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Posts tagged ‘Madeira’


Rottnest Island

Yesterday, I went to Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth. I probably wouldn’t have gone there if my sister hadn’t have bought me a voucher for the ferry for Christmans. But I’m glad I did as it made a refreshing change from my normal routine. I use the word ‘refreshing’ here in a limited sense as it was about 35°C, with no cloud cover and I was on riding around the island on a bike.

After cycling for about 4km, the heat got too much. I stopped for a rest, only to find a deserted white sands beach. I took off my shorts and my socks and jumped into the sea, still with my cycle helmet on. My t-shirt and pants were soaked, but it was exactly what I needed and cooled my body temperature down instantly. I timed it just right, as a group of eight people arrived just as I was about to set off again, albeit with a prominent damp patch seeping through my shorts.

When I stopped at a cafe for lunch, the 8km of cycling started in the heat to make me feel a bit light-headed. Fortunately, a couple of carbonated drinks and some fish and chips sorted me out.

I’m happy to say that there was no repeat of the debacle in Madeira. And I didn’t fall off my bike or have glares of contempt from the rest of the group who I was holding back with my ineptness at mountain biking.

Rottnest Island is famous for the quokka, which are like tiny kangaroos. They’re about the same size as house cats.

Unfortunately, Tourism Western Australia is actively encouraging visitors to find one and have their picture taken with it. Visitors are not allowed to touch or feed quokkas, but it doesn’t stop people bothering them.

I saw one tourist practically straddling the poor animal to try and take a picture with it. He didn’t touch it, I might add. But it made me feel very uncomfortable. Pictures of animals are always made infinitely worse when a human insists on also having their face in the shot.

I refuse to use the s-word for this practice as it I detest it and it is never appearing in anything I write. I was taking these sorts of pictures with disposable cameras more than 15 years ago. I didn’t take an inane picture, take a look at it, then take another one of exactly the same thing, then repeat this multiple times. Admittedly, my picture may have been inane. But I at least had the decency to not repeat the same thing over and over.

The practice is manufacturing moments in time that used to be captured so much more authentically in one shot. I love photography, but hate how it’s been bastardised by social media for sake of likes. That’s enough of that rant for now.

Another thing from yesterday is that I now know my factor 50 sun-cream definitely works. The only thing is that I didn’t put enough of it on around the base of my neck, where today there is a prominent red line.

Thankfully, this red line is not joined by a cricket ball sized, raw lump of the same colour on my inner thigh from all the cycling that I had the day after my Madeira ride.

Today, it’s 42°C outside. So I’m back to my normal routine of writing in the air-conditioned library. Next, I’ll be going to the supermarket, before returning to the hostel to eat some sardines and pasta. I’ve only got another two days left in Perth, but can’t say I’ll be sad to end this routine.


Perth Fringe 2020 – Shows eight and nine

Back to the shows, I had about 33 in for the penultimate night. And it was good, even if I didn’t feel entirely on top of my ad-libbing game.

The final show was the busiest by some way, almost doubling my largest audience with 68 people booking tickets in advance in a room that seats 70, although four people didn’t show up. I was expecting to sell at least a few on the door given the previous few days. Alas, it was not to be and that elusive sold-out status was agonisingly just out of reach.

I put the whiteboards and pens for the quiz under the seats before the show, as I do in Edinburgh. It was the first time in the run I’ve done this as I knew where people would be sitting due to the full room. Previously, I’d asked the show runner to hand them out during the show. However, this extra pre-show admin meant I had forgotten to put my essential prop of my facts bell on the stage, meaning I had to go off stage during the show to get it out of my bag.

This was after there was a cock-up with the radio mic, so the audience couldn’t hear my announcement to welcome me to the stage. I decided to go off stage and do it again. Admittedly, I’ve done slicker shows.

The audience were a lively bunch, bordering on rowdy at times. There was a persistent heckler in the second row who I had to take down and also deduct points from.

All in all, it’s been a decent run. The shows have all been fun and the people who came all seemed to enjoy it. But there’s been the nagging frustration of it being quieter than I’ve become used to.

That said, I shouldn’t complain too much. Many other shows have struggled this year and many of these have had to cancel performance due to no audience. I also didn’t really do as much to promote the show as I would normally do at a festival, mainly due to the heat and to avoid getting ill. I think ticket sales should have covered my flights and accommodation and should have a bit left after that.

I was planning on using the shows to come up with some new bits. However, life events got in the way, and I mostly ended up sticking with the tried and tested.

I’ve been asked a couple of times if I’d do the Perth festival again. And at the moment, I’m undecided. It’s a decent festival in a really nice city. If I’d sold-out every night and made a huge profit, I expect I would definitely come back. I’d also consider doing it if I was working through a new show for Edinburgh, so that by the start of February I would already have about ten previews under my belt.

Another factor is that I don’t actually know what I’m going to be doing or where I’m going to be post-Edinburgh. I am still expecting to have to start applying for full-time jobs again then.

I have another four nights in Perth. Tomorrow, I’m getting the ferry over to Rottnest to do some exploring, and possibly even some bike riding. I just hope it’s not as traumatic as what happened in Madeira.


Madeira, oh dear ah…

For the past few years, I have taken a tactical holiday in November or December to get some much-needed vitamin D in the winter months, when it’s also cheaper and not overwhelmingly hot.

I have been heading towards the equator where the temperatures are still decent, with Malta and Gran Canaria my previous two winter holiday destinations. Coincidentally, these also seem to be locations where old people go at the same time.

This year, I had a look at the map and chose to put a year of learning Spanish on Duolingo to good use by going to Madeira, where they don’t even speak Spanish. Fortunately, I was able to become 18% fluent in Portuguese before I went, at least according to official Duolingo records.

I signed up for a mountain bike trek. I hadn’t ridden a bike in 14 years, but you never forget. It’s like… something I can’t currently think of.

Most things I book through Expedia are full of pensioners, those are just the rules. On the plus side, it means I almost always have superior fitness levels to the rest of the group. So it was quite a shock to get in the van to go mountain biking and be surrounded by young Germans and Swedish people in professional cycling gear. Then there was me dressed in cotton shorts and a t-shirt, with old trainers.

But it surely didn’t matter, because I’d ridden a bike all throughout my youth, mainly at Center Parcs as I wasn’t allowed out to ride in the road where I lived until I was 12. And I should add that when I was 12, I had a mountain bike with five gears. Five entire gears.

It turns out that mountain biking had changed quite substantially in the 21 subsequent years and I didn’t even know how to use the gears on my bike. The guide quickly saw my ineptitude and prevented me from going on some of the trails.

Despite my legs seizing up with cramp at various points and other members of the group literally pushing me along at others, I somehow managed to complete the 40km trek. I was completely caked in mud, but I’d made it.

It turned out to be a perfect metaphor for Brexit negotiations. I signed up for something I thought would be easy, only to be find myself in an uphill struggle that was way beyond my ability, surrounded by much more experienced and knowledgeable European people who ended up taking pity on me.

The next day I was unable to walk properly, with my inner thighs red and swollen. I was also bruised from falling over a few times and am naturally pasty. So I was at least red, white and blue to embellish the Brexit metaphor further. There’s your patriotism.

I did at least get a couple of days of sun before the clouds took over towards the end of the week. Then I rounded my holiday off by getting a norovirus on my penultimate day.

No prizes for how I spent my final day. Of course, I went on a sightseeing trip of the island.

Okay, I didn’t. I signed up for a sightseeing trip, but after having spent the night vomiting at both ends, I thought it was probably best to change my scale down my sightseeing to the inside of a toilet bowl. I even saw some local wildlife in the ants that were living in my hotel bathroom. A norovirus did at least give an edge to the flight home, like Russian roulette of the arse. I can’t think why the woman sitting next to me moved seats.

I’m now planning next year’s holiday. This one is going to take some topping.