by Pat
on Jul 16th, 2007

Two Weeks On


Well, it was two weeks ago that I arrived in Heathrow airport, rather tired and dazed following 24 hours of flight.

The day I got back I managed to stay up until 10pm, having had a great day with my brothers (who both turned up at the airport with my folks, despite stating that actually they weren’t going to be able to – that was really ace) and a lovely evening with the whole family playing games, watching telly, eating take out pizza and drinking Strongbow from cans (ah, the good ol’ days…).

I’ve never slept so well in my life. I was in a room by myself. There were no people shouting in the corridors. There were no doors being banged in the middle of the night. There was no “boom boom boom” coming through the floor from whatever neighbouring backpacker bar was having another late night party. There was noone turning the light on in the middle of the night, or snoring, playing their iPod at full blast, or snoring, or rustling with plastic bags as they packed at 5am, or snoring, or having sex, or snoring, or talking on their phones, or snoring. Or snoring.

It was bliss :-)

Waking up at home was a strange experience. It really did have that “I’ve never left” feeling, although in the back of my mind I was still convinced that, like most places, I’d only be there for a few days before scarpering somewhere else. That feeling ebbed away over the next few days, of course.

Getting back in my car was wonderful – and although it did take me a few seconds to get used to clutch control and gears again (all the hire cars I’d been driving in Oz were automatics), as soon as I was off my drive and onto the road it was as if I’d never stopped driving it. One thing I did notice though: people in Essex are in a BIG rush when they’re on the roads. I’m not sure where they’re going, but wherever it is it must be bloody good…

Another minor gripe I’ve had with Essex is that people working in shops (particularly chain ones) are miserable as sin. At best you can get a “hello” out of them – but by God you must be insane if you expect to, say, have a polite conversation with them! That’s been a bit of a shock to the system. I’d got used to people being friendly everywhere you go.

Tell you what’s also funny – just how true it is that (despite all the things I’ve done and how I’ve changed perspective on things) bugger all changes back at home. It takes people about 30 seconds to fill me in on their news inbetween me boring them to tears with hours of traveling stories

Anyways, it’s good to be back with family and friends. Although I do miss the people I’ve met on my travels, I’ve been missing various traveling companions throughout my trip anyway (given that I’m not always with the same people anyway and plenty of people I traveled with headed home long before I did) so it’s nothing really new or difficult to deal with. In a way it’s better, as many folk I met on my travels are now within driving reach!

So what next?

Well, now that about 2 weeks worth of socialising has been completed I can start focusing on… well… a bit more socialising, to be honest, but also the various projects / business ideas I’ve got on my mind. I’m not going to go into details here, but there are projects to do with radio, drawing and live DJing (btw if you or someone you know needs a party DJed, let me know! :-) ). I’ll no doubt fill you in over the coming weeks – although probably on the new blog I’ll be setting up now I’m no longer on The Big Adventure.

Depending on how these all go I’ll be able to support myself on these for a fair while to come, but I’ll deal with that when I come to it. I do miss my friends from work (I went into the office a week ago to say hi to people and spent the entire day catching up!) so going back there wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world – but I want to follow my dreams before that, whilst I’ve got the opportunity.

And I’ve got the opportunity now. Just once I’ve finished chucking out all the crap I’d left at home that I now realise (following living out of a bag for a year) I really don’t need anymore. Yes, that includes these 150 floppy disks… and if I find another copy of my 1995 QBasic computer game “Squage and Co” I think I’m going to go crazy. Just how many copies of that did I feel I needed?!?!?

Almost time to go but before I do, let me just say this:

I’ve spent an awful lot of money in the past year. I was in a position to buy a house with a nice deposit. I’m now not in that position. The future (both short and medium term) is uncertain financially.

But you know what? I don’t feel any regret whatsoever.

The Big Adventure was the most amazing experience of my life. I’ve done things I never dreamed that I’d do – challenging my fears and showing myself that being scared of something isn’t anything to be embarrassed about but something to be PROUD about when you “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I sight bungy jumping, sky diving, harbour bridge climbing and standing on cliff edges as examples of this. I’ve learned that there are so many awesome people out there from all walks of life and that, despite my times where I feel like I’m a bit of a tool, I’m not actually that bad a person to get on with. I’ve seen some truly stunning places and as such have learned that the world is a beautiful place and something we need to look after (by not taking international flights from Sydney to Heathrow, say… :-o ). I’ve understood that life is about living, you’ve got to enjoy your life at the end of the day – and I’ve got a better understanding about what I want to get out of mine.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson: if you don’t take risks, you don’t gain anything. Sometimes you have to stop making excuses, realise the road blocks you see can be moved around and do something that you really, really want to do. After all, how many shots have you got at life?

If you’re unhappy, do something positive about it. I did and I’m glad. Hell, the future is uncertain for me and as I say financially I’m in a worse place than before – but I feel much happier and feel that actually, I’m in a much better place to follow my dreams – now that I know what they are.

Anyway, enough lame preaching, I’m off to wipe a Windows 95 Boot Disk.

Did I mention I was living the dream? :-)



by Pat
on Jul 2nd, 2007



After two looonnnnng ol’ plane journeys, I finally arrived in Heathrow this morning at 6:40am UK Time, to be greeted by my mum, dad and two brothers (who I’d previously been informed couldn’t make it… twas a great surprise :-) ). A surprisngly quick journey around the M25 later and I’m back at home… and it feels really odd.

It think it’s mainly cos I’ve had about 1 hour dozing in the past 36 hours, so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow. But either way, I’m pleased to be back – and bloody glad to not be on a friggin’ plane anymore.

Til tomorrow then, time to sit and watch some films, play some games and generally catch up with my bros.

Toodles :-)


…and by all accounts it’s been good fun. Here’s a quick run down of some of the highlights:

  • Good flight from Cairns: Twas really smooth and went rather quickly through spending most of it chatting to a woman sitting next to me about all sorts – and watching Wild Hogs (she’d seen it on other Quantas flights 3 times already, much to both of our amusement when our flight’s film was announced).
  • Saturday evening drinks with Jonny (the Irish fella from Western Exposure) and his mates: Due to not having drunk any alcohol for almost a week, I was a little tipsy rather quickly, but that didn’t stop me enjoying “the Craic” until late on Sunday evening
  • Sunday lunchtime Chinese food with Sam (from Sydney) and his friends: We went to Chinatown into a place called Dim Sum, which served, in fact, Dim Sum – a tapas-style Chinese meal. I enjoyed the often delicious and always rather different tastes of such things as shown below:
    Dim Sum!

    Whilst I was chatting with Sam’s mates and struggling to get to grips with my chop sticks, Sam tucked into some rather, er, interesting delicacies:
    Sam Enjoying A Delicious... Chicken Foot.  Mmm.
    I was also rather excited to find that, having just been chatting about where Sam should go in London when he visits next year, we stumbled across a place I’d only just recommended:

  • Sunday evening drinks with Kate (who I’d met in Cairns ages ago): being the classy travelers that we were, this evening started by going down to the offy, grabbing a 4 litre box of “goon” (shit, shit wine) for just over $10AUD and necking some from a sprite bottle as we walked to the pub. The goon was also used to, er, “spice up” drinks in the pub:
    Kate Enjoying Some Delicious... Goon. Nice.
    Despite early intentions, this evening was quite a short one for me as I started to feel a bit ill (probably the goon, methinks) so called it quits at about 9pm, which was a shame… but meant I was feeling good and awake for the next day:

  • Monday afternoon visit to Taronga Zoo with Sam and Co.: A nice ferry ride across the harbour took us to Taronga Zoo and despite nearly passing out when asked to pay over $30AUD each to get in, we got into the cable car (oh yes) for the ride to the zoo entrance:

    I was really surprised by the size of the zoo, actually. I’d expected it to be rather on the small side, mais non! It was rather sizeable, with various shows throughout the day. Alas we were there late on so only got to see the bird show, but that was rather impressive – especially given that this dude flew around the audience for a while:
    Big Bird
    After seeing that we wandered around checking out the animals, as you do in a zoo where, say, the purpose of visiting is to, say, see animals… but of course spent some time being very normal and mature too:

    Yes, there certainly was some “monkeying around”… I swore the zookeepers were going to go “ape” at one point. Ahem:
    Group Shot!

  • Monday evening in Manly: Again with Sam and the crew, we spent the evening relaxing in Manly, enjoying some wood fired pizza and then some awesomely rich and evil chocolate in Max Benner (he was rather accommodating, given how many of us there were. Aha. Ha ha. Ha. Ahem).
  • Tuesday evening drinks with Kate + her mates Dave and Paul: Similar to Monday, but without the leaving early… and with less goon… alas with some rather drunk dancing in Scruffy Murphy’s bar towards the end… and the feeling that Thursday wasn’t going to be a great deal of fun.
  • Wednesday morning trip to Canberra: Oooh how glad I was to have been drinking lots the night before. Oh, no, wait… the 3 hour Greyhound bus journey to Canberra, devoid as it was of any films was rather a) dull and b) “touch and go”. Not in the sense of late-90s cheesy requesting-a-night-of-sex based dance song “Would You?”, but more in the “trying not to be sick” sense. Luckily I managed to hold it down… just. Getting to Canberra made it all worth it though, what with the slightly basildon-esque town centre and great sights like this to enjoy:
    I mean, what. The. Hell?

  • Wednesday afternoon walk up Mount Ainslie: I’d decided the best way to get myself feeling better was to walk the hangover out of me. So after checking into the (really rather tasty) Canberra YHA, I walked up the 200 metre climb of Mount Ainslie to check out the views:

    And say hi to the locals:

  • Wednesday evening Cinema visit: To Transformers? Shrek 3? Pirates 3? Nope, I went to an alternative cinema (although I’d assumed it was mainstream til I’d got there and thought I’d accidentally been in a beer-induced coma for a year, missing all the films I’d heard of) to watch the (excellent) German film The Lives Of Others. I recommend a watch of it, if you can ever get hold of it.
  • Thursday trip to Parliament House: This was a highlight from Canberra, what with it being rather damned impressive. I wont bore you with the details, but let’s just say it’s a cool looking building, built into an existing hill, with loads of impressive artwork around it (donated by various nations), a “roof top” lawn with views of the city… and impressive looking senate house/house of reps rooms:
    Scullion In The Great Hall! Arthur Boyd Painting The Great Hall Tapestry's Based On
    Big Flag Pole(s) Parliament House Foyer
    Senate House
    Some great history to be told about it, which is why I’m glad I went on a (free) guided tour. I would relay the information to you but, well, I’d just bore you and (no doubt) have forgotten the facts already :-)

  • Thursday afternoon walk… and being soaked by the spray of a MASSIVE JET OF WATER: If you go to Canberra and see the following sight:

    Do not, under any circumstances, think it’ll be fine to walk along the path that is in the path of that massive water jet’s “steam”. It is NOT like walking through drizzle, or even a shower. It is like having half of your body dunked in a bath:

    I also visited the war memorial, which was pretty impressive:

  • Friday souvenir buying: Not really a highlight as, well, I’m a bloke and, well, it’s shopping, but I did see some rather amusing sights:
    A squeezy stress relief can. Check out the description:

    Some, er, Kangaroo hands and, er, ball bags:

    It’s a strange world we live in.

  • Friday drinks with James (from Heading Bush): Following a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat (I’m vowing not to have any more of these this year *), we headed to the 3 Wise Monkeys pub and drank lots of Carlton Draft (by far the best Aussie Beer – well, that an Toohey’s Extra Dry), watching a great live band and chatting with a lovely (aren’t they all) Kiwi couple.
  • Saturday chilling: Despite the beers I’ve not been hungover today and have just chilled out, meeting Sam et al for lunch and then spending the afternoon grabbing a couple of extra souvenirs, packing my bags (all done now, wooh), uploading photos and… writing this.

(* Whilst in Australia)

So there it ends. My last week in Oz. It’s been a good one to go out on. I was thinking of writing a “Wow, it’s the end, here’s a review of the trip and how I feel about it all and where I am now” blog entry, but I’m going to save that for when I get back home and am not paying per hour to blog. In summary, though: this has been the best experience of my life. I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’m happier than I’ve been for so long and really excited about where my life’s going to be going now. :-)

Really looking forward to going home, but to be honest the 9.5 hour flight, 2.5 hour wait in Hong Kong airport and 13 hour flight to Heathrow aren’t exactly causing me a great deal of excitiment.

Oh well. Hopefully they’ll have a good set of movies on the plane. I’m looking forward to seeing Norbit again.

Take care y’all, all the best from me and Squage (Yeah, all the best from over ‘ere :-) – Squage) and I’ll see you back in the UK!

Farewell from Australia,

Pat (and Squage) :-)

by Pat
on Jun 29th, 2007

Two Days To Go…

…and I’ve not died, I’m just busy enjoying my last week :-)

I’ll do a Proper Blog tomorrow (although Squage’s “East Coast” blogging may have to wait til we get home and are not paying per minute to use the net (oh how strange that will be)), but until then have a great Friday and enjoy the weekend :-D

Toodles for now,


by Pat
on Jun 25th, 2007

One Week To Go…

My goodness. In 7 days’ time I will be on an airplane, with a mere 4 hours to go before arriving in Heathrow.

That’s scary. Whilst I contemplate that, have a look at this. Clutching at straws much, Universal?

That is all (for now, at least. Damned goon and snoring roommates!! :-) )…


by Pat
on Jun 24th, 2007

Back in Sydney!


Yep, after a pleasant three hour flight down from Cairns chatting with a lovely Kiwi lady called Kathy about New Zealand, England, Australia and all sorts of other stuff, I landed in the sunny city itself!

And already I’m hungover. Last night went out for a few beers with Jonny (from the West Coast trip) and his mates. He’s Irish. Need I say more?

This week I’ll be mostly catching up with Sam (from Sydney – who I’m meeting in, oh, 3 minutes outside this net cafe), Kate (from Cairns) and James (from my Heading Bush trip)… and probably popping down to Canberra for a day or two.

Anyway, gotta dash – it’s 2 minutes to Meeting Sam O’Clock!



by Squage
on Jun 21st, 2007

Agnes Water / Town Of 1770!

Pat spent the whole day in the quiet, pleasant coastal town feeling ker-nackered, through having hungover for the entirely of the previous day and then getting next to no sleep on the night bus down to Agnes Water / Town Of 1770.

Still, it was a pleasantly warm, sunny day with a gentle breeze, which coupled with the hammocks at the lovely hostel he was staying, definitely aided Pat’s tired body and mind.

What may have counteracted that was the kayaking trip Pat had booked himself on to in the late afternoon. Personally, I think the best thing for someone who should really be going to sleep is a full on work out in the ocean. No, honestly.


Still, he did it – and is apparently glad he did too!

The trip went along the shore of 1770, out into the ocean a little and across to a picturesque bay, whereupon Pat and the rest of the people on the trip walked to a view point, walked back down, grabbed some champagne * and biscuits whilst watching the sun set and kayaked back.

Pat ending up sharing a kayak with the instructor dude, who happened to be a recent winner of Lifeguard of the Year in Queenstown, so Pat felt rather safe – and without the need to work too hard. Oh and the “gang” mentioned? They consisted of 2 retirees from Melbourne. It wasn’t a fast-paced or busy trip :-)

On the whole, Pat found it rather tiring but it was definitely worth doing – a) because it was only $30 and b) because of the views:
Attempted 'Arty Kayak In The Sun Shot' There Be A Storm Comin', Yarr!
Sunset At 1770 Sunset Through Tree!

That’s about all he did in Agnes Water, but if you ever end up near there be sure to give it a visit. Pat was only there a day but if he’d’ve stayed longer he’d’ve taken advantage of the $15 two hour surf lessons, $30 scooter/chopper tour of the area or $60 aerobatic flight!

That’s your lot for now… Pat’s complaining about aching eyes or something…

Toodles and take care,


* That’s what it was advertised as, at least. When the box of goon came out, Pat had to resist an obvious, loud laugh but, well, wasn’t going to turn it down…

by Squage
on Jun 21st, 2007

Whitsundays Sailing Trip!

# A Long, long time ago
# I can still remember
# How tha-(Yes, yes, so yet again this is a catch up session, ok, I’m lazy, I get it. Move on… – Pat)


Hello again! Squage here, reporting from rainy Cairns on this fairly dull Thursday afternoon to fill you in on some more East Coast action wot was had recently(ish).

Airlie Beach JettyBack on the 5th of May, the day after Pat had arrived in Airlie Beach, he made his way along the town’s small high street, up by the lagoon (past the usual tanned beautiful people, including a couple of European ladies who were (stereotypically) somewhat lacking in the “clothes above the waist” department – which Pat hated to see, I’m sure (It was torture. I was nearly late… – Pat)) and along to the marina, beside which the catamaran was docked under the blue skies and golden sun.

He was very much looking forward to his 2 day, 2 night trip on board Powerplay with the other 17 passengers, who were hanging around in the briefing area next to the catamaran.

Having said hellos to everyone and discussed with amusement the level to which the indemnity forms basically tore any rights you had away (to summarise these forms: “If anyone who works for or on behalf of Powerplay f**ks up and hurts or kills you due to their own stupidity, you agree that you’ve got bugger all right to sue them. Oh and if you don’t sign this you’re not getting on board. And no you can’t have your money back.”), the captain came out to brief us. He seemed like a good fella (as he, in fact, was), so that got everyone back into the mood to enjoy themselves whilst not thinking about the lack of monetary protection they had for the trip (Hooray for insurance! – Pat)

It's A Tough Life...Things got better when we were on board and heading out to sea, as Pat and the gang were introduced to the projector in the galley for DVD watching and underwater photo/video viewing (also finding out that a whole DVD chock full of pics and vids from our trip would be available for about $25AUD), then wandered up on deck to discover a) some rope nets at the bow, which you could lie on and get splashed by the upcoming water and b) a hot tub. Yes, a hot tub. On the bow of the catamaran. This was going to be good.

(Squage, wasn’t this blog entry going to feature “More Photos And Less Text” than the last one? – Pat)

Ok, ok, I’ll stop the waffle and tell you instead about the highlights of the trip – including some rather lovely (and amusing) photos:


  • Group Shot!The People – Both the fellow travelers and the crew. Pat felt extremely lucky to have landed on his feet with a great bunch of people. They really made the trip, in Pat’s mind, and he’s kept in contact with a fair few of them since and hopes to meet up with them in future (he’s already got a few beers planned with Ben and Rachel (already back in the UK) in July).
  • The Boat – As a catamaran, it’s smooth through the water (although on the first night the seas did get quite choppy, causing cases of almost-over-the-port-chucking from a couple of people (although, alas, not Pat (I would’ve enjoyed the mick taking opportunity :-) ))). Mmm, nested parentheses. The hot tub on deck as well really added the icing on the cake…
  • The Sights – I’ll mention a few of the key ones below, but let’s just say the Whitsundays are bloody beautiful and the reef around them teeming with life and amazing looking coral bommies.
  • The Weather – Aside from rain on the morning of the last day, it was pretty much consitently sunny and gorgeous!

Day 1

  • Chilling Out On PowerplayIntroductions game – Straight from a training course manual, this involved you having to say a word that describes you (and alliterates with your name) then your name – after having said the description and name of everyone who’d already introduced themselves before you. Pat was last in line, having to remember 17 other descriptions and names, hence it was easy for him to choose “Perplexed Pat”. Other classics were:
    • Ravishing Rachel
    • Jubilant Jade
    • Rambunctuous Ryan (yes, I know!)
    • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Samuel. He was the guy before Pat in the game – and was the only name he didn’t remember…
  • Dive 1: Luncheon Bay – Despite the somewhat poor visibility (5 metres), there was lots to sea (eh, eh? (Killl me… – Pat)) such as Nemos and Parrot Fish. Pat just enjoyed being back in the water again, and the freedom of being able to do as he pleased without supervision. Some of the photos from that dive (captured on Christian(the Dive Leader)’s underwater camera:
    Cool Looking Reef (Cauliflower I Think)Arty Silouhetted Shot

  • It's A Tough LifeWarming Up After The Dive – Sitting in the hot tub following the dive as Powerplay sped through the water towards the night’s mooring area, watching the sun go down and feeling the occasional wave splashing Pat refreshingly in his face as the rest of him was kept toasty and warm was, well, not bad to be honest.
  • Introduction of the Game Of Life – A nasty game whereupon if anyone says “mine” they have to do 10 press ups / sit ups. If they refuse? They have to do 20. If they refuse? The Vegemite fines start coming out. It’s an evil game as, when you’re as stupid and forgetful as Pat is you can easily get tricked. Ben: Hey whose is that watch? Pat: Mine. Ben: Whose? Pat: Mine. Ben: *grin* Pat: Oh, b*ll*cks… etc. (Oh and for anyone from Vobble: I lose. Gah. – Pat)
  • Watching Road Trip in the evening – A highlight? Really? Yes, given that Pat hadn’t seen it for a LONG time and that there were a whole crowd of us watching and laughing along to it. UNLEASH THE FURY!

Day 2

  • Early Morning Views – Due to needing to get to Whitehaven Beach before all the tourists, Pat and the gang were up and about before sunrise… which Pat was actually quite glad about given the views:
    Beautiful Early Morning Skies At The Whitsundays

  • Whitehaven Beach – Going here was both awe inspiring and hilarious. Awe inspiring due to views such as this:
    Whitehaven BeachWhitehaven Beach

    And hilarious due to Christian getting us to pose for such photos as Fish Impressions:
    No, Pat, We Said FISH, Not Pob..
    “Jump!” photos:
    Jumping For Joy
    Girls Jump!
    The Human Pyramid and Many Headed Lady:
    Human Pyramid! Wow!  She's Got Tens Of Heads!
    Tiny People on a can:
    Sexy “Looking Out To Sea” Shot:

    Noone needs to see that. I’m so sorry. (What are you saying? – Pat) Oh, nothing, whitearse. (Shut it! At least I’ve GOT one… – Pat) Oooh bitchy!

    Whilst Pat wasn’t joining in with silly photos, he was being artistic / a loner / strange and making a big sand sculpture:
    And finally, following Ben saying mine…
    …it was time to clear off…
    The Crew Again!

  • Dive 2: Manta Ray Bay – Upon arriving at Manta Ray bay, the Pat and the other divers got into their sexy diving attire once more and headed for the depths. For some reason during this dive, Christian decided to film various people and, of course, no silly dances or stupid “upside down” diving moves were performed at all. No:
    Brad Mid-Dance
    Which Way's Up?
    Trust me, when Pat gets back you’re gonna have to get him to show you some of the videos… they’re quite entertaining. Oh and of course, some very mature photos were posed for:
    Lovely Hat
    Nothing Immature Going On Here

  • Dive 3: Manta Ray Bay – Less silliness on this dive occurred (Pat for one was a bit tired anyway through having claimed his watch as his (using the “m” word) just before going off the boat… in full diving gear. Some cool sights were seen… good ol’ Nemo made an appearance along with some Bat fish and a huuuge great coral wall (about 10 metres high).
  • Another Taxing EveningHot Tub with Nachos – Not only were Brad, Nick and Pat feeling like kings watching the world go by from the on-deck hot tub, but then Jen (a fellow traveler from Scotland who’s working on Powerplay as chef) brought out some Nachos for them to have. Brad, Nick and Pat love Jen.
  • Dive 4: Maureen’s Cove – This dive saw only Christian, Brad, Nick and Pat heading into the water – via the James Bond style (i.e. backwards of a dingy). Pat’s decided it’s his favourite way to enter the water, as it’s just a bit more exciting than walking in or forward rolling in. Alas, the lack of silliness of dive 3 fell to the wayside in place of even more crazy dancing and stupidity… and videos of all three fools “running on the spot” in the middle of the water without fins on – all stored in AVI format thanks to Christian (as I say, speak to Pat when he gets back) – alongside some more “interesting” poses:
    Perfectly Mature Yum!
    Inbetween posing, dancing and being unable to move with fins off, some cool “swim throughs” were investigated, lots of bat fish, parrot fish and such were seen – including a shark hiding under a bommie! An awesome dive, and Pat’s favourite by far.

  • Watching the Day’s Photos and Videos – This happened on day 1 too, but today it was really funny. A combination of the comedy photos and videos from Whitehaven Beach alongside the silly diving photos – and “amazing” underwater dancing – gave everyone a really good laugh.
  • Watching White Squall – An odd, yet good film about some boat or other and a bit ol’ deadly wave hitting it and… well… I won’t spoiler it (THEY ALL DIE IN THE END (they don’t (or do they? (maybe… (or maybe not… (Do shut up – Pat) Sorry)))))). Sensible to watch on a boat? Maybe not, but we enjoyed it.

Day 3

  • Moody Morning SkiesWaking Up To Rain In The Face – Ok, not really a “highlight”, but Pat was rather shocked to be woken by the sensation of cold water dripping on his face from the open window above him. Luckily the rain didn’t last long, but it sure as heck woke Pat up. Not very often that happens – even less often when that happens without something being very wrong with your tent or house…
  • Look!  It's An Turtle!Dive 5: Diving Before Sunrise – After waking up at 6 to the rain, Pat and some other brave divers decided to go for a final dive on the trip so were in their sexy diving gear by 6:20am and walking off the back of Powerplay by 6:30am. Following the humour of yesterday’s dives, this was more of a calm affair, allowing Pat and the others to appreciate the lovely coral, the sun rising through the water and the early morning routines of the locals…
  • Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya? – Pointed out to everyone once the diving was finished, it turns out that the island and beach Powerplay was moored by was that used in the “Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya?” Aussie tourist ad a year or so back. That fit model in the bikini? She was here:
    ...The Bloody...

  • Sunbathing on the way back – As this was only a 2 day, 2 night trip that meant that it finished at 11am on day 3… so some sunbathing was done by all (once the clouds had cleared) on the way back. Quite a short day, but a good one.

And by no means the last time Pat was going to see the gang from Powerplay:

Post Trip “Debrief”
Yep, as with the Pro Dive dive training trip (and every trip before that), the inevitable “debriefing” session down the local was attended by most of the folk from the trip. Once again, Pat seems to have a little bit of a blank in his memory from this night – probably due to these factors:
Christian Gets A Couple Of Small Drinks This Is Around About Where It All Went Wrong...

Fortunately (or “fortunately”) in Pat and the others’ case, his camera didn’t suffer from such memory outages:
Special And Pob Jade And Pat In A Rowing Competition
WHO AARE YA? Perfectly Sober Table Dancing
Normal Definite Soberness From Jade

Needless to say, Pat’s Tuesday morning wasn’t one of his best (What he means to say is – I felt like dying. Oh, and I had to stay up til 11pm to get the night bus down to Agnes Water – Pat). He’s a very forward-thinking boy, our Pat…

So there you go! Some piccies from Agnes Water next up… then the hilarity-coupled-with-anger-and-fear that was Pat’s trip to Fraser Island!



…see the difference between them? Of course you do. Can you please teach me? Ta.

Yes, despite my previous attempt at going white water rafting going up the swannie due to the rafting company’s silly Hotel/Hostel muck up, the attempt this time was no better.

This time it wasn’t their fault. It was mine.

Somewhere between not being able to sleep last night (I think the excitement of going home and thus thinking about all the people to catch up with / things to do / places to go meant that my mind just couldn’t shut down – the last I remember it was gone 2am) and my alarm waking me up at 6am (for a 6:40am pickup), my subconsiousness decided that stopping my alarm, rather than snoozing it, was the best plan.

At least, that’s what I assume. I woke up at 9am none the wiser. Damn it.

Still, luckily I’d only lost the deposit on the trip – plus I managed to get my flights sorted to get back home (the lack of flight availability may have meant that doing it tomorrow would’ve been even harder to find dates any time soon), so I’m not too cheesed off. It’s a pain though, as that would’ve been fun.

Ho hum, worse things have happened at sea. Plus it’s rainy and a bit on the cool side today so it’d’ve probably have sucked. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself, anyway.

I’m such an idiot :-)


Dime Bar
Pat “Dime Bar” Scullion

by Squage
on Jun 20th, 2007

Learn To Fly Dive

# A long, long time ago,
# I can still remember,
# How that Scullion used to learn to Dive…

Yep, it was ages ago now, but when he was last in Cairns, Pat learned to dive. He even got a certification, allowing him to dive pretty much anywhere in the world without supervision.

Because he’s been banging on since that time about how bloody great diving is, I figured it’d be a nice idea to give you an idea how Pat’s 5 Day PADI Open Water Diver course went, in case you’re intruiged by what goes on.

So here goes:

Days 1 and 2
These were based at Pro Dive Cairns’ training centre and involved half theory and half practical (in the training centre’s 3 metre deep swimming pool) – along with a medical examination.

  • Theory
    As with many other skills you’ve got to understand the principles, “do”s, “don’t”s and important safety information prior to getting out there and diving. After all, you don’t want to jump in at the deep end! (Oh dear, this is going to be a tough read isn’t it? – Pat)

    This section was made up of three core parts:

    1. A large part of section involved watching “educational” PADI training videos. These came wiht not-at-all irritating cheesy American voiceovers – and some cut scenes starring a goofy bloke showing us, by example, what not to do – with HILARIOUS results. Pat remembers even vaguely smiling once, although that might’ve been due to the background music sounding like something some Carlin’s CHILDREN / COMEDY / SHORTS CD (Levin, check out that link as it’s the “Liono is a clown” tune!!!11one – Pat).
    2. Reviews of the video and a “question and answer” session (this was by far the most useful part)
    3. End-of-module “multiple choice” tests – and one final, wholey more complex… “multiple choice” test. It reminded Pat somewhat of the GCSE General Studies exam, except that he actually gave a damn about the PADI exam. That said, he probably did as much revision for each – and I’m sure you can guess how much that was *.

    Excitingly, Pat managed to ace all the end-of-module tests and only screw up on one of the 50 questions in the final exam. Apparently he was in shell shock for a while, as the idea of doing well in an exam was something that had been long since forgotten…

    * That’s right: 3 solid years of revision.

  • Practical
    This was by far the more interesting part of the first two days, whereupon Pat and the other 10 or so people in his group eased (or forced, in Pat’s case) themselves into their wetsuits, attached their air tanks to their BCDs (Boyancy Control Devices (a jacket, which you can inflate/deflate as required in order to… you guessed it… control your boyancy!)), plonked their masks and fins on and walked into the training centre swimming pool.

    This was the section Pat was feeling a little nervous about, as it would show him and everyone else whether a) he was actually learning anything he’d been told or b) he would panic as soon as he went underwater. Luckily for him, it turned out that a) yes and b) no. In fact, he took to being underwater with his breathing equipment, BCD et al on like a fish to water (or whatever the phrase is).

    The instructors show by example various techniques that you need to learn, and then each of the team follow suit. What do you learn to do? Well, in your buddy pairs (key point: when diving, you ALWAYS dive with someone else (your “buddy”)), you do the following:

    • Signal for help / to go up / that you’re ok / that you’re low on air / out of air / that there’s a fupping big shark next to you etc
    • Clear your mask
    • Remove your mask and replace it
    • Remove your regulator (breathing bit wot you put in your mouth) and put your buddy’s reserve regulator in
    • Head towards the surface with/without a regulator in
    • Gain “neutral boyancy” – whereupon you can control whether you move up or down in the water purely with your lungs… it’s quite cool!
    • Various other things!

    Above the water you learn to do things like carrying your buddy towards your boat (if they’re too knackered to move themselves) and also not to wave to say “hi!” (waving means “ARGH I’M IN TROUBLE!”).

    The weirdest thing for Pat in this section was going so deep (4 metres) that you HAD to “equalise” (pop your ears by holding your nose and blowing hard) to prevent the water pressure “knackering up” your ears. He also had trouble grasping the fact that a “thumbs up” meant “I/we need to go up” – not “wicked cool”, “skill” or “rad” (I think that’s what the cool kids say nowadays, right?) Two weeks after this course, on a separate diving trip Pat was STILL occasionally responding to someone showing him a cool sea creature by giving a two-thumbs up – followed by a shake of head, and a few “ok” signs instead. He’s a fast learner, our Scullion.

Days 3, 4 and 5
My Diving Buddy And Roommate!These were spent out on the gorgeous barrier reef on board Scubapro, one of three Pro Dive boats fully kitted out for diving entertainment. There were about 30 on board (including people who were training for their Dive Master certification, Advanced certification and the Open Water certification peeps) and each buddy pair had their own, rather roomy cabin. Pat’s diving buddy Sebastian is seen to the right enjoying their spacious cabin. The photo’s taken from the corridor in order to be able to see that much of him.

Boat In The WaterEssentially, all that was done in the ocean was the same as in the swimming pool – just at between 12 and 18 metres below the surface surrounded by an amazing, colourful alien world teeming with life. Visibility was probably as good as you’d get a swimming pool, too – up to 35 metres at some points! The water, as you can see to the right, was quite pleasant…

On each dive various tasks were performed, a different selection on each dive, and at the end of each dive the tasks were ticked off on each person’s PADI Open Water Diver checklist.

Trying To Smile...
Still doing the thumbs up even on day 5…

One of the strange things Pat noticed was that being on the surface tended to be a lot more unnatural and unnerving than underwater. Mainly, it’s due to the contrast of above and below the surface:


  • Waves bobbing you up and down
  • Boat noise, wave/splash noise, people shouting stuff at eachother
  • Water splashing in your face
  • Water droplets on your mask impeding vision
  • Very limited idea of what’s under you
  • A lack of movement due to a fully inflated BCD (you kinda have to lean back and just float there like a wetsuit covered log)


  • You can see around clearly (visibility allowing that is – which on Pat’s training was at a minimum 15 metres and a maximum over 30 metres!)
  • There’s a real sense of calm and tranquility all around
  • You can move about freely… it feels a little like flying.

Not hard to see why Pat preferred things underwater. He also found that there was an odd sensation of unease whenever he went to descend underwater. Despite breathing through the regulator above the surface, whilst deflating his BCD and beginning to sink he had a strange feeling that he might drown. I guess it’s because, more often than not, you don’t have an oxygen regulator stuck in your gob and as such if you’re slowly sinking in some water you probably are about to cop it. Once underwater though, as soon as he took his first breath he was perfectly at ease.

I guess that might be the part where a lot of people panic. That and when they’re diving in shark infested water.

Group Shot!Pat had a good group of people to dive with. Sebastian (Pat’s German buddy) had an excellent dry sense of humour. Paul (from Colchester, no less!) was a top bloke, doing his Dive Master training and really easy to get along with (and discuss the delights of such things as Dukes Genesis nightclub in Chelmsford). Gemma (from Ooop Nooorth) was a top lass, really funny and shared Pat’s sense of humour (poor girl). Gav (from Scotland) was a very funny fella. There were lots of other cool peeps and everyone got on really well.

Instructor-wise there was Oscar, a Kiwi ex-rugby player who was very knowledgable but rather on the strict side. Then Kay, a Chinese… well, a Chinese mad bloke, with a limited grasp of English but an excellent sense of humour (for example, after any “attention please people” announcement in the galley from one of the crew, he’d follow it up by adding his own formal-sounding announcement which was often along the lines of “Oscar likes to wear lady underwear”… well, I think you had to be there to appreciate it). Finally there was Katie, who’s English and in Pat’s words “fit as” (I, er, meant she didn’t get tired quickly – Pat) Oh aye? (No, no not like… oh forget it – Pat) and really helpful to everyone.

Evenings were a quiet affair on the boat, mainly because everyone was FULLY KNACKERED from their days of diving, so most people were in bed by 9pm (including Pat)… ready to be woken up at 6am for more diving action.

Because Pat, Sebastian and Ian wanted to get their “Adventure Diver” certification, which would allow them to be able to perform night dives and deep dives (up to 40m), they had to partake in both of these during the trip.

The night dive was very strange as aside from the torches of the diving group it was totally, utterly dark. Possibly more peaceful than daytime diving, although signalling was a lot harder (as you had to shine your torch at another person / into their beam to attract attention, then point it towards yourself in order to then make the signal you wanted – which, to add more fun to the equation, was often a different signal to that made on daytime dives).

The 30 metre deep dive was a very strange experience. There’s a phenomena known as Nitrogen Narcosis, which (according to Wikipedia) is “a reversible alteration in consciousness producing a state similar to alcohol intoxication in scuba divers at depth”. This occurs any time after about 25 metres and can cause people to do such clever things as take their regulators out and think that having 20bar left in their oxygen tank is fine to last them the next 10 minutes.

Oscar took us down to the sea floor at 30m (well, 29.7m according to Pat’s dive computer) and gave us some puzzles and memory tasks to do (I won’t spoil these just in case you end up doing them at some point). Pat actually found them easy to do… so was convinced he actually wasn’t “Narc’d”. That was until a fish started swimming towards Pat, which Pat for some reason found really funny looking. To the extent he started giggling like an idiot. To this day he can’t quite explain why it was so funny, so I guess he was feeling the effects :-)

Pat’s last dive (in order to get his Adventure Diver status) could’ve been from many skill categories and he chose underwater photography. Here’re some of the things he managed to snap:
Coral And Fish Which Way Up?
Romford Stadium Angry Nemo!
Can Anyone Think Of A Good Clam Pun? Silouhetted Scuba Scullion!
My Buddy!

Apparently it’s very hard to stay totally still, even at neutral boyancy because currents move you horizontally. That’s his excuse anyway.

Post Diving Party
As is customary for any trip / training course, a post-trip drinking session had to be partaken. Pat’s been fairly useless as a source of information for what exactly happened that evening, but apparently it involved Jager bombs, snake bites, shots and some other horrible sounding concoctions… and lots of laughing. And rather “sober” looking photos:
Apparently, Gemma Didn't Expect The Shot At This Exact Point Good God, Will Someone PLEASE Drink Some Alcohol?
Stop Pretending, We Know That's Just Ribena! Hey Look!  A Sober Photo!

So there ya go – it’s about 2 months late, but it’s (hopefully) better late than never! Next up? Pat’s Whitsundays sailing trip. Don’t worry, there’ll be more photos and less text (a bit like More Music And Less Chat, but in Blog form. Without adverts. Or Dave Kelly telling you there’s More Music And Less Chat every 3 seconds)!

Til then… toodles!


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