Thursday, 22 March 2012
Wyong to Newcastle
As the next pit stop was only a kangaroo hop away, last night Michael had suggested taking me surfing. First we had yummy pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit; then Michael took me to the coast. As we were driving to the beach I noticed the absence of a surf board and my host said there was no surf and was just showing me round. A lucky escape! I half want to try, but feel it will be a lost cause. Stopping in McDonald's for coffee (of course like all coffee here, it's excellent) there was an elderly woman who was the spit of Miss Marple (flowery dress and sun hat) ordering a double cheeseburger. At 11 am. What is the world coming to? Soon rejoined the highway. Hell hath no fury like a car scorned. Whose idea was it for me to travel up the east coast anyway? I should have stuck to my guns and gone up the middle. On the road I'm a nuisance to car drivers and on the pavement I'm a nuisance to pedestrians. Everyone should be cheerily waving and thanking me for saving the planet goddamnit! "Thank you so much for reminding me about the plight of the environment. I shall extricate my lardy posterior from the comfy seat of my 4x4 forthwith and buy a bicycle straight away!"
Later on I calmed myself by watching an inch-long black ant foraging in the undergrowth and paralysing another half its size. The victor cleaned its posterior (which had injected poison presumably) with big yellow mandibles. However, the fact that the twitching adversary was left behind seemed to suggest the killer's role was simply to eliminate the competition. In the grass no one can hear you scream. Meanwhile the mega metal ants rampaged by searching for cyclists to mow down.
Newcastle seemed quite a pleasant town. Inland is Hunter Valley, famed for wine production, as well as coal mines. Apparently Newcastle is the largest exporter of coal in the world, most of it bound for China, and the tankers queue up round the clock to collect it. There was no evidence of grubby industry in the part of town where I was heading, with its brightly painted houses, beaches, joggers and dog-walkers. Rang the bell at the address in my itinerary and the woman who answered looked confused.
Me : "Is it Wendy?"
She : "No, Lindy."
Me : "And Jeremy?"
She : "There's no one here of that name."
Oh no, not again... Couldn't get through on the phone, so continued down a massive hill into the centre and regroup. Then Wendy phoned back. I had written down the wong house number again and had to go up that hill again. From Warm Showers, Wendy and Jeremy cooked up a welcome bowl of pasta with cold beer poured into frosty glasses (people often keep glasses in the freezer). We compared cycling notes and they told me that, although they have a whole host of bikes, the collapsible Bromptoms are their favourites, not because they put them in the car or in public transport usually, but they are easier to carry up two flights of stairs.