Monday 20 February 2012

World Tour Memorabilia

Sorting through our travel suitcases and the box that we sent back from Canada has been very time consuming but we are on the home stretch.

I am in the process of scanning the good quality photo's so that we at least have a digital copy and I will be photographing the poor quality photo so that we at least have a good quality reproduction that can be resized and photo-shopped. I'll add some of these photos to this blog immediately and others will be added in the future.

While on the subject of 'Blogs' I would like to share one (Random Acts of Kindness) or two (Tracy Steyn Design) interesting blogs that I follow with you. I would also like to encourage all of you to create your own blog's that I would be happy to support by posting links, for my followers and friends.

I originally created this blog purely for my family and friends holiday reunion quest and I called it "Ridgeback Ramblings". The idea was that since I could not take my family and friends with me I would at least try to share my adventure and this I did with enormous support from a world of family and friends. I have achieved more satisfaction from the positive feedback and encouragement over this blog than actually filling my bucket

I have in my travels, had a number of people ask where the "Ridgeback" comes from, even suggesting that "Nomad Rambling's" would have made more sense. I'll endeavour to enlighten... There is a breed of dog called the "Rhodesian Ridgeback", which was bred to hunt lion and is therefore an especially tenacious animal. Named for the ridge along it's back, formed by forward growing hair along the spine.... growing against the grain you might say. A lot of Rhodesian's refer to themselves as "Ridgeback's", particularly those who run against the grain... tenaciously. I am Australian today by choice (and proud of it) because I was born Rhodesian but lost my country and became stateless (same as homeless - I know! - I've been both!).

Let me explain (no I'm not about to go all political here), while Southern Rhodesia's same geographic boundaries still exist under the name "Zimbabwe" this is by no stretch of the imagination, the same country... even by a different name,..... with this attitude I guess I'm Ridgeback!

Anyway, now that the title is cleared up... as I was saying, the blog's original purpose has been fulfilled...but... I am going to keep it active to make comments on any future travels which of course will mean less frequent entry's. In the meantime I have been advised by so many family and friends to write a book that I am seriously considering it. I know absolutely nothing about book writing or publishing or any of that stuff so I am going to need a little (Ridgeback speak for 'a heck of a lot') help. So please send suggestions or make comments here, I'm not too proud, will take whatever is on offer!

I have started two new blog's for those who are interested; "Ridgeback Reminiscences" and "Ridgeback Routine"  both are public but the latter will probably become private in the near future as it will be more of a working journal (providing I can muster the discipline).


Wednesday 15 February 2012


Now that we are back at home in Toowoomba, Australia and getting in to the normal routine once again, life for the most part will be pretty hum drum....we hope. Still a lot of catching up to do but we took a few days (4) out to visit daughter Candice, son-in-law Brett and granddaughter Caydence in Gladstone.

On the drive up to Gladstone we took a slight detour along the coast road and called in unexpectedly on good old friends Wal, Sue and family in Gympie. We were given such a heart warming welcome especially by young Cassie (their daughter) who thought we were still overseas that it brought tears to Bonnie Ronnie's eyes. The family looked really well and business appeared to be booming as Wal showed off his Great Wall dual cab made in China. An avid biker like me he related his latest adventure on the 'Rocket' and promised to send me a photo (taken by wife, Sue) of him on his beautiful machine. (I tease him mercilessly over the look of the Rocket since I don't particularly like the style of the radiator). I have added the photo of which he speaks, since he did send it to me:)

The Capricornia weather was very hot and humid, thank goodness for air-con and cooling water. The amount of road works due to recent flooding and damage to the roads meant that our travel time doubled.

Gladstone is famous for it's natural deep water harbor and has one of the largest coal exporting ports in Australia and the southern hemisphere for that matter. Of course where you have large ports and coal you have rather large mining companies and strong industry. While the rest of the world battles the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) Gladstone finds itself with a severe housing shortage and is in the process of preparing temporary accommodation to house the construction workers it needs for the new $4billion Wiggins Island coal terminal going ahead this year.

Brett is a member of Australia's finest (men and women in blue - Police) and is currently on tenure to Gladstone for 3 years, however parental access issues claimed by Cade's (Caydence) biological mother may alter this position in the near future. While Ronnie and I are thrilled at the prospect of having the family closer to home (Toowoomba) for ourselves and for Cades to be closer to her siblings, we are concerned about the impact that this may have on Brett's future advancement within the Police Force. They (Brett, Candice and Cades) have sacrificed a lot and gone through enormous challenges to reach this point and we hope and pray for a positive outcome.

We had a wonderful time in Gladstone with a bit of sight seeing, walks along the beech, BBQ and afternoon shenanigans with the garden hose whereby everyone except yours truly had a good old fashioned soaking. As soon as the hose started spraying everyone in sight at the hands of Cades, I headed for an appointment in Biloela where we had an interested party for one of our fleet vehicles. I had a pleasant trip and a successful conclusion to the meeting so even that touch on work, was great!

On our return we stopped in to visit another good old friend, Sharlene in Bundaberg. Shazza as we like to call her is the salt of the earth and has had more than her fair share of hard knocks but like all strong positive people she has risen up, lifted her children and is moving forward with her life - she will triumph! She never fails to remind me of how tough I was on her when first we met, "Bossman - you used to tell me that if you had to show me twice - I wasn't paying attention the first time", she said with that engaging smile on her face. I often wonder if I was really that bad.... don't answer that! - I think I prefer to ponder the question.

Unfortunately we have yet to resolve even one of our outstanding issues but we will persevere over the coming weeks. Interestingly the theft of our 'Debit' card which resulted in us cancelling the card on 3 separate occasions over the course of 7 days (this didn't slow down the thieves one iota and the balance dropped daily) resulted in a substantial negative balance to our savings account - how the heck can this happen? Three weeks after the event it appears that I owe the bank money for the privilege of being robbed despite assurances on three occasions that the debit card had been cancelled with each blaming and accusing the previous bank employee of doing the wrong thing. In the meantime the buyer of our Patrols Division is attempting to defraud us.... what is wrong with people? Ridiculous!... isn't it?

On a lighter note - my doctor (GP) is thrilled with my condition, BP perfect, lost weight and centimeters around the waist. She is an absolutely fantastic GP with a wonderful bedside manner, beautiful bubbly personality and ever the consummate professional,  I am so pleased that I made her day!

Wal on his Rocket


Saturday 4 February 2012

WT - Return Home

We returned home from Singapore and our World Tour Family and Friend Reunion Quest on Monday morning. Although we are home, the quest is not over as we still have family and friends scattered all over Australia that we have yet to visit. We had intended to hit the road again after a few days but life's circumstances have conspired to change those plans;

  1. All our savings have been stolen and we need to spend time trying to recover as much as possible.
  2. Unresolved matter in relation to sale of a business division requires legal action. 
  3. Travel Insurance claims for over $10K out of pocket expenses for Ronnie.
  4. Over 6 months of living out of a suitcase is long enough to require a short break at least.
  5. My next medical procedure is due at the end of February (this month) so I should prepare.

We were met at the Brisbane airport by the wonderful smiling faces of son Jason and good friends Steve and Michelle, it was great to see them. Jason couldn't hang about as he had a pressing appointment but it really made our day that he had taken the time to meet us. Thanks Steve and Shell for all that you have done for us, looking after our home, our business and picking us up from the airport (four hour round trip), your blood is worth bottling (Aussie slang expression to convey a great sincere appreciation).

The jet-lag has truly knocked us about and this morning (Saturday) is the first day that I have had any energy on waking and Ronnie was up early (relatively) so she must be feeling a bit better today. The week has been spent unpacking, washing, cleaning and putting things in order for the most part. Amazing just how much needs to be done and I can't get over the amount of black grime that has attached to the patio blinds. Hopefully we will get them finished today if the rain holds off.

There are no photo's with this blog but I have added 16 more photo albums to the links on the right of the blog - be warned though, these are warts and all photos (I haven't had the time or energy to delete the bad or embarrassing ones).

Wednesday 1 February 2012

WT - Singapore

We made our flight with a half our to spare after the Cape Town ticket fiasco (my own fault though.) The flight to Singapore from Johannesburg was only 10 hours but in 'Economy' with howling kids it feels more like 10 days - Neither of us got any sleep at all!

Apart from some serious jet-lag we arrived in a sweltering Singapore tired but well and caught a cab to our hotel, the Pan Pacific. I had tried to book the Marine Sands Hotel (The new one with the sky walk shaped like a boat above the three towers) but the prices were just ridiculous. The Pan Pacific is a great hotel and although quite pricey it is really good value for money (and we managed to get a really good deal online - well worth the effort.)

The views of the bay, city, flyer etc. from the 28th floor were spectacular. I loved the fact that the hotel is connected to four mall's and three other world class hotels just off the bay. This meant we could go shopping in air conditioned comfort without exiting a building. Most of our shopping was window shopping only due to the Cape Town incident. I had planned to buy an SLR Camera, E-book, Tablet and Laptop and had been saving for this special treat - whats that they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Ahh well, everything happens for a reason!

The thing that really stood out for me in Singapore was the absolute cleanliness which was made even more noticeable due to the complete lack of graffiti. During our world tour the cities that really looked seedy because of graffiti were Rome, Paris, Brisbane and Toowoomba in that order, worst first. In my opinion the most livable city we visited was Vancouver in Canada but more about this at a later date.

Back to our Singapore visit and the place to shop is of course the famous 'Orchid Road' with a complete who's who of international retailer's along a few kilometer stretch of road. Singapore is really quite a small country at less than 800 square kilometers so it stands to reason that Singapore city is all high rise with some of the tallest buildings in the southern hemisphere. Housing too is pretty dense with high rise apartments as far as the eye can see. Only the wealthy can afford their own home (mansion) and the land that goes with these home's. The same goes for car ownership, a luxury for the wealthy. I think most Aussie's would have a problem with the thought of having to purchase via, auction the right to own a vehicle for five years maximum. This right of ownership is renewable at astronomical rates particularly if the vehicle is not brand new and can cost SGD10K per annum so you would want to ensure that the ride was at least worth the cost.

Once we started to recover a little from the jet-lag we booked a couple of days worth of tour's with 'City Sightseeing' which included a few optional extra's - this is still the most economical way to find one's way about and learn a little about the sights at the same time. We spent quite a lot of time on the water and even more at the botanical gardens. I have to say Singapore has the perfect climate for over 6000 beautiful orchids on display in the 'National Orchid Garden'.