Making a new start! Late winter, 2017, recovering from a serious illness, I’ve revived this blog, and will attempt to keep up!!

I started this blog late 2015, and planned to keep up a commentary during our derring-do adventure caravanning up and down to Cairns over a 10-week interval from mid–July until the end of  September, 2016. But, as you will see if you glance back, I ran into fatigue barriers I’ve never struck before, and was unable to keep up with my intended pace and standard. I found that a bit shattering, because I tend to set myself too high a standard sometimes.

I tried to write too much, and also try to include too many images. That’s all well and  good, but by the time we settled in each night, either from driving on a leg of the journey, or from doing tourist or sight-seeing activities during the day, I was overwhelmed by sleep, and just not up to the task I has set myself.

So I finally apologized to my probably all too few readers, and said “barley”! Do kids even say that these days, or is it just one more cultural fragment that has been crowded out? In my childhood in the 1940s and 50s, one could call out that word during a chasing or tigging game, to call it off if one had the stitch, and untied shoelace,  or some other legitimate excuse to call off the chase. A quick search showed that it was a word that was common in Australian states, and maybe came from Scotland. Often it became Barley Charlie, and during the 50s there was an early TV show (in B &W) with that name.

Well, here I go again with this missive. I recently suffered a shatteringly serious dose of viral pneumonia which stunned me into delirium for a couple of days in the ICU unit and I shall have to make it known initially through my face book page  (Bill Leithhead), and perhaps if it’s sufficiently interesting, become self-sustaining. Not that I’m that desperate for friends, but it was nice for an earlier version of this blog, from 2005 onwards to be reasonably Googled.

That included a spectacular image of an attack of  ‘hives’  (urticaria), of unknown origin,  which apparently turned out to be one of the best images of that condition on the internet. In fact, I received a request from one nurse educator for permission to use it in a course she was running!

For the sake of history,  I’ve decided to show it here – in a form suitable for the family, of course.

I Give Up – Sorry

Sorry everyone – or more realistically, one or two of you! I had hoped to keep this travel blog going, but there is just not time left after I deal with travel, housekeeping, companionship with Glenyce, FATIGUE, and diary writing, maintenance of cameras and computers, and so on.

Sooooooooo ….. this is the last entry in this travel blog as we travel. We’ve taken almost 7,000 images so far, and there are many excellent stories to make, but I’ll do it myself on my own web site, some time after we get back.

I can’t believe the physical and psychological limits I’ve run into in doing this long trip.

I’m not sure what the future holds as regards caravanning and trips and photography and writing.

Goodbye all for now

Is my face red? Way, way, way behind on my blog!!

Going on 3 weeks since my last blog! Tut tut!! This is not what I bargained on – the sheer fatigue of writing and especially on how long it takes preparing pictures to make it more interesting.

I am afraid that I was quite unprepared for the slowing down of my poor old body. Not so old at 77 – but, nevertheless, damnably slowed down. My fingers go at snail’s pace, even though my mind still feels mercurial – in patches, anyway. I am sometimes full of ideas, but my body lets me down – especially my mal-typing fingers.

Oh, why do I make so many typing errors? I wish I could touch-type. “One day I’ll take the time to learn”, I often tell myself. Anyway – there’s all sorts of reasons why I’m not keeping up with my intentions. Probably my psychiatrist (yes, I do have one) could tell me, but he never would – he never tells me anything but leads me to my own therapeutic pathway – or some such guff But it seems to have worked over the last 15 years.

In truth, we have taken so many terrific photos, and had so many intersting experiences, that I am just bursting out to tell it to the world. But that’s where it slows down and my intentions are more or less stuck in molasses.

I can see that the solution to a lot of my problems is to do a lot of text editing and image preparation off line, and then go on and complete it.

I’ll be back!!

Aspects of Caravan Life on a Long Trip

The caravan is a Viscount Ambassador, bought by my father in about 1967, and now regarded as a vintage caravan, with a club following. Even for just the two of us, it takes a lot of effort to fit our stuff in, and to work around each other in the cramped confines of the floor space. Here are some more or less random shots I’ve taken on our way from Melbourne up to Cairns.

Taken from between our beds, a view of Glenyce cooking in the kitchen, on the gas stove, accessed by sliding across the bench top. This bench top was originally chip-board, but over the years it started to disintegrate, and finally collapsed when we were in Merimbula, NSW. We found that a workshop in nearby Eden was prepared to manufacture a new, better one for us within a day or so. That was lucky, and we are grateful for their kindness.

a_glenyce_cooking_602px_1_IMG_3889General view taken from the kitchen table, viewing the kitchen bench (not extended), with storage for plastic crockery, and cups and mugs and some foodstuffs, and my bed with a light over it (Glenyce seated on it). The bed – not the light.

Inside the refrigerator, which is the original one, from about 1967, and is quite small. To replace it with a modern one would require very extensive remodelling of the interior, which is not justified. We only ever run it on electricity, and just keep it closed on trips in between stops. It can run on gas, but that requires the pilot light to be extinguished when we refuel. In fact, it might even be illegal, or voiding the insurance to travel with it on. I’m not sure. We NEVER use the van without being on power, anyway. That’s for refrigeration, heating or fan, and electric blankets for back pain. And of course, for the laptop and cameras and phone recharging.

This is my drawer with underpants, socks, handkerchiefs, electric razor, a jumper, some medications, etc. For this long trip I packed 8 each of pairs of socks and underpants. And about 12 shirts, and 5-6 pairs of trousers. Things get grubby on the road, and we might not wash clothes all that often. It varies, and we’ve been lucky so far. The facilities in modern caravan parks are pretty good. d_bill's_socks_and_undies_etc_602px1_IMG_3732

The main wardrobe is pretty full because we need clothes to last over a week, in case we can’t get washing done and dried. The above-listed supply of clothing can be seen in the wardrobe. The rod has been stable for many years, and usually holds up. But not this time! When we arrived at Lightning Ridge, the rod had come out of its holders, and all of the clothes collapsed into a heap. But some deft work with a screwdriver and rolling the rod underneath Glenyce’s feet straightened the rod up reasonably well, and we hope it will be OK for years to come! Or maybe I had better get a length of new rod when we get home. Or even in Cairns – it’s a big city!

Here’s Glenyce reorganizing her packing of medications, and socks, etc. We each take a variety lot of prescription medication, and made sure we have a forward supply of enough of everything to last about 8-10 weeks. We’ve seen our GP, who has printed out a list of prescriptions and the disorders for which they are prescribed. This will make it easier for getting new scripts if we run out.

This is my main drawer with many of my prescriptions, plus Beconase, and other over the counter things, plus odds and ends like a selection of pens and pencils, erasers, nail files, scissors, etc.

Here I’ve contrived an arrangement of two power boards which feed the rechargers for 3 different cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, a spare phone battery, the  6″ Tom-Tom navigator, a Comsol 7800 mAh spare power battery, a charger for a pair of Uniden 5W walkie-talkies, etc. Oh – and a powered USB hub  with 7 sockets (4 USB 3.0 and 3 USB 2.0). Sheesh – what a tangle!

A wider shot of the previous junk doing those various tasks which the high-tech idiots like me tend to surround themselves at these times. It includes the laptop, plus one of two 2 terabyte portable hard drives I have which contain most of our life hitherto, in the sense of most files from the desktop back home. I’m also backing up all of the images I’m making on this trip, plus the contents of the supposedly interesting blog in which you are reading these words. The blog and images actually reside in my web site,, which is somewhere in an air-conditioned, backed up, secure data farm (rooms full of disk units) in Sydney, or perhaps Melbourne now, as I (that is, myself as a customer paying to be hosted somewhere) have been bought and sold several times, amongst 4 different firms.


In for repairs at Rockhampton for 3 nights

Yah! sheeeez!! Zounds … and such-like appeals to the universe to spare me. Nothing serious has happened, except that my laptop’s hinge has broken  somewhat – actually, a lot – and I’m cautious about the possibility that the screen might fail, which does worry me greatly. That’s because my sodding phone has turned out to be opaque to my logic, and major actions such as banking and emailing haven’t worked there, in my hands, anyway, so the loss of my contacts with the outside world in the manner to which I have become accustomed would be highly regrettable, to say the least!

To catch up: in the last episode I said we were heading for Injune. But we got there at 3 pm,  so we decided to drive a further 174 km to Rolleston, where we arrived to claim almost the last overnight powered spot! The 456 km we drove was quite testing, and I came up OK, except that again I was too sleepy to do anything more than back up photos out of phones and recharge batteries, etc. The previous night was when the laptop hinge failure occurred, and after Glenyce and I inspected it,  we decided that, as we are dependent upon the damned thing, then we need to have one that is not likely to fail. As it is, the data lines could be cut at any moment. Who knows….?

So we need to buy a new laptop, and set up sufficient software to run it in the manner I have become used to. This means bloody Windows 10, and Office 365, etc., etc. Anyway, today, Saturday 23rd, we headed from Rolleston to Rockingham – a fair way –  not measured yet. So we need to shop for a good laptop on a Sunday. That’s because after phoning a lot of caravan parks in Rocky, we finally got on for only 2 nights powered site. Must have power!!

The drive through the Queensland countryside was very interesting, and because I put into my 6″ Tom-Tom navigator the address of the place, it took us there unerringly. The Voice is called Karen (according to the book), and she makes some funny mispronunciations of names. “Leichhardt Highway” came out a real hoot! The system really works quite well, in general.

Anyway, here we are, in Riverside Caravan Park, on the banks of the huge Fitzroy River which runs through Rockingham. It’s beautiful, with the lights of the CBD buildings twinkling across the river, reflected in the water. But although I’ve taken some interesting night shots, I’m just far too tired to resize them, etc. Everything from today is still in two cameras.

It’s nearly 11 pm, and it’s 27 degC in the van with the fan on and the screen door open. Apparently this is unseasonal – a heat wave, someone said. Anyway, I MUST get to bed NOW, because I have to find Officeworks and/or Harvey Norman, and make a purchase of a laptop somewhere over $1200, and then arrange for Office, and so on, as well as get to grips with bloody Win 10. I have no wish to use touch screens, incidentally. Gahhhhh!!

G’night from a healthy but tired Bill and Glenyce Leithhead. We’re OK but a bit frazzled by problems and heat. Have to be in Cairns for booking next Sunday, but know that getting powered sites all the way up will be a real problem. All these grey nomads – like a mob of sheep!!

Our packing is a bit of a farce, but we’ll get there.

Well, it’s 10:30 pm on Tuesday night. We leave tomorrow before lunch time. Glenyce is standing staring at our double bed covered with clothing and she can’t decide what to pack, because we have to cope with the cold and the heat – well – warmth, at least.

I keep telling her “We’ll just buy anything you need in Cairns!”, but the uncertainty continues. I’ve got all my stuff in the caravan, or selected already and sitting in any of 3 drawers in the family room. Being a male makes it easier, for some reason I dare not even broach. Don’t go there, guys!! About 10 shirts, 4 or 5 sets of trousers, one set of shorts, 8 pairs of socks and 8 underpants. Plus 3 jumpers – one good, one OK, and one a bit tattered and good for driving, and setting up the van on arrival at wherever we are. And one pair of bathers, togs, swimmers or cozzies (whatever), which Glenyce informs me the elastic has perished. “I’ll buy them up there”, I said.

But I also need them for the four beaut pools at the caravan park in Moree, which pipes in heated Artesian water to the pools and mixes colder water in to give several pools at temperatures up to 39 degrees Celsius. The latter is very tiring, I remember from about 6 years ago when we went through. It’s quite fun there. Glenyce tells me the bathers will last through Moree. Of course, I could pack either of the ridiculous budgie smugglers I have from some years back when I passed through some phase or other – if I want to trigger a divorce! But my gut would now make me look like a muffin. It’s bad enough with the perished bathers I already possess.

And – Oh God! – the medications – making sure we’ve both have enough of the requisite pills we take for various “medical conditions”. We’ve both got written statements about our disorders, and the prescribed medications, plus enough repeat prescriptions to last up to 10 weeks on the road.

I hope to wean myself off the Temazepam I need to sleep well. I only take two at most, usually only one. But these benzodiazepines are somewhat addictive, and it’s better to not be addicted. We both find that caravanning makes us healthier. We’ll return  fitter, with fewer pains, and less weight!!! But as soon as I walk into the house, the post-nasal drip will return.  I have no idea what causes it, but I’m allergic to something in the house. I’m not selling the house just yet.

Now it’s 11 pm the night before we leave for the big trip. I have all of my data (over 800 GB) on the main desktop here at home transferred onto two 2 Terabyte hard drives, but not all, so right now I need to arrange the final backup of all of the Outlook emails (back to 2007!) and Contacts, plus all of the Internet Explorer ‘Favorites’  and ‘Cookies’, so that I can load them en route into the laptop and be ready for the road.

Wish us luck as we wave goodbye soon to downtown Glen Waverley, chock-a-block with Asian restaurants and Asian groceries. A most fascinating place now, too – it was rather boring before they started coming in!

Zài Jiàn, I recall it is in Mandarin. Or if you like: 再见.

“Goodbye”, I think it means. Someone will correct me!

Bill and Glenyce’s Caravan Trip to Cairns, 2016 – and blogs following our lives after that …….

bill&glenyce_w300px_2_cream&blkbdrPLEASE NOTE:  Please check the <—– LH SIDE among the butterflies for further Recent Posts.

Hello and welcome from Bill and Glenyce Leithhead,  from Glen Waverley, SE suburb of cosmopolitan Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria, Australia. This ‘sticky’ Header was used in 2016 as part of a Blog, recording our caravan journey as a round trip from Melbourne to Cairns and back, from July 13th, to between the middle and the end of September. We aimed to escape the cold southern winter into the warmth of the tropical northern Queensland dry season, and to see more of this wonderful country of ours. It was an excellent trip, but too tiring to keep up the Travel Blog, so I ditched it.  But I’ve left this part in.
And so our lives continue on … we both turn 80 in 2018, but try to keep going in the face of arthritis and other challenges to our well-being ….

 Comments are moderated.

Time-wasting a-Plenty

It’s weeks since my last post and I started this new blog to try and start over again, only to find I’m the same as I was before – for years. That should tell me something, shouldn’t it? Nevertheless, I’ll keep trying.

I do procrastinate badly,  and I suspect that it has prevented me from achieving about 2/3rds of what I might have done had I lived up to the unrealistic image I have of myself. But I have achieved quite a lot in my seventy-seven years, and have gathered the sweet fruits of labours in terms of a reasonably successful career in lecturing chemistry, being married for 50 years and have 3 beautiful grown, mature children, and growing 4 grandchildren. I own my own house, am reasonably healthy if you disregard highly challenging sciatica, and a bubbling, but controlled depression.

I have a couple of good computers, my own web site, in which I’ve stuffed a ton of material, some of it interesting or even unique. And I enjoy reading, which I can do quickly. Here’s the thing: there is a huge amount of interesting, useful, valuable, educating and amusing stuff to be followed up in the net, that when I go on after my ( usually late) breakfasts, it’s usually lunchtime before I even finish reading the news and politics. Sometimes I even finish reading Facebook.

And regardless of what you say, Facebook is a valuable, interesting net-space, where I have about 134 “friends”. And if I skip over the twee and the rubbish, pick up the informative, amusing and entertaining stuff, follow something up and add in some nice comments, or even add in some interesting posts myself, then I feel it’s been worthwhile.

But just as an example, just in the last hour (while continually shifting the sprinklers around the garden every 10 minutes), I’ve read one topic in the highly recommended Australian political and academic TV show and web-site The Drum. I didn’t even finish, because I’m guilty as to how much time it takes out of my day. Here’s a link to the political discussion of journalist Nikki Savva’s latest book on the relationship between previous PM Tony Abbott and his fearful Chief of Staff Peta Credlin. This, including especially the Comments section, is an example of how easily a great deal of time can be eaten up, but engaging if you’re interested in Australian politics, as I certainly am.

“Must try harder – could do better if tried.”
   Seen in so many school reports.

Nostalgia strikes again.

My wife Glenyce and I were watching a TV show which involved a personal parting under war-time pressure. The background tune was “There’s a long, long trail a-winding”, and I very, very often heard this in my early childhood. It triggered almost uncontrollable sadness, and I smothered a sob – not very successfully, and from the corner of my eye I saw Glenyce glance in my direction.

During a TV break she spoke in a very caring way, which is a little unusual. She asked me what was troubling me, and I couldn’t reply, and escaped into the toilet. When I came back, sitting in a different room, she came up to me and caressed me, which is unusual, asking me again what was going on because I was still tearful. I couldn’t put it all together and give an explanation then, but over the week I’ve figured it out, more or less, and in bed last night I raised the topic.

It’s to do with my feelings that I belong to a generation which is dying out, and, of course, some time my turn will come. That doesn’t concern me at all, but I want to leave a written record of what it has been like being Bill Leithhead, with my childhood experiences, career, marriage, children and grand-children. I’ve had some unique experiences, – nothing dramatic, but a wartime small boy, exposed to a social stratum and milieu which are passing away.

My mother was a dance-band pianist, and I grew up in the Western Australian town of Kalgoorlie with the WW2 going on. An only child, I was often taken along to musical events in which Mum played, most often with a drummer and saxophone. Other times she just played the piano or her piano accordion alone, surrounded by people singing the old songs, especially from the First Word War, but including popular music of those wartime days. These have been imprinted into my brain.

I was often tucked up in the parked car, listening to the tunes. Many of these were very sentimental, dwelling on parting, loss and destruction and the ever-present figure of death in the shadows. The local newspaper was always full of maps with arrows and symbols such as the Swastika and the Rising Sun, as well as the US and English flags – and others, of course.

Even now, at least three tunes press my nostalgia button. These are: “There’s a long, long trail a-winding”, “We’ll meet again”, and “Lily of the Lamplight” (also called “Lily Marlene”).

A week later I opened up on this topic in a chat in bed with dear Glenyce just before we were going to sleep. That’s because I had had enough time to work out what was going on in me.  I’m still not sure, but it’s to do with the feeling that knowledge of the reality of those past times is painfully nostalgic for me. My generation is dying out – I see friends die out each year.

And another major factor is the music of today, or rather the general type of popular music played ever since the rock-n/roll revolution, coming down to just rock and metal, and such-like, brought in by the advent of the electric  guitar.  Most popular tunes up to the late sixties at least had a melody, and were not so monotonous. But now, all I hear is rather simplistic music with only a few notes in the “melodies”, and a lot of repetition. That’s in general – there are exceptions of course.

But this stuff is churned out in the thousands by talentless dolts who don’t sing, but just “say it”, approximately somewhere near the notes, and often don’t sing but they “yell”. Of course, I’m sounding like the stereotypical old buffer who is resistant to change. I’m in my late 70s, but can play pretty good jazz on the piano – and do the same on the drums, if necessary.

Another thing that’s gone is the idea of singing around a piano, as a family, or friends, or in pubs or clubs. That’s gone, as far as I can see, and that sort  of thing was so formative about my whole being, that I absolutely mourn for the cultural loss that I’m experiencing. People just don’t seem to sing together in the way I grew up with – or at least not among my family and friends.

And that, dear readers, is what can render me to tears or a sob, when the triggers happen to be in some TV show or other. I’m stuck with it, but at least I understand it now.

Falling into old habits

So, I set up this WordPress blog, in a style new to me, hoping that it will encourage me to make entries more often, but I haven’t have I?

At age 77, I’m finding myself very tired a lot of the time, with severe sleep disturbances. Sometimes I’m up all night. Over the Xmas-new year period my wife and I were away at a friend’s holiday house near Torquay, south of Geelong. They’re very agreeable folks to be with and we enjoy each other’s intellectual and political levels. Strangely, my sleep disturbances were minimal, partly because of the use of Temazepam and Diazepam sedatives.

Because I did little but sit and stand and have meals and talk a lot, my chronic sciatica was reasonably controlled, again by strong analgesics such as codeine and Lyrica.

But since we’ve been back home, I just seem to have slumped into painful fatigue. I am hopeful that I can recover from that by slipping back into a routine. I have many things to do to my web site, and minor chores around the home.

But everything I work on upon the computer seems to run into some complication or other, and this is a damned waste of time. And as far as I see, probably millions of people all over the world experience this sort of thing, judging from all of comments in the various forums that are thrown up upon entering the error messages into Google.

And so I push on into the murky mush of sensory experiences commonly called “Life”.