Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

June 2011

GeneralThursday, June 30th, 2011, (8:43 pm)

It’s winter in Melbourne. The days are brief and sunshine is in short supply. If wealth were measured in street light hours this city would now be positively opulent. I knew it could get cold here, but I foolishly thought that Australia’s cold would be mild by British standards. I was wrong. June in Melbourne feels like November in Liverpool. So while it is not my only motivation, I will confess that my envy of the weather on the other side of the world has spurred me leave Melbourne to seek out the Australia I day-dreamed about on cold winter days in England. I’ve taken to the road in search of the sun. There’s no map and no time-table. The plan is simple. The plan is North.

NORTH - Australian Road Trip

As much as I love Melbourne, I didn’t come to Australia to stay in one place. I wanted to spend the time I have here exploring this country, meeting it’s people, and generally immersing myself in the Aussie way of life, whatever that may be.

Of course, it hasn’t been all blue skies and smooth sailing since I arrived here. For a start, Melbourne is an expensive city to live in with rents comparable to prices in London. In addition to that, the unusually weak UK Pound is taking a beating from the Australian Dollar which is enjoying never seen before strength. As a result my money isn’t going as far as it otherwise might.

Then there have been the set backs. Like finding a room to rent, then quickly discovering that my would-be housemate was suffering from chronic depression and was prone to radical mood swings and anti-social outbursts.

Taking a punch in the face from a French girl in Tasmania also goes down as a moment that I didn’t see coming, but then that’s a whole different story. (And no, it’s probably not what you think!)

Those set-backs, however, just add a little more color to this ongoing story. They’re like minor sub plots or momentary diversions. The depressed would-be housemate, or moody French girl served as passing protagonists in my life, that to me, sometimes feels like a blend of TV travel show and theatre.

It’s been six months since I arrived in Australia and as winter grips Melbourne now is the perfect time take to the road and head north. So I’ve bought a van, loaded it up, and set off in search of sun and a whole lot of whatever else life has to offer.

I’ve actually been on the road for a couple of weeks already. I made a slow start and stopped for nine days to visit a friend in Sydney after driving along the Eastern Victorian coast.

That relatively short distance brought home to me just how vast Australia is, something which is hard for me, as a European, to really comprehend. Back in the UK even when you’re far from anywhere your still pretty close to somewhere.

My plan, such that it is, is to get to Cairns in the far north east and perhaps even a little beyond that. I’m going to drive along the coast which I am told is quite amazing in places. I have no timeframe and will stop frequently so I suspect it will be a while before I see Cairns.

According to Google maps my coastal route could easily be over 5,000 miles (8,046 km). That’s quite a difference from the 1,766 mile (2,843 km) direct route.

To overcome any possible loneliness along the way I plan to ‘couch surf‘ with locals as often as possible. I’ve ‘couch surfed’ in various places around the world and have always had fantastic experiences meeting people I would not have met otherwise. Couchsurfing is a fantastic way to get local ‘insider information’ hints and tips, and also a good way to escape the confines of my camper van from time to time. I might also look at doing something with Help Exchange if a suitable opportunity presents itself.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find a little more time to write while I am making my way north. My plan is to try and keep my blog as up to date as possible, sharing the pictures and stories from the road.

For those of you who might be interested at seeing where I am on a map, I’ve created a page that will show you my location. In the sidebar on the right of my blog just click the ‘Where is Simon‘ link and you’ll be able to see a map with a pinpoint on it. You can also click links on that page to zoom in or out of the map. It’s not up-to-the-second accurate, but it will at least show you the last location that I ‘checked-in’ from.

So that’s it. I’m on the road heading for the tropics, pursuing the sun and chasing the dream. For the next few weeks the plan is simple… the plan is North.

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GeneralSaturday, June 25th, 2011, (1:13 am)

If you’ve read my blog for any period of time you’ve probably noticed spelling and grammar errors here and there. My spell checker usually catches the obvious misspellings, but it’s not so great at spotting when I’ve used an incorrect homophone or made a grammatical error. In these situations most people ignore the error, feeling that it might be rude to point it out. Well, I wanted to tell you that I don’t consider it rude, in fact I consider it helpful. So, if you see an error please feel free to correct me. Read on and I tell you how to do just that.

I think my spelling and grammar woes stem from the fact I was phonetically tortured as a child. Way back in the 1970’s when I attended infant school, I was subjected to a 45 character alphabet known as ITA, the Initial Teaching Alphabet.

ITA is a phonetic transcription of English sounds that was supposed to make learning English easier for small children. It was developed in the early 1960’s then later embraced by long haired ‘all-you-need-is-love’ hippies who somehow managed to get into the business of steering British educational policy.

Between puffs of whatever it was they were smoking, those educational hippies decided that subjecting small children to a needlessly complex alphabet would be a really great idea. This was probably because those same hippies knew that they would one day grow into red pen-wielding nazi teachers who got their kicks by scrawling over every word grammatically confused children would write.

Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s not unfair to say that ITA was nothing short of a educational catastrophe that likely spawned a generation that struggle with reading and writing.


The thing is, I love writing. I like it when I write something that when I read it back later I get a buzz out of the fact that ‘I wrote that.’ I also love putting material out there for other people to read if they wish, casting blog posts out into the world wide web like messages in a bottle thrown into the sea.

My problem is that I am blind to most of the errors you see. So my misspellings and grammar goofs end up floating around out there like imperfections on an otherwise carefully crafted work. These days I’m getting better at catching them, but some still get threw (get it?).

Most people overlook them, but every so often someone will point out a mistake and allow me the opportunity to fix it. I really value that. In fact, I consider it an act of kindness.


So, if you see a mistake, be it a spelling error or grammatical blunder, you shouldn’t be shy in pointing it out to me. You can do that by clicking on the ‘contact‘ link in the column on the right, then sending me a note.

You can also use the very handy Editz service and make a correction without leaving the page. Just hit the ‘Editz’ button at the bottom of the right column, then highlight the error and correct it. I’ll then get an email which showing me the suggested correction. [Editz has since shut down operations, though I take no responsibility for overloading their system!]

Of course, you don’t have to correct me when I’m wrong if that’s not your thing. But for the grammarians among you, you can now get out your proverbial red pen and remind me of my school days. I just hope I’ve improved since then!

ITA: Educashunal lunacie or wizdom?
Long haired educational hippie types
Grammer Girl

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PhotographySaturday, June 18th, 2011, (7:32 pm)

There’s something amazing about a sunny autumn day. I think it’s the perfect mixture of light and colors with a crisp air that you don’t get at any other time of year.

In truth, I’m never happy to see the arrival of autumn. It heralds the end of summer, and serves only as a fanfare for the imminent arrival of another long winter in which I’ll only be wishing for the spring.

I’m a warm weather person. A sun worshipping Englishman with carefully chosen sunglasses and an appetite for blue sky days rarely satisfied by the mean British summers that withholds the sun like a child that hasn’t learned how to share. However, there’s something magical about a bright autumn day, with that hint of a chill in the air and the colors turned up to ten. On days like this I forgive the season for its all-too-soon arrival.

Winter has well and truly arrived in Melbourne now. So while I look to the other side of the world with slightly envious eyes, I thought I would share a few photographs of my autumn in Melbourne.

I think the last two pictures are my favorites. I took so many over the course of a few days while riding in my neighbourhood and the city. I’m sure some people wondered what I was doing as I studied the shadows of trees that looked like murals on the walls or fences where they appeared.

Autumn usually passes me by without note or reason to stop and look. I suspect that familiarity quietly stole from me the motivation to witness the change, to pay attention to the mundane. It would seem that moving has indeed moved me.

When it stops
Seasons change

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