Great Barrier Reef

Today I went to see the Great. Barrier Reef. Many of you know that I keep tropical fish. Well, its not entirely true that I keep them. More often than not I kill them, but the term is flexible. When the Archdeacon asks: me do you have a hobby?’ The answer is fish-keeping. He or she does not have to know that my hobby is fish killing. I would never get a job on that basis!

Incidentally, I was very excited on my birthday when I heard that Sue and the boys had clubbed together to get me a new tank, as my old one was slowly leaking.

This picture actually says everything you need to know about our church office: microwave on the left, fish in the middle and wine on the right! Work never really features anywhere nearby.

So, when I was planning the trip the idea came to me that I should come to see the barrier reef. It is a long time since I kept marine fish. I usually keep tropicals (freshwater), which typically come from Lake Malawi. Better still if they are British bred, as the attrition rate in transporting fish from Africa is appalling. But anyway, there is no point in spoiling the story by adding facts! I am a fish-keeper.

I was picked up by coach and off to the harbour. I had worked out last night that it is in fact three minutes walk away. The coach collects from hotels all over town, which is a great system, but I chose to walk home this afternoon as it was much quicker. Even at my (now) senior citizen pace.

The company really has got its act together. Everything went smoothly and I had a wonderful time. I ‘splashed out’ on a digital waterproof camera hire. (Yes, the puns don’t get any better just because I am a long way away). I now have a disk of pictures which I took, but I can’t access it through my iPad, so you may think you are spared. Well, not quite. Here are some I took on the phone. My iPhone does not like water, so the others will have to wait.

The photography company are crafty and take pictures as well as renting out cameras, so the cost of the photos was probably more than that of the trip itself, but this was too much to resist. I took the plunge (yes, another pun) thanks to Sue! She knows what I mean. But here am I arriving, suited up and swimming. I apologise for the fact that the suited picture makes me look like a beached whale! Oh, and it too complicated to turn them round. I just wanted pictures of me to turn your head!!

So, three times today I got into a wet suit and snorkelled on the reef. I am tired. The swimming was easy, but getting in and out of a wet suit is a nightmare. All the other people were in couples or families. The trick is to get someone you know well to yank the cold soggy wet suit off your back, where your own arms won’t reach. However, travelling alone I did not have the ability to exercise this plan of action, so I took ages getting in and out of the wet suit. Now that is one picture which you do not want to see. Praise God, you really are spared, as no-one was there to take it. They were all struggling with their own wet rubber issues!

So, anyway, here are some pics. We sped off out of the harbour and got to the reef, where we all went swimming. I was in there before I got out and took this one!

There was lots of help from the staff team with food, and advice, and instruction, and much castration of the English language. How are you buddy? (When did I become her buddy in the previous 30 minutes in which our lives have crossed?) Cool, man! (I was warm and I already know that I am a man!) Awesome guys! (Well I am sure that I am, but it is aggravating to hear it in that accent). If I hear that phrase one more time I may need therapy.

Now here is a piece of advice for Sandy in Florida. When she sent me snorkelling there I kept getting water in the mask. This lot gave me a pot of Vaseline to liberally smother on my moustache to keep the top lip water tight! It can be difficult being a Brit abroad. You try to keep a stiff upper lip and then discover that what you really need is a greasy upper lip. Sandy, next time – provide Vaseline please. (And thanks for your email yesterday). BTW, my moustache has never been as soft as it is this evening!

It was choppy waters on the way out and back. I am glad I was inside.

Here is a crucial picture from the trip back. The waves in the distance are where you fall off the world (or a least the continent). If your intellectual level is as low as mine, think ‘Finding Nemo’. Where the reef ends and the deep ocean starts. The waves break above the beginning of the reef and cause this effect. It is amazing in real life, but not easy to capture in a picture.

Then we got back to the calm of the harbour and it was all over.

The apartment I am staying in is wonderful with a really helpful staff member called Amanda, but the WiFi is hopeless, so I am due to add pictures to this while I have dinner. Bad form at Mansion House, but probably acceptable behaviour in Port Douglas.

I am going to send this while I have a slightly stronger signal. E&OE as they say!

The day has been awesome, guys! (Aaaagh)

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