Adelaide Migrants, making tracks – and Life on the Streets!
Friday 6th March 2020. How do you feel about trams? Personally, I find them a little boring. As a boy, I was enchanted by the aura of the steam engine – a powerful, breathing beast of a thing that constantly needed feeding with coal, and yet could pull coach-loads of us hundreds of miles across the country at will. No wonder I grew up with a vivid imagination! But steam died out in the 1960’s and was eventually replaced by electric trains with as much appeal as a cardboard box, gliding on rails with no more effort than a quiet hum. The tram is a close cousin, and therefore I look at these modern buses-on-tracks with something akin to resentment. Those that now inhabit the streets of Manchester, Blackpool, Edinburgh and many other cities across Europe all seem to have been cloned. As do the ones that now operate between Glenelg and the City of Adelaide.
We boarded one of these look-alikes at Moseley Square after puzzling out the automated ticket machine with a Canadian couple and their daughter. We’d met the former yesterday, doing the same as us by trying to plan ahead. For a reasonable sum of $10.60 each, we could travel all day on the network, to include the northern stretch to Port Adelaide, which was our intention. Trams ran every fifteen minutes, and the journey into the CBD (Central Business District) took about half an hour. We passed through suburban Adelaide, noting the proliferation of bungalows in so many different styles. Here was another difference to the UK: no building estates that we could see. Residential housing had sprung up over the years as a result of individual plots being purchased, and then built upon to a particular specification. Land was cheap (there’s plenty of it in Australia). In my parents’ time it had been a shortage of labour and materials that slowed the boom in housing.
Today I wanted to look at the areas Mollie and Eric Veale had encountered when they first arrived in the country on 4th November 1949. They had spent their first few nights at the Elder Park Migrant Hostel, and we alighted from our tram a few hundred yards from the original site, just off North Terrace. Where the hostel once was, the Festival buildings now stand, Adelaide being very big on festivals.
The City is built in two halves, north and south of the River Torrens, and is surrounded by parklands. Our journey had taken us out of low-lying residences, through a pastoral landscape about half a mile wide, into the towering city district of concrete, brick and glass several storeys high. The buildings were a fascinating mix of old and new, with wide streets in a grid formation. It is not huge, but airy and graceful, and we had a very short walk past Parliament House, round the corner where the Festival Centre was being revamped, and into Elder Park itself.
The Rotunda is the centrepiece of the park. Donated by philanthropist and Scottish businessman Sir Thomas Elder, it was built in Glasgow in 1881 and shipped over the following year. Sir Tom was also known for having introduced camels to Australia. (Yes, really!) So, in 1949, my parents and sister were drawn to this same spot. It was, after all, on their doorstep at the time, and my Dad took several photos in the park.
On the left (above) is a view of the river taken by my father, with a similar view as it is today, taken from the Rotunda. In 1949 there were still several English oaks and elms along the paths, but these have all but disappeared after modern re-landscaping. One remains here (below), but the area still remains attractive to the eye.
I had a prior appointment at 11 am, where the curator of the Migration Museum, Corinne Ball, would show us round their exhibits. I was donating a copy of my book, which she had already partly read with interest as she was a migrant from Essex herself. She and her husband Duncan had come out on a working holiday in the nineteen nineties – and just stayed. Their personal experience was vastly different to that of so many earlier migrants (including my family), as the museum is intended to display.
You don’t have to walk far in Adelaide to be entertained. From February into March is Festival time, and every two years they hold a “Fringe” arts theme. It’s more “low-key” than Edinburgh, and we had no previous experience of how such an event might transform this city, but there were plenty of people out enjoying the pleasant weather, and it took less than ten minutes from leaving the museum to reach the pedestrian precinct of Rundle Mall (formerly Rundle Street). Here were families with young children enjoying a huge temporary doll’s house, and along the length were various forms of street entertainment, including this guy, a Canadian professional with a great style of humour, who kept plenty of us amused for around thirty minutes.
A couple of cold beers in the warm sunshine later, we were ready for the next part of our day. We retraced our steps up King William Street and back on to North Terrace to the splendid edifice that is Adelaide’s railway station. Externally at least, it looks much the same as it would have done to Mollie and Eric when they caught the train for the next leg of their journey. But inside? Probably not. We had to negotiate electronic barriers with our ‘all-day’ tickets and find the train service out of the CBD to Port Adelaide.
When my parents arrived by boat after a six-week voyage, the port was where they would have disembarked before taking a relatively short bus ride to the Migrant Hostel. The train (one of those boring electric affairs) dropped us off after a twenty-minute journey at a small platform, where we had to descend about a hundred steps to reach a major road, then trek another half mile before we spotted what would evidently have been (and still is) a major landmark.
While researching A Kangaroo In My Sideboard I had encountered a gap in time between the date of arrival in Port Adelaide, and their subsequent onward journey. What had kept the Veale family at the hostel for four days when Mollie had referred in her letters to Hurtle meeting them off the boat? A guy called Malcolm Thompson working at the National Railway Museum (in Port Adelaide) supplied part of the answer. The train service to Hurtle’s place at Keith only ran on certain days of the week. Today there is no rail connection at all. Malcolm had checked old records from 1949 for me, and it was this information, together with the logical deduction that anything in the hold would have taken longer to be offloaded than the passengers, that provided the solution: they had no choice.
So, I wanted to call at the Museum and leave a copy of AKIMS for Malcolm by way of thanks. Alas, I’d missed him, but we still had a lovely chat with another friendly Aussie before heading off to enjoy some finger-licking morsels.
The day ended by reversing our steps, up those to reach the platform, back by train to the CBD, and then the tram to Glenelg. By this time, we were showing no ill-effects from fast food, so we rewarded ourselves with a slow ice cream from one of the Jetty Road gelaterias.
Friendly Glenelg, Pavements of Memories – and the Battle of the Toilet Rolls!
Thursday 5th March 2020. Jet lag is a puzzling phenomenon. One of us (me) managed to sleep until 5 am, waking up to find I was alone in the bed. Elaine was sat on the settee opposite, reading an ebook on her tablet. “What happened?” “Couldn’t sleep.” Part of it may have been excitement. Part may have been a strange bed. But part of it could have been down to the 23 hours of sitting upright, drinking copious amounts of fluids (some alcoholic), eating six tray-loads of airline-processed food, and digesting the contents of half a dozen unmemorable movies.
Breakfast came after we’d spent the next two hours unpacking and having a shower. Outside the weather was sunny and warm, and the dining room a minutes’ walk away. Inside we met more beaming faces – from our hostess Samantha, and some guests, including a couple from the UK. No wonder they were smiling – the home-cooked food was plentiful and tasty (6 rashers of the tastiest bacon… mmmmm…) and the TV news was covering an incident in a Melbourne supermarket where customers had been battling over a scarcity of toilet rolls… Talk about Trouble Down Under.
After breakfast we completed the checking-in procedure with manager Kylie, who gave us a few pointers on where to find things. We were soon ready to explore, and like most people staying at the motel, we started by making our way to the beach.
Now seems the best opportunity to explain my interest in Glenelg:
This is Adelaide’s equivalent to Sydney’s Bondi Beach (without the surf). The airport is just up the road (see Day Two), and it is a popular tourist spot in its own right. But I have a personal connection. My Mum and Dad (and four-year-old Susan) found refuge in Glenelg for just over two months in 1950 after my Dad had a major bust-up with his “business partner”, Hurtle. My mother had a miscarriage here, receiving medical attention in a private hospital, and my father found temporary work in the town to raise necessary funds to pay for their passage home. Thanks to the letters kept by Mollie’s sister-in-law Elsie, and the photographs taken by Eric, I knew exactly what to look for in modern-day Glenelg.
As we left the motel, we were immediately struck by the sleepy ambience of the neighbourhood. All around us were single storey dwellings within their own grounds, grass-verged pavements and plenty of trees. The pleasant warmth and sunshine added to the enjoyment as we turned onto St Annes Terrace and arrived at a wide (but empty) road by a quiet marina with a promenade and gentle lawns. We followed the path leading towards the beach, nodding and smiling at anyone we met on the way, taking in the old-fashioned tram placed under a shelter in memory of its peers that ran between Glenelg and the City for eighty years from 1929.
Another curiosity we spotted under our feet were groups of paving plaques like this:
The ones above relate to a local policeman who appears to have paid the ultimate price doing his duty, but there were hundreds of others, seemingly personal memorials for private individuals in an area where the public passed every day. I’d love to have left one for my parents.
Also under our feet was a total lack of something we almost accept as the “norm” in the UK: dog poo. Perhaps the reason is a subtly different approach by local authorities all over Australia. No excuse for not picking it up if there’s always a bag handy…
We could see the beach before we got to it. This was displayed on the side of a building near the marina, and is a view of Glenelg Beach that would have been familiar to my parents if they’d been there in the summer:
Even from that photo, it is clear that the sandy beach is popular for a reason. As we reached it, we could see how light it was, almost white, and very fine grained. My Dad took several photos of Mum and Sue there, and to my delight we soon found the exact spot where some of his “snaps” had been taken. Look at these two photographs that have the same building (and tree) in the background.
Meandering slowly along the promenade, we met crowds of schoolchildren and their teachers assembling for a volleyball competition. It may have been the start of Australia’s autumn, but the sun was still strong enough for regulation hats to be worn.
Just around the corner, opposite the jetty, is the heart of Glenelg – Moseley Square. This is the community hub, where the tram terminus is surrounded by bars and restaurants, and where the main shopping street (Jetty Road) begins.
This area’s footprint has changed little over the years, and I’m sure my parents would recognise the town that is Glenelg today. It is an affluent area, well-maintained and with a busy high street that speaks of a strong economy. We walked up Jetty Road, taking in the atmosphere and noting the politeness of the local drivers, stopping for us as we negotiated side streets. That done, it was time to go to church…
Someone was just opening the front doors as we approached St Andrews, and they let us inside, delighted to hear my reasons for wanting to visit. They were just about to open up their “Friendship Café”, where various goods were distributed among the needy within the parish, so we didn’t stop long.
A little further along Jetty Road we came to the junction with Byron Street. This took us into a residential area where almost every building was single storey, many with a distinctive corrugated roofing typical of Australian dwellings. This was where the Veale family lived between early June and late August 1950. Many of the houses will essentially be the same ones my parents walked past on their way to the shops or beach, and the general impression they gave was distinctly colonial, with cool verandas and American-style mailboxes at their gates. All of them were individual, and several had fencing made of reeds, like the thatch we see on some English cottages. Others were in wrought iron or wood, but the general impression was of a “well-to-do” neighbourhood.
My focus was on Number 22. Split into two apartments, Mum and Dad lived in the right hand one, where my Big/Little Sister once managed to lock them all out!
My tour of Veale History was over for the moment, and we continued up the road to the Anzac Highway. Kylie, the manager of the motel, had recommended a bakery there called “Orange Spot”, but breakfast had been really filling so we only called in out of curiosity before returning to Moseley Square for a coffee.
The old Post Office had been turned into a coffee shop, and as it has been there since 1911, I am quite sure my Mum would have called in to send her letters to family at home – so this had to be our choice for refreshment.
There was nothing of the original left inside, alas, but the coffee was good, and the natives friendly. Elaine almost immediately struck up a conversation with an older couple from Tamworth near Sydney, pumping them for information on what we might find there. Then we were ready to shop. One of my first purchases was from the Vodafone store. My smartphone has a slot for two SIM cards, and with the next three weeks in mind, I needed a second SIM to access data and local contacts on an Australian number. We also wanted water for our fridge back at the motel, some snacks and maybe a few beers – so we asked for directions to a supermarket and found it just off Jetty Road. Here we discovered a major cultural difference between Oz and the UK: supermarkets don’t sell alcohol!!!
Instead we sampled the real thing at a bar overlooking the jetty ($8 a pint – about £4 each) before picking up some of the same stuff (West End - 6 cans for $16.90) at a liquor store on the way back to the motel. By now we could feel some real heat in the sun, and our respective levels of jetlag were calling for a little siesta.
It was also an opportunity to take the technical challenge of installing my new SIM card, and to test it by calling Linc. Up to this point we had only conversed by email, but after five years it seemed just as comfortable talking over the phone, with both of us feeling the emotion of being that little bit closer.
Elaine managed a little bit of sunbathing, sat outside the chalet, and then we started out on another ambitious endeavour: what would Aussie fish ‘n chips taste like? Linc had promised he would cook some fresh for us when we got there, but that was some time off and we were hungry now. So we took the short-cut through to Jetty Road and found our way back to Moseley Square. I have to report that the bar (for Linc) was set pretty low. The one place we found that looked anywhere near promising would have been better sited in Blackpool (not an appealing place in my view), and the fare on this occasion was disappointing.
But we walked it off up the jetty itself, enjoying a different perspective from that in the morning, when there had been so many crowds.
Two oriental-looking boys were at the end, doing some line-fishing with fish heads. They’d (literally) just caught a crab, and were checking against a size-chart to see if it was big enough for supper. A centimetre over, they were luckier than we’d been. We wandered back along that gorgeous beach, stopping to speak to two more friendly locals – a couple of girls who were looking after an area set aside for sun-bathers on loungers. Our first day in Australia was almost over, and we had been overwhelmed by the friendly nature of every Aussie we had met. All looked promising, and before we settled down that night, we enjoyed a chat over the phone with Sue Mac, calling us from Delamere, our hostess for when we would reach that area in another week’s time.
Our welcome to Australia was complete!
The Three Bears, The Three Eighty – and the Aussie Cycling Team!
Tuesday 3rd March 2020. I’d waited over thirty years for this day to come. Mum had died on 9th October 1985 at the tender age of 70. Dad had passed away 28 years earlier, aged 43, and their experiences living in Australia for a short while had only been briefly mentioned. Big Sister Sue was four years old when the Veale family left Adelaide in August 1950, so between us that particular period of family history was destined to pass from living memory.
Until Elsie found the letters.
I had a lot on my mind as I dragged the first case out to the car. Just after half past eight in the morning, a light drizzle and around 5 degrees Celsius. We had about an hour’s drive ahead of us, so if we left by nine we should be at the airport in plenty of time before our flight. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance…
We’d even got new luggage – a matching set in burgundy that reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Baby Bear, Mummy Bear and Daddy Bear. Elaine had done a fair job of loading most of her wardrobe into Daddy Bear, and as I lifted this 23.8 kilo heavyweight into the boot of the car, I realised there was no room left in it, even for Baby Bear! So Mummy and Baby had to share the back seat – locked, stocked and labelled. We would be living out of these three for the next few weeks, so they were going to be treated with as much care as I and the airport baggage handlers could muster.
Driving to Manchester Airport was a familiar routine, joining the M6 motorway at Preston, then driving south to meet the M56 for the last part. Today the rain was persistent, and the traffic busy. Elaine wisely kept her head in a book while I battled with the wipers and the speed merchants to get us safely through the first leg of our long, long journey. But I did let one part of my brain ponder on how we’d come to this day.
Elsie gave me that bundle of letters some months after Mum died, in 1986. “You might like to keep these. I don’t know why I kept them, but it makes better sense that you have them now.” I had to agree with her. Two years before, I had won a national playwriting competition. Writing was becoming as much of a passion for me as performing. These letters were my Mum’s words, penned from the heart and presenting vivid pictures of a time before I was born. I had devoured those words in 1986, my emotions in free-fall as I learned so much about the life my parents led nearly forty years earlier. It took almost another thirty before I had the tools and experience to attempt it, but in 2018 my Mum’s story was finally told in the form of a published memoir, and I was at the right point in my life to follow her path. Tomorrow I would set foot in Australia.
This was to be our first experience of the “Meet and Greet” parking facility. Normally, our holidays were just a week long, and we would leave the car in an off-site park before taking a shuttle bus to the terminal. But this was a special trip, and the car was to be left for over three weeks. All went smoothly, and within minutes of parking up we were wheeling the Three Bears into Terminal 1. Our flight would be Emirates E018, scheduled to leave at 13.10, and we were dropping off our bags at almost precisely the regulation three hours before departure. The girl on the desk was friendly and efficient, but not open to Elaine’s enquiry about potential for an upgrade if the flight wasn’t full… Oh well – we tried. Economy Class would still be a wonderful experience?
Walking through Security with minimal hand luggage was a novelty, and we only had Baby Bear and Elaine’s small holdall for company. Our smallest case was a form of insurance: containing a few “valuables” and a change of clothing, just in case Mummy and Daddy Bear went Walkabout by the time we reached Adelaide. Could we be that unlucky?
We certainly felt relaxed and well-prepared once we’d passed the duty-free gauntlet. Time for a pre-flight drink, so while I was happy for one last pot of English tea, Elaine pushed the boat plane out with a couple of gin and tonics. At the appointed time we made our way to Gate 12, and had our first sight of the A380 aircraft that would take us to our stopover destination, Dubai.
I’d never flown in a wide-bodied jet before, and this even had an upstairs! We’d done our research (courtesy of Google) and selected seats at the pointy end, fairly close to the stairs up to Business Class, but away from the toilets and galley. The flight would be over seven hours, so we wanted to be as comfortable as our default Economy seats would allow.
We did find the experience quite pleasant, with just enough leg-room, and a complimentary pillow, blanket and headphones awaiting us. We had a seven-inch TV screen set into the seat in front, and a vast array of movies to choose from if we wished, while we charged our sundry devices from the adjacent USB port. (Okay, that’s the end of the commercial for Emirates.)
Take-off was more or less on time, smooth and very quiet for such a huge airplane. I found it fascinating to follow our progress on the screen in front of me, where I could see outside through three different cameras positioned on the outside of the aircraft. There was also an option to monitor the journey with real-time graphics depicting our route across the globe, including altitude, airspeed and the time left to reach our destination.
The other thing of note had to be the meals. Anyone who flies long distance will tell you it’s all about the food. The reason for this is not necessarily that what’s on offer is of a particularly high (or poor) standard. It is simply that there seems to be so much of it! When you’re sitting in one place for hours on end, trying to keep yourself occupied by watching back-to-back movies, or reading a book, the interruption of offers of complimentary snacks and/or drinks between meals is very welcome. So too are the meals themselves. The Emirates App I’d downloaded weeks before had provided details of the anticipated menus for lunch that we would receive, and soon after take-off the cabin staff handed out cards to confirm the choices available. In our case it was between Chicken Korma and Braised Beef, followed by Strawberry and Redcurrant Crumble. Proper metal cutlery came as standard, as well as a bread roll, coleslaw appetiser and a hot drink afterwards. All very welcome and well-presented – and quite tasty too.
Our flight to Dubai lasted around seven and a half hours, and we landed slightly ahead of schedule at around thirty minutes past midnight local time. Four hours ahead of the UK, we felt wide awake, and were happy to stretch our legs negotiating one of the biggest airport terminals in the world. The décor was impressive – marble, steel and glass, with a “cool” 23 degrees temperature and plenty of neon displays to inform the masses of our onward destination, or to encourage us to spend our dollars at any of the glittering displays of jewellery or high-class food outlets. Elaine was drawn to the former. (See above comments regarding food.)
With neither food nor bargain-basement jewellery to tempt us, the only pennies we spent were in the washrooms before passing through Security (again) to find our next gate for the longest part of our journey. The A380 had lived up to expectations, but the next leg was expected to be half as long again, through the night, and in an aircraft that could not boast an upper deck. How would a Boeing 777-200LR compare?
At the gate we got the first taste of new measures intended to cope with the spread of coronavirus. Until now, we had only seen one person at Manchester wearing a facemask. Here there were three officials with them on, and they were pointing temperature “guns” at our foreheads. A slightly intimidating experience, our discomfort aggravated further by being bodily padded down to check for weapons etc – but all in the interest of maintaining safety standards. It was about thirty minutes before our boarding time, and we found some seats away from the crowd, but soon there were plenty more joining us.
At this point I have to highlight a subtle difference between the two of us: while my strengths lie in the written word, Elaine can talk for England! And she’s very good at it. In fact, Elaine’s friendly nature towards people we met made the whole trip that much more enjoyable, opening up moments to treasure through conversation. Up until now our fellow passengers had largely appeared to be Brits flying on to other far-flung parts (as well as Australia), including one woman who told Elaine she was on her seventeenth trip to visit family in Adelaide. From this point on we would be getting to know some genuine Aussies!
Two men and two women sat on the seats in front of us, each of them clutching backpacks, and wearing identical black sports outfits. One of the backpacks had the name “Hayes” embroidered on it, and Elaine asked if they were on a cycling tour with Hayes Travel? “No,” was the reply. “We’re part of the Australian Cycling Team, and we’re just on our way back from the World Championships in Berlin!”
Indeed, the four were soon six, each with a different name on their backpack, and then around another twenty made their way past the temperature guns and body-searches. We found that their performance at the Championships had not been particularly successful – but then Team GB had done even worse… These were true Aussies: friendly, cheerful and optimistic. The Olympics in Tokyo were beckoning in the summer, so there was plenty more for them to look forward to.
Suitably impressed by our first encounter with the natives, it wasn’t long before we were called (in stages) to board our next aircraft, Flight EK 0440, leaving at 02.00 local time.
This time we were in the middle of the aircraft, getting a glimpse of the glitterati in Business Class as we walked through their compartment at the front to reach our seats. Not envious at all (!), we found a familiar collection of pillows, blankets etc awaiting our attention. In all respects the facilities of this aircraft were a good match for the A380, even down to the “starry” ceiling effect once the lights were dimmed for take-off. The difference this time was in our companions: A friendly Australian couple sat in the row in front of us, and immediately struck up a conversation, asking about ourselves and our plans. We told them the reasons for our visit, and they showed an interest, adding some recommendations for places to visit while we were in South Australia. They were from a town not far from Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, and they asked if we liked red wine. “Of course we do!” Their suggestion was to head to the Barossa Valley, and to look for a winery called Penfolds – a favourite spot of theirs. While we were chatting two more cyclists sat in the row behind us – and then a third came to occupy the window seat next to me. All of them had big beaming smiles, and we were already beginning to recognise these as an Aussie trademark.
We faced a flight of between 12 and 13 hours, crossing the Indian Ocean with India and Sri Lanka to our left, and then nothing but sea below us for most of that time. Adjusting to the time difference was not easy. Having left Dubai in the middle of the night, I had expected we would soon be trying to settle down for whatever sleep we could manage. But our cabin crew had other ideas, and started to serve us breakfast within the first hour. It seemed slightly surreal to be eating a cheese omelette, croissant and coffee at 3 am local time, but I wasn’t going to refuse it!
Sleep did come eventually, aided by ear plugs, an Emirates eye-mask, and our investment in a pair of special neck support/cushions that worked like a scarf wound tightly round the neck. I dozed on and off for a few hours, glancing at my screen one time to see a graphic of our plane flying over the ocean, but with the addition of a perfectly straight line crossing our path just ahead. It took a moment for me to realise this represented the equator, and instantly I remembered the passage in my Mum’s memoir when SS Esperance Bay had done the same. The Crossing the Line ceremony had been a colourful occasion for all ships in those days, and I had imagined my Big/Little sister complaining that she couldn’t see a physical line crossing the surface of the sea. Well, I could see it now!
The lengthy ocean stretch passed slowly but quietly, with the lights dimmed and most people either asleep or watching movies. I did watch a couple, but the experience seemed uncomfortable, the sound occasionally lower than I would like, and it was just something to pass the time. More memorable was the camera display underneath the aircraft, once we crossed the West Australian coastline exactly three hours before our scheduled landing in Adelaide. We flew above a terrain unlike anything I had seen before. The earth beneath was a rich combination of reds and browns, occasionally marked by yellow-ish streaks I assume were evidence of dried up river beds. Straight lines, indicating roads or railways, were a rarity – and townships of any size were completely absent. We might have been flying over the surface of Mars.
We landed with a bump or two, around twenty minutes early at 8.35 pm local time. We said fond farewells to our new friends, but the cyclists were still to make an impact on our progress. Border Control were masked up for virus prevention, and asked us if we had been to either China or Iran in the last 14 days? Realising it was a trick question, we both answered no. After safely collecting the Three Bears, we found ourselves in a lengthy queue behind two dozen Aussie cyclists as they meandered past more face-masked airport staff collecting immigration forms (we all had to complete them), with their special bikes boxed and crated in stacks on the luggage trolleys. One guy misjudged a corner (not medal-potential then) and yours truly helped him re-stack his load before we were able to escape into the warm Australian air and search for a taxi.
It was now around 9.15 pm, and our ultimate destination was the Glenelg Motel, about a ten-minute journey, so our taxi-ride was brief but door-to-door in a hybrid electric vehicle. The roads were quiet, and the fare twenty dollars (about £10). Undaunted by the gate preventing access to the motel, we and the Three Bears piled out in front of it. Anticipating our arrival “after hours”, the proprietor Kylie had left instructions for us to find our key in a code-protected safe on the outside wall. Everything went to plan, the gate slid open, and humans and bears were soon wheeled inside chalet number 7. It was a large room containing two beds (one a single), an en-suite bathroom, wardrobe, settee and a desk. We also found a fridge and essential instructions to operate the air-conditioning.
We’d been a long time away from our bed back in England. But with an opportunity to get our heads down on some proper pillows for a few hours, it would soon be time for the real adventure to begin.
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