Music, Darren, Darren and Daniel and the part played

Those of you who have known me for a long time you will already know how important music has been in my life. When I was growing up it was an escape from the torment I felt inside me, a way of closing my mind to the fact that I felt trapped inside a body which just somehow didn’t fit but I had no idea how to deal with it. My taste in music has changed little through the years in terms of style and content, just moved with the times and updated as the years have gone by but when I have a favourite artist I listen to him, Her or them almost until I am sick of hearing them. Just occasionally I come across something which for what ever reason blows me away and I listen to very little else for a good long time. Chris Rea is a good example of this, for many years starting in the mid eighties I listened to his music, went to numerous of his concerts and still to this day enjoy much of it. From there my tastes have tended to be single female artists like Suzanne Vega, Joan Armatrading, Christina Perri and Adele but then about a year ago we decided after visiting a friend’s house to have the basic Foxtel satellite tv package which includes Foxtel smooth which is non stop music video and most of it is easy listening and much of it from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when there was some really good music around.

About three months ago I was at home watching smooth and a video came on which caught my eye for some reason, I didn’t see the beginning so wasn’t sure who was singing it but at the end made sure I watched for the name of the artist to come up, it was Darren Hayes,  it didn’t mean anything to me at the time but the next time it came on and I thought yes I do like this I did some research which led me to Savage Garden of which Darren was one half along with Daniel Jones.  Soon after that we left for Philadelphia and had no further access to smooth so forgot about it for a while but one week after my surgery after being taught how to dilate I needed  something to take my mind off the pain I was getting dilating, I started to use YouTube on my phone as a distraction and Darren became the first place to start. This particular track is called Insatiable, It’s a great tune and excellent video but if you don’t choose another track when it has finished YouTube picks one for you, usually the same artist or part thereof, well this particular day after several Darren Hayes tracks all of which I liked there came some Savage Garden tracks, all the well known ones at first, Truely, Madly, Deeply, then To the moon and back then I knew I loved you then some lesser known tracks which I didn’t know. After some time one of their hits came on called Affirmation, I had heard this before but not really taken any notice of the lyrics but something made me prick up my ears, it mentioned Parents doing the best they knew how to do and for the next few times this came on I muttered to myself “that’s a matter of opinion” but the more I played it the more it made sense to me. I started playing Affirmation first and listening to the lyrics really hard, it’s quite a quick song and so you really have to listen hard but the more you listen the more the whole thing makes sense in fact there is not a line in the song which doesn’t make sense and then somehow it clicked in my head and in that moment more was done to sort the issues trapped inside my head than 12 visits to the psychologist have done. At this point I haven’t yet forgiven my parents for not telling me I was born intersex but somehow I have come to accept that they did indeed handle it the best way they could and as much as I disagree with how it was handled I have now accepted the fact that they felt what they did was the best thing at the time and that acceptance has lifted a huge weight from me and I now feel so much better for it. It’s quite ironic that the band Savage Garden was Australian as I don’t think I would be in the happy place I am now if I hadn’t emigrated to Australia, I have had so much good luck in finding the right people who cared enough about me to point me in the right direction and put me in touch with the right people and I certainly would not have been where I am if not for my beautiful partner and best friend Denise whom I would not have met if I hadn’t been in Busselton.

First day in Liverpool

After a long day traveling from South Wales to Liverpool yesterday we arrived at the Adelphi hotel and were met at the door by our good friends David and Lynette. The hotel is old and a little tired but our room is clean and spacious so it will be ok. We settled in and prepared for dinner out at the Hard days night hotel just up the road, this was the preferred hotel to stay in but only had one room left when David tried to book for us and so the next best was the Adelphi, the good part about being here is that many of the attractions of Beatleweek are here so we are in the middle of things as it were.

Today has been a busy one and I will probably pay for it tomorrow but hopefully I will sleep ok as tomorrow is also a busy one. The day started with breakfast at 7.30 then a quick return to our room to get ready for the days action. First on the list was a National Trust tour to the childhood homes of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney. John’s home was a “nice for its day” three bedroom semi detached house in a nice residential area which was purchased by Yoko Ono and given to the national trust so it is preserved in a fairly original state for people to visit for many years to come. Paul’s home was a three bedroom terraced house also owned by the trust and kept as original as possible. Both were interesting to see and we were shown round by two excellent guides.

Our afternoon activity was high tea at the aptly named “Panoramic 34” which is on the 34th floor of a building overlooking the Mersey. The weather was perfect for the job, very clear and the perfect temperature for walking to the venue. Now I have had a reasonable amount of experience when it comes to high tea and the expectations were high, they didn’t disappoint in any way, basically 4 courses starting with a tempura prawn followed by 4 dainty little sandwiches, then 2 small scones with jam and clotted cream and to finish 4 little speciality cakes, washed down with a very acceptable glass of champagne and to end a nice cup of tea. This is what a high tea should be like, sadly we have had one or two lately which have been sadly lacking so this has lifted the bar considerably! We are planning to visit a place when we are back in South Wales so will see how that rates, I am looking forward to the comparison although I can’t see the view being able to complete, time alone will tell!!!

Flights, UK and Santander

Posts have been scarce again for which I apologise, I seem to have been busy without doing anything very noteworthy and so haven’t written much lately. We are now in the UK to do the “introduce Stephanie to family and friends” thing, most of which I am looking forward to as seeing friends and family, some of which I haven’t seen for many years will be lovely and I have had mostly excellent support so it will be enjoyable. Our flights with Qatar Airways were good, we decided to fly business class so I could lay down and get some rest and it is certainly a different world to flying economy class, the problem will be going back to economy next year when we come over. Thankfully due to the issues Qatar is having at the moment with its neighbours the cost of coming business class was not as much as usual, I think they are going all out to retain and grow the airline business as a show of resilience to their neighbours and we took advantage of that, also they looked after us so well on the flights back from Philadelphia that they were always going to be our first choice.

On arrival at Heathrow we were met by our wonderful friend Amanda. Her and her husband Steve live in an idyllic property just outside the village of Farley Green which is a typical English country village, well kept and full of interesting properties and of course the village green. Amanda and Steve kindly look after our car for us while we are not here, it’s probably an expensive way of being mobile while we are over but it’s peace of mind knowing that we have a car here if we needed to come over in an emergency and I love the car itself, it’s a Renault Scenic, something we don’t have in Australia, easy and very pleasant to drive, it’s little 1.5 litre turbo diesel goes really well and is very economical, very well equipped, very comfortable and it makes a change to drive a manual car. I love hurtling down the country roads in it especially when we get up to Yorkshire and I’m on roads I know well!

After a reasonably good nights sleep we decided to go into Guildford this morning but not until we had visited the “Dabbling Duck cafe” for breakfast. We have been there lots of times but never for breakfast and I have to say it didn’t disappoint, I had scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon, I expected for the price of it (9 pounds) that the smoked salmon would either have been mixed in with the eggs or just a small amount artistically laid on top but what I got was a huge pile of very fresh and extremely tasty smoked salmon on the side! It was perfect, I don’t very often choose scrambled eggs as they usually don’t compare with how I cook them myself but today’s was an excellent effort!

We had a small amount of shopping to do and I wanted to visit the Santander bank as there were lots of details which needed changing. The branch we went into was a strange sort of place, no tellers just one person to help with queries and three elaborate machines for depositing cash, cheques etc and withdrawing cash. I waited for the man to finish with the person he was helping and he asked how he could help me, he had an Eastern European accent but very easy to understand and very helpful, I explained that we live in Australia and we’re over on holiday and needed to change some details on my account, I took out both of my driving licences and explained that firstly I needed to change my address then my name and my gender, he had obviously not come across this issue before but successfully changed the address without any problems, then it came to the name and gender so he decided to call his supervisor who was at the main branch, the conversation was priceless, he said to her “I have a lady here who has been a changing her name and a changing her gender!” The way it came out was gorgeous, he was so helpful, unfortunately it’s only possible to change one thing at a time so the name and gender will have to wait for another day and sadly we will have moved on before the bank will be open again but the experience with this man was perfect. Before we left he apologised, fished his name badge out of his top pocket and put it on and said he would be in trouble if his supervisor had seen him without it, his name was Vladimir, I complemented him on his name to which he replied, “I only wish I had his money” obviously referring to Mr Putin so I asked if he was from Russia, he replied “no, Bulgaria, very close!” I shook his hand, told him he was a true gentleman and thanked him for his time and excellent service, just a lovely experience all round!

Tiring day but good result

After a long tiring day we have finally collected our “Trayon” camper which we ordered almost a year ago! We left Busselton at 7.30 this morning and arrived home at 7.30 this evening! It has been ready since the middle of may but to be fair I had other things on my mind like life changing surgery! After several hiccups with the tray itself we are extremely pleased with the results, the quality of workmanship is excellent as are the materials used and so it has been worth the wait and the several visits to Bunbury to get it sorted. The only issue now is that the tray is a little wider than the camper which is not a bad thing at all but I need to get some brackets made in order to secure it properly which I will get ordered tomorrow after a conversation with my chief adviser in these things Chris Lacy for whom I am very greatful.

Another enjoyable thing which happened today was meeting Stefanie, we have been communicating by messenger for several months after making contact earlier this year and while we were close by collecting the camper it was a perfect opportunity to catch up. Stefanie is a good way further along our journey than me and it was a great opportunity to ask a few questions and compare notes as it were so over several coffees we got to know each other much better, Denise found a fellow pilot in Stefanie and was able to share some experiences and take a look at the aircraft that Stefanie and her partner are buying all being well, sounds very promising and I’m sure we will spend lots more time together over the coming months.

My recovery continues to be slow but sure with a few hiccups along the way, my GP has only given me enough painkillers to last for four weeks if I take two per day but we are in the uk for almost six so hopefully I can wean myself off them or at least drop to one per day or there could be some painful times ahead! I should be well on the way to recovery in another month, especially as we will have been in the uk for most of it and the good thing about that is that I won’t have the temptation to go and work on the house and risk doing too much, although I can see our trip being hectic at times as we have an enormous amount of people to catch up with while we are over there, people who have been really supportive so I want to see them personally to thank them for there support and love over the last nine six months or more. I continue to be overwhelmed by people’s kindness and am really looking forward to seeing them all. Even the flights aren’t stressing me this year as we are flying business class and if it’s anything like the ones from Philadelphia in June it will be a very pleasant experience indeed. I am hoping that I can get some decent sleep so when we arrive I am not tired out, stiff from sitting and worrying about what bugs we may have picked up while flying, the whole thing about being spaced out more must make it less likely that you pick something up and the last thing we need is to be laid up with colds when we get there! Hopefully we will be blessed by some reasonable weather while we are there, it would make such a difference and to get away from the cold and wet here for almost six weeks will be excellent, with a bit of luck and the fact that we will be almost a month into spring when we get back the weather here will be warmer and I will have recovered enough to make some progress with the house, time alone will tell!!!

Disappointing experience.

What is it with people who think they can give a very mediocre service and just get away with it? After a lengthy wait we took the Amarok to Bunbury today to have the wellbody removed and an alloy tray fitted, ok, so I wanted a particular type of tray with certain fittings, a very expensive headboard which had to be of a certain height and went to great lengths to ensure it was explained and put on the accepted quote, sadly on four counts I was disappointed. Firstly and most important, the headboard is higher than it should be, it may not be a problem and I will make some enquiries tomorrow to find out, if it is too high then to be honest it will need a new tray as I don’t want it butchered to fit, not for the price of it, it needs to be perfect! The reason the headboard has to be a certain height is that the Trayon camper which we are picking up next week has an overhang which goes above the cab, not a big one but if the headboard is too big then it won’t fit, I specifically put on the quote acceptance how high it should be and as soon as I saw it I knew they hadn’t read it. The other reason I didn’t want it high above the cab was from an aerodynamic point of view, at the height it is now it completely disruptes the airflow over the cab as it has to split, some over the top and some underneath, again not a massive thing but something I had specifically wanted. Secondly, where the fuel filler is between the cab and the tray there is a big chip of paint missing, just carelessness when fitting it, it’s not major andnif it were the only thing I would just have touched it in and forgotten it but it’s the principle of it. Thirdly, there is a warning light on the dash board on, due to the fact I paid extra to have LED tail lights there needs to be a resistor fitted which means another trip to Bunbury to get it sorted and the last thing is, I only got half a kilometre away from them and had to stop because of a very loud vibration coming from the left hand rear of the cab, I got out to have a look only to find the front of the mudguard is tight up against the back of the cab, so there is more paint missing and the vibration, I had to ram a piece of rag in between them to stop it. You have to question what else might be wrong and tomorrow I will inspect it fully to find out but to say I am thoroughly disappointed would be an understatement! Where is the quality control, the headboard is a communication issue of the right instructions not getting to the workshop but the others are just carelessness and lack of control.

Rant over, or to be continued! Now I can’t sleep, don’t know why but it’s almost 2.30am and I am sitting in the lounge in front of the fire writing this!  Perhaps another cup of tea will do the job ………