Travel Mascots Part 4

The return of Iain

Several weeks ago, I reported that I had very carelessly lost Iain, my wee travel companion. I surmised that I had perhaps left him on the rooftop of my car while I packed my things or that I had simply left him on the rocks at Salen Jetty.


The last known sighting of Iain


While devastated by his loss, I found another travel companion, Iain mac Iain. His black watch kilt and shawl at odds with the Royal Stewart tartan of his “father”. But hey, you have to make do with what you have, and I had a very generous donation of black watch tweed from my Airbnb host in Lewis.

Iain mac Iain was a valiant replacement. Forever seeking out his father, befriending other seemingly lost or abandoned travel mascots, he made it home safely to Australia after spending the better part of a month in Scotland. He had some grand adventures and has appeared in many unknown facebook posts as he was included in other people’s family snaps.

I sought the help of the good people of Salen Jetty. I messaged the shop as soon as I realised he was missing. We stayed in contact and finally the day after I flew back into Australia an Iain- sighting was made on Facebook! True to his armoury loving-self he was found sitting on top of a canon! My Salen Jetty shop contacts were quick to claim on my behalf.


Now, three weeks after that first sighting he is here with me in Wollongong, Australia having a grand reunion with his dad! After an awkward handshake and a few minutes of small talk, it was man hugs all round!


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come here, Son!

Thanks to the power of the interwebs and the friendliness of a small community, we have been reunited! If you are ever in Salen Jetty, please drop in on these good folks, tell them you read the story of Iain and thank them on my behalf!

Thank you also to my friends who have joined in on Iain and Iain’s journeys, we’ve had some fun!



The whole carriage lent forward in anticipation as the very old, very frail man tried to sit down. His legs seemed un-bendable and unco-operative. He swayed as the train began to pull away. We willed him backward into the safety of the seat with our eyes  and  imagined him falling. Finally, he plopped down, with the caring assistance of the stranger next to him.  A silent but palpable cheer rippled through the vestibule. We felt good.

Just prior to this, the group of unknowns – about 15 or so – had been sitting or standing   on the train in silence. Not acknowledging anyone outside their own companions.

Then, the cascade happened slowly at first, but building up momentum with each stop.

Central Station: A young woman asked Karen and I if we would like her seat. “No thanks!” we said and laughed “we’re not that old!”

Redfern: An older woman boarded, unsteady on her feet, she searched for a seat. “There’s a seat just there Madam” I said pointing. The others shuffled over so she could sit.

Sydneham: The group of 16 were alerted to trouble when a Transit Officer appeared and asked the young woman to vacate the seat she had offered us. We hadn’t heard what he had said and we didn’t know why she moved so quickly and almost guiltily. Perhaps she didn’t have a ticket? A collective ruffle of anti-authoritarian dissent joined the rest of us together. We all had our OPAL cards at the ready. We swiped, we thought sanctimoniously!

The transit officer guarded the empty seat zealously. We shot daggers at his back.

Wolli Creek:  Another Transit Officer was waiting on the platform, with the aforementioned old man and his wife. He helped them tenderly onto the train. Their steps labourious and slow. He passed them over to the first Transit Officer, who guided them to the cleared seat. The plan, now revealed, made the group of strangers smile. “Awwww, that’s lovely” we all thought! This was Sydney Rail at its best.

The Transit Officer became an instant hero.

Next, a mum with her three children. Her youngest slapped the yogurt container out her hand. It went everywhere. The fellow sitting across from her offered tissues and wet wipes to help clean up the mess.  The group of 16  smiled again. So nice! People are helping each other! The older fellow next to me said “Well, that’s two in a row” I guess meaning that’s two nice things in a row.

Rockdale Station – our destination. Heavy rain splattered against the windows.   “We are going to get wet!”. I said to Karen.

And the tall, dark man said “Here, take my umbrella!”

“Really? Won’t you need it?”

“No, it’s fine I am catching the bus – you take it”

“Are you sure?” Karen asked.

He was adamant. It was not some crappy, falling apart $3 job – but a nice big golf umbrella. Big enough for two. Sturdy and expensive. Too much to give away to strangers.

The whole group smiled – no – beamed! We all recognised what had happened here. One kind deed had brought on another and then another.

In those few minutes, we were a family who cared about each other.

Well done Sydney!