by Pat
on May 20th, 2007

It’s Only Fair…

…that if I whinge about being treated badly by one Internet company, I should praise another for providing great service.

So here we go: Bytemark Hosting are great! ™

I say this because along with the excellent level of service and customer support, they’ve now massively upgraded all their virtual server specifications. I’ve got a virtual server with them (it runs this ‘ere site, along with some others) and I found it good value BEFORE the upgrade… but now I’m Fully Loving It ™.

Spec Before After
RAM 80MB 150MB
Disk 4GB 10GB
Backup Space 1GB 2GB
Bandwidth (Monthly) 25GB 25GB
Cost (Yearly, Ex VAT) 150GBP 150GBP

Hey, Lamehosts, are you looking at this?

So, if you want to host multiple web sites on one box, or just have the flexibility to install anything you want (e.g. Icecast, WordPress, various databases and languages – hey even a Quake 3 server would work, I’d wager), with great uptime and customer support for a very reasonable price then get on over to Bytemark.

That is all.


Shamelessly Plugging Stuff Since About 5 Minutes Ago.

by Pat
on May 13th, 2007

A Dingo Ate My Baby!

So, I’m at Hervey Bay. It’s a fairly big town on the east coast of Oz, somewhere between Cairns and Brisbane.

I’m bloody tired. Mainly ‘cos myself and a 9 other folk have just been camping, 4-wheel-driving on beaches and generally doing lots of wandering about – without much sleep – for the past three days *.

Yep, I’ve been on a self-drive tour of Fraser Island.

It’s been great fun (despite constantly worrying that we might do something to the vehicle that could incur the myriad of fines the company we got the 4x4s from seemed keen to charge), we’ve walked along beautiful beaches, swam in picturesque blue lakes, splashed around in huge waves and had many close encounters with the island’s residents: Dingos.

Before all this I was in Agnes Water / Town of 1770, just after a nice night bus. It’s a lovely, quiet little place with some bloody cheap activities (kayaking, which I took part in, surfing, airplane tours and scooter tours to name a few) – I’m gutted I was only there for one day. May stop by on my way back up to Cairns!

More details and photos will be on the way (details in Brisbane, photos sooner than that) but until then I’m going to head for a shower – and then a celebratory Pizza Hut Buffet with the gang. We’re celebrating getting back alive and without fines. Get in!

Til then, toodles!


* Also because I swam several hundred metres across Lake Mckenzie (and back) today. Gotta find some way of working off the Goon and tonight’s evening meal ;-)

by Pat
on May 7th, 2007

Hi! I’m In Airlie Beach!

And I’ve just finished a 2 day, 2 night adventure on the 42 foot Powerplay catamaran around the Whitsunday Islands.

Blogs will be on their way in more detail (just when Squage actually gets time to catch up on things… so probably in Brisbane!) but until then here’s a brief summary of my trip:

  • There were a great group of people – both the 4 crew and the 18 passengers
  • I did five scuba dives, which included:
    • Awesome coral, a reef shark, lots of clown fish (“Nemos”)
    • Video of a few of us running in “mid air” without fins on
    • Very “sexy” wetsuits
    • Videos of the same few doing underwater dancing (Macarena, Birdie Song, Stayin’ Alive, Hokey Cokey, YMCA and some Big-Fish-Little-Fish-Cardboard-Box action)
    • Inappropriate photos with Sea Cucumbers
  • We went to Whitehaven Beach. It was gorgeous – and empty when we got there (rather early in the morning). We spent a few hours enjoying the sights, taking group photos and making sculptures in the sand…
  • We sat in a hot tub on the outer deck as the boat sped through the Whitsunday waters
  • We watched Road Trip (“UNLEASH THE FURY!”) and White Squall (“Should we be watching a film about a massive sea storm whilst on a boat?”) on the 50″ projector display in the galley
  • We sat on the deck getting suntanned/burned(delete as appropriate)
  • We did various press ups through failing the Game Of Life (I’ll explain later)
  • We discussed life, the Universe and everything
  • We had plenty of laughs
  • We’re going out tonight for a meal and a few drinks. I’m hoping it won’t be quite as “few” as after my Pro Dive course last week…

Right now I’m in an Airlie Beach Internet cafe, having just spent a few very difficult hours lounging around by the Airlie Beach lagoon (as with good ol’ Cairns, you can swim in the sea but only if you enjoy dieing from jellyfish stings). The room is, uh, swaying a bit at the moment. I swear it takes longer to get used to being on solid land than being on a boat out at sea.

I’m also very tired. That’s what getting up at 6am to be in the water doing a dive around gorgeous coral reefs (just next to the beach where the “Where The Bloody Hell Are Ya?” advert was filmed) will do to you, I guess.

Tomorrow’s going to be a long day. After waking up to check out at 10am, I will then be in Airlie all day and getting the night bus to Agnes Water/Town Of 1770 at 11:50pm – arriving in AW/TO1170 at 9:55am. I really hope I can sleep on the bus.

Right, til the next time, take care and I hope you’re well!



Giddy and tired

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

Yes, despite getting up at 6am and feeling somewhat on the ker-nackered side, my 6:30am pick up to do the (supposedly awesome) Xtreme White Water Rafting didn’t turn up.

In fact, one did. But when that one arrived at 6:35am it just drove past with the driver responding to my wave with a wave of hello on his way.

By about 6:45am, I was beginning to wonder if, perhaps, that bus was, in fact, the one I should’ve got on.

By about 7:10am I was almost certain.

A phone call to Raging Thunder (along with insistance that the driver couldn’t’ve been waiting outside my accomodation for 5 minutes actually, as I’d been there since about 6:20am til 7:15am) later and it turns out that the driver had gone to the Cairns International Hotel. Yep, I’m at the Cairns International Hostel.

Their fault. They admitted they’d written it down wrong. That wasn’t much consolation for me at that time in the morning, but at least it meant I had time to catch up on blo-er, watch Squage catch up on blogs a bit.

Also, as it turns out I’m coming back up this way to work in June, so I’ve now got the ticket open-dated and hence haven’t lost any money. So that’s good.

I just wish I hadn’t got up at 6am to sit on a wall for an hour. Nevermind, eh?

In other news, I’m now booked for my trip down south. It goes like this:

  • 3rd May: Bus to Airlie Beach – leaving at 9am, arriving at 8pm. Ouch!
  • 4th: Soak up sun in Airlie Beach
  • 5th – 7th: Cruise on a the luxurious Powerplay Catamaran around the Whitsunday islands, doing lots of sunbathing, some snorkelling and hopefully some diving… oh and of course lazing in the on board jacuzzi!
  • 8th: Soak up more sun in Airlie, then take the night bus to Agnes Water / Town of 1770
  • 9th: Catch up on sleep during the morning (probably) and then spend the afternoon checking out Agnes Water / Town of 1770
  • 10th: Take the bus to Hervey Bay. Get briefed about the Fraser Island 4×4 Trip
  • 11th – 13th: Take a 4×4 around the sandy roads of Fraser Island, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and having a bit of a giggle
  • 14th: Take the bus to Noosa
  • 15th: Go to the Australia Zoo. Crikey!
  • 16th: Take the bus to Brisbane
  • 17th – 20th: Hang out in Brisbane plus check out the awesome Dream World and Wet N Wild theme parks!
  • 21st: Take the bus to Byron Bay
  • 22nd – 23rd: Learn to surf (read: fall over a lot) with Mojosurf at Byron Bay.
  • 24th: Take the bus to Coffs Harbour
  • 25th: Spend the day enjoying Coffs Harbour. Take the night bus to Sydney
  • 26th – 30th(ish): Hang out in Sydney, checking out places like Manly, Bondai and doing the Bridge Climb (or coming up with lame excuses regarding why I can’t this time either…)

After that it’s TO MELBOURNE, then probably back up here to Cairns via plane to do some work!

So there you have it. My next month in a nutshell. Here’s hoping it all goes to plan!



by Squage
on May 2nd, 2007

More About Darwin


Long time no speak – it seems Pat’s been hogging this blog space to gush about diving and rant about Fast(to-Charge-You-Fees-But-Rather-Slower-At-Actually-Providing-A-Service)hosts. Thought I’d fill you in on a couple of the bits about Darwin that Pat missed out:

  • Sitting By The Pool
    The Awesome Pool At The Cavenagh HostelPat mentioned this, but what he didn’t mention is that on one of the many times he (and often Liz) were sitting by pools, he couldn’t really see very well and was spending a fair amount of time moaning about painful eyes.

    Yep, despite previously falling for the same trap in a pool in Broome, he figured that the salty pool water meant that it was 100% desalinised and 0% Chlorinated.

    After 30 minutes or so of mucking around underwater, he noticed his vision had gone a little cloudy. Then came the chlorine pain. I have no sympathy, frankly…

  • Sights Of Darwin
    On his first full day in Darwin Pat took an early morning (well, around 9am – that’s bloody early for backpackers when they’re in a city) stroll around the town and coast line. Here are some piccie highlights from his trundle:

    Cairns Town Hall. The old one. As you might guess:

    War Tunnels (closed, alas, but I almost got through the grating!):
    Squage And The War Tunnel

    Pretty Coastline:

    Various War Memorials And Placards:
    What Is It Good For?

  • Darwin Museum And Art Gallery
    After going to see Liz’s travelling companion Melissa in hospital (alas one of her million “Broome Souveniers” (mozzie bites) had got infected so for 3 days of her Darwin trip the sights were somewhat limited to a curtain around her bed, whilst the sounds were limited to the sounds of someone coughing their guts up at the other side of her room), Pat and Liz went to get some culture at the Darwin Museum And Art Gallery.

    Clearly frightened by this concept, Pat ensured that the opportunity to be as childish as possible for as long as possible wasn’t missed and so on the way to the museum insisted that the following photo was taken:
    Pat tells me it’s funny. I don’t get it.

    Anyway, the museum was actually pretty cool (apparently… I was stuck in Pat’s back in a locker at reception. Maybe they were concerned I would be a Squage FULL OF BOMBS…). Pat recommends going there if you get a chance as a) it’s free, b) the stuff about Cyclone Tracy is both compelling and shocking to see and hear, c) it’s free, d) there’s an excellent area surrounding aboriginal history, e) it’s free, f) the area on the history of the planet is really interesting, g) it’s free and h) there’re some cool looking stuffed animals to see:

    Pat’s looking nervous there, but just you wait until you see the Litchfield ones below! (Aww wow, that was like a little radio tease that Pat used to do on SGR Colchester. Maybe I should play some ads here or something? Ok, here goes:

    Come to Cairns Diving School!
    It’s really pretty cool!
    We’ve got a swimming pool!
    We’ll teach you all the rule! (…s of diving)

    Cairns Diving School. A Diving School. In Cairns. YES!
    Come to Cairns Diving School!
    Or you will be a fool!
    Others may pull some wool!(…over your eyes regarding their quality of dive programmes)
    But we’re the only school! (…which teaches diving that is in our opinion of a high enough quality to be of use to you)

    Ok, that’s enough. On with the blog! (I think you need some sleep, mate – Pat))

  • Trips To “The Vic”
    Evening entertainment was had at the main backpacker pub/bar/club “The Vic” a number of times during the week, the most notable being the evening that Raf arrived from his 5 day Kimberlies tour and saw plenty of (i.e. far too much) alcohol consumed by all in attendance.

    Early in the evening, Liz took advantage of the free body painting service:
    Liz Getting Finishing Touches Cool!

    Then Raf took part in a drinking competition:

    He didn’t win. Mind you, it WAS ginger beer. I don’t blame him.

    Then it was onto the usual bout of sobriety:

    Pat was also very excited when, on the night after that above, he WON A HAT in a “guess the intro to a song first” competition. The premise was this: a song intro was played. The first person to run onto the stage and guess the song correctly won a prize. Pat spent the first 3 songs sitting down going “Yep, that’s blah by blah” about 10 seconds before anyone got on stage. On the 4th it was suggested that maybe he should actually get on stage with the next song. He did. He won a hat.

    So, believe it or not, there is a real advantage gained from doing prerecorded radio shows where all you hear is the first few seconds of each song. I think we can all agree it was worth it. I mean, for a start the hat Pat won was a beautiful fit:


  • Litchfield National Park Visit
    Starting with a 6:30am pick up, which Pat was really very happy about having stayed up drinking until about 12:30am, this was a surprisingly good day given how bloody awful Pat felt for at least half of it.

    The morning revolved around Crocodiles, which are abundant in the northern part of the Northern Territory – stopping firstly at the tour headquarters, where a 2 year old croc was in residence. In Pat’s first Mental Act Of The Day, he decided to hold it:
    Smiling With FEAR!
    Apparently it was soft, a bit scaly and rather cool to the touch. And a bit growly…

    Pat’s second Mental Act Of The Day involved saying “Ok” to the invitation of sitting in a small boat, setting out onto a river and watching his tour guide feeling an over-5-metres-long Crocodile called Hannibal The Cannibal (he eats anything, which was comforting news for the people on the boat to hear…) – at rather close range:

    Here He Comes…
    Here He Comes...

    Eyeing Up The Food…
    Eyeing Up The Food...

    Open Wide!
    Open Wide!


    Mental, I tell ya.

    The rest of the Litchfield experience revolved mainly around swimming at, around and under some gorgeous waterfalls and gorgeous water holes:

    And also admiring some of the local wildlife:
    Trying To Look Scary.  Actually Looking Comical. Termite Mounds: Big

    Before finally ending up back in Darwin for a champagne (and prawns, for everyone else) sunset:

So, yeah, a bit more to tell you than Pat had bothered with, eh? Hope that wasn’t too arduous. If so, watch out – I’ve still got Pat’s Cape Tribulation weekender, some Cairns stuff and a whole lot of Diving Bits to go on about!

By the way, if you want to see the Diving Photos, check them out here!

Toodles for now!


by Pat
on Apr 30th, 2007

I’m A Certified Diver!


Well THAT was an awesome few days. I’ll go on about it in more depth tomorrow by for now let’s just say this: the weather was lovely, the surface was calm, the underwater visibility was over 30 metres * in some sites.

I saw sea turtles, reef sharks, lots of sea cucumbers, barracudas, nudibranch, clown fish (or “Nemos” as they appear to be called around these parts)… and more.

I also dove to 30 metres and did a night dive… alongside a dive where I took various photos (no idea if they’re any good yet – not checked the CD) and as such I’m now not just a PADI Certified Open Water Diver, but a PADI Certified Adventure Diver too.

This means I can dive independently ** anywhere I want in up to 30 metre depths – which opens a LOT up to me (Open Water gets you 18 metres…).


More tomorrow :-)



Feeling a bit dizzy due to Land Sickness…

Notes for Diver Folk:
* I KNOW!!!
** Well, with a buddy, natch ;-)

by Pat
on Apr 27th, 2007

Adding Insult To Injury

Well, following various emails and a few phone calls from my Dad (thanks Dad!), Fasthosts’ve finally got their fingers out of their arses and reactivated, two weeks after I paid for the service. Which is nice.

They also sent me an email to let me know that, due to my original payment being over two weeks late, they’re charging me an additional 20GBP fee.

I’m very happy. So much so that I’m going to provide Fasthosts some free mentions in Google:

I think Fasthosts are rubbish. I believe Fasthosts are shit. In my experience Fasthosts are bad. I’ve found that Fasthosts have terrible customer serivce. I would not recommend using Fasthosts. I don’t like Fashosts. Fasthosts smell of old women and eggs. I think Fashosts suck more than a prototype, EU-Maximum Suction Limits-breaking Dyson vacuum cleaner. Fashosts are great! Only joking, Fasthosts are actually shite. “Tell Me Why? I Don’t Like Fasthosts”. “I Hate Fasthosts So Much Right Now”. Strewth – A Fashosts ate my baby! The Good, The Fasthosts And The Ugly. The Fast(hosts) And The Furious (Customers). 2 (Much Crap Support From) Fasthosts (Will Leave Me) 2 Furious (For Words).

Ok, that’s my utterly ineffectual “sticking it to the man” session done, I’m off to get some dinner.



by Pat
on Apr 26th, 2007

Diving Is Great!

Just a quick one to say that, after my first day of my 5 day PADI Open Water Diving Course with Pro Dive, I am FULLY looking forward to tomorrow and even more to the three “on a boat on the reef, doing dives amoungst amazing fish, mammals and plants” days starting on Saturday.

Today was half classroom based (the morning) and half practical based (the afternoon), with a medical sandwiched in between. Excitingly, I passed the medical, but alas 2 of the 12 of us didn’t and had to go back to their hostels.

The classroom work involved watching information DVDs, going through the points made in a less cheesy American fashion and doing a couple of multiple choice quizzes. We even got some homework to do (although I’m not sure I’ll be any good at it as, well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to motivate myself to study in my own time and, as you might know, I wasn’t all that amazing at that whilst at Uni. At least there’s no student radio station here, eh? ;-) ).

The practical part of things involved getting used to the diving gear in the swimming pool and doing such things as “seeing what it’s like when your air runs out”, sharing your buddy’s air / sharing yours with your buddy, descending, ascending and all that.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like it at first but I can safely say that I really enjoy being underwater with all the diving gear on. I guess I’m a bit of a water baby. It would explain my love of swimming underwater… and at least with diving I’ve got a mask on so my eyes don’t feel like they’re about to bleed for five hours after a long swimming pool sesh…

Bring on the reef!!

Right, time to go and get a nice $10 meal and pint at The Woolshed pub. I’m a classy guy.



P.S. More stuff about my time in Darwin, Cairns, Cape Tribulation, plus the full low down on the diving course will hopefully emerge next week.
P.P.S. I’ve got lots of stuff booked for the east coast – I’m now doing “Xtreme” river rafting on the Tully river, sailing (with more diving) around the Whitsundays group of islands, 4×4 driving on Fraser Island, surf lessons in Byron Bay and, of course, some theme parks on the Gold Coast. I might even do the Syndey harbour bridge climb when I get there this time. Wooh!

by Pat
on Apr 25th, 2007

You Owe Us 0.00GBP!

Yes, I write to you from the other side of the world, in a lovely sunny city by the ocean, having just done two awesome Minjin Jungle Swings, to write a rant about a web hosting company.

Nothing to do with the Big Adventure really, but seeing as the site I used to blog before travelling is the one that is hosted on Fasthosts I don’t have much of an option.

A Bit Of History
Another domain I’ve got ( is used for my General Stuff ™ website for such things as Most Of My (and others-close-to-me’s) Email ™. I use Fasthosts to do the hosting – mostly out of laziness nowadays as I host other domains (such as with better companies.

At the end of March my one year web-and-email hosting period expired, so they tried to charge me for another year so as to keep it running – but the card details they had in their possession had expired.

So they emailed me. Probably. On an email address I’d forgotten about that forwards to a full account and probably just rejected. Oops. They may have phoned my UK number too. I didn’t check. Oops.

Luckily I noticed that they’d disabled the web component of about 2 weeks ago and so I managed to log on to the Fasthosts Control Panel, enter my new card details and pay my year’s subscription to a) reactivate the web component and b) prevent the emails et al being suspended.

I got a reciept from them confirming that all payments had been made. Problem solved.

Or so I thought…

“You Still Owe Us Nothing!”
A day after paying, I checked to find that its web components were still disabled. On going back to the control panel I was told that I still had payments outstanding. I went to the payment screen to be shown this:

Oh shit! I’d best pay that 0.00GBP straight away!

“Ok”, I figured, “this’ll resolve itself in a day or so” then forgot about it and got on with enjoying my travels. Yesterday night I found that this was STILL the case. This afternoon I received a text from home saying “Emails aren’t working – can you help?

Attempting to Get Customer Support
This morning I decided I needed to get this sorted out – there seemed to be no way to get my account activated via Fasthosts’ Control Panel – as every single option available to me just brought me back to the “Oi! You owe us money!” page (well, that’s a lie – if I was on the payment page and attempted to navigate using the page’s menus, it would just throw up errors as somehow it would try to access httpss://… genius).

I sent a detailed email describing my situation to the accounts department. I also mentioned that, whilst I could provide my account number, I could not provide my account “pin” as in order to get to this I needed to check my Fashosts Control Panel… which was locked out.

This afternoon I recieved the automated reply:

This is an automated reply and your query has not been seen by our Support Team.

We have not been able to process your support request as either your account number and support PIN were missing or incorrect.

Please re-send your request, including your account number and PIN in the first two lines of your email, remembering to include the “n” in your account number.

Brilliant. Fortunately the email suggested visiting a special page to have my details sent to me. I went there – and it worked! Sort of. The email I recieved pointed me to ANOTHER web page to grab my pin from.

Good news – from there I could email my account number and pin! Thing is… I did that 15 minutes ago and have received nothing.

In the mean time I’ve emailed Sales@. Then it’s onto POWER EMAILING.

Remind me in September to transfer everything away from Fasthosts, will you? Ta.


15 minutes later and they’ve now emailed the pin. I’ve emailed support again and this time I’ve been given a case number etc. Hopefully things should be on the mend now!

(Oh and I got a reply from the Sales Team. What was their advice? “Contact Customer Support, including your account number and Pin.” Awesome.

by Pat
on Apr 20th, 2007

1:40am Flights Are A Bad Idea

Particularly if you’re already tired due to a night out at The Vic in Darwin the night before, then do a (great) day trip to Litchfield National Park during the day and then go out in the evening prior to the flight.

Nevertheless, I made it on my flight from Darwin to Cairns… via Brisbane (hooray for the budget flight involving doing about twice the distance needed)… and am now in Cairns, feeling a bit better despite being awake for about 28 hours – as I’ve had a nice 5 hour sleep this afternoon.

I’ve noticed that I didn’t really mention anything about Darwin – well, it’s nice. Not a great deal to do, but the city’s clean, people seem pretty nice and the coast is lurvely (despite being somewhat inaccessible due to jellyfish). I spent about 4 days there and did such things as a) use the Internet (wow), b) visit the Museum and Art Gallery (very interesting, particularly the stuff about Cyclone Tracey), c) Walk around in the sun and d) sit by a pool at one of two hostels, occasionally doing some swimming. “d)” was mostly performed.

Now I’m in Cairns and there’s lots more going to be going on:

  • Cape Tribulation / Port Headland Visit – Tomorrow Raf (from my Perth to Broome tour), James and Liz (both from my Heading Bush tour) are going to be hiring a car and heading up to that gorgeous area, staying overnight. Should be ace!
  • Atherton Tablelands – Again a hire car will be involved (although not sure who’s coming yet) and we’ll be enjoying the impressive views in the ‘lands
  • Kuranda Scenic Rail / SkyRail – A lovely scenic winding old railway into the forests, followed by some Koala holding at an animal park and then a trip on the world’s longest Gondola thing (a full 7.2km long) across the hills and valleys
  • Minjin – Not quite a bungy, more of a biiiig swing thing that you sit in. It’s at the Cairns bungy site and is run by the same folk who somehow convinced m e to jump off a bridge with in New Zealand…
  • 5 DAY LEARN TO DIVE COURSE! – On Thursday I’m going to be embarking on a 2 day classroom, 3 day “on the sea” diving course to get my PADI Open Water Diving license – and have an amazing time. It’s with Pro Dive Cairns, who a number of people tell me are the best (big thanks to Mr Gib for the recommendation!)

For now though, I’ve got some dried clothes to fold up and then some dinner to have. Live the dream ;-)



A bit tired

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