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Written by Peter Smith   
Monday, 16 February 2009 21:00
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Sheffield - London
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I've just taken early retirement from lecturing at Sheffield College and my wife Anne (Nursery Nurse) is on unpaid leave for two terms from Hillsborough Primary School. We're traveling overland to Australia on Ozbus 2 leaving on the 23rd September 07.


When does a journey start?

We intended making this journey 30 something years ago while living and working in Jersey in the Channel Islands - Anne a chambermaid and me a beach cleaner - but we came back to Sheffield to get married and then made the mistake of buying a house and settling down.

But actually I think the journey started for me even earlier in 1967 when I applied for and was given assisted passage to Australia.  On that occasion I made the mistake of spending my supposed last summer and all my savings travelling around the folk festivals of England and fell in love with our culture and my wife to be.  On this journey I'm taking both with me just to make sure there are no hitches and so .....

It's farewell to Sheffield and England
As we head for new vistas abroad
Forsaking the work and the weather
For dreams down that long ancient road

We're bound for Sydney, Australia
with no fuss, no pomp nor a band
Just the hum of a Van Hool engine
As we strike out for Van Deaman's land

From the west, Celtic shores of the Channel
To the lands of the Magyars and Huns
Past that cold, cruel road to Sarajevo
To Islam, the east and the sun

See the delights of old Constantinople
Marvel at Ysofa's great Dome
To the place of the face and the Trojans
And the far flung reaches of Rome

To the exotic world of the Persians
And its ancient capital Esfahan
Take a magical carpet care of Sinbad
Down the silk route from Shiraz to Bam

Travel on to the land of the Indus
Through the desert of Baluchistan
following the Mughal lords and their armies
Building the world of Islam

Leaving the men of silly walking
Into Sikhdom and the temple of gold
Through Delhi, onto Agra and romance
Varanasi, the Ganges and the longest journey of all

Up to Nepal and the roof of our journey
Katmandu and the last living God

A late night drive back up the Himalayas
For a Darjeeling breakfast of curry and tea,
And then the long road west to Calcutta
Before crossing the Adaman Sea

Bangkok where everything's possible
a city of street food and vices
of tuck tucks, ping pong clubs
and old men buying fresh Oriental spices

Saturday 22nd September - Sheffield to London

Arrived at the station on time to find out that someone had stolen the electrical signal cables at Clay Cross and all the through trains to London were cancelled. My first thought was perhaps if Thatcher hadn't closed all the mines and steel works, the only work in the area, then those responsible would have been to busy working to steal and endanger traveller's lives.

So we started our 15,000 mile journey to Australia by catching the train to Cleethorpes and changing at Doncaster.  I've heard it said that all great adventures start on the train to Cleethorpes. It's a very little known historical fact that Mafeking would have been relieved much earlier had Kitchener not taken his men via the Lincolnshire coastal town. To make things worse the train was infected by a group of foul mouthed football supporters who reminded me why I am leaving this country. The train was full and no one was prepared to say anything to them for fear of being abused or worse. God bless Thatcher and Blair for making such a success of the education and transport system. Our journey of a lifetime couldn't have had a better start.

We were told to catch any London bound train by porters at Sheffield. When we arrived at Doncaster chaos ensued. Firstly we were shunted from one platform to another as train after train failed to materialize. Eventually we bordered the 14.35am to Kings Cross just to be told via the train intercom to leave it immediately. When we made our way back to the platform an irate porter told everyone (literally hundreds of people) to get back on the train and ignore any further instructions. Phew! On the bright side of things we bonded with a couple of nice people. Anne even wished they were coming with us but sadly they were not. We had an interesting conversation as I ordered food. While waiting for my order of cappuccino, a can of Stella, cheese and ham and egg and Red Leicester toasties we attempted to calculate the cost using, signs, body language and facial expressions. His estimate of 26 pounds was slightly more expensive than my meager 11 pounds. A couple minutes later I was relieved to pay £12. 10. Anne, looking over my shoulder, has just chastised me for writing such content, being convinced, no one will be interested in such trivia.

Found our way to Chris and Jo's, had a lovely meal before heading out on the town. The first stop was the Ilford Spoon and then to what turned out to be the highlight of the first the day: the Ilford Catholic Club.  Had a couple of pints of Guinness, heard the latest community gossip and finally participated in the all important raffle which fortunately we did not win: a joint of meat for Sunday dinner was the top prize.

Finally went to bed about 12.45 am well inebriated, tired and very, very happy.
Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2009 12:22