Newsletter photo taken in Venice in March 2007.
My first news of the morning is that I'm now a patron of Barking Mad, the Australian lobby group for owners of companion animals. This follows a series of email exchanges with Eedra Zay, the group's energetic founder.
Since I first wrote about Barking Mad here, they've managed to secure access to Sydney's bus network. This is most welcome news, since Bondi and I are accustomed to using the UK's bus and train network without any fuss, not to mention comparable networks in France, Germany, Italy etc. Lack of access to trains, ferries and outdoor tables at cafés are my other pet peeves in Sydney. While it no longer affects me directly, restrictions on accommodation for pet owners is another huge issue.
On that score, I should show some perverse gratitude to Meriton, as they are one of the prime motivaters for this journey. In 2004 their salespeople assured me that I would be able to purchase a particular apartment in central Sydney AND have my dog there. However after laying out money in the settlement process, their legal people rejected this, refusing to budge on the additional pet clause that the sales people asked for. I had one of the last laughs, because the apartment languished unsold for months more as Sydney property prices dropped, and then the block's body corporate voted to make it pet friendly. So Meriton lost money on broken promises, and I have visited 28 countries around pet-friendly Europe. Every cloud has a furry lining.
We're leaving Wales today just as the sun decides it might like to show for longer than a few minutes. However the effects of the disastrous flooding around the River Severn require that we drive up to Crewe today on the coast route via Aberystwyth, and then across Snowdonia, some of my favourite scenery in all of Europe.
Next week we begin a longish sojourn in Scotland, our first chance to return since walking from Fort William to Inverness along the Great Glen Way in 2005. We're starting with a few days on the Isle of Arran, and then we have the remainder of August in Edinburgh, timed to coincide with all of its festivals. I'm hoping to get up to the Orkneys (Skara Brae!) and Hebrides (sea kayaking!) after that.