April fools day (1st April) was the perfect riding day in SE Queensland, warm, 28 degrees celsius, but with the air feeling cool on our faces as we rode south west towards Boonah for brunch. Once out of the city, the country roads were clear, the landscape so green from the recent floods and the mountains of the Great Dividing range were beckoning in the distance. What could be better? We rounded off the afternoon with a movie at the French film festival, subtitles for me, and as we rode back from the city we realised that this was the first time we had ridden together in Brisbane’s CBD (Central Business District)! Having ridden together on Streak and Storm in city centres as far apart as London, Santiago, Tehran, New York and Bangkok it was a little strange that we had not done so at home, but then we have no reason to ride into our local CBD, we prefer the open road.
Has it really been six months since our fingers skipped across the keyboard of the blog? Sadly yes. I am not sure where the time has gone but it has. We have been riding locally, going to the beach, windsurfing again for the first time in 10 years and I have joined the Brisbane Bayside Steam Railway (BBSR) which offers rides twice a month for big and little kids. I have a lot to learn but everyone is happy to share their knowledge with me.
Over Christmas I reflected that two years ago we were in Hua Hin in Thailand planing to head to Bangkok to meet up with friends Dave and Sky and celebrate the New Year together. Little did we, or most people, know that in a couple of months a pandemic named COVID-19 would be upon us and that we would spend the best part of two years with significant travel restrictions and, for many, endless lockdowns, that fortunately we avoided in Queensland. I felt optimistic about 2022 that the world would start to open up for all of us to travel.
Restrictions in Queensland have fallen away as we moved towards living with the COVID-19 in Australia having abandoned our ‘Fortress’ approach of last two years. Single digit COVID numbers that used to take centre stage on the news every day now seem to be just a footnote even though they number in the thousands daily. The vaccinations seem to have done the trick in reducing hospitalisations and deaths. I am about to get my fourth jab in 10 days or so. I just have to decide which flavour.
We had planned to return to Europe at the end of March but this was scuppered with Hong Kong banning flights from Australia in January due to increased COVID-19 numbers here so Cathay Pacific cancelled our Brisbane to Hong Kong flight. Looking at the options we decided that we would spend the rest of the summer and autumn here. We have rebooked via Singapore in mid July which will allow us to arrive in the summer rather than the end of the northern hemisphere winter.
In December 2021, a final visit to the ophthalmic surgeon allowed me to close off my detached retina saga, leaving me free to start a new medical journey on the 31st of January: Coeliac Disease. Blood tests had both markers tested strongly indicated the diagnosis. I understood that a result below 7 was no Coeliac Disease , mine was over 300! A followup endoscopy and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. It did explain my lack of energy, due to an iron deficiency, and constant hunger yet weight loss which, along other symptoms of Coeliac Disease, had been affecting me increasingly over the last 12 -18 months.
I tried to find a little wriggle room with our doctor, but sadly there is none. “Gluten Free” is the new black for me. Gone are croissants and baguettes in Paris cafes, Cadbury chocolate fingers with tea and occasional visits to McDonald’s. Don’t tell my cardiac specialist about the last one. Anne is trying to convince me that Single “Malt” Scotch contains gluten, but I think there is an ulterior motive as she eyes
our/her Isla Scotch Collection.
It was an interesting 24 hours following diagnosis. After dropping Anne at the Endodontist, lucky her, I entered the Indooroopilly shopping centre and I see this:
I just burst out laughing. Of all the things I could have seen this was the best and yes every food item they sell is gluten free. While Anne suffered in the chair, I perused the health food section at Woolworths and selected a range of gluten free products to try, including chocolate. Anne’s sister very kindly arranged a couple of wonderful gluten free care packages which I have been working my way through. Life goes on, now with renewed energy.
Over a year ago, I proposed to write a retrospective of our first RTW journey from way back in 1982. All the ingredients are there, the cook just needs to step up to the stove and start cooking. This project has languished in part due to my inability to decide how to approach telling from either a historical only or retrospective viewpoint. I now plan to push ahead with a hybrid model so who knows what we will end up with.
Finally the road ahead beckons us and either here or overseas we will tour on motorbikes again this year. Streak and Storm are being serviced and have to pass a UK roadworthy (MOT) and will be waiting for us in July.
The desire to travel and see family and friends is too strong and regardless of COVID we will be out there in 2022. Stay safe and travel well.