numerous security people directed us to a tuk tuk. No metre of course but the security guard told us the fee would be 200 LKR (I know, I could hear Chris De Burgh’s, “Don’t pay the ferryman, don’t even fix a price” in my head, as I was doing this!). No we weren’t interested in the one day gem sale that both the security guard and driver seemed keen for us not to miss. Just back to the hotel. As we stepped out of the tuk tuk I gave the driver what I understood to be the agreed fee 200LKR and he said no it was 300LKR. I said no and we walked off to cross the road (at the traffic lights).

One of the main reasons we were enthusiastic about taking up the suggestion of a stopover in Colombo was to see the elephants. Continue reading

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From unpacked with places to go to packed and ready to go

Italy 2015 beckons!

We have moved from




So now we are actually ready to go.

We quickly moved past the “we can get by with one bag” to “don’t be silly, of course we need two”.

It’s always a challenge packing for 2 climates. It’s 35C plus in Adelaide today and will be 30C and humid in Singapore and Colombo and then 6C in Milan. So, it’s shorts and t-shirts and full coats all in the space of a week.

We’re excited but I’m not sure the animals are quite so keen?



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Thank you Spotify, Pandora and iTunes

My thesis is now submitted. Yippee!

My computer has seized up. It’s last action being to successfully convert my thesis from Word to PDF. After that it simply gave up and so has my brain. 

The submission process was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I delivered it (3 bound copies) to my university’s research office not into a chute but into the hands of one the staff, who with big smile said “Congratulations”. From there it was a casual conversation with one of the professors, who also gave me a hearty congratulations and onto the library where I could access my Dropbox account to download my thesis for submission electronically. I then received an acknowledgement form the research office that I had met the requirements for submission and with that my Honours program was complete!

My thesis contained a series of thank yous to key people who had inspired me, mentored me and supported me throughout the last two years, but there is another set of thank yous that are also appropriate. Thanks Spotify, Pandora and iTunes whose collective music libraries have sustained me across approximately 40,000 words.

Intially it was Springsteen whose tour downloads provided me with at least two months of listening. Then it was my music staples Tori Amos, Rick Wakeman, The Beatles, Bob Dylan.

In the days leading up to my exam as my anxiety levels reached levels I hadn’t seen since my Professional Year to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, it was a diet of classical music and it was here that Spoify was true gold. Playlists that others in a position similar position to me had carefully crafted.

I also found country, a new genre for me. I’ve loved listening to The Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and The Band Perry. 

So often though, it was the music that had sustained me through High School and Teriary study in the  70s that I listened too. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to Rick Wakeman’s Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Myths and Legends in the last two years. I’ve reacquainted myself with Wings. I’ve gone album by album through The Beatles and Joni Mitchell. There’s been Carole King and Pandoras Soft Rock stations made up almost exclusively of 70s sounds – James Taylor, Jim Croce, Seals and Crofts etc.

I’ve also listened to New Zealand radio station, The Sound. Their approach to playing  album tracks and sides made them a good option on occasions when I didn’t want to think about what to listen too. 

 I don’t know how many songs I’ve listened too but it is thousands. I have too say that right now I don’t think I could listen to another song. I’m sure in a week or two it will be different but just not today!

So now it’s up to the examiners. I hope they are kind. 

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