Regular readers of this blog may be wondering whether I’ve dropped off the planet – there have been no posts for over a month. My excuse is that I was visiting rellies and friends in Europe for most of that time. Now I’m back in Oz, and you can expect normal service to resume.
The countries I visited were France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Poland. I’d never seen much of Europe before, and chose to do most of my travelling by train, so as to get a better impression of the territory I was traversing. (In order to avoid the alleged wiles of European taxi drivers, I also did a fair amount of walking. In Poland I rented a car.) Herewith a map to give this post a slender connection to the Australian Outback, which this blog is supposed to be all about.
The journey through these five countries (starting and finishing in Paris) totalled about 6500 kms, not much different to some of the Outback trips I’ve done over the years, mostly in the eastern half of Australia. May I report on one of my less momentous observations?
When I was a young fellow, it was not uncommon for entry to a public toilet in Australia to cost a penny. Hence the still-used expression “to spend a penny”. And I still remember this amusing little scrap of doggerel (please excuse the language):
Here I sit, broken hearted,
Paid a penny and only farted.
In those days, although a penny was the second smallest coin (there was a half-penny, pronounced “hape-nee”), it was still useful. A penny would not be left lying on the bedroom floor the way five-cent coins are these days!
Decades of inflation have worked their insidious effect. I was somewhat alarmed when in Berlin recently to find that entry to a public toilet cost one euro (about $A1.48). That’s about 168 pennies! But it’s a relief (ah, that feels better!) to know that this has given rise to a new verb: to euro-nate.