Europe - July 2017

T-119 - pre-departure

Friday 31st March

A few more minor milestones have been reached in the past few days. Despite all the rigmarole and jumping through hoops to get the passports organised, we finally received the notification from the passport office that all four of our first-time Australia passports have finally been, or are being, printed. To date, Sandy’s and mine have arrived. For the next ten years, we will try to live up to the image of the convicts we look like in those photos. I’m expecting the kids’ passports any day now (no doubt their photos will have just the right amount of ‘pinkness’). Since they are under the age of sixteen, their passports are good for just five years. I’m not sure whether we’ll bother with renewing the European passports. At this point, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to be gained by doing so and it’s another expense I could do without anyway. My British passport is still valid but Sandy’s and the kids’ are all expired.

Although the flights are booked and paid for, not everything else is yet. It would have been nice to get everything out of the way with up front but this holiday, it seems, is going to continue to remind me in bite-sized chunks that the whole venture is costing me an arm and a leg. Nice. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working my way through the list of things that still need to be paid for. Today, for example, I managed to book the Eurostar train tickets for the four of us from London to Paris. That trip will mark the end of our one-week stay in England and the beginning of the first of two mini-holidays I have planned. I did a fare (see what I did there?) bit of research to make sure I was getting the tickets at the very best price. As it happens, that turned out to be via Eurostar’s very own website. I paid a total of £190, for the privilege of which, AUD $308.68 was deducted from my bank account. I still need to book the TGV (France’s fast train) from Paris to the Netherlands but that cannot be booked until May as it’s too far out and the tickets aren’t sold that far in advance.

Some of the things still to be booked and paid for are the hire car for the UK (nobody has volunteered us a loan car…so far…I remain hopeful…anyone reading this?) and a few excursions that we plan to take. I’m not yet sure how far in advance some of these things will need to be booked so I’m still keeping an eye open for deals on the web.

When we travelled around the world, I used a program called iWeb that came with the Mac to keep track of our activities via daily blog updates. Everything was kept neat and tidy on our own website at Unfortunately, a mishap between me at the hosting provider meant that the entire website was deleted. Fortunately, I still have the source files used to construct the website from and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been steadily re-building a new version of that same website using WordPress. It’s coming along nicely and I will announce it to the rest of the world when it’s ready for prime time. I still have quite a few blog entries to install from our previous travels, although most of the family holiday blogs and most photos are already in place. The nice thing about this new WordPress version of the website is that I’ve been able to install a couple of very utilitarian plugins that provide interactive maps that track our progress. These help the user navigate through the over 800,000 words of travel writing across the dozens of countries and destinations we’ve been to. When this European trip commences, followers will be able to track our progress and read all about what we’re up to daily right on the home page.

I’m currently enjoying something of a resurgence of followers of my travel writing. The girls at the office are some of my most ardent fans and are already hooked – probably because of all the previous tales of me finding myself naked for one reason or another in my various blogs (I can practically feel Apryl blushing as I type). As I’ve been uploading the previous round the world (RTW) blog entries to the new website, I’ve been scanning them quickly for typos and grammar errors, etc. Doing so has brought back quite a few memories – which was, after all, the principal reason for me writing them to begin with. Today alone, I have laughed and cried at some of the hilarious and poignant things I’ve written and had all but forgotten about. It isn’t that I’m trying to be funny – it just the situations we find ourselves, in and what I remember at the end of the day when I’m at the keyboard writing it all up. I wonder if this next trip will produce as much mirth and hilarity. We’ll see.