at Verdala Palace. Quite an interesting structure really. We had a look at the torture chamber, then went on to the public gardens with the last orange groves, lemon trees and vines. The palace itself is situated on a hill overlooking the gardens. It was, I believe, built by the grand master Verdalle in 1586, purely as a summer residence.
The countryside around Malta seems poor. A great number of rocks are in the poor ground. The rocks have been used to build stone walls. Some of the exports are timber. They also export some fruits, although at the moment they are importing oranges because it is a little early for the orange season. However, their main industries include rubber, shoes and beer. We saw the brewery this morning. There import seems to be tourism. Malta is rapidly expanding in accommodation and increasing the type of accommodation available to tourists.
Bonjour Mon Ami... Hi well it is now Wednesday evening after another day in Brussels. Another day of rain, showers, wind squalls up to about 40-50 knots. Watching the jets fly over in this crosswind is a spectacular sight. First time I have ever seen large aircraft with a tremendous amount of drift. When I say tremendous I mean fifteen or twenty degrees of drift. For a large aircraft this is rather spectacular. Something I did neglect to tell you about the Brussels terminal is that you receive your Met briefing via television on closed circuit. You are on television yourself while the Met people are on television in a different part of the city and it is beamed directly to you. You can see the picture as the officer describes the charts. The briefing is telexed to you on the tele-printer and it's a unique way of doing it.
One observation on Brussels is dogs. Every second person has a dog. You dare not walk around the streets of Brussels without looking where you are walking, although they are clean otherwise. They are in cafes, even tonight we went to a Walt Disney show and enjoyed ourselves for two hours killing ourselves laughing. I think it was, "The Love of an Automobile." It was in English with French and Flemish subtitles. Even at the pictures you have dogs. There are Poodles and Alsatians; all pedigree dogs we suppose. We will both remember Brussels for its dogs.
Alone at Brussels Train Station:
Well it 10.30 p.m. on Saturday night and here I am sitting at the central station in Brussels. You wouldn't believe it. I made some mention earlier on in this tape about the hazards of train travel. Well trust John and Keith. It is blooming freezing and the place is almost deserted.
Here is what happened. We tried to extend our return ticket from Brussels, to Amsterdam to Brussels with the conductor on our return trip to Brussels. However the conductor said, no you'll have to buy a new ticket in Brussels. When we reached Brussels the same train was continuing on to Paris.
Keith jumped out and raced off with his travellers cheques in one hand, passport in the other to change some money and grab tickets with fifteen minutes to do it and get back to the train. However, the train moved from one platform to the next in the intervening period.
It was due to leave at 7.10 p.m. in the evening. At 7.09 p.m. the doors started closing and I thought this is it, Keith isn't here. I had better grab the gear and get off. We've got the two mount bags, which are extremely heavy, the other bag, two cameras, clothes in a folder, papers. I sort of struggled off the train and as I did so the train started to move out. Up the other end of the platform, Keith emerged from one of the tunnels and jumped into an open door way of the train.
What a predicament to be in. You can imagine me. I was left standing holding a bundle, which is most unusual for a bloke, but it was quite a bundle. Fortunately I did have some Belgium money on me, so I deposited the baggage into two baggage lockers. Then I tried to find out where Keith had gone. I just stood there laughing because I could imagine Keith walking back through the train, not seeing me and thinking maybe I am on the train where am I going. Anyhow the first place the train was supposed to stop after it left Brussels was called Monsbergen, about 45 minutes away. Keith can only do one of two things.
If he discovers that I am not on the train, which he should by that time, he will return here to Brussels on the next train and I think there are three before midnight, the last one is 2302. So he has three opportunities to come back. Failing this he will go on to Paris. Now I don't know if he has bought tickets or what has happened.
Airborne over the channel to London:
Good morning to you all once again. The time is 1000z, 1100 hours local time in France and England. We are in the middle of the English Channel where we have been for the last half an hour practically. The reason being we are pushing a 45 to 50 knot head wind, right on the nose. Added to this there is haze and low cloud. You can imagine what it is like.
There is a bit of sun shining through at the moment, right on to us and it is making it rather warm in the cabin. We left Brussels this morning at 8.30z and it was a dark and dismal morning.
On arrival at Gatwick, VH-MUJ or when it was outside Australia VUJ (Victor Uniform Juliet) her crew were welcomed by official’s of the Royal Flying Club and others. When they had the opportunity, John and Keith did all of the touristy things, with several weeks to spend in England they went sightseeing through London and hired a van in which they explored the country. These parts of their journey are not included in “Reflections.”
Marseille — The Race Eastward begins:
As we were taking off from Marseille, the Beagle Pup was landing. When we got to Marseille, we had wind at forty knots. You have got no idea what it was like, taxying the Victa in a forty knot wind. She was just sliding on the runway, broad siding. It took all my physical strength to virtually hold it on the ground. We had flight planned from Marseille to Brendisi but it was touch and go. We lost a bit of time and