Journeys Long, Journeys Short

I jumped at the chance to do it. The invitation to spend six weeks in one of my island’s special places – a seaside village that comes alive during the summer months – was too good to pass on. This location is surrounded by a stunning coastline and across the water from it are golfing links of world renown. I am not in any way into the sport, but visiting them in the past, to dine at the restaurant with arguably the best views of a seascape in the state, well – they are stunning just to observe. I pictured myself on walks, with a beloved canine, along coastal and riverside tracks that abound around the little town – and this certainly occurred to the pleasure of both participants. Summer it was not to be though, but nonetheless Bridport still had plenty of positives about it during the off season. Used to Hobart’s dour, chillsome winters – Bridport sparkled in dazzling June sunshine in my time there – and with the sea mist rising up in response off Anderson Bay as each morning dawned I was favoured by sublime vistas all around. My camera, of course, had a good workout in such photogenic circumstances. As I expected, the local populace was a friendly species, no doubt relishing the slower pace of the mid-year months. They were always up for a chat at their shop counters. On the pavement of the main drag there were always jaunty ‘good mornings’ to greet my regular saunter down to the newsagent for the day’s Age. Next door to my house-sit was a supermarket, with next to that being a bottle-o – so all needs were met within a short stroll. As if my retirement years have not produced quietude enough, there was now even more time to write, read and work my way though DVD box-sets. And at my heels everywhere I went were two dogs, intent on not letting me out of their sight. No matter what opinions I expressed, they always nodded their heads sagely in agreement, giving me a bit of a lick before collapsing to the floor for another slumber under the motes rising up from their sunny spots. Of course, accepting my son’s thoughtful invitation would mean that there would be special people and places back in Hobs to be missed – but a few visits eased this missing – and I coped with that. I figured I’d suffer a tad without my weekly dose of art house fare at the State, but in reality there was only one movie I was, in the slightest way, peeved at not being able to attend – and the newly minted 2JJ, with Myf at the helm, was feasted on, giving me scope for new talent to search out when I was back to access JBs again.

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And back I am now and yes, that’s good too. Rich and his delightful partner Shan have returned to Tassie, with two reportedly very happy doggies a-welcoming them. As yet there hasn’t been the time for tales to tell from the pair, but those will be forthcoming in future weeks as they wind down from their journey long and get back into work mode. But I know a little of their weeks OS due to their communications during. I am so chuffed that they visited a few of the places that certainly impacted on me during my UK and Continental tourings three or more decades ago – Stonehenge and Chartres for example. Rich was also able to follow up on some of his passions – sampling various Irish and Belgian brews, visiting Harry Potter World as well as the Giger Museum in Switzerland. I was very envious of the pair heading off to the Folies Bergère, something that would definitely be on my bucket list if such a beast existed.

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Like all first time travellers, Rich and Shan will now have a taste of what is possible and fatherly fingers are crossed that there will be future occasions to take the three hour journey short to fair Briddy to again bask in such a magic setting. For a multitude of reasons I am so proud of my son and travelling vicariously with him and Shan around Europe has been a joy. The time also proved that something I thought mightily about as a retirement option for me would have been possible in terms of its contentment factor. That I chose another course I have no regrets, as that has been fantastic too – so my thanks go to my son and Shan for that as well. Am I sad that it would seem I will not be repeating, in my dotage, two trips to Europe undertaken when I was far more in my pomp? No, not really. Financially I could up and go tomorrow if I so desired, but that urge has largely deserted me. Besides, every day I spend with my beautiful Leigh, tucked up in our abode by the river, I figure, is equivalent to a northern hemisphere holiday in any case – so no, there’s no real hankering there. We have trips planned together, Leigh and I, to less distant locales and the thought of those more than keeps me happily planning.

Now – about that aforementioned movie. I thought I would have to hold fire and view it eventually on the small screen. It started it’s cinema run the day after I headed north, but to my very pleasant surprise, its popularity had given it an extended stay. It was in its final week on my return. Yay! And on viewing it, I understood why it had struck a chord. It was delightful. The people of Hobart were indeed ready ‘…for seconds’ in response to the query featured on the film’s promo.

‘The Trip’ – in both movie and television format – has become a cult classic, in a similar way to ‘Fawlty’, ‘The Office’ and ‘The Royle Family’. In it we followed the perhaps not so unlikely pair of Steve Coogan (‘Alan Partridge’, ‘Philomena’, ‘The Look of Love’) and Rob Brydon (Gavin and Stacey’, ‘Would I Lie to You?’) on their meanders and musings around England’s Lake District. These two first came together on the set of director Winterbottom’s ‘Tristram Shandy’, obviously striking up a natural rapport over an attachment to fine wine, top drawer nosh and the ability to take the piss out of each other – and they both share delight in impersonating their fellow thespians. They continue to do all that, to treat us, in ‘The Trip to Italy’. Their mutual take on Michael Caine near the start is a classic. So, given a jaunty car, more stunning vistas such as the Amalfi Coast, a slight fictional overlay with the narrative and more posh restaurants, we have all the necessary ingredients for another enjoyable ride. They ruminate on many matters of varying import, not the least of which being their frustration at ageing. They feel they have both reached that milestone in life when the young fillies they espy in their travels now find them invisible – or do they, Rob? There is also pathos and angst in the offering – but mostly it is filled with the good humour involved with just how fortunate they are to be in such a place with such company. Then there is the glorious, glorious tucker. It almost made me want to hop on the next Q-bird to Rome for a bit of la dolce vita myself.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Camogli, Italy

Hopefully we will again see this gregarious duo off on continued adventurings, under Winterbottom’s guidance, to another exotic spot on the planet soon – and methinks I read that there is a television follow up to this. So here’s to journeys long, journeys short and journeys middling. Long may we be on the planet to indulge in them, even if one does not have to leave one’s home abode to do so.

Website for ‘The Trip to Italy’ = http://www.thetriptoitaly.com.au/

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