THE INCIDENTS IN THIS BOOK ARE BASED ON REAL EVENTS.
THE NAMES WERE CHANGED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY FROM BEING SUED BY THE INNOCENT.
Paul and Julie Carson were living the suburban dream. They fell in love, got married, took out a large mortgage (despite having only a small income) and were parents to the requisite 2.5 adorable children…OK then, it was actually only 2.0. The opportunity to take an extended trip to Europe was forsaken before all the responsibility kicked in, and they were quite settled in their family life for many years.
This world was shaken when Paul took an unplanned tumble over the handle-bars of his bicycle, after a head-on collision with a motor-bike. The consequences could have been far worse, although he did break his back. Being able to walk away from such an event was definitely a positive result and jolted Paul out of his complacent state of mind. He hatched a plan to take Sally for a long European sojourn, about 30 years after the thought initially entered their heads. The mortgage was under control, the children were now adults and you know what they say – “better late than never”.
The trip was subjected to rigorous planning – perhaps you would call Paul a control freak, but he was quite pleased that they booked all 261 nights of accommodation before leaving home! Of course, events during the travel itself would not be so easy to stage-manage. A few concessions were made to the fact that they were fifty-something years old rather than twenty-something, but the plan was to journey independently for most of their time away.
This book sets the scene and tells the story of these travels. As you can imagine, there were some interesting occurrences for a couple who had never been together outside their home countries – the relatively benign environments of Australia and New Zealand. It is sincerely hoped that they didn’t embarrass themselves too much along the way, but the possibilities for this were almost endless – obvious problems were caused by a profound ignorance of the languages used in most of the countries they visited, although Paul contrived to ask the following question as an opening line in various different languages:
“Hello. Do you speak English?”
Other likely causes of embarrassment included Paul’s penchant for getting lost (despite having a plethora of maps and a compass to help him avoid such situations), the scarcity of public toilets in many locations, and an aversion Paul and Sally had to waiting for the posted opening time prior to dining in restaurants.
The facilities provided by hotel rooms varied wildly throughout the trip, although in most places these were at least adequate. However, some of the beds needed rearranging to achieve this standard. It was also fairly common for the shower cubicle in the accommodation to be quite small, which was not much of a problem – only on one occasion was a totally unusable shower encountered! Some of the rooms also lacked enough space to swing the proverbial cat, but on the other hand most were of a reasonable size, some were quite spacious and one in particular was enormous!
Paul and Sally started out their journey rather paranoid about shady characters who may want to rob them…but ended up realising that almost everyone, in almost every location, was glad to offer a helping hand rather than to steal from them. If anything, this made them more susceptible to thievery as the trip progressed and they relaxed their guard, but the only substantial loss that they incurred was achieved legally – by a hire-car company who decided to “charge like a wounded bull”, relying on the small print that everyone reads when signing a rental-car agreement (just joking!)
Travel broadens the mind of course, and it certainly did on this occasion, but perhaps the most obvious truism that Paul and Sally learnt was: “There is no place like home.”
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About the Author
Paul Carson was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1958 and is a long-term resident there. In 1983 he married Sally East, a New Zealander and they have two children - Tess (born in 1987) and Tom (born in 1990). Paul is a qualified civil engineer and his work has taken him to many places throughout Australia during the last 35 years, as well as to Bangkok, Thailand in 1989. In addition to this the family has holidayed many times throughout New Zealand and the eastern states of Australia. In 2012, Paul and Sally took the year off and spent most of the time travelling through Europe and Thailand.
Sally Carson (nee East) was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1959. In 1981 she moved to Darwin, Australia and met Paul Carson there. After she realized that he was not going to leave her alone, they became engaged and were married in 1983. Sally is a qualified Karitane (baby care) nurse, and this has stood her in good stead throughout her working life and in the raising of their two children - Tess (born in 1987) and Tom (born in 1990). The family has holidayed many times throughout New Zealand and the eastern states of Australia. In 2012, after Sally and Paul decided to take the year off, she allowed Paul to drag her through Europe and Thailand, travelling, for most of the year.