Things I have learned in Australia.

I could not write about all of the things that I have learned or loved during this trip.  I knew that I would see things, the like of which I have never encountered before.  I knew that I would love most of what I would find here and that I intended to have a great time with my friends.

I did have to make certain adjustments to the way that I am used to living. You see as an adult with no children, I had no real understanding of the day to day running of a household with a family in it.  My hat goes off to my friends, whilst I was previously in my own comfortable bubble of blissful ignorance I have seen some of what is involved in getting things done in a household with children so I salute those who are doing this every day. For the first week here I felt absolutely wiped out, by so many things, exhaustion being only one of them and the cold that followed.  I found the noise difficult to get used to and have become a much lighter sleeper during this trip.

I am used to motherly instincts kicking in, since I am Mama to a wonderful dog, so if he stirs in the night, then I am awake.  But with children about I was on tenterhooks. After weeks here now I am not so skittish. I am also enjoying the numerous hugs which are planted upon me throughout the day, or leaning in to see what I am doing, or just to tell me something and the little gifts that I have been presented with during my stay.  It has been wonderful being part of this family for the past few weeks and I will miss each and every one of them when I return home.  I am also extremely grateful for them for making me so welcome, not only in their home but also their hearts.  I have known their Mum since we were children at school, but for a large chunk of their lives, I was not in touch with them, having only caught up again recently. It seems like we are all making up for the lost time.

My friend said to me only the other morning, that she wanted to show me so much whilst I am here, she doesn’t want me to go home and not have done something that is wonderful and we could have done, since she doesn’t know when we will get to do it again. So we are not staying in and relaxing around the home, we do that when we have collected the kids from school and are all indoors for the evening.  We are out in the car, gallivanting, visiting wonderful beaches and just sitting there on the sand, talking about the things that we can remember, when we were younger. The people we grew up around and experiences we shared.  It reminded me that this is exactly what friends do, they should do. It is totally normal.  I never thought that I might be totally normal.

We are enjoying the time we are spending together, the voyages of discovery, the sightseeing. Neither of us are particularly happy shopping, we ventured into a shopping mall here last week I think that although the building was pretty in places, but it is the most uncomfortable we have felt since I arrived and we could not wait to get back outside and do something else.

Don’t get me wrong, we have on occasion perused some of the shops, like galleries, artisan shops and the like, but generally speaking,  we are making memories and thinking of ways and things that are different from the norm.

I am writing this month, but not in the ways that I thought I would.  Bizarrely I have not written one poem since leaving the UK. I thought that I would write plenty of them, in the spare time of the evening.

No, instead I have been writing Trip Advisor reviews, which thankfully people are reading them at a steady rate. It is also a format where I am able to include my own photographs and of course helps any other people who may be thinking of visiting the area as well.

We haven’t been too far from here Queensland has so much to offer that it really hasn’t been necessary to travel very far at all. I think the furthest distance we have been has only been about 50Kms from the house.  But we have still seen so much or maybe it just seems like it since I hadn’t left the house for such a long time before coming away. We are out on most days by 11am and return to collect the children from school by 3pm, so I guess that limits how far we can go, but I am so grateful for the use of the car to drive us about, it makes such a huge difference when you are not reliant upon public transport. It also meant that we have been able to pick up any provisions which are necessary too. We have had some lovely meals.

I have tried, Australian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese food at home and out whilst here. I will not return to the UK as a slim summer version of myself since I haven’t managed to lose any weight.  My friend likes cake and has a sweet tooth. I think I do too but am trying to curb my urge to eat sweet things, so have been eating a lot of fresh fruit and also dairy free deserts, which are plentiful in this part of the world.  We don’t usually have dessert at home, but I have also noticed that the food portion sizes here are much larger than I eat at home.

I will take with me some wonderful memories of this place.

For instance the smell of Eucalyptus in the rain and the trees that you catch a waft of as you head through the mountains. The vision of the enormous blue and black and white butterflies which fly over the garden and have managed to escape my camera lens for the duration of this trip, yes a whole month! I delight in their presence yet feel the frustration of just missing out, so many times a day.

The sound of the wonderful birds who visit each day some of whom sing recognisable songs which I have recorded so that I might listen again and again when I am home. The sound of the rain on the roof of the house and the 5am train that thunders by lighting up the bedroom where I sleep. The verandah which is filled with gecko’s each night who sound as though they are blowing kisses, whilst running around chasing all the bugs and the one that hides in my room and comes out at night. And the sound of cicadas chirping in the evening and the lizards who run for cover as we pass them on the way back from school.

The day that I was covered in Parrots all vying for my attention and had the biggest smile on my face.

I was thinking as we drove back earlier the other day, of the blanket of trees covering the road. The lush green surroundings which were so unexpected when I arrived, the earth around here, a vivid reddish brown and rocks in beautiful coloured layers all along the roadside as we drive through the hills.  The gang of Kangaroos, we drove past just standing in a field on one rainy day that we went out in the car.  Being up a mountain, with an amazing view which I could not see for the rainclouds which were rolling in and not minding one little bit. The fact that it kept happening, on several occasions we went out to enjoy the view from a height.  The happiness and elation of standing on the beach with my friend, taking in a fabulous view of the surf meeting the sky, the salt being swept towards us and landing on our skin, sun warming me to the bone. The fact that my hands and my feet do not hurt when I wake up in the morning, they ache from the walking on sand and up hills by the end of the day, but it is a satisfying ache that I have done things, achieved something, gone out and seen a part of the world that I had previously only dreamed that I would.

The beauty of a Buddhist Temple on a cloudy day, with it’s Garden of Enlightenment and the plants and peace and calm that surrounds a place that until recently, I probably would not have even thought to visit.

I dare not hope that I could have come here to this amazing place, for such a length of time.  I am counting my blessings each day, waking to sunlight and birdsong, surrounded by trees I don’t know the names of and wanting to know more, about the place, the things that I am seeing, wanting to explore. Wanting to write about it all, in detail, so that if at some time in the future my memory fails me, I will be able to read about these wonderful things, experiences and the life that I will have had.

It feels a little surreal, at times as though I am on the outside looking in to what has been happening. After all I am the person who did not have much ambition in my younger years, although I wanted to travel I didn’t really get the opportunity to do so when others went off to see the world, I was left behind, just getting along with paying the rent and things. But now, things are different, that very same person is getting to see places which not everyone does. I am conscious of the fact that this is not just a dream place of mine. Others dream of these places and here I am getting to live someone else’s dreams too. Documenting this trip, with photographs and diary has been easy, when we are out, barely any time goes by before either camera or iphone is poised to record what I am seeing.  But there are many things and moments, which I have seen and which I will cherish, when driving the car for instance when I have been unable to stop and take a photo.  Instead, storing it to memory and hoping that it will remain there for years to come.

I may not have children with whom I can share these experiences by way of storytelling. I do however have you the wonderful people who continue to read my blog. And that is why I write it.  Maybe for some who are cautious, or hesitating in some small way it will serve as inspiration to take the trip, do the thing, be the person that you have always wanted to be.

I knew that this year would be important, I had sensed the changes in myself and they seem to have been a long time coming. There have been changes for the better, there have also been things which will teach me as time goes on, if not in the here and now, then in the future I am sure.

I will be able to look back upon this year, when I reach the end of it, with fondness for the things that have happened.  Above all, whatever life chooses to throw at me, I have decided as this year began that this not going to be another bad year, this is going to be one of the best! I have wanted to take control of my destiny, we are even now, only ¼ of the way through it and there is so much that can happen during the rest of it.

I am inspired, feeling creative still, I want to do so much and for the first time in a very long while, this break has given me the energy to do some of it. Feeling that this is the start of good things to come, like the corner has been turned and I am looking ahead up a long straight road, with no obstructions, no dangers waiting to pounce. Although that may be foolhardy since no one knows what is around the corner.  Excitement is kicking in about the things that we will get to do when I return home to my love, the time that we will spend together. The memories and photographs that I can share with him and also the new ones that we will also make along the way with our little family.

So in conclusion.

As I wrack my brains to try and find the answer, I wonder is this actually a voyage of discovery for a land that I had not yet seen, or is it in fact another great part of my own journey, which I have begun to enjoy at last. Some of the things that I will take with me from this trip are the simplest things, which money cannot buy and which I will cherish. The laughter as we went around a mountain road, listening to a song that we grew up with wrecked as another cover version and the various comments we made. Giggling together as we shared a joke or a look, just as we did when we were children of course we are all grown up now, but it is times like these when we forget it all and revert to the kids that we were, just enjoying the moment together as old friends. I don’t think that there is anything better and I know that I am truly blessed to have had this experience, my gratitude is immense. Although I am sad on my last night here to be leaving these wonderful folks for the time being, I know that one day I will return again for more adventures together.

And finally on my last full day here I managed to get it, albeit a distance shot of one of the beautiful black and white butterflies, just as I was bitten by a green ant. Something else I have learned, Green Ants are not my friends and neither are Marsh Flies! They like to nibble.

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Beach Finds

As two girls who used to spend a lot of time at the beach when we were younger, we have spent a fair bit of time at the beach whilst I am here on this trip. It seemed the logical place for us to go here on the Sunshine Coast.

If there is a beach which we can get to and from whilst the kiddies are at school then we have made it our mission to go and see it, walk along it and go beach combing. As a consequence I have lots of sun sea and sky shots that I’ve taken whilst transfixed by the waves sights and sound of nature at its wildest doing its thing.

I have collected shells and stones which I have visions of all kinds of possibilities relating to artwork, we have found lots of beautiful things which I would love to take home with me, put on a wall and cherish.

Sure some of them have been smashed in the storms which have battled the coastline whilst I have visited here. To me these are somehow even more beautiful since although they are fragments of their former shapes and size they were resilient enough to force their way through raging waters up on to the beaches we walked along and be found by us.

The Shell, Coral and Sea Glass, shaped by their journey. These are the pieces that I would make into artwork for it signifies to me what they have gone through and the fact that their beauty still remains.

The Warmth of The Sun

It is something that should not be underestimated. the Warmth of the Sun.

Before I came away on this trip, I was feeling tired. For tired read totally exhausted. My body felt as though it was giving up on me, failing me at almost every opportunity and although I believed that there was a light at the end of a tunnel, I just couldn’t feel it. But I had to keep believing in the fact that it was actually there.

Depression had taken quite a grip of me for a while, despite my attempts to “not give it any house room” and as simple as it sounds now, it has become clear in the past few weeks that what I needed a holiday. A real, relaxing, holiday with the sun on my skin and heat which warmed my bones from the outside in. Away from all of the things that had caused all the stress. A break from it all. Despite the trip to Barcelona last year, this has been my first downtime holiday in eight years. Since we got the house, that has been our go to place away from it all. Which was my off switch from work when I needed to get away. But due to the lack of work seems to have become another on the list of unfinished things which we have been unable to resolve. I love being there, it truly feels like home when we are there but it needs a lot of money we just don’t have spending on it to get it up to scratch and I know that it is weighing heavily on our minds that the climate causes us issues which even if we got the place tip top, we would still suffer in the winter there, thus requiring a warmer climate for at least part of the year.

This holiday has been wonderful. I have spent quality time with my friends and their family, which has been great. I have seen so much and felt the excitement of new experiences running through my veins. A renewed zest for life. I felt as though I have reset my system to deal with things that the future may hold and I feel much calmer now. I have also had some awful nightmares in the past month, but I have awoken from them knowing that they were just that, bad dreams and being able to let go of the details. The angst that has followed me around for so long, the looking over my shoulder spending waking moments and sleeping ones thinking about the antics and ravings of a disturbed neighbour had worn me down so much that I no longer felt safe in my home, or the life that was happening around me. As though every last bit of control that I had over my life and destiny had been removed. It is not the way that a life should be lived, little more than existing from one day to the next. It is not the life for me.

I don’t have it all worked out yet, clearly it is one step at a time. But I do feel better equipped mentally to deal with what is coming my way in the future. I have been trying to figure out my purpose as some of you have read for a while now, I still don’t have the answer, but I feel that I am now much more open to opportunity should it come my way and I may even be able to see it, if it presents itself instead of missing it by a mile.

I have missed my family a lot in the past month. I am reliant upon them for love and support and I am looking forward to seeing them again. I am looking forward to the intimacy of holding them close to me seeing their smiles in front of me, not just as a memory held dear.

I know that I need to find something for work which physically I am able to do. My physical capability has diminished so much in the past year that I do not know what I will be able to do, but there has to be something. I had hoped that a huge amount of sleep would mean that my energy levels would go up but honestly I can’t say that has happened. I am still incredibly tired. So maybe the Dr was right maybe CFS or Chronic Fatigue IS what has been happening to my body. I found out that I am not able to sleep at all if I miss my painkillers. I tried, but all of the pain that was there previously returned with a vengeance. So it hasn’t miraculously gone. I do not take lots of them but going without is foolhardy.

It was a huge relief to be told that the results of my MRI were clear and good, so there was no neurological reason for the seizures that I had last year, or the shaking which has at times taken me over. But what I have noticed as clear as day is that the warmth of the sun and being in this climate has stopped the tremendous pain that I have felt for months in my hands and feet. Although I still have it from time to time it is a lesser scale and less frequently. It took some getting used to the heat here and I don’t know how I would cope when it gets hotter but, this introduction to a warmer climate seems to have done me the power of good. It has also made me realise that if i can feel the benefit of this in just one month, then think of the effects that a move to a warmer climate would have on us as a family in the long term. Conversation with my friends here extolling the benefits of the warmth make me realise what I already knew from previous jaunts to the sun, that not only does it suit me, but I like it. Which is bizarre since it has rained a lot here in the last month. But it is generally warmer and you can’t feel that consuming damp that gets deep into your bones.

I don’t know that my partner would cope with the Australian heat particularly well, or that he would make a trip out here and it certainly wouldn’t be fair on our dog to make a long haul, but it has reaffirmed that we should attempt to get to warmer climes and Southern France or Italy still looks incredibly inviting and much more likely as a place where we could happily settle.

Could I make a living being a writer? I know that hat I keep asking this question but it’s because I don’t know the answer. I honestly don’t know, but I am not giving up on that idea. I have to find something. I have realised that I do need to find my career niche, but I may have to settle first with a job, just something that covers the bills. It depends on the location we find I guess, I only hope that health improves to enable that to happen.

Captivating Currimundi Lake

125We decided on a little road trip the other day, to a place here on the Sunshine Coast called Currimundi Lake.  Since the cyclone which was forecast to hit, was a no-show in this part of the world, we felt safe to take a trip to the beach again. Once we had mastered the industrial estate and the housing estate courtesy of the Sat Nav, we ended up in the right place and found a lovely cafe with the warmest welcome and bought some cool drinks to quench our thirst after a walk along the beach. There is a lake there when you get out of the car and you might be forgiven for thinking that you have only come to a lake.  But it is like the starter course for a main course which is about to unfold before your eyes. As we walked around a small part of the tidal lake, which was absolutely beautiful by the way and a haven for wildlife. We came to a gap in the landscape. Turning the corner it opened up onto a blue skyline and an almost deserted beach, beautiful reddish and white sands stretched for miles.  But that was not what I found so captivating. we were met with the sight of waves, so high that the sea spray covered the beach and all the passers by, at a guess I would have to say that they could have been 40 feet high as they rolled in and I bathed in their awesomeness and beauty. I could have watched them for hours.

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It took our breath away as we stood watching the waves, the colours were magnificent, the sun was shining, there was hardly anyone around and we walked for what seemed like miles with my feet in soft sand, looking for sea shells. We had hoped that the storms had washed up some good finds, but most of the shells were broken, we found a few small ones which had remained intact along with some rather lovely stones.  As surfing is the norm in this part of the world, despite the fierce weather warnings we half expected to see a few crazy surfers out there, but they seemed to have listened or gone taken a look and decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. The beach was almost deserted, but for a few dog walkers and puppies of all ages bounding along the beach. Another beautiful place here on my adventure.

via Daily Prompt: Captivating

A Day Filled with the Wonder of it All

The Daily Post – Wonder

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As I stood there gazing out in wonder at the beautiful scenery once again, only this time it wasn’t raining and we could see for miles. The views were astounding.  We had arrived at the Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World.  A place we had been anticipating for a couple of weeks since I arrived and where my hosts were understandably keen to show me.

I was firstly struck by the greenery which surrounded us all, drinking in its delights. There are sixteen acres there, but before you even get to look at them, you are met by a team of tame birds at the door, who greet you with varying levels of Hello and attempts to play with buttons, hair ties, jewellery.  Some are sitting there saying nothing, others will happily begin a conversation, they all have differing characters.

We walked around the gardens, they are absolutely stunning and carefully planned and thought out with artwork, galleys for watering the numerous species. Spectacular views and areas of garden which encourage you to look further and investigate. Many of the blooms I have never seen, neither do I know the names of them but you cannot deny that these are magnificent gardens and the perfect place to spend the day walking around with the family. We took a picnic and enjoyed momentary escape from the heat of the sun under one of the many gazebo with seating provided.

Having just reviewed this visit on TripAdvisor, I felt that I could not tell everything about our visit on there as I wanted to save my favourite moments for here.  We went there for the birds, the chance to have beautiful parrots flying around my head was too good to miss, I thought that I might get a few nice photos too. I was pleased with some of the results.

We took the aviary tour. It was well worth it, the first aviary contained small finches in a plethora of colours. They are all too shy to come and sit upon your shoulder.

The second section was a whole different matter, there were three beautiful blue macaws, young cheeky birds with a penchant for clambering and kisses. They were adorable and just so playful and noisy. But I stood in awe feeling like a small child looking up as they flew around my head. An abundance of Budgerigars in most available colours all perched together up one end in a quiet corner.

At one point, just before I left that aviary, there was a cockatoo trying to remove my flip flops (known as thongs in these parts) A rather cute green parrot jumping up and down on my head, whilst a beautiful pink and grey was preening me and trying to remove my camera strap. Then to top it all, two of the young blue macaws came and landed on the same arm fighting over kisses and cuddles and playing with my bracelet and necklace.  I have to say that I was in my element and could happily have stayed there for a while, but my friend took a rather comical photograph with them all for me to remember them by.

The last enclosure contained the larger parrots, some black  and white cockatoos and the grumpiest parrot of them all, he did not want to share his bird seed with anyone , nor did he wish to be given any but he did make us laugh. His only concession was to eye up the Lorikeets with suspicion and give them a piece of his mind as they came to drink from his bowl and fluff up his feathers when they came anywhere near him. There were also a selection of other beautiful macaws and green parrots along with another whose party trick was to follow us around nipping our toes and trying to undo shoelaces.

We were encouraged to take photographs and collect feathers from the enclosure, so came out with a very pretty selection of them. I just hope that I will be able to keep them and take them back with me when I return home. Meanwhile today is a memory that I will cherish for some considerable time and because of all the excitement and fresh air I’m sure that we will all sleep well tonight.

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I’m Alive!

I am relieved to have some sleep on the second part of this journey.

We passed by Bengalaru and Goa and Colombo and have been crossing the sea. As we travel I am thinking of these places, wondering what some of them are like. I never studied geography at school, I foolishly thought that I would never get to see the world. Dreams and ambitions were not to be encouraged and neither were flights of fancy. Curious as to what I would see and experience at ground level. I make a mental note to look such places up later and find out more about the wonders of the world in which we live. We have Drawn level with places named Nikitin Seamount and Investigator Ridge which are on our right whereas to the left of us are Phuket and Singapore A short while ago we crossed the equator and suddenly the blue hue that has been with us for many hours changed.

I ventured along the plane to see what the outside looked like. A wonderful skyscape there before me, like icebergs silently moving by amidst the blue waters below. But here we are above the clouds. It plays tricks upon the mind, as though you have seen something entirely different. I take photographs not only to savour the memories and moments but to paint such things later on.

I knew that I would be making memories on this trip. I am visiting beloved friends who I dared not hope to see so soon, after all they emigrated to the other side of the world. Normal people don’t get to go and visit.

I wanted to show my Mum and my Dad these pictures. I took video as well. It reminds me of a very early memory I have as a child, when my father showed us slides on a projector of his flight to Italy in an aeroplane, there were a lot of photographs of clouds. At the time I did not understand the magic of being above the clouds. But as I have grown up, it is something that I have grown to love. I have no fear of flying just anticipation and joy at the new things I get to see along the way.

As I did on the other flight at what looked like sunrise to me. I am utterly confused and have just witnessed the most beautiful sunset and have been basking in its glory. As I glanced out the window It looked just like God’s feet are sticking out from the heavens reminding us that he is higher still than we can even imagine. It is about 7.30pm wherever we are currently travelling past. Touched by it’s beauty I am overcome with emotion as this part of the world our sky is plunged into darkness. I feel totally alive. I hope that I never forget the feeling of being up here travelling at 37000 feet and cruising at almost 600 miles per hour. The sun as it breaks through some hours from now and the clouds again look like a swirling seascape of surf underneath us. Looking as though we are barely moving but being transported on cloud nine, my new experience has definitely begun. What a wonderful way to experience a rebirth, to recognise that the future is going to be different and better and fun and I will embrace whatever energy I have to experience whatever I am able to.

This is such a gift for which I will be forever grateful and indebted to he who loves me and decided that I should go now whilst I am still young enough to enjoy it.

In the words of Nina Simone which ring around my head “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good.”

We have reached the halfway point on this leg of the journey as we head onward past Jakarta and towards Australia and all the treasure that it holds.