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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Burringham to Boston-My 2003 World Trip-Part 1-Singapore and Western Australia

Back in 2003 I took a trip circling the globe.Almost all my stops were with my wonderful relatives and in-laws.

On return to the UK,I wrote an account and had it printed in book form under the name " Burringham to Boston"

The posts under the title 'Burringham to Boston-My 2003 World Trip' is copied as I wrote it at the time.
The only difference will be some unprinted photographs.

One of the big regrets I have about the trip is not taking a good still camera with me.Instead I took lots of video,some good,but mostly mediocre.
It's a personal account,but contains nothing unpublishable.

This is dedicated to all those I visited,and the family and friends who helped me through a difficult transitional period of my life.

Tribute to Peggy

My story starts in the festive season of 2000.I went up to Scotland after Christmas to see my father in hospital, and seeing how ill he was realised it would probably be the last time I would see him alive.
On January 17th 2001 my wife Peggy went to the doctors after a couple of weeks feeling unwell and being a little jaundiced. On the same day my father died.
The following two weeks were the worst of my life. My second eldest daughter Lynn crashed her car and had to have surgery to a head wound which resulted in 28 stitches. Myself and my two youngest daughters went up to Scotland to my fathers funeral, and then on Tuesday the 30th of January came the worst news of all, Peggy was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.
We were given hope in the early days that the cancer could possibly be removed, but the operation was unsuccessful and so began a long period of Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy.
In August 2001 we had our last trip to Peggy's homestead in Glangevlin in Ireland. Peggy was one of fourteen children and we'd had two amazing family reunions when all fourteen had got together, one in 1993 and another in 1998.On this occasion we managed to meet up with about half her family and many of her old friends. Unfortunately we had to cut the holiday short when Peggy became jaundiced again.
Peggy had been a nurse for the best part of her life, and throughout her illness her colleagues and friends gave her all the support and love they could muster, but Peggy typically was more concerned about their welfare than her own.
We had a lovely Christmas time, I think we all knew in our hearts it would be the last one as a complete family.
Throughout her illness Peggy never complained ,but her last two visits to the hospital were quite depressing and so early in 2002 after talking thing over with the Macmillan nurse and the family Peggy decided there were to be no more hospital visits.
The Macmillan and District nursing teams were brilliant and ensured quality of life for Peggy was of the highest order.
On March the 21st 2002,in the presence of myself and our four loving daughters Michele, Lynn, Sarah and Marie ,Peggy died, she was only 59.I had lost the love of my life.

Peggy's last visit to Ireland
How the trip came about

Peggy's funeral was a celebration of her life and was well attended by colleagues friends and family. Brothers, sisters ,nieces and nephews came from the UK, Ireland and many from the USA as well as all my family. During this time it was suggested by some of the family that I pay them a visit when I got the chance.
The next few months were very depressing for me, but my family rallied round to give me the support I needed. I got a job with the local authority driving minibuses .This was very rewarding as it involved taking children with special needs to school, and brought me into contact with a lot of supportive people. My own small circle of friends were brilliant around this time, but going back to an empty house was always difficult.
My aunt Margaret in Scotland made the suggestion I get in contact with my Scottish cousins who I grew up with and she provided the email addresses, and so I began to correspond with long lost and not so long lost relatives around the world on my computer.
I was now receiving invites to visit Australia, and already had a long standing invite to visit New Zealand, and so the idea of a world trip was born. Also as a result of my contacting cousins, I had the welcome company for a short while of my Cousin Jean's son Robert and his fiancée Amanda from far off Western Australia.
Peggy's sister in law Anne in Bridgeport Connecticut is the most caring person I ever met, and she would ring me regularly to see how me and the family were doing. During one of these calls I told her I was thinking of organising this trip in 2003 and she said, and I quote “Make sure you get here for September, so I can organise your 60th birthday party”.
The rest of the year was spent house hunting, a trip to Peggy's homestead in Ireland and with the help of the excellent Marie Percival from Travel Australia, getting down to organizing my trip.
Early February 2003 I moved to a smaller house in the village of Burringham, where I got down to the finer details of dates and flight times. My worldwide hosts were very flexible, so when as was inevitable some flights had to be changed there was no problem.
The first anniversary of Peggy's death came, and I was once again in an emotional wilderness, but family and friends were there to pull me through this difficult time.
And so the departure date was looming, everything was set, the adventure of a lifetime was about to begin .....................

I'm on my way

It's May the 19th 2003 and I'm off. Steve , Michele, Callum and Erin take me to Heathrow airport, and I'm there in plenty of time. Checking in went smoothly and once in the departure lounge promptly lost my new jacket. luckily some one picked it up and put it on the back of a vacant chair, panic over.
Boarded Qantas flight 10 to Singapore, a Boeing 747(Jumbo jet), with a number of empty seats. I was initially sitting with newly weds from Blackpool, but then was allowed to move to a double seat on my own with more leg room. The flight was 12 hours plus, and even allowing for the space I had I couldn't get comfortable. I could never sleep on a plane.


Arrived 20th May 2003 late afternoon at Changi international airport, through customs and immigration quite quickly, one or two people wearing protective masks against the SARS virus.
Found my cousin Ed waiting for me near the exit. Ed is Edward Polatajko, we grew up together in Scotland and were pretty much inseparable as kids. Ed has been in the oil and pharmaceutical industry for a number of years, and seems to have led a fairly active life. He’s much travelled, been divorced twice ,and has kids and grandkids back in the UK. He was out here in Singapore on a contract with Glaxo Smith Kline, although he has since switched companies.
The first noticeable thing outside the terminal was the humidity, it took me back to my army days and hot countries. We took a taxi to Scott St where Ed had me booked into the Plaza hotel. Very plush. We then arranged to meet in the hotel bar later, when Ed would introduce me to the Singapore night life.
Ed is in theory only one year younger than me, but obviously he's an eternal 28 year old, and after being introduced to one of his two young girlfriends I realised why. That night on the town the jetlag was hitting me, and the alcohol started flowing, suffice it to say the first night of my trip was one of gross over indulgence.

Ed international playboy

Wednesday AM ,the biggest hangover ever, managed to walk down to Orchard St to do a bit of sightseeing and shopping .After every pore in my body opened and soaked my clothes through I got back to the hotel, changed and felt much better.
Now with a clear head I could explore Singapore. What a fantastic city, it's a colourful vibrant multicultural place, with the fantastic architecture of the modern skyscrapers contrasting with the old colonial restored buildings like the Raffles hotel(I didn't have a gin sling on my first visit but a welcoming ice cold lager).Rickshaws run alongside BMW's and bamboo scaffolding is still in evidence. MRT(Mass Rapid Transport)take people all over the city at a frightening pace, and everywhere is so clean(apparently the litter laws and all other laws are very strict, the previous weeks executions are published every Sunday).

Central Business Skyline

English is one of Singapore’s official languages and it seemed everyone talked it, and all the native Singaporeans I spoke to were immensely proud of their country.

After my cool lager at the Raffles Hotel I made my way to Bencoolen St and Ed's apartment, he’d been office bound in the morning. I can't remember which floor he was on but he was high enough to have the most spectacular views over the city. We headed on out, went back to the Raffles hotel and had a drink in the long bar which I don't suppose has changed much in the last 100 years. We then went on to 'Boat Quay’ to eat.

Walking along 'Boat Quay' your olfactory senses are bombarded with the smell of so many different kinds of food you are spoilt for choice. We settled on Chinese. Watching the river traffic while we ate and the colourful illuminations of the city around was a beautiful experience, and a picture indelibly painted in the mind.
Tonight was a quieter evening, and after a few games of pool and darts with Ed and his friend Ng, I retired for an early night.
Last day in Singapore, went to Lucky Plaza and bartered for a genuine Seiko. Went to the Suntec centre which claims to have the worlds largest fountain, pity it was switched off while I was there. Gobsmacked by all the technology of this country.
Met up with Ed to say goodbye, then back to the hotel, packed and taxi to the airport.
Boarded Qantas flight 78 for Perth W.A .The aircraft is a Boeing 767 and only three quarters full, so room to stretch again. The flight is only four hours this time, but a slight delay is caused by a gentleman feeling ill which resulted in a SARS check.
An amusing incident occurred as we were about to disembark. An Austrian gentleman realising he would not be allowed to take the lovely hand of bananas he had with him, was about to leave them in his seat. I suggested I eat one, several other passengers did likewise and in the flash of an eyelid his bananas had been devoured.

*Footnote: Having taken up this amount of space and only finished Singapore, the logistics of this project demand that I condense further, therefore I will concentrate on highlights and not a daily diary.

Rockingham and Perth WA

Around 1.o'clock am 23rd May 2003 Perth International Airport, through customs and immigration quite smoothly, to be met by Jean and Bob Bayley.
Jean was Jean Harley another cousin from Scotland on my mothers or Cargill side of the family. Jean was in her early teens last time I saw her ,she hadn't changed much over the years, she was still the bonny wee lassie I remembered, apart from a few extra pounds. When she spoke it was as though she'd never left Fife the accent is still very strong. Bob her husband is originally from Manchester but also talks with a bit of a Scottish accent.
After hugs and handshakes we headed for Rockingham, just over half an hour away, where I was welcomed into their beautiful house in true Scottish tradition with food and drink. It was about 4am before we went to bed.
I can only highlight the things we did in the next two weeks, but I was shown a slice of what is the paradise of the coastline of Western Australia.
Bob works for a Nickel mining company near Coolgardie. He works for two long weeks and then ( his own words) has two weeks holiday ,which happened to coincide with my visit.
Mornings at 4 Chalmers Avenue Waikiki (even the name conjures up exotic images) became a bit of a routine, but what a routine. Freshly minced Wheatgrass juice for a healthy start to the day, then onto the bicycles for a ride along Rockingham's esplanade.

Tour De Rockingham

Rows of pelicans gracefully gliding along in the Indian ocean, dolphins on a couple of occasions and even a family of kangaroos
observing us from the golf course were among the highlights of these bike rides and always lots of exotic native Australian birds.
Being a pom and not yet acclimatised to the Australian winter (only 24 to 26 degrees celcius) I ventured into the sea on a few occasions and was even joined by Bob once, hardy fella that he is. We could cycle as far or as little as we wanted, everything’s in place for healthy activities along the esplanade. Back to Chalmers avenue for a king size helping of exotic fruit, and all this before breakfast.
Now to the other highlights of my stay.
My second day we went to a barbecue at Jean's son Steven's house, with his partner Sam and her daughter Temeka. I met up with one of Jean's brothers David, or Davit(Scots way of pronouncing David) as he is affection ally known, his wife Ellen and son and daughter Peter and Tegan. I only remember Davit as a very small child, but it was fantastic to meet up with everyone, and I was accepted as a family member.

At Stevens house

We repeated the barbecue later in my stay at Davit and Ellen’s house at Mandurah, where Jean supervised the cooking of Mullett, smoked in a Webber with Oregon sawdust. How exotic is that? Seafood is a big part of Jean's family's diet.
Davit also turns out to be a fantastic cook, and Ellen takes a back seat when he's in the kitchen. This was the real beginning of my weight gain.
At Davit and Ellens
Throughout my stay in W.A. I was treated to such a variety of gastronomic delights, ranging from barbys to Bobs home made Pizzas to Salmon followed by roast beef, to eating out in the Last Drop Inn(washed down with German beer) ,mussels in Little Creatures in Fremantle and being wined and dined at their friends Johnny and Avril.
Playing golf with the aforementioned Johnny Walker(he had the t-shirt to prove it) on the fabulous Kennedy Bay golf course was brilliant as was meeting up with the family of Kangaroos on the 13th I think it was.

18th hole 19th hole

Days out in Perth and Fremantle were memorable. The grandeur of the Burswood casino is just as I imagine Las Vegas to be like but sadly we didn't break the bank. The city tram tour was excellent and Kings park with it's beautiful colourful gardens, monuments and magnificent views of the city and the Swan river leave a lasting impression.
Joey and Zoe
Queens Park

Fremantle was a great day out. It was like taking a trip back in time with many of the old colonial buildings still standing. Old and new boats in the harbour. Wooden boardwalks on the waterfront take you to a great variety of seafood restaurants and stalls, and mini breweries such as the Sail and Anchor are so very welcoming for liquid refreshment. We shopped at the old market where I bought some Aussie souvenirs .We finished the day off in Little Creatures(Bob tells me it used to be a crocodile farm)drinking beer and eating Mussels. My mouths watering again at the memory.
Other days out included visits to Serpentine Nature park where we fed the Wallabies. A boat trip up the rivers and canals at Mandurah where we could look at the mansions of the filthy rich as well as see a great variety of exotic native birds. And shopping and social visits in Rockingham and Warnboro.

On my penultimate day in Rockingham we went out to Cape Peron, with it's beautiful views and beaches, and Bob tormented a big spider in it's web while I filmed it. Visited the local in Waikiki for the last time(Nearly had a Trifecta up once)and Steven came round to the house later to give me a slice of quartz from Port Headland and a Perth Glory flag as a memento of my trip.
Thursday the 5th of June, and it was time for me to leave and time for Bob to go back to work(after wangling an extra day off). Down to Perth Airport and goodbyes, wondering if the rest of my trip could possibly live up to the high of the last two weeks and wondering if I'd take the plunge and move myself out to this paradise.


  1. Just seen your Video Jim and read your great account of your trip.Changi Airport was the cleanest and nicest I,ve been in.Never had time for the tour of Singapore as I arrived at night.I cant sleep in planes or airports either so spent 30 hours awake drinking coffee and coke.Looks like you had a good time with family and freinds.
    Best wishes. bob.

  2. I loved reading this account of your travels.

    You are one fine looking man Jim.

    We are having thanksgiving tomorrow here in America.

    I am thankful for you!


  3. Cheers Bob,sorry for the late acknowledgement.

    Thanks for commenting on here Lisa,you've reminded me of how lax I've been in updating this account.I think Canada's and the Strathmore Rodeo are next.
    Have a great thanksgiving.


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

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