Imposing and peaceful Tintern Abbey, Wales

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC travelled from Bristol to the Wye Valley in Wales to see Tintern Abbey, on the recommendation of a coffee vendor we met at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

My impressions? The mix of fallen and still-standing walls is strangely effective in conveying the grandeur and peace of the place.

Word of the day

Abbey is the word of the day. The word stems from the same root as the Aramaic אבא (‘abbā), the Hindi abbā, and the Arabic ab, all of which mean “father”. An abbey is where the abbot lives, the abbot being the head of a group of monks. ABBA is also the name of a rather well known Swedish pop group. The group’s name is formed from the first letters of the singers’ names.

Travel tip

Pay heed to coffee vendors and other wise folks.

The book I’m in

Alaskan Fire, by Sara King. A good read, although slightly less sophisticated than this author’s other works.

The photos

Me taking in the sights from a window at Tintern Abbey:

The Welsh name for the abbey is Abaty Tyndyrn. The tourist brochure says Tintern Abbey is Wales’s best-preserved abbey. In Welsh, that’s “Yr Abaty sydd yn y cyflwr gorau yng Nghymru”:

Play this video to hear the sounds of Tintern Abbey:

The first buildings that formed the abbey were built in 1130s. Most of the original structure has disappeared, and what we see now was built in the 400-year period leading up to 1536. Then King Henry VIII passed a number of laws that put a stop to monasteries and the monastic life in England, Ireland, and Wales. The abbey fell to ruin:

Flowers and poetry grow from its walls:

Symmetry and sky greet you as you enter:

The pantry has an imposing ceiling:

Do not climb on the walls, written in English and Welsh:

This worm has noticed that the plumbing is often a high point in ruins. The abbey is no exception – the drainage system is lauded in the tourist information:

Me and Peg checked out the bathing facilities:

The view of the hills probably hasn’t changed much in the 850+ years since the abbey was built:

Farewell gracious abbey:

That’s all for today, folks.

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Chicago at dusk

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have just left Chicago,sometimes  fondly called Chitown or the Windy City. It was a bit draughty at times, but this worm hails from Cape Town in South Africa. Chicago’s breezes pale in comparison to the infamous Cape South Easter.

In farewell to the beautiful city of Chicago, I’ll show you some scenes of the streets and pubs at dusk.

My impressions? Twinkling lights, glowing water, translucent sky.

The book I’m in

The Serbian Dane, by Leif Davidsen. Engaging characters, good story.

Recommended restaurants

Have a drink and a pub meal at Monk’s Pub, corner of Lake and Wells, for great atmosphere and great beer. Eat the peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. The soft crunching underfoot adds to the atmosphere.

The photos

Me at Monk’s Pub, Lake Street in downtown Chicago:

As you can see in the above picture, the walls of the pub are lined with books. A haven for folk like me. What’s more, someone has cut the books in half. They must have used a circular saw. This is good for worms who want to finish a book in half the usual time.

The Chicago river at dusk:

A city with its name in lights:

The House of Blues:

Inside the House of Blues, the decor is richly beautiful:

Although the sound quality was not good (booming and warped) the singer created a great atmosphere:

That’s all for today, dudes.

A quick crawl around Oahu, Hawaii

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Making our way from Sydney to Chicago, we spent yesterday on Oahu, the most populated of the Hawaiian islands and home to the city of Honolulu. It’s not often that this worm admits to a mistake, but I do confess that up to a few weeks ago I thought Honolulu was on the island of Hawaii. If prodded (which is probably not a good thing to do to a worm) I may even admit that I assumed Waikiki was an island itself. But no, it’s a suburb of Honolulu.

We landed at Honolulu airport, spent a couple of hours getting lost in the city and surrounds, then found our hotel in Waikiki. Early next morning we enjoyed a couple more hours getting lost in the city, before finding the road that leads east. We drove across the island to Kaneohe on the east coast, then north to Kahuku, then back inland via Haleiwa and Wahiawa. We narrowly missed Pearl Harbor and caught our Chicago flight by the skin of our teeth.

The TC did not brush her hair all day.

My impressions? Honolulu is a city much like any other, and caters very well to the TC’s proclivity for getting lost. The east coast of the island is gorgeous. I want to go back and see the rest of it.

The book I’m in

The Midnight Road, by Tom Piccirilli. Satisfyingly weird, this book starts with the words, “Flynn remembered the night of his death more clearly than any other in his life”. I’m in the middle of the book, and wishing the TC would find the time to move me on a few pages so that I can see what happens to Flynn and the ghosts that populate his life.

Recommended airline

Hawaiian Airlines is friendly and efficient, and keeps the fuss of US travel down to a minimum.

The photos

Me at Kualoa Point, on the east coast of Oahu. With a palm tree, of course:

Honolulu, seen from one of the surrounding hills:

Palm trees, of course, outside our hotel in Waikiki:

The military presence on the island is noticeable. This number plate, spotted in a Honolulu parking garage by the TC once removed, is a case in point:

When we were in the queue at the airport waiting for the security checks, there was an army dude in full military togs in front of the TC. One of the officials leaned in and informed him very respectfully that he could take the express queue next time.

A military aircraft and a palm tree, of course:

The velvety striated range of hills that lines the east coast:

Mokolii Island, seen from Waikane on the east coast of Oahu:

A closer view of Mokolii, also known as Chinaman’s Hat island because of its shape:

Kualoa Point:

A Red Crested Cardinal, pretty but beady-eyed and not a worm’s best friend:

The TC admiring the view. Yes, it’s a bit gusty. And as I remarked before, she did not brush her hair all day. I think this preyed on her mind. I was careful not to remark on her dishevelled state, even after she boarded the aeroplane that evening.

Another gorgeous beach somewhere on the east coast. Probably Laie Bay. Applause to the photographer – no palm trees in close view:

Water. I steered clear, of course, but the TC has no such qualms:

Is a worm nowhere safe? First the Red Crested Cardinal, and now a Peahen lying in wait in a stairwell at Waimea Botanical Gardens. Neither bird is native to Hawaii, I might add:

Me, making a tactical retreat from a Peacock:

A steep hillock in Waimea Valley:

A Hawaiian temple, or heiau, at Waimea. This one is dedicated to Lono, the god of agriculture. It’s called the Hale o Lono, which means “house of Lono”, and was built between 1470 and 1700 AD.

The colourful bark of a Mindanao gum tree, spotted at Wahiawa. This gum tree is native to western Pacific islands such as Papua New Guinea and the Phillipines. Not, surprisingly, to Australia. It was introduced into Hawaii in the late 1920s.

At this point we remembered that we had a plane to catch, and hare-tailed it out of there. Alas, we spotted some signs to Pearl Harbor and decided to drop in. We got lost (again). We were definitely in the area:

By the time we saw the official signs we were already late:

We did go down that route, but discovered that seeing Pearl Harbor is a big deal involving boat trips and the abandonment of all bags, purses, large cameras, and what have you.

So we got on a plane to Chicago instead. More on that in my next post.

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

In which Wordsworm explores the importance of horror, gore and pumpkins in the American psyche and discovers that there’s a lot to blame the Irish for.

Me and the TC have just got back from California, USA. We drove from San Francisco to LA, through a countryside in the throes of pre-Halloween pumpkinitis. We hit Hollywood just in time to catch the Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios.

My impressions? To paraphrase Obelix, “These Californians are crazy”. To pacify the TC I’ll add, “But in a good way”.

Travel tip

Don’t turn around. The zombie behind you just may be Irish.

Recommended restaurant

The Hard Rock Café on Universal Citywalk, Hollywood. Good food, bluesy atmosphere, dangling car and wall-hung rock memorabilia. No obvious Irishmen.

The book I’m in

Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins. This worm finds the content contrived but passably amusing. From the cover blurb: “[This book] reveals the purpose of the moon… examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism… It also deals with the problem of redheads.”

The photos

Me, Peg and the Great Pumpkin. Hey Linus, I found it:

Halloween, horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween, horror and pumpkins in California

It was the week before Halloween when we drove down the Californian coast. Pumpkin patches littered the countryside. What is it with pumpkins, ghosts and the American psyche? This worm has done a bit of research. It’s said that the Irish brought the tradition of Halloween and jack o’lanterns with them to the States. Originally, jack o’lanterns were made from the humble turnip. There’s a confused story of a drunken Irish farmer called Jack who couldn’t get in to heaven or hell, so he had to stagger around purgatory for ever after. To light his way, he hacked a hole in a turnip and put a burning coal into it to form a lantern. For some reason best known to themselves, the other villagers decided that if they made their own turnip lanterns, this would scare away Jack and similar undesirables. Well, they were Irish of course.

When the settlers came to the States and discovered the magnificent pumpkins in their new land, they started using pumpkins instead of turnips to make their jack o’lanterns.

This is the picturesque Webb Ranch Pumpkin Patch near Palo Alto:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Not all pumpkins are the same, you know. Only the very best will become worthy jack o’lanterns, fit to ward off the Halloween witches and spirits. When you see one you like, hang on to it with all your might:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Night falls. Mist rises. The Hollywood streets undergo a frightening metamorphosis. Chainsaws thrum. Screams chill the bones. Bones clatter over the screams. It’s Universal Studios Halloween Horror Night:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Oh, for the comforting glow of a pumpkin now:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

If you scream, you’re fair game:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

There’s no escape:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

They’re everywhere:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Some poor souls didn’t make it:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

This guy should have tried a pumpkin as a coach:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Dude, you’re just tall:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

But day dawns, justice overcomes and pumpkins prevail. Me and a panel from the door of the Santa Barbara Courthouse:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Actually, pumpkins don’t have it all their own way. Me with a soon-to-be-extinct slice of pumpkin pie:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Oh-Oh, spaghetti-o. Linus, I fear the TC ate the Great Pumpkin.

That’s all for today dudes.

The alleyways of Melbourne

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are back in Sydney after a few days in Melbourne. This worm is feeling good. A bit flat around the edges, mark you (uh, no, Mark is me not you) but mostly good.

My impressions? In Melbourne, it all happens in the alleyways.

Black is still, or again, in in Melbourne. Goth is too. And dark magic. Dark chocolate. Just the TC’s sort of town.

While in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to bump into Albert Stone. The TC waved me right under his nose. Albert does not move fast, but he does it with plenty of style. The inevitable pictures are below.

I met Chloe too.

Travel tip

Live in the moment. Or in the book about it.

That thought came to my mind while I was browsing through Albert’s web site. He’s one awesome dude.

Recommended restaurant

Any self-respecting chocolate lover must drop in at Koko Black, for Belgian chocolate indulgence.

Recommended accommodation

The Vibe Savoy hotel. Lots of mirrors, Art Deco plus a bit on the side, friendly service, excellent quality. The food is very tasty. But this worm has to warn that I spent some time in the TC’s bag next to her purse and noticed said purse grow considerably leaner. The Vibe Savoy is not cheap.

The book I’m in

Saturn’s Children, by Charles Stross.

The book tells the adventures of Freya Nakamachi-47. Like me and Albert, she is a remarkable creature. She is a humanoid (alas poor thing) robot, one of a series designed to be the perfect companion (er, concubine) for real humans. Unfortunately for Freya, humankind died out just a few years before she came into being. So she’s never met a real man. Not yet…

This worm recommends the book without reservation. It’s clever and funny (like me), fast (unlike Albert) and interesting (like me and Albert both). Luckily for this worm, the TC loves a good SF.

The photos

Me and Chloe:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Chloe resides behind a pane of glass (hence the reflections on the photograph) in the Young & Jackson Hotel, just next to Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station. Here’s another picture of her, sans reflections and regrettably sans moi too:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Young Chloe was painted in 1875 by a Frenchman called Jules Lefebvre. She is well loved by Melburnians, especially by beer lovers, and has pride of place in the bar on the first floor of Y&J’s. This is Chloe’s bar:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Here’s the Flinders Street Station as seen from Chloe’s window:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

There are tales galore about the girl who modelled for the Chloe painting. Sadly, they have her committing suicide at the tender age of 21. But Chloe lives on. This worm heard that a painting of Chloe’s sister hangs in a Melbourne museum somewhere too, but that the National Trust and Heritage of Victoria has declared that Chloe herself will stay at Y&J’s.

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Albert Stone, now there’s a man who knows how to live in the moment, how to make the moment last, and how to do it with style. To walk past him is impossible. To linger is essential. Here’s a picture of Albert, taken just as he notices yours truly thrust inelegantly into his space

Me and Albert:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

He has an inexhaustible set of props that somehow just appear in his hand, even though he’s moving at the speed of a sluggish slug. Albert gave this worm a red carnation. I was most touched. Thank you dude:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Me and Albert, caught in the moment:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Alleyways rule in Melbourne:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

This worm recommends a visit to one of the cafes in the Central Places alleyway, if only for the grimy Dickensian atmosphere:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

The trams are tremendous. Here’s one in front of the GPO in Elizabeth Street:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Here’s another tram with a city backdrop:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

If you prefer wide open spaces rather than alleyways, there’s plenty for you in Melbourne too. We came across a Tamil demonstration at Federation Square:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

More of Federation Square:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

The Yarra River runs through the city, with eating places and recreation spots on its banks:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Autumn colours:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

For more colours, here’s a sunset view from the Vibe Savoy hotel, looking out over the Southern Cross Station roof towards the Melbourne Docklands:

The alleyways of Melbourne

The alleyways of Melbourne

Did anyone miss Peg?

That’s all for today dudes.

Starbucks in Seattle

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Starbucks are alive and well and living in Seattle. Where it rains.

If you’ve ever been anywhere near Seattle, you’ll know that it’s not hard to find a Starbucks store in that town. In fact, it’s hard not to trip over them at every corner. So the TC was surprised and delighted to see this tweet from a fellow Seattle visitor:

Starbucks in Seattle

Starbucks in Seattle

She rushed to his aid, tweeting enthusiastically that the very first Starbucks was just around the corner from where he was sitting. In fact, the hapless tweeter was inundated with helpful suggestions of where he might quench his thirst. His tweet was a joke, of course.

Travel tip

Don’t fight it. When in Starbucks, go for the coffee with everything in it.

Recommended restaurant

Duh.

The book I’m in

The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland.

The TC has just started this book and she’s totally engrossed in it. She does mention that it’s a bit heavy on her hands, so every now and then she finds welts gouged into her skin after a lengthy reading session. This is the second book in the “Millennium” series.

The photos

Me and Peg with a Caramel Macchiato in the original Starbucks coffee shop in Seattle:

Starbucks in Seattle

Starbucks in Seattle

This worm felt warm and comfy, surrounded by all that dark wood and shiny soft leather. The TC downed her drink with apparent enjoyment, after the obligatory photo shoot.

Starbucks opened its first store in 1971. After a few years, that store moved to its current location in Pike Place, where the TC found her Caramel Macchiato. Here’s a view of the outside of the store:

Starbucks in Seattle

Starbucks in Seattle

This is the sign on the pillar at the door:

Starbucks in Seattle

Starbucks in Seattle

The logo on this store is a bit different from the ones you see on other stores around the world. It features a sort of medieval mermaid, inelegantly endowed with two tails. She makes no attempt to cover her breasts with her hair as in later versions, and is altogether a more interesting and more real personality that the later versions. Like me:

Starbucks in Seattle

Starbucks in Seattle

This is the logo you see now on most Starbucks stores and packaging:

Starbucks in Seattle

Starbucks in Seattle

If you’ve got it, flaunt it, that’s this worm’s motto.
That’s all for today dudes.

Arriving in San Francisco

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have arrived in San Francisco, on the first leg of our two-city American tour.

My impressions? Space, light, beauty, calm. But don’t despair, adventure lurks just below the surface.

As we touched down at San Francisco at the end of our 14-hour flight from Sydney, the pilot announced that we were perfectly safe, everything was normal. He went on to tell us that we were perfectly safe and everything was completely normal. They had had to switch off the port engine, but it was a completely safe, normal procedure which happened sometimes in flying. So we should not worry about the fire engine appearing at our side, nor the fact that we had stopped some distance from the terminal in case we might set it on fire. It was a perfectly normal… You get the gist.

The TC was not terribly concerned, since we had already landed. But she did Google our plane as soon as Googling was possible, to see how many engines a Boeing 747-400 has. The answer is four. So we probably were perfectly safe.

The adventure continues…

Travel tip

Count the number of engines on your plane before you set off. Even better, count the number of working engines.

Recommended restaurant

Juban restaurant in the Kinokuniya building. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the heart of Japan Center, where you grill your own food over a flame. This is a good place to find fresh vegetables. The TC is fond of her greens.

The book I’m in

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson.

A good read. This worm is glad there’s a sequel I can bury myself in next. Books are safe, normal and cosy places to be when travelling.

The photos

Me at the Crowbar on east Broadway — please excuse my less-than-sharp appearance, but it’s perhaps not unsuited to the general feel of the neighbourhood:

Arriving in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco

Here’s more of Broadway. Across the road from the Crowbar a variety of delights are on offer, including “ShowGirls” and “Naughty Laundry”. The TC wandered into this area by mistake, as is her wont. I don’t think she would have chosen it for a stroll:

Arriving in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco

Me and the TC arrived at the Embarcadero in the middle of an anti-war demonstration. This is Saturday 21 March, our first day in San Francisco. Demonstrators were demanding the freedom of Palestine and Gaza and an end to the war in Iraq, no war in Iran, and basically just “no war”. This video shows some of the crowd setting out and the SFPD following on motorbikes:

Later we heard on the news that there were a couple of scuffles with police and eight people were arrested. But we just saw some concerned citizens. Here’s the statue “La Chiffoniere” by Jean Dubuffet, with demonstrators including a masked demonstrator in front of the statue:

Arriving in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco

The SFPD arrived on foot, on bicycles and on motor bikes. They were a sturdy bunch, but smiled and chatted to the crowd while waiting to set off. Here are some of them:

Arriving in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco

Here’s one of the demonstrators who opted for a colourful display rather than joining the march. This worm approves of the orange-coated dog:

Arriving in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco

To finish off, here’s a San Francisco cityscape. It’s a view from Telegraph Hill, taken from the climb up to Coit Tower:

Arriving in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful city. I’ll blog about it some more soon!

That’s all for today dudes.

Shelly Beach in Manly

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

There’s a heat wave on in Sydney, Australia. If you like the heat, this is where you should be. Weather reports say we’re the hottest place on the planet this weekend.

This is when all savvy Sidney-siders hit the beaches. Shelly Beach is one of the best. It’s all happening: scuba-diving, snorkelling, swimming, paddling, stand-up and sit-down canoeing, splashing or just plain lying around.

Shelly Beach is part of the Cabbage Tree Bay reserve, at the quiet end of Manly Beach. Unlike the rest of the Sydney ocean coast, Shelly Beach points north rather than east. It’s tucked away in a little fold of the coast and has a character all its own.

Travel tip

Stay cool.

The book I’m in

the witches of chiswick, by Robert Rankin.

Ha ha, very funny, especially if you’re an erudite worm like me.

The photos

Introducing Naught, my stunt worm:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Actually, Naught is a copy of me, clad in laminate so that I don’t have to risk the wrinkling, colour-leeching and sagging that inevitably result from an extended dunking.

Naught is not bad at bobbing about. Here’s an underwater scene at Shelly Beach. The bobbing bookmark makes a less-than-convincing entrance near the end of the video:

They say imitation is the best form of flattery. Not that this worm is in need of flattery. I’m quite aware of my own worth. I’ve named my stunt worm “Naught”, in honour of another underwater wonder, the Nautilus. And also because “naught” means “nothing”, and although Naught may look like me, he isn’t me and therefore he’s really nothing at all. (I just needed to make that absolutely clear.)

We didn’t find Nemo, nor even Captain Nemo, but Naught is a good alternative. And he seems to have found a mermaid:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

There are lots of different fish in the water too. The TC managed to catch one or two in her camera lense. Here’s one:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Here’s another, pretty if you like that sort of thing:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Here are a few silver and striped specimens, perhaps in search of Nemo themselves:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Next up is a blue groper. There are few fish that have caught my interest, but this one does have a good quirk or two. A groper sees a sex change as part of the normal scheme of things. Rumour has it that all gropers start out as girls. Then, when the whim takes them, they turn into boys at the flip of a fin. Boys are blue, girls are greeny-yellow. They can live as long at 35 years, so they have plenty of time to choose their favourite colour. They can grow to about 60cm long. This one is blue so I guess it’s a boy. He’s followed by a flotilla of fans:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Here’s an “artistic” photo of a shoal of tiny little fish that swam round and round the TC, moving too fast to get a good picture:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Above water, Shelly Beach is all go too. Here’s a view from the west side of the beach, looking north towards Manly:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

It’s a family beach, with a somewhat disquieting atmosphere of stormy prettiness. Kookaburras and cockatoos wheel above, gropers and other finned things swoop below. Sandwiched between is a layer of swimmers. And Naught, the bobbing bookmark. Any undercurrents are, on the whole, on their best behaviour. The overall effect is intriguing rather than menacing. Most days, anyway.

Here you’re on the west side of the beach looking east:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Now you’re in the middle of the beach, looking north towards Manly:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Here you’re standing on the rocks at the east side of Shelly Beach, looking west across the beach:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

This photo is taken from the rocks on Shelly Beach, looking north towards Manly:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

The TC made a short video to show it all happening at Shelly Beach. It reminds me of a page from a beginner’s language course, with people doing all sorts of things, contented smiles on their faces and useful little bubbles with the French/German/whatever words describing their activities. But luckily for you, there are no speech bubbles on this video.

As the camera pans past the rocks on the west end of the beach, you will see the well-known Bower surf break. It’s popular among Manly surfers, because it’s one of the last breaks to close out in big surf and offers the cleanest right handers in Sydney. That’s what they say. Take a look:

Meanwhile back home, it’s very very warm. Sydney is treating us to a heat wave. The tree ferns are suffering:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

Poor old Drool really wanted to go to the beach too. I told him he’d sink like a stone. Or at least like a faux stone. Drool and Naught have one thing in common — there’s not much real about Drool either:

Shelly Beach in Manly

Shelly Beach in Manly

That’s all for today dudes.

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have been on Fraser Island for a week, just off the coast of Queensland in Australia. Fraser Island is pretty special, because it’s composed almost entirely of sand. It is 125 km long and 15 km wide, making it the largest sand island in the world.

I’ve written a few blog posts about the island already, describing the island itself, the sand, the swimming, the 4wd adventures and the dangers. Now I’ll show you the creatures I met there.

Travel tip

Don’t hug a dingo.

The book I’m in

Lucifer’s Shadow, by David Hewson.

Intrigue, music and romance in Venice. A clever plot, set simultaneously in the 18th century and the present day. This worm gives the book a mark of approval. High praise indeed from someone of my discerning nature.

The photos

Me and a crab on Seventy-Five Mile Beach:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

The TC and I were out for one of her habitual early-morning strolls, when we saw this dingo. She was trotting along the beach, minding her own business, as was the TC. Me, I was still recovering from a recent close encounter with the island’s wild life, as pictured above, so I chose to stay in my book in the TC’s bag. The TC and the dingo both stopped and looked at each other, then they both veered off to the left and right and continued more or less in their chosen directions:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

This eagle cruised over us on the same early morning stroll:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Later, we saw more eagles on a couple of occasions. Here is a short video of two taking off from the beach just in front of our vehicle:

This suave dude has a style all of his own. He’s a monitor lizard, who came to investigate us in the Lake McKenzie car park:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Wanggoolba Creek is in perpetual rainforest twilight. This little kingfisher seemed to glow in the dark:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

A truly awesome giant turtle emerged from the surf on Seventy-Five Mile Beach as we were passing:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Here it is again, with some people in the shot to give some idea of the turtle’s size:

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

Dingoes, turtles and other creatures on Fraser Island

We stood well back and watched the turtle as it hauled itself over the sand. It was obvious that this was hard work for the creature. We think it was coming in to lay its eggs in the dry sand at the top of the beach. Alas, a few other people arrived after the above shots were taken, and went too close. So the turtle turned round. People formed a circle round it, so it panicked and started going round and round. The TC had to put on her “I’m a Greenie” hat and tell people to leave a clear path so that the turtle could go back into the sea.

Here’s a video of the turtle, taken before it turned around:

Want to know more about Fraser Island? Try my YouTube playlist, or my other blog posts about the island.

That’s all for today dudes.

Manly

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, viz 95 HBM 80-1. Twenty-five years, and I don’t look a day older than one! Alas, I can’t say the same for my Travelling Companion. I spend most of my time inside a book (well, duh) while my TC sees the world. Read all about me and follow my blog posts to share my experiences as bookmark and travelling worm.

I’ll keep it meaningful. Like a t-shirt.

Today’s travel notes

Today I’ve been in Manly, haunt of surfers and rollerbladers on the east coast of Australia just north of Sydney.

My impressions? Ramshackle charm plus lots of action.

It’s all happening in Manly. Rollerblading, skate boarding, surfing, diving, snorkelling, street markets, skid row sidling up to millionaire’s lane.

The ride on the Manly Ferry is one of the most beautiful in the world. The boat takes half an hour to wend its way from Manly Wharf to the city, passing close by the Sydney Opera House and the coat hanger. (That’s what the locals call the Sydney Harbour Bridge.)

A good place to snorkel is Shelly Beach, at the southern end of Manly Beach. Shelly Beach faces west, at an angle to the main beach and sheltered from the waves rolling in from the ocean. Take just a couple of paces into the water, and you’ll find Nemo. Scuba divers bubble way down below. My Travelling Companion gets distressingly enthusiastic about close encounters with gropers. Settle down, a groper is a fish.

Rollerbladers abound. There’s a good path running along the beachfront. For a longer run, set off in Manly Vale at Addiscombe Road, follow the cycle path down Kenneth and Pittwater Roads to Manly Lagoon, through Manly Lagoon park to the sea, then all along the beach to Shelly. This is about 4 kilometres of easy skating. If you’d like a hill or two, there are two good slopes in Manly Vale. There’s a skate park across the way from Manly Lagoon park. My intrepid Travelling Companion has crawled the lower slopes but never really dropped in.

A word from a wise worm

Bladers beware: surfboards are a hazard. This could happen to you: You’re in the zone, skating along with the sea by your side, the wind whistling past your ears, the cockatoos screeching overhead and the picturesque surfer-dudes posed next to the path assessing the waves. Surfer-dude turns to greet mate on other side of path. Surfboard swings over path. Rollerblader hits ground.

Travel tip

Dare to be different — like the flower in the photo down below.

Recommended restaurant

Ironbark wood fired Italian restaurant. 208 Pittwater Road, Manly. www.ironbarkmanly.com.au

They have gluten-free pizzas. This worm didn’t know such things were possible. I guess there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy.

A fan

A humble worm says thank you to STA travelbuzz for reviewing my site.

The book I’m in

Stern Men, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The photos

Me and the Manly Ferry:

me and manly ferry

Me looking for a cosy hole on Manly Wharf:

me and manly wharf

Smooth empty tarmac, blading heaven. The path along Manly Lagoon:

Path along Manly Lagoon

Manly Beach seen as you emerge from Manly Lagoon Park:

Manly Beach seen as you emerge from Manly Lagoon Park

Blading from Manly Vale to Manly:

shadow roller blader manly 2shadow roller blader manly 2shadow roller blader manly 3

shadow roller blader manly 4shadow roller blader manly 5shadow roller blader manly 6

Blader in Manly:

rollerblader in manly

Looking across Manly Beach to Shelly Beach at top left:

manly and shelly beach

Manly Corso:

manly corso

A seagull on Manly Corso. (Beware all worms!):

seagull in manly corso

Surfer dudes doing it the hard way:

walking surfers in manly

A white azalea flower daring to be different:

white azalea on pink bush