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In Sicily we hired a Jeep to get from Palermo around the island.

I had my doubts about this steed. Our two big bags wouldn't fit in the boot. One had to be strapped in on the back seat - a bit disappointing.

At above 130, the speed limit, there's something odd about the steering – so much so that I stopped quite soon to check the tyre pressures. I was regretting my choice.

Reassured about the tyres we set off again.

On the plus side the fuel consumption seemed OK and the zoned climate control worked well.

After two days of me complaining about the odd steering we got to Toarmina.

On entering we discovered that there was no parking in the old town, with roads one car wide and unbelievable traffic snarls – cars and tourist coaches moving around each other like tiles in a puzzle. We wound up and up then down and down, when at last a big blue P appeared. Hooray! - maybe we could actually stop and get out and maybe get something to eat!

Down a narrow street we went. Then up a one-way ally. Mistake! Someone's driveway. Jeep's GPS is suggesting the way. Then suddenly we are on dirt - but still a named road on the GPS.We pass two old codgers who look surprised to see us but don't offer any warning.  More like sharing a sly grin. We are climbing upwards again. This time out of town in the countryside. The dirt road begins winding crazily between tall gum trees. But GPS insists that this' the way.  Now along the cliffside 2.5 metres of width, Bushes scraping the side. No way to turn around now. Then a potholed and eroded 30 degree incline appeared.  A car wrecking drop to one side. This is the back of nowhere but there is some kind of dwelling up ahead.  Even Jeep needs to take a run at it. I doubt my car could do this!

Thank goodness we have a Jeep.

Back on proper roads again we have completely by-passed the tourist road blocks.  We get out and admire the view.

 

Jeep

Wendy n Jeep

 

Still in one piece.  Shaken but not stirred. But Jeep is unconcerned.

As we recover it starts to pour - big rain drops. Spectacular lightening streaks in the distance.

 

 

Storm aproaches

Town

 

On the slippy winding roads Jeep's traction control comes into play.

Now we're back on the expressway. The rain is getting heavier. Soon there is running water on the road and some big puddles. Now it's a shallow river. Cars ahead throw water high up to their sides.  So do we. Some slow to a crawl. Jeep doesn't mind. No need to slow below 100. No aquaplaning for us and the steering is rock solid. Jeep is teaching me a lesson. It's OK! I should never have doubted it.

Say sorry:  "Sorry!"

 

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Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Wedding

 

 

Jordan Baker and Jeff Purser were married on Saturday 3rd of December 2011. The ceremony took place on the cliff top at Clovelly.

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Opinions and Philosophy

The Prospect of Eternal Life

 

 

 

To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream:
ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause:
… But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

[1]

 

 

 

 

When I first began to write about this subject, the idea that Hamlet’s fear was still current in today’s day and age seemed to me as bizarre as the fear of falling off the earth if you sail too far to the west.  And yet several people have identified the prospect of an 'undiscovered country from whose realm no traveller returns' as an important consideration when contemplating death.  This is, apparently, neither the rational existential desire to avoid annihilation; nor the animal imperative to keep living under any circumstances; but a fear of what lies beyond.

 

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