Medical and Dental Considerations When Planning Your Vacation

If you are in any doubt about possible travel problems because of a pre-existing medical condition, then consult your family doctor. People with heart or chest problems, recurrent blood clots in the legs or lungs, recent strokes, uncontrolled blood pressure, epilepsy, psychiatric disorders or chronic sinus or ear problems may be at risk when flying.

Late pregnancy is a contra-indication to flying, diabetics taking medication will need special advice, and the disabled will have specific requirements that may need to be notified to air­line and airport authorities. People with chronic health prob­lems or women who are obviously pregnant should ask their doctor to complete a standard airline form certifying their fit­ness for flying. This form should be obtained from the airline concerned.

Adequate supplies of all routinely prescribed medications, including oral contraceptives, should also be obtained before departure. If you are taking a short trip within Europe, these will be provided as NHS prescriptions. Those planning longer stays abroad should determine the availability of their medication overseas or take adequate supplies, although you may need to pay for these on pri­vate prescription. It is also strongly recommended that you obtain a certificate from your doctor detailing the drugs pre­scribed, including the correct pharmacological name, as well as the trade name. This will be necessary to satisfy customs offi­cials and you may need to obtain certified translations into appropriate languages.

Some drugs readily obtainable in the UK are viewed with great suspicion elsewhere, codeine, for exam­ple, is considered a controlled drug in many countries, and tranquillisers such as diazepam can cause problems. Women going to Saudi Arabia should take adequate supplies of oral contraceptives and will need a certified Arabic translation of the certificate stating that the contraceptives have been prescribed for their personal use.

Those with recurring medical problems should also obtain a letter from their family doctor detailing their condition. The letter can then be shown to doctors abroad if emergency treat­ment becomes necessary. People with surgically implanted devices are also advised to carry a doctor’s certificate to show security officials. Artificial hip replacements often set off metal detection security alarms at airports.

People with cardiac pacemakers are unlikely to run into problems due to electrical interference from British or North American airport metal de­tectors, but should try to avoid going through them and arrange instead for a personal body check by security officials.

Individuals with specific chronic health problems such as epilepsy, diabetes or long term steroid treatment, should obtain a ‘Medic-alert’ bracelet or similar, which is more easily located in a medical emergency than a card carried in a pocket.

Some countries will not allow any known HIV-positive individual to enter the country despite advice from the World Health Organisation that such regulations are ineffec­tive as a means of controlling the spread of HIV infection. HIV-positive travellers should consult their medical specialist and local support groups about specific travel insurance problems and the advisability of travel.

Dental health is often taken for granted by British citizens who get a rude shock when faced with bills for dental work overseas. Those embarking on prolonged travel or work abroad, or planning to visit very cold areas, should have a full preventative dental check up before leaving. Spare spectacles, contact lenses and contact lens solutions should also be obtained before travelling. If you are planning a vigorous holiday or expedition, such as skiing, hill-walking, or trekking, it might be a good idea to begin an appropriate fitness regime before you leave.

Currumbin, Australia

A travellers view of Currumb in Queensland Australia: Yesterday I had the pleasure of lunch here at Currumbin Surf Club, as you can see from today’s pictures the Surf club itself is built directly on a large geographical feature of the area, Elephant rock.

Why anybody would choose to spoil such an interesting feature let alone for a council to allow it, is beyond me but there it is. I have visited this venue before, Father’s Day 2007 and so I have inside information that the lunch will be excellent regardless of the positioning of the club.

The rock, is of course the more interesting, I think rocks are sort of interesting because they are what they are, where they are and shaped the way they, are all of which would seem at random, at it doesn’t matter what you or I think, they have plonked themselves down and that’s that as far as the rock is concerned. We humans need to put in a great deal of work with hammers or explosives to make a difference in their rock world.

This big rock looks to be igneous in nature and the result of an angry volcanic eruption (can there be any other kind?) and has been vomited from the earth to solidify in the hilly area inland of the seafront, which of course at the time eons ago may well have been somewhere, anywhere about here. The monolithic boulder possibly rolled from its perch above the beachfront where it came to rest on a platform of brother rocks who no doubt welcome it in a civil happy and certainly not with a stoney silence. Rocks, stones, boulders etc speak in a frequency not heard by mere human ears.

Elephant rock and the table it appears to rest on seem very new geologically speaking because there appears little erosion from the wind, salt air and wave action and if we look north we can see another rocky sibling jutting proudly from the beach in an area known as Currumbin Alley which I gather is a name generated from the surfing culture which as you can imagine is very prevalent here.

Within a few miles of this very spot the local district claims ownership of several World Surfing Champions including current hero and world ranked No. 1 Mick Fanning and current Women’s champion Stephanie Gilmore who was born around the corner or at least a short distance from here up the Tweed River at Murwillumbah I will be doing an entry on Murwillumbah in the next few days.

Currumbin Alley marks the southern edge of the entrance to Currumbin Creek which is a tidal waterway fed by the Salty Ocean during high tides and mountain fed fresh water during low tide. This leads to brackish water quite close to the outflow adjacent to Currumbin Alley and is apparently an area in which it is possible to encounter the notorious Bull Shark. This estuary dweller seems to prefer brackish tidal depths and is very much adapted to seeking its food in murky water.

As we proceed up the creek the clarity declines as the leaf and earth stained fresher water becomes predominant. The use of fresh water seems a little misleading here but of course I mean non salty water. When it first trickled down from the wonderful Border Ranges far above in the catchment area, the water was as almost as fresh as water can be. As we get to know each other better(reader and scribe) you will find I do not enjoy swimming, lolling, floating, soaking, wading, splashing or generally getting wet in water that is not clear. Like most things there is a reason but that story is for another day.

So lets about face and retreat along the murky parts of Currumbin Creek and be dazzled by one of the loveliest stretches of yellow glowing sand in a nation of lovely yellow glowing beaches. Even the erstwhile British tourist does not feel the need to wear a handkerchief with knots tied in the corners on a balding or even hirsute pate. Why on earth our British cousins allowed Aussies like me (I was born in the UK incidentally) to have this image of English manhood I will never know. Imagine a latin lover boy with the Andalusian accent of the Spanish gigolo emerging from the sea, brown muscles glistening from the crystal clear waters of Currumbin Beach with his daggy trousers rolled above the knees and wearing a four corner tied handkerchief plastered to his head.

Oh Dear! could this be the beginning of an international incident. As if we Aussies are never portrayed in foreign press as anything but fine upstanding incredibly great looking young people. “Where the Bloody hell are ya’s”. Ms Lara Bingle or her former paramouror cricketer Michael Clarke, are fine examples of what all Australian look like. Well that’s the portrayal we wish to believe, not that Stephanie Gilmore or Mick Fanning are hard on the eyes to their respective opposite sexes or of course in some cases, same sexes.

To the north of Currumbin Beach is the commercially named Palm Beach which although it has much of the aforementioned glowing yellow sand and sunshine liberally applied to tanned and less tanned new arrivals alike, there are few Palm trees to be seen other than in the occasional suburban backyard. Nevertheless the atmosphere is generally holiday plus, for the family lucky enough to visit this part of the world. Here there’s a little extra bonus for folk like me…. the water is a perfect temperature and generally beautifully refreshing, no Irukanji stingers here, no stone fish, sometimes ablue bottle will appear and best of all….few bull sharks nosing around, the waters too clear.

So now I must toss up to see where I am off to tomorrow after my “Feast with Friends” in a few minutes Ahh!! the sublime pleasures of the older man traveling about our wonderful country Australia.

Vintage Golf

What goes best with wine? Ask Californians and they’re likely to say, “golf.”

Just about anywhere you travel here, you’ll find two things in common… golf and wine, as California’s sun-kissed climate has made “The Golden State” the ideal place to experience grapes and “birdies.” For every golf course in the state, there’s a commercial winery – about 800 of each – and all are worth tasting.

North of San Francisco lie the famous wine growing regions of Sonoma and Napa Counties. Rodney Strong, Jordan, Ferrari-Carano, Mondavi, Cakebread and Heitz are among the names of viticultural baronies found along Sonoma and Napa county roads. Their wineries, aging cellars and tasting rooms are impressive grand chateaus, aerie lookouts and surrealistic structures that that overlook a landscape scribed with rows of vineyards and lined with fairways.

Start your California golf and wine sojourn by visiting the California Welcome Center in Santa Rosa. The connection between California wine and golf is immediately evident near the Center at nearby Matanzas Creek Winery with its impressive displays of lavendar and the 36-hole Mountain Shadows Golf Course near Rohnert Park. One of the oldest wineries in California, Gundlach-Bundschu, is a 3-wood drive from Sonoma Golf Club, once declared “near perfect” by golf legend Bobby Jones. And for a true California twist, sip California sparkling wine at the Korbel Champagne Cellars, then tee off through towering redwood trees at Northwood, an executive course designed by Alistair Mackenzie of Augusta National fame.

Four major “wine courses,” are found in the Napa Valley. Chardonnay Golf Club, across from the newly completed Kirkland Ranch winery, has the highest rated 36 holes in the region. Vineyards actually encroach upon Chardonnay’s greens. Or is it the other way around? Further up the Valley in the Atlas Peak wine-growing district is Napa’s preeminent golf resort, Silverado, with 36 holes that host the Senior PGA Transamerica Tournament, each October. Chimney Rock, off the Silverado Trail, is the only Napa Valley golf course actually on the property of a winery. If golf, wine and fine dining are appealing, drive over to the new Yountville Golf Club, then dine in one of Yountville’s exceptional restaurants… (cont.)