I was there, Harrison Ford was there–so how did I miss him!

Earlier this week I was in Sydney for two days taking location photos for my novel imbroglio.

SydneyJohn and I drove from Canberra—an easy three-hour stretch given it’s a dual highway all the way. Until you hit the city, that is. Then it’s bumper to bumper, stop start, gridlock. I didn’t take any shots while in traffic; I was too busy keeping an eagle eye on the GPS for instructions and feeding them non-stop to John who was driving.

He needed a lie-down and strong coffee before I could get him out of the hotel and going again.

The weather forecast for the two days was for thunderstorms and lightning. Which was just my luck as I’d been wanting to do this for ages and now I’d finally organised it the weather was going to screw it up for me.

I had a list of the locations I wanted to photograph:

Coogee (one of the suburban beaches where my heroine Noel Valentine grew up)
Elizabeth Bay (where she now lives)
Hyatt Hotel on Circular Quay (where she makes her play for her boss, William T Hall), and
Darling Harbour (where David Cameron first sets eyes on Noel).

We booked into a back-street hotel in Wooloomooloo because it’s an easy 30 minute walk to Circular Quay, and from there we could take harbour ferries everywhere but Elizabeth Bay, which we called in to after booking out of the hotel to drive home.

The walk was lovely. Past the navy ships at the Garden Island base and the historic Finger Wharf (the longest timber-piled wharf in the world), then through the Botanic Gardens.

The beaches are lovely too. Coogee is a favourite of mine, which is why Noel calls it home and why she continues her morning swims there.

The next day we were catching up over lunch at Circular Quay with girlfriend and fellow author Roz Baker of the Sooner or later series fame. Then it was onboard the ferries to Watson’s Bay so I could take water-side shots of Rose Bay where another character, Marion Davies, lives. And lastly Darling Harbour.

The weather held!!

That night the thunder and lightning hit and the rain poured. But … I had all my photos. How lucky was I!

As for Harrison Ford, it was on the evening news I learned he was in town to promote the new Star Wars movie and the backdrop for his photos was the Opera House. I’m staggered I didn’t see him because I there was too!

Me and Diamond Princess

Diamond Princess, Opera House, ferry

Cruise ship Diamond Princess and the Opera House

I might have hung around and tried the selfie with him in the background trick.


Across England on the Coast to Coast walk, part 2

Across England on the Coast to Coast walk part 2

Well … today’s the day.

The first of 18 that see us walking from the west coast of the UK to the east coast. Through Cumbria and Yorkshire. Following Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk.

The start

It’s been organised for us, so all we have to carry are our backpacks. Luggage will be transported between our nightly accommodation.

We’ve got B&Bs, hotels and farm stays lined up, some in the middle of towns, some in the middle of nowhere, and we’re looking forward to them all.

Recommended backpack inclusions are emergency medical supplies, water, lunch, snacks, raincoat, and little shovel/wipes/plastic bags for if you’re caught short.

It doesn’t take long—an hour or two on the road—to realise that’s WAY too much. In subsequent days we reduce it to band-aids, water and the minimum amount of food we think we’ll need.

As for being caught short—just make sure you do your ablutions before you head off in the morning and you can ditch the shovel etc as well.

Oh, and make sure your backpack is lightweight and waterproof—because if rain doesn’t soak it your sweat will.

But all that knowledge is in the future. Today we fortify ourselves with a full English breakfast (part of the package) and sandwiches packed by the B&B host.

Then it’s off and into the great outdoors, heading for the Lakes District. That’s those mountains in the distance.

On to Dent Hill

The first day covers 14½ miles. Mid-morning sees us puffing and doggedly panting up our first slope, Dent Hill.

Nearly killed John who began to feel very poorly early and didn’t improve for hours. At one point as we were slogging it to the top I had visions of calling in Air Rescue! But being a man he said he’d manage, and he did.

That smile on my face, you may notice, is definitely forced. In fact, our kids commented on our smiles after a few days of receiving photos, asking:

‘Are you having fun yet!’

Top of Dent Hill

The Lakes District is a hike of five days through the toughest countryside on the 4 out of 5 difficulty-rated walk, so we know we’re not in for an easy time.

Dent Hill turns out to be the worst we encounter that day; the rest is along tracks and over fences, this one deer-proof.

The sheepUp and over a deer-proof fence

We make it to Ennerdale and our overnight accommodation mid-afternoon, but as our hosts aren’t home we find the nearest pub and have a beer. Boy! Does it ever taste good—though as you can see, those smiles haven’t re-surfaced yet.

Ennerdale B&BBoy, that beer tastes good!

This becomes the pattern for the next 17 days. Hitting the road early so we arrive at our next destination at a reasonable hour.

Next week: Through the Lakes District with gritted teeth.