Preparing for the last crusade!

We’re preparing in earnest to walk the 2000km Via Francigena Camino/pilgrimage from Canterbury UK to Rome Italy leaving Australia in 2 weeks and 2 days time on Easter Monday 2016. While we’re enjoying walking right now we do plan on returning to long distance cycle touring again in the years ahead. So we’ve decided to keep our blog address and name of 2bikeriders.wordpress.com despite some of our recent trips not being on bikes- ie – we’ve odone skiing and backpacking recently.

Getting walking fit has been a high priority so we’ve been climbing Mt Ainslie several times a week early in the morning – a 1 3/4 hour effort! We walked Mt. Kosciuszko Summit track and Rennix walk last weekend in the vain hope we’ll hit the 90 day walking track through UK, France, Switzerland and Italy in good form!

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Enjoying precious late afternoon drinks and nibbles with fellow bushwalkers at Smiggin Holes Wild Spitz Ski Lodge after completing 13.5km Rennix Walk.
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These colourful snow gums line the walking path near Charlotte’s Pass.
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Walking Rennix.
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The Snowy River near Seaman’s hut.

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Resting at the top of Mt. Kosciuszko.

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We kept a good distance from this copperhead snake found happily sunning itself in the middle of the Rennix walking track. It wasn’t deterred by our presence – though we certainly were by theirs!!!!

We’ve taken a brief reprieve from getting ‘walking fit’ in the Canberra region to enjoy a visit to Mt. Beauty and Melbourne followed by volunteering at the 40th Port Fairy Folk Music Festival – while staying in Warrnambool with Richard and Valma.

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Bren joined us for dinner at Jane’s and Paul’s after just finishing a 3 day part of the Great South West Walk near Portland, Vic.
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A welcome to country ceremony was performed at Fiddler’s Green in Port Fairy on Friday afternoon before the start of the 40th PFFF long weekend.
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What fantastic musical offerings we heard here at Port Fairy this long Victorian Labour Day (and Canberra Day)weekend! We enjoyed not only folk music but also jazz, roots and blues and a little quirky classical too.

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Two wonderfully entertaining and inspiring French female musicians, Baby et Lulu, kept the audience in raptures for the duration of their jazz act. Don’t miss them if they come to sing and play anywhere near you!!!!
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Back at home we’ve been in ‘busy mode’ preparing to leave home for 3 1/2 months. There’s been lots to do to extricate ourselves from our Canberra life including enjoying Liam’s 4th birthday with the O’Shaunessy family.

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On our last weekend at home Servas Canberra ie Sandy, hosted the Servas Australia AGM & board meetings. On Saturday night we all enjoyed a social evening out together at the Yacht Club.

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The Servas dinner was followed by this wonderfully colourful annual fireworks extravaganza called Skyfire!!! It was a lovely finale to a great evening overlooking Lake Burley Griffin which began at dusk and ended in the dark of the night.

On the Thursday before Easter we travelled from Canberra to Melbourne on V-Line to have 3 days & 4 nights with family before flying off from Melbourne on our long overseas walk/pilgrimage.

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We approached Melbourne by train through the industrial western part of the city with views to the Docklands Southern Star Ferris wheel.

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Enjoying a Good Friday lunch at home with Bren at Footscray enjoying Bren’s great seafood concoction complimented by some good Victorian white wines.

It’s always good to have your ironing board stored in the open fire!!!!

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Here’s Jane demonstrating how to quickly get a pizza dough to rise –
put the bowl with the covered dough into a sinkful of hot water and wait for it to rapidly rise.

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Jane and Paul’s 2 feathered friends like to roam on the decking but so far they haven’t laid eggs there.

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Family photo in Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne for the occasion of the Easter Saturday afternoon wedding of the lovely Catherine Oldfield and Matt.

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Catherine’s youngest attendant stole the show!

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The bridal couple take their vows.
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Catherine showing her beautiful shoes!

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Ruby and Ethan after their successful Easter egg hunt this morning at Newport.

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This afternoon we said goodbye to Bren at the Queen Victoria Markets before leaving the country tomorrow. Goodbyes are always tinged with a little sadness – we won’t be back for 3 1/2 months after hopefully trekking over 2000kms of the Via Francigena pilgrimage – Canterbury, UK to Rome, Italy. Bren with ‘a little help of his friends’ (about 30 of them!) are planning on enjoying this great wine tonight at their very special Easter Sunday dinner.

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Indonesia

Goodbye beers with Bren at the Queen Victoria Markets on one of Melbourne’s beautiful Autumn Sundays. We’ll miss both Bren and Melbourne dearly!

INDONESIA

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Lunching in Old Jakarta town’s Cafe Batavia with much missed and loved grandsons Dillan and Arif. A decadently beautiful Cafe with great old world ambience overlooking the former Dutch colonial government house.

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Cafe Batavia epitomizes all things beautiful and elegant from Dutch colonial days – contrasting so much with parts of this enormously overcrowded city of Jakarta. Each evening and Sunday afternoon modern jazz is played downstairs in a venue reminiscent of an illegal speakeasy.
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Old Jakarta town is undergoing a slow restoration as a UNESCO world heritage site with plans to draw the tourist trade to its site.
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A beautiful oldie.

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The Dutch colonial government house sits across the square from Cafe Batavia.

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The old town (Kota) is home to many museums. Dillan played his part as an old Dutch banker here.
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One museum has this colourful stained glass window depicting the 4 seasons. It has a central panel but our limited Bahasa language skills prevented us understanding it’s symbolism. Bahasa off line language lessons have now been downloaded to the new smartphone – here’s hoping that with few distractions we’ll learn a little Indonesian in the months we’ll be away and prevent any cognitive decline! Wish us well!!!

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Grant and Mira have a BBQ converted from an old 44gallon drum – the ingenious design is so reminiscent of the ‘make do’ engineering prowess of our parents and grandparents era.

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A beautiful dragonfly graces this poinsettia tree in Grant and Mira’s home in Bogor, 80 kms South East of Jakarta.

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It was a big day out with the boys, their friends and mothers to see the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, in English with Indonesian sub-titles. Fancy dress and masks were optional extras together with the popcorn!!!

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Setting off on a hike to the top of Gunning Salak, an active volcano overlooking the city of Bogor where Grant, Ra and family live. If we knew then what adventure lay ahead of us we’d probably not looked so chirpy!!!

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At the entrance to Tamar National Park, the home of the volcano we were hiking to.

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Room with a view – the basic toilets looked out on the mountain and the jungle beyond.
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First glimpse of the gaseous emissions rising from the volcano.
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After the exhausting 2 hour hike up to the top the 3 boys striped to their undies and played in the cool water nearby us while we and our mountain guide watched them.
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Bart started up his drone and began videoing the activity in the volcanic crater with its many bubbling mud pools. The boys wanted to swim in the warmer water so moved a little further away with the guide. After about 5 minutes Dillan suddenly appeared to be overcome by the sulphuric fumes near the warmer water, then fainted/collapsed, was difficult to arouse, his eyes were wide open but his limbs began to flay about spasmodically. Grant immediately carried him away from the gaseous smell to an area that had a cool breeze upstream of the gases where he slowly began to recover after encouragement to drink water and begin moving his limbs. We assumed he had sulphuric poisoning but this was later disputed by the doctor who examined him. This was just the beginning of the day’s disasters.

We then began the slow walk down the mountain over slippery rocks with Dillan doing his best to stay alert and hike. At this time the rains which drop daily on Bogor began at 12md rather than at its usual time of 3-4pm. Most everyone got soaked and Mark then became hypothermic which meant he was unable to keep walking or follow instructions so Bart had to carry him down on his shoulders for a while. Fortunately his father had a space blanket and after some time wrapped in that was able to continue walking. By this time the mountain track was awash with so much water, deep creeks sprang up so quickly that appeared impossible to cross with 3 children in tow. Some rope was found and Bart, Grant and Peter together with the rope and tree branches were able to get us all safely across the fast flowing Creek. The children were very brave and followed instructions carefully, understanding we were all in a tricky situation. But there were many more hurdles to overcome in the pursuit of returning safely to our cars at the base of the national park. We were all cold, despite Bogor usually being hot and steamy. But after pressing on through water that was thigh deep and rapidly rising with the prolonged afternoon rain flowing rapidly over large sharp submerged rocks and slippery clay we eventually made it safely back to base. However our hike back down took us over 4 hours and we were very tired, cold, hungry and sore as each of us had many falls on the way down. Thankfully our hiking boots protected our feet and ankles perfectly – but they no longer look as new as they once did!!!

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We enjoyed a noodle and potato crisp snack near the base of the mountain – looking at the 3 boys it’s hard to imagine they’d been through the day’s dramas with all of us!!
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Much of our last day at home was spent relaxing in and around the pool with Arif. Learning to take an AFL mark is serious business every Collingwood supporter needs to perfect!
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Nin came to visit us from Cirebon to say hello looking beautiful in her colourful scarf. She brought Arif’s favourite fruit, rambutan, to share – it’s like lychees in looks and taste and is now one of my favourites too. But its taste hasn’t won over Peter’s Melbournian taste buds yet!!

That night we left Jakarta but before the driver took us to the airport we enjoyed watching Friday night’s AFL game between Richmond and Collingwood which the Magpies, in the last minute of the game, snatched from Richmond by just 1 point. It wasn’t Richmond’s turn!!! We celebrated with Margaritas all around – even our 1 Richmond supporter enjoyed his!!!
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The big game was followed by an Indonesian BBQ of chicken sates with a spicy peanut sauce, gado gado style vegetables, sausages and lamb chops all followed by exotic tropical fruits such as rambutan. Delicious!!

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Bart and family joined us for our last night’s dinner with the family.
What a great night it was. I don’t think anyone at that table will ever forgot the dramas we all shared the day before!!!

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Thankfully Etihad flew us safely overnight from Jakarta to London. Now for a few days with friends of old in the UK.
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After our first night in London at East Mosely Heather took us out for the day to see the local sights including the Thames River which winds it’s way around the Hampton Court Palace area. It was good weather for the UK so we went to see the classic view of the River at Richmond that features in so many old paintings of England. It looked stunningly beautiful and was so lusciously green.
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We took a drive through the expansive Richmond Park with its herds of native red deer.
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A lunchtime selfie taken after delicious ham rolls and bottomless cups of tea today at Mike and Gill Donovan’s Peacock House home at Little Canfield, Essex.
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Last night we caught up with the lovely and energetic ramblers, choristers, and card sharps, Katie (Greatorex) and James at Dershingham near Kings Lynn. Lots to reminisce about with a near to 50 year friendship with Katie who accompanied Peter and Judy skiing at Leysin, Switzerland in 1969.

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With Sandringham nearby we thought we’d drop in to say hello to the Queen, check out the gardens and see the museum. Sandringham is but one of the stately castles and mansions owned by the Royal family.
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The Queen and her family spend every Christmas here at Sandringham and attend this church with the local parishioners, including Katie.

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The gardens are so beautiful with many white magnolias out in bloom.
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And lots of daffodils.
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This was the ‘cottage or home’ that the Queen grew up in with her family within Sandringham’s grounds – there was never a plan for father to become King but when he did then the family left this home and began living at Sandringham itself.
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We found this beautiful old fire engine all polished and ready to attend fires within Sandringham’s grounds.

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Within the superb grounds we found this smiling Buddha – which was probably a gift to the Royals from one of their colonial subjects. There was no plaque there to identify how Sandringham acquired this sculpture.

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Peter with an old somewhat petrified friend. Maybe we’ll look like this at the end of our Via Francigena Camino and pilgrimage.

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Old Cambridge friends, Andrew and Kate Gardiner hosted us last night. They live in this charming Tudor style home in a village nearby Royston, near Cambridge, Cams. Andrew met Peter at Pembroke College at Cambridge 1969-1972.

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8 Responses to Preparing for the last crusade!

  1. Dave and Ellie Wilson says:

    Wishing you a wonderful and exciting journey. We look forward to following you from the comfort of our home 🙂

  2. Bill Clarke says:

    Dave and Ellie: Not too exciting!
    Sandy: not too vain, I hope.

  3. Margo Hodge says:

    Dear Sandy and Peter,

    I hope that you have been walking before the heat starts. I’m sure it won’t be so hot in Europe when you begin the walk.

    You could change your account to Two Adventurers rather than bike riders or are you planning to use bikes as well on this last pilgrimage.

    Have an enjoyable, relaxing walk. Love, Margo

  4. Mary Jane Smith says:

    Golly but that sounds quite wonderful. Have great views! Good food along the way too!

    Spring has arrived in Maine!

    Best MJ

  5. Tony says:

    If i don’t see you before your trip may you have safe travels,good health and good weather. Looking forward to trip updates. Tony

  6. Hoping you’ll join us for Creme Brulee at Rich’s on Easter Sunday?

  7. Lesley says:

    Very keen to follow your travels. Happy walking. Lesley an graham

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