Ok. So woe, 2020 was a bit of a wash and we’re now midway through 2021. Crikey! I hope you are all holding tight to the ones you love and seeking out the good vibes as they bounce randomly around us. It’s been quite the ride and as we have all learnt from the unexpected turbulence, best to keep seat belts low and tight and watch out for falling suitcases. Crikey indeed! We have all been affected differently by COVID and down here in Melbourne we’re doing our best to find the light and think happy thoughts. Wherever this finds you, I really hope all of you beautiful TotallyTandem followers are hanging in there.
It’s been a bumpy few months for us and it’s taken me a long time to get this blog out. Now we’re back to intense lock down restrictions again in Melbourne and after what seemed like the whole of last year trapped in a 5km radius – I think there were 3 weeks when we could travel beyond 25kms – the vibes of the place we call home have definitely taken on a different lustre.
But when you keep finding lemons on your doorstep, what else can you do but thank your neighbours and whip up a cocktail? We all learned some surprise skills in lockdown and Brendo developed some excellent bartending prowess, perfecting a drink he likes to call “The Quarrantini”. For a brief moment it was renamed “The Libertini” but no matter how you shake it, the fact is it’s a drink for home.
So here we are in June- back in lockdown. Again. When will it end? When can we make plans again?
Indeed, best practise is to familiarise yourself with the brace position (and sing out if you need Brendo’s cocktail recipe)
Since our TotallyTandem days of riding the Americas, writing this blog has become a bit of an annual Bremma update. No matter what news we have, I always try to bring some laughs and include some fun pics. Time has definitely taken on strange shape this last year so I’ll give a very brief run down since the last blog.
2020 – all in Melbourne
April – Woe
May – Oh dear
June – I think it’s gonna be ok
July – Ummm, maybe not…
August – WTF
September – WTF
October – WTF
November – Hooray! We can have adventures again!
December – WTF! Quick, flee the state before they close the borders, again
January – Road trippin in NSW & QLD
February – return to Vic with mild tans & deep skepticism
March – hey we might be ok, life seems kinda normal
April – hmm, suspicions returning
May – hmm..this doesn’t feel right..
June – ah yep, back in lockdown again
No need to mention our deep despair over lack of travel and not being able to return to our second home in Niseko for the foreseeable future. Yes, best to avoid that chat all together and focus on the positives. There were definitely still many good things that happened in 2020.
I managed to publish my second book! It’s called “Midnight Magpies” and I am super proud of it.
Of course there is a lockdown story that goes along with its inception and part of it is that I am now known by my 10 year old neighbour (and more than likely other people too), as ‘The Crazy Magpie Lady’.
It is a shoe that seems to fit and so I am just owning it.
Writing this book and getting it published was an important project that kept a creative light shining through the most difficult time of 2020 lockdown, connecting me with a new illustrator and all out wonderful human- Emma Stuart. With her incredible ability to transform words into images, she brought my latest story to life in stunning watercolours. “Midnight Magpies” is inspired by the group of magpies that found my window and sang me through the darkness of many sleepless nights.
During lockdown I heard so many impressive stories about people trying new studies, mastering a new language, growing sourdough cultures and establishing life changing fitness plans. While absolutely none of this applies to me, I’m really proud of this beautiful book that I was able to create in a year full of mental health challenges. I’ve also managed to convince the Midnight Magpie Family to visit me during daylight hours and have developed a rather fond attachment to them all. Crazy Magpie lady indeed.
The book has been getting great feedback and I’ve been thrilled to share over 220 copies in just 6 months. Despite restrictions, I’ve had a few small launches and even a virtual author tour in March for Book Week at The Harrow International School Bangkok. I am looking forward to connecting with more young readers with Aussie Book Week later this year and sharing my latest book. Get in touch if you’d like to order your own copy, I can post anywhere in the world!
How about Brendo, I hear you say. In missing being part of the Niseko Darts league, he started up a virtual darts night which was a great way to connect with our mates around the world (and around the corner) and helped to bridge the gap of socialising.
His online Pilates class “Get bendy with Brendy” kept us fit and got us out of bed 4 days a week throughout the year and we’re all stoked that it’s still going strong. I’m sure my core strength is about to show its stuff any minute. He is of course forever working on new designs for bikes, solar charging and everything in between.
We pimped up our 1976 Kombi ‘Hugo’ and were able to narrowly avoid COVID border restrictions on a Christmas road trip north to NSW & QLD to visit family and friends. It was such a pleasure to get on the road and hug our people.
As our first Aussie summer in 12 years, we enjoyed plenty of beach time, and despite our lily white complexions we were able to avoid major sunburn with an intense sunscreen regime. It was wonderful to connect with so many people over the summer period and despite a few minor roadside issues with Hugo, it was 6,000km of good times with great folk and some bloody nice time out on the water.
Falkor has experienced a great deal of solar developments that have almost taken on a blog unto themselves. I am trying to keep up with the latest designs for the solar trailer and get my head around the relationship between amps, watts and volts. It’s not my forte but I do my best. Needless to say there are an extraordinary amount of solar panels, batteries and wiring tucked into drawers around the Bremma pad. With our hopes dangling over the future of The Sun Trip and huge uncertainty over when it will next go ahead (riding 12,000km from France to China…..) we’re working on a domestic trip to test the kit. All things aside, a test ride sounds like a great idea to me. I’m definitely keen to test the remote controlled articulated arm system on the solar panel canopy (try saying that 10 times fast). Stand by for more updates as the year rolls on.
Falkor’s solar panel canopy trailer
The remote controlled articulating arm system that will enable us to capture maximum sunlight
In February we celebrated Brendo’s first Aussie birthday in 13 years and were thrilled that restrictions had eased enough for a few of us to get out and raise a glass in person. The joy of standing at a pub is something we certainly missed and although numbers were still restricted, we were thrilled that we could gather together. And with a well timed visit from brother Michael! Hoorah! We also celebrated our 25th year of Bremma togetherness and while we are normally in Japan, we did find a local Japanese restaurant that certainly ticked a few boxes.
We even managed a sneaky trip to Noosa to spend some time with Bren’s family.
Since then, it’s been a pretty rough few months with my gorgeous dad ‘Pete’ passing away in March. Thankfully restrictions allowed that we could gather together to celebrate the excellent life he shared with us.
A month after that I was knocked off my bike by a car and ended up with a broken bike and a fractured foot. The irony of riding 23,000km safely through 18 ‘dangerous’ countries and being run over 1km from my house in the ‘safe suburbs of Melbourne’ is not lost on me. 6 weeks in a moon boot & on crutches but I’m now getting stronger and rehab has been going well, just a major bummer that the latest restrictions have closed down my hydrotherapy and prevented a trip to see my mum and sister.
Still, we are told to stay hopeful. Melbourne is now officially in winter and as we hold our breath on the 2nd week of this “7 day lock down”, hope is certainly an important thing to hang onto.
I’ve got a third kids book in the wings – super excited! – so indeed that is something to remain hopeful about. And let’s face it, there are far worse things than being locked down with your favourite person in the world.
We’re sending big heartfelt hugs to you all wherever you find yourselves around the globe. We hope you’re staying safe – and sane – and that this lil blog update has given you something to smile about. Thank you to everyone for staying connected. Stay in touch beautiful people and please reach out anytime. May the positive vibes find you and may the tunes in your playlist insist upon a boogie.
Saludos! Kanpai! Cheers!