Nicholas Quirke was frantically trying to sort out last minute preparations for his departure from the land of OZ on 25th February. By tomorrow he would be somewhere over the rainbow and on his way to Beijing. His visa for India had finally come through but he needed a  hard copy Kim contacted Maureen who offered to help. He made a short walk to the park and had a reassuring FT chat with Cole before taking a final stroll through East Melbourne and absorb the architecture and calling in on Maureen to collect a copy of his Visa. Ross and Maureen invited him in for a quick Green Tea before they had to head off to a memorial service. He was glad he got a chance to say goodbye and thank you to them. He packed his bags. As a result of his impending flight the day had a temporary feel and the anxiety attached to the new phase of his Odyssey was prevalent. There had been some negative feedback from folk about being in China and the reliability of contacting friends and family and using internet. He had planned for any disturbance in his lines of communication but the underlying concern that he would be adrift and unable to blog did bother him. Kim wanted to see ‘Film Starts Don’t Die in Liverpool’  and he felt this would occupy his mind and distract him from his worries. This story of the actress Gloria Grahame and her late life romantic liaison with a young British actor from Liverpool was deeply moving. Annette Bening confirmed her status in his eyes as one of the most remarkable actress’s working in film, and he was delighted to see Jamie Bell deliver a truly sensitive performance. Somehow everything seemed an effort, but while they were the IGA Supermarket Kim was inspired to cook a vegan curry. They bought some ingredients and while Kim prepared the food Nicholas gave the apartment another clean. The supper was delicious and as they looked out at the view from Kim’s widow spotted the tree was laden with parakeets. just squawking and hanging from the branches like vivid coloured fruit. It was an enchanting sight and once again he found it almost impossible to capture the essences of this marvellous sight. They ended the evening watching a touching documentary Tashi and The Monk. Then he hoped for oblivion through the night.

 

Nicholas Quirke was waking up in a lovely old cabin style home on 24th February in the grounds of which was an example of one of the early homes in Port Fairy. He explored the property and felt again the tug of time as he looked at the old camp bed in this derelict museum of a home. The landlady had provided Soya Milk for Nicholas so he felt duty bound to have cereal for breakfast. Bags were packed, everything double checked and they checked out to explore the town. The first stop was the beach and they took a walk along the shore. Nicholas got a little agitated by the hundreds of jumping cockroaches that littered the sand and they curtailed the walk and went to find tea and coffee in the town. They found a cafe and talked at length to the owner Karen who not only was a Vegan but from Ossett in Yorkshire. Kim after having spilt coffee over her white top, bought some clothes and cushions and about 1pm they departed. It was a 4 hour drive home during which they tried to recall every person from the Drama Centre’s Group 17. They recalled friends they still treasured, friends who had passed and those that they were not so keen on. There was plenty of time for them to enjoy their foolish games and Nicholas was delighted to find a new depth to sink to on the weak ‘R’ theme. They were not back in Brighton till 5.30 and decided to eat out rather than cook and Kim took him to a lovely restaurant in Richmond. They followed this up with a delicious Ice Cream from Massimo. There was a tense moment when Nicholas thought he had left the apartment key in Port Fairy, but some diligent searching revealed he was still in possession of the item.It was a night in watching Woody Allen’s ‘Celebrity’ which had some wonderful moments but the presence of Kenneth Branagh served only to irritate Nicholas and make him a little tense before he went to bed

 

Nicholas Quirke was on his final Australian Adventure on 23rd February when he set off with Kim to see the Twelve Apostles and to drive the Great Ocean Road. He was delighted that he would once again be behind the wheel for another Road Trip. Breakfast for him was a Spirulina Smoothie but Kim needed something more substantial and they stopped at a new café on Wellington Parade. They got on the road once they had mastered the GPS and Nicholas became familiar with the workings of Kim’s Mini. There was a little tension as they negotiated the streets of Melbourne but relaxed once they were on the open road.  The journey on this coastal route was in sunshine and heavy showers and proved to be  a great drive involving many amazing sights to stop and see; from the famous surfer Bays of Torquay and Bells, to Aire inlet and Lighthouse. Lunch was taken in a cool cafe at Lorne before moving on and taking in the breath taking views of the ocean. They drove through tropical forests and witnessed a flock of parrots. Kim sourced a charming cottage and a dinner for them at Port Fairy. As always they had immense fun on the drive, their conversations and play punctuated with a variety of business and personal calls. The Twelve Apostles proved to be a spectacular sight and truly worth the effort, especially as just past this popular tourist landmark was the equally impressive view of the Martyrs Bays which was blissfully quiet and free from marauding photographers. Diane was at the cottage when they arrived and showed them around and also advised that the chef at the restaurant, Blakes, was going to make Nicholas a special vegan dish. How appealing! It was a delicious meal in a very relaxed atmosphere. They were both very tired and retired to their beds once they were home.

 

Nicholas Quirke was experiencing butterflies on 22nd February as he prepared for his final few days in Australia. It was going to be hard to say goodbye to the Southern Hemisphere particularly to the friends that he had taken to his heart as a 17-year-old lad in England whom he’d had the opportunity to take to his heart all over again. Ollie, Pete, Tony, Martin and most especially the person who had facilitated this for him, Kim who had been the most wonderful host, guide travelling companion and friend. It truly was a wonderful place to be and though he had only seen a fraction of country his mind would be forever full of Uluru, Brisbane, The Gold Coast, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and all the amazing sights and places he had devoured on his way.  There were still things he needed to organise around his next journey into the unknown and he was anxious that he just wasn’t ready to handle being an Englishman abroad in such alien cultures. He walked into the city to buy an additional bag to travel with and enjoyed spotting some new and interesting statues and sights. It was an extremely hot day and he and he called into the Golpal Restaurant again for some lunch and air conditioning. His trip was a success and went home to focus on his preparations but ended up procrastinating and sorting through his photographs. He idled his time away in this fashion until he realised he needed to get to a restaurant in Carlton where he was meeting Pete Cooper for dinner before they went to see ‘Food Fighter’ which was launching the Transitions Film Festival at Nova. The restaurant was lovely and he a wonderful dish called .Legendary Satay’ which he was pleased to note lived up to its auspicious name. The were joined by Yolanda, whom he had met very briefly at the Australian Open and they had a really enjoyable and engrossing conversation. The film was a documentary about the crusade of Ronni Kahn who has been fighting food waste across the globe. Pete knew her and Nicholas got to meet this fearless activist, who put his efforts in the world into trivial perspective. He was given a lift home and then sat with Kim talking about the day and their experiences. Kim applied a Face Mask during their conversation and it felt to him that he was talking with an alien. The evening finished with more role play, in which Kim worked Nicholas through his paces as Shylock, more laughter and a commitment to find out more about the Fa’fafine

 

 

Nicholas Quirke was feeling very much at home in Melbourne on 21st February as he delved into the working world for a brief moment. He joined Kim on an early start at 16th Street where he was acting as a consultant on some HR issues and policies. The day started with a celebration of Dylan’s 23rd birthday and it was great to see Peter Cooper again, who it transpired was Dylan’s father. It felt really good to be in a work situation where he was able to contribute to the management of a business.  The 2 meetings with Kim, Tara and Emily were fascinating and revolved around policy and process for grievances taking them into the thorny subject of sexual harassment.  He took a lunch break and had found a Vegan establishment in Elsternwick called Cocomama’s. It was a 20 minute walk, and once there he was surprised to find that the food was smoothies or Nachos. He decided on a ‘Smoothie Bowel’ and the discovery that this was an extremely fancy presentation of a smoothie ice cream delighted him. Back at the office he tried to put together a tour package for China and India which started to prove to be more difficult than he had imagined. The day sped by and before he knew it it was 6pm. and he was on his way to the Tara institute to meet Sandra for supper. It was lovely to see her her again and they had a great conversation that touched on all aspects of life. He had no cash though so Sandra had to pay for him. The teachings and meditation with Geshe Doga started at 8pm and proved to be extremely interesting, focusing on the attachments we form in life both good and bad. Sandra was really kind and drove him back to 16th Street. Kim hadn’t quite finished teaching so he sat and read for a few minutes before Kim appeared and called him into the Studio to meet her class who then were really lovely and talked with him though Nicholas was surprised when one young man boldly told him he had been touring in a sex show in Birmingham and when he questioned Kim about it discovered he’d misheard and the lad had worked with Cirque de Soleil.  Kim had not eaten all day so they stopped on the way home at a Chinese Restaurant in the City. They had a great time and really enjoyed themselves talking about gender fluidity and death before heading home and sleep.

 

 

Nicholas Quirke was shocked into consciousness on the 20th February by the sound of Paul, who had slept on the sofa in his room, talking and laughing in his sleep. Nicholas quietly went about performing his ablutions while the others slept and made use of the quiet with writing and some reading. They all breakfasted at Charlie Cox, which they decided was too expensive and not good enough, so that was their final visit.  They drove into Brunswick to get a Birthday Present and Nicholas was able to stock up at the pharmacy on his now very low rations of Vitamins and Minerals. Kim had to go to work, Paul returned home and he was left alone to do some housework. He did some shopping, had lunch and sat down to watch the finals of the Winter Olympic Figure skating though he dozed off before seeing who won. He and Kim were having supper at Patrick’s new home and he had to get himself over to 16th Street Studio to meet up with Kim, he ordered an Uber which took over an hour to get there. He enjoyed his conversation with Naeem the driver though Kim was a little fraught by his delay. They picked up an Indian Takeaway and then went to Patrick’s brilliant new apartment which he is sharing with 2 girls. Enjoyable conversation, lots of laughter though sadly, it was the last time he would catch up with Patrick before Nicholas left for Asia and then start his journey home. On arriving home he realised he had reached a lull in his Odyssey and was enjoying the opportunity to take it easy.

 

Nicholas Quirke was beginning to find himself enjoying a short hiatus in his activities on 19th February. He had another week in Melbourne before heading of on another stage of the Odyssey which was going to reach its fruition in March. And even though the pace with which he had attacked this journey had slowed, he was still busy and active and had some major planning to do. The next 6 days would give him the chance to start making decisions about his future and he made the most of todays opportunities to get started. He woke early and started clearing out his Email inbox which had innumerable junk with elements of value. He wrote to friends, read a couple more plays and even tried to get some of his photographs in order. Kim was working from home but the internet for both of them was playing up. She needed to go to work from the office and he was more than happy to join her. They called into Patrick’s family home first as Kim needed to collect some colour swatches from her cousin Paul and to check on the wellbeing of her family. Nicholas was pleased to see Jake who he’d met at a meal when Lindis and family had visited London some years before. He was delighted to see Patrick who invited them to dinner and they made arrangements to go to the Twelve Apostles on Friday. He couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness that he was in the home of his lovely friend Lindis and she was no longer around to see him there, It was then onto 16th Street, Kim’s studio, where he met Tara, Christian and Dylan. Tara set him up with a desk where he could spend the afternoon at his laptop. A spontaneous visit from Claire meant he was able to enjoy her delightful company again. Plans were changing and Nicholas took the opportunity to start buying flights and booking rooms and alerting friends of his imminent arrival in their vicinity. There was suddenly a lot of organising to be done and he was enjoying the return to some form of order. Kim’s cousin Maureen had invited them out for supper and Nicholas was really looking forward to seeing her again. They were dining at a Vietnamese and were expecting Paul to join them. He was enjoying the company immensely but Maureen choked on an oversized piece of meat, and though she happily survived the incident, despite Nicholas taking too long to consider the logistics of the Heimlich manoeuvre, in which gap Kim stepped up and saved the day, the  shine had come off the meal, but not off the laughter at their own expense: Maureen’s peculiarly birdlike choking, Nicholas’s lackadaisical attempt to help and Kim’s extraordinary vigour in saving her cousins life. He did enjoy the food and was particularly impressed by the serving of hot spring roles in ice-cold Lettuce. They took the remainder of the meal home and Paul came to eat his share. They talked for some time on the balcony and Paul eneded up staying the night on the sofa. As ever, tomfoolery erupted as they retiried to their beds.