Beekeeping – the first 20 years

Hi, my name is Peter, married and I live in the UK just 30 miles from London.

I have 2 reasons for joining this – 

  •  I am going to New Zealand late January and I wish to keep my family and friends up to date with our progress in a funny, informal, interesting blog.
  • I want to blog about my 20 years beekeeping experience.

We are retired now and like to travel, recently we have been to Japan, Thailand, USA and Australia among other places and we do have a knack of getting into some interesting situations, which mostly amuse us but sometimes, after the event, seem downright dangerous!

Here is a picture of 2 of my beehives on the heather  Image


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Bye Oz

Left Oz and we are now in Singapore, what a glorious time we had in Australia – the natives were friendly, the scenery was spectacular in places and the culture fitted like a pair of carpet slippers.

Some of the things we will remember?

Shops closing at the weekend

The language bastardisation – Ambo for Ambulance, Firey for Fire-fighters, Tradies for Tradesmen, Brissy for….now you know this one! And so and so on….

The beautiful weather in Western Australia with the afternoon Freemantle Doctor blowing to cool everything down.

The strict eating times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The expensiveness of everything with the Au$ at 1.6 to the £.

The friendly young backpackers from around the world.

Would I live there? Probably not. Would I come back? Absolutely, definitely and soon please!

This will be my last blog – I’ve enjoyed writing it and if anyone has read it I hope they enjoyed it too.

We are going to Japan for two weeks in July, I will do another blog then and invite you to read that.


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The Intrepid Travellers

First of all I would like to tell you about this Serviced Apartment that we have hired for today. It is about 3-4 miles from Sydney centre and in a high rise complex that is less than 10 years old. The apartment is quite extraordinary for the money we have paid. It is large, modern and on two floors. The Company that owns it seem to own several high rise blocks around here and some are for sale, some are for long term rental and some are let daily like the one we are in. It seems to work very well. There are all the resources you could ever wish for and the local Supermarket stays open until midnight. I wish we had found this living option earlier as it suits our requirements perfectly and I would recommend it to anyone who visits Australia.

My friend Dave wanted to know what we do all day and how we decide what to do next.

So here we go….there is not a typical day in our travels, every day brings its own funny, annoying, expensive, tiring, enjoyable experience and here is one 24 hours.

Wake up knowing we cannot stay in our beautiful apartment tonight but will be back the night after – so 24 hours to kill with all our luggage – mm mm mm problem! A eureka moment in the shower, (no I was showering alone!) – GET A HIRE CAR – Yippee – free shuttle to the airport – sorted. No free shuttle. Get a taxi. Get to airport; hire a car from Red Spot . Bit expensive but they were the only car hire people who didn’t treat me with complete apathy – so they got my business. Great – dump the bags in the car, sit in and I say to Diane ‘Where shall we go?’ – ‘Dunno!’ she says. Back out of the car into the airport, two coffees and a blueberry muffin while we decide, with the aid of our trusted Lonely Planet Guide Book where to go.

If we go north we go through Newcastle – yes they do have coal mines there and if we go south we can go through Wollangong to Nowra. The Guide Book says Nowra has the whitest sandy beach in the world – Gotta see that – so off we set.

Two hours and thirty minutes later (the traffic was very heavy) we arrive in Nowra. No beach – oops my trusty navigator misread the map and the whitest beach is another 25 miles away. Undaunted we find a cafe with free internet and order two BLTs and two flat white coffees. No-one in the cafe has any idea how to connect to their Wi-Fi so after much huffing and puffing the chef phones the owner and gets the password – 12345678 (such simple folk these Aussies!!) At last Diane is able to read a mail from her sis telling her all about her leg op and Diane was able to respond.

Off we set again to the whitest sandy beach in the world and guess what? It is the second whitest!! We know – we have been to Pensacola in Florida and it was definitely whiter!! No worries (a bit of Oz crept in there) the sand was soft, the weather hot and the sea cool and that was just perfect for a 60 minute power snooze. After spending another hour or so admiring the young Sheilas on the beach we make our way back 70 miles to Wolangong for a nice fresh fish supper in a nice restaurant. Mm mm mm Wolangong reminds us of Preston – have you ever been to Preston? No? Then don’t go – its like Wolangong! We drove around for half an hour and eventually settled on a MacDonalds as the best place in town. A big Mac and coke was ordered before the coach with 50 burly footballers descended on the place and pandemonium broke out. We left.

Another 70 miles to go to our new Serviced Apartment in the Waldorf at Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney 15 miles out. Now just how different can a Serviced Apartment be? Well this one was the place from Hell – Full of rather undesirable, tattooed, scruffy Aussie youngsters. Our room was an ordinary Hotel room into which they had crammed a fridge, cooker, dishwasher, sink and washing machine (in the bathroom) and called it an Apartment. There was hardly any room for us in bed!!

That’s the way it goes sometimes – but as long as you keep a sense of humour, it aint so bad! Breakfast was included in the room rate but once again we had to rub shoulders with the best Aussies that Parramatta had to offer and watched a breakfast episode straight out of Faulty Towers….

We left Parramatta and drove straight to our beautiful apartment block in Waterloo where we had left 24 hours earlier – dropped our bags – managed to get the same Apartment as before. Returned the car full of petrol. Went back to the cafe in the airport, ordered two flat white coffees.

I said to Diane ‘What shall we do now?’ and she said ‘Dunno’ …………….

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Brissy (again)

We left lovely Noosa Heads and had a pleasant 2 hour drive down the Bruce Highway to Brissy. We made our way straight to Pier One to book our river trip, well, the boat was not there anymore and in fact, nor was Pier One!! Washed away in the flood. I sat in the car, short term parking is a no no in Brissy, and sent Diane off to recce the situation… eventually she returned with the news that the boat had survived the flood and was now operating from a concrete pier on the other side of the river. Thanking god for satellite navigation, we found our way to the new departure structure, and climbed aboard.

The Brisbane River is a deep, wide river – about the same as the River Thames at Westminster, but it is not a working river anymore. It is used mostly now by fast catamaran river taxis, which are an extension to the commuter transport system..

The river was still high, but not flooding, because the water authority were dumping millions of gallons of fresh water from the upstream dam, straight out into the ocean, causing much concern in the media about this huge waste. Brisbane is built on a flood plain and has flooded consistently in the past. The last big flood was 30 odd years ago and as they said… I guess we got complacent!

As we travelled upstream in our little boat we could see the water taxi piers that were just washed away, there were probably five or six of them. Brisbane also had a long floating boardwalk, which enabled people river access, and this significant structure also washed away in the flood. You may have seen on the TV that little tug boat pushing the boardwalk clear through the bridges so that it did as little damage as possible. Apart from that the city was remarkably clean and little evidence was left of the disaster, although there is a lot of work to be done that is not apparent from the outside.

We stayed in what the Ausies call “ serviced apartments” last night, and it was really nice. I believe these are becoming popular in the UK now, but I have never stayed in one. We have booked 2 others in Sydney so we will see how they compare.

You remember I said when we last in Brissy we went to the Breakfast Creek Hotel for a steak but it was full to bursting, well we went again last night and had a magnificent steak, chips, salad and a couple of cask beers for 20 quid each. Of course we’re locals now so can you guess what we call this place? ____ go on, it’s not that hard!_____ it’s the Brekky Creek. Predictable these Ausies, aren’t they!

They are calling our flight to Sydney now so I will sign off for another day…

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Well, here we are, Paradise … and it’s raining!. When we arrived it was 100 degrees, the next day it was 100 degrees and then this big black cloud turned up and the winds were 65 mph and tropical rain.

Storm over the Pacific

We are in a really nice apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean and we can see the squalls racing across the sea – quite dramatic!

Noosa is as nice as the guide books say, it is one of the few places we have been that has some class. I always remember this Army Officer who I was selling a computer to who said to me “Australia is like the sergeants mess – no class, no class!” He may have had a point!

We are back in the hinterland of Australia (their word – not mine) and I think I am getting to grips with the way of life.

Downtown Noosa - busy as usual!

 We wanted to go on a river cruise today but on checking we found that it does not operate on Wednesdays nor Saturdays – now I would have thought Saturday was a prime selling day – what with weekend and all, but no – there is no river cruise! I have come to a tentative conclusion that the Ausies (outside the big cities) work to live, and not as I am used to – live to work! They open their shops at 9am, close for lunch for an hour or so, and finish around 5.25pm, and that’s it…day done…look forward to Wednesday…then look forward to the weekend. Once you get used to it, it fits in quite well … as long as you’re not thirsty, hungry or need an aspirin at any other time.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Noosa, it is nice when you have all the comforts and our apartment provides all that. We leave tomorrow to go back to Brissy, where we have planned a full day sightseeing, providing the river cruises are working …no not because they work to live, but because of the floods!! – you think I am heartless!!? (don’t answer that, thanks). On Friday we fly to Sydney where we have had trouble booking a hotel. It is the gay mardi-gras week and everywhere is booked out. So I really look forward to that!!! There is still a lot of things that we didn’t do in Sydney and I want to go back to the fish market for a lobster feast at the very least.

Diane is watching a DVD with Meryl Streep starring, unfortunately the red has gone from the RGB and everything is green, she does look pretty in green!! (Meryl, that is). Oh the tribulations of us travellers … it really is just too much to cope with!!

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We have been watching the news nearly all day about the terrible earthquake in New Zealand and to be honest…I don’t feel like doing my blog today. Back tomorrow…

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Bye tropical Cairns, Hi sub-tropical Brisbane

Or as we locals call it – Brissy. Went on a quick drive around after we landed and it looks a nice place. The 3rd largest town in Oz and pushing to be the 2nd . We went out for a steak at this famous old public house – Breakfast Creek Hotel – on the river and the place had just reopened after the flood, well, everyman and his dog were there! The queues were enormous, so we decided to move on. We have noticed how the locals are totally supporting the clean up after the flood and cyclone by coming back in huge numbers to these establishments. Nice to see.

Brissy is ideally placed for the coast – if you turn right you go down the Gold Coast with its high rise hotels, restaurants, apartments, fun fairs and tacky holiday stuff. If you turn left you go up the Sunshine Coast, which I will tell you more about when we get settled in somewhere. We are heading for this chic little place called Noosa. According to the guide book … “If Noosa isn’t the hippiest beach side destination, then we give up! The brightest light on the Sunshine Coast has bloody close to the lot; superb north facing surf beaches, a pristine waterway in Noosa Sound, haute couture on Hastings Street, fab local markets – an all this encircled by a resplendent National Park. Just remember you are in Noosa, ladies and gentlemen but whatever you do, do it in style.”

We don’t have anywhere booked for the next five days so we will see what transpires…

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