A Growing Bucket List

sMjU7VJu.jpgThis is a 2-Part Post, the first part written in February 2017…

The Bucket List is a wonderful film starring Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson it is one of our all time favourite films and was on TV recently we watched it again. Clearly inspired my partner has been dreaming again of things that he would like to do too. I hope that he gets to do them.

So as I try to think of the ways that I will actually begin to tick things off my bucket list. My partner is thinking of ways that he can make it happen for me.

What is a little bit bizarre is that although things get mentioned from time to time. It is not written down anywhere. So he is going from memory which at times can be a bit sketchy. But it seems that he is quietly planning my bucket list for me. Making it happen. Like the trip I mentioned where I find as many Art Deco and art nouveau buildings and photograph them. Well, I as anyone reading this regularly will know I am just back from Barcelona a last month. Within a week he was already pointing out a hotel break, 2 days in Venice in a beautiful 4 star Art Nouveau hotel. Would I love to go? Yes of course I would. What worries me is that he has no intention of coming with me since travelling by air is an issue. It has been for some years, but now he is concerned about his respiratory system since he has been so ill lately. But he wants to send me. He told me at New Year that I would have to get used to travelling on my own. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I guess this was why which is so much better than the alternative since I can comeback and tell him all about it and drive him crazy looking at the photographs and now write about it too.

Of course I wouldn’t have to travel alone if a friend or family member wanted to join me, so that’s always an option. I don’t know how I’d be abroad totally on my own. I think I need a bit more confidence before I take that step. But there’s hope for me as I’m only uncertain not terrified at the thought of it. Time would be my own and I wouldn’t have to do a particular thing. There again though it wasn’t like that when Mum and I travelled, it was very relaxed. We did not have an itinerary just expressed a wish of things to see and she noticed things that I did not when we were out and about. A beautiful doorway here and there, or architectural detail. Something on the bus which I made her get off to show me so I could capture it.

We did say that it would be interesting to see how many of our photographs were of the same things since we shared a keen eye for so many of the sights.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, merely an enthusiast but I would love to make a living doing this.

Yes, I am an enthusiast of so many things.

So along with my growing list of things that I’d like to do this year. I’m afraid my bucket list is growing too and I don’t think that’s a bad thing really. It simply means that I have not had enough of the experiences of this world. There is more and more that I wish to see and do before I die and if I don’t get to do it all soon, then I’ll just have to live a long and happy one. I don’t know how long it will take me to get to Australia but I will get there one day and collect hugs from my extended adopted family when I do.

April 2018… Continuation

It is strange that this post has remained in my “Draft” folder for over a year untouched and incomplete but what is even stranger, for me at least is that I have just ticked another thing off my Bucket List. It was a big one of the things which I had no clue as to when it might happen, my only hope was that it would. As you will have seen from my posts recently, I got to hug my extended adopted family in Australia sooner than I thought and I travelled there alone. (Does that count as two things, I wonder?)

Of course this has not quenched my thirst for new experiences at all. If anything I am relishing the thought of what will come next. Its turning out to be an exciting journey after all.  Now how IS that ever increasing Bucket List coming along?

 

Image: Morguefile

 

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Blue Macaw

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One of The Cheeky Baby Macaws at The Botanical Gardens and Bird World at Maleny, Queensland. 

To read more, please click on the link. A Day Filled with the Wonder of it All

Or take a look at my TripAdvisor review.

The Patchwork Desert

012The Patchwork Desert

Where the sky mimics the ground below,

We travel so fast but it looks so slow.

Like a carbon copy of blue on white,

Of the places we used to fight.

Undulating. The rise and fall.

Mighty high but I feel so small.

War torn cities no hint of their history,

All shrouded in a cloud of mystery.

A beauty they have all of their own,

As I travel on alone.

Basra and Baghdad truly unexpected sight,

The views you see during day and night.

Desert sands are shifting, giant dunes on a beach.

Thousands of miles, I wonder how far they reach.

Stretching, climbing mountains take you further afield.

Landscapes and lifelines, there’s so much to yield.

Rivulets of water expand into lakes,

I wonder if there are earthquakes.

But where water brings, greenery and hope,

To hardworking, normal and honest folk.

Like alpine views bathed the mountains in light

One thing I can’t get past, try as I might.

The thing that I don’t understand

Is which is snow and which is sand?

And broken clouds go sailing by,

As we travel through the sky.

The sunlight creeping through is such a sight to behold.

Majestic mountains, telling the stories of old.

 

The Daily Post – Explore

Conclusion – My Australia Trip

Written 31/3/18

So as I return home after a month in the Beautiful Queensland Coast with my dear friends, I am struck by how down to earth I felt about this wonderful place. I immediately felt homely in this unknown place. As I left I knew that I would miss the family so much and that saying my Goodbyes would be difficult. But we are all happy in the knowledge that this will not be my last trip to Australia.  It is just the beginning of my travels to this part of the world.  I guess that hasn’t quite sunken in yet as I sit on the first leg of the flight home. I have rung my partner and heard that they are alright (as alright can be) at home and as my friends family will all be asleep now having journeyed back to Eudlo, where they all stay, part of me is wishing that I was also tucked up in a nice warm bed, but that is for tomorrow.

As I figure out in my fuzzy head a way to get my family over to Australia in one piece, if only it is his dream too, I could perhaps satisfy my wanderlust with regular trips if some of my contacts might put some work my way.  Time to make a few more phone calls I think.

Today, my last day in Australia, we visited Coolum Beach, a lovely area which was absolutely littered with blue jellyfish, which apparently have a vicious sting to their rather lengthy tail.

Since I was attacked by a green ant only yesterday, I was not inclined to repeat the exercise with one of these beasties today, so we dodged rather a lot of them along the beach, but the waves were high, we wrote messages on the sand, whilst the boys played and ran up and down.  The sun was shining and I looked at the iridescence of the water as the tides crossed my path. It was beautiful and for a moment, I lingered there not wanting to leave.

Swept away in the moment I was transfixed by the waves which reached the shore. Only being brought back to the present when the boys called out to us.

We went on to Coloundra, which is a favourite since my friends Mum currently lives there and it is where they began their time here, just after emigrating. There was a fish restaurant which served wet fish too, it was on a main road, not particularly inspiring as places go, but my meal was enjoyable nevertheless Calamari and Swordfish steaks served with chips and a side salad.

I was quite pleased to see a Pelican fly over the car as we arrived along the beach front and he rested upon the wall of a block of flats. I managed to get a photograph of him before we left. Another thing that I will remember of Coloundra.

 

 

 

 

There is snow back home, just a few small flurries here and there so I am told, but I hope that he brings a warm coat to the airport, despite the layers I have packed, I know that after the warmth of the Sunshine Coast I am really going to feel the cold at least for the first few days. I may even have to resort to Thermals, but lets hope not.

So what will I be taking with me from this trip?

Positivity, that there is so much that is better and that is actually available to me in this life, not having to wait until the next one to experience it all.

Do I believe in reincarnation…

Hmm, although I have long thought that we get one life and should live it. It’s one of those things that I hope that we do get some kind second chance if the odds have been against us in this life thus far. Not necessarily if we live a pure and chaste existence, but if we do good unto others, try to help people along the way and such like.

I have met up with someone who gave me some wonderful advice regarding writing. She has been an inspiration for looking for the good in things, even when I have felt really low. To meet her in person after all this time, could have gone well, or not and neither of us were sure. We arranged to meet in the last week of my trip. Over a coffee and cake. It was an absolute joy to spend an hour or so with her, chatting about all kinds of things and finding out that we got along just fine.  It seems that we have indeed become friends and we will be keeping in touch.

As we drove back from the beach and I squashed all of my luggage into my cases in the hope that I didn’t have to take anything out.  My beach combed shells carefully placed in the luggage so that they will not get broken. The beautiful “Blue Shell” given me by my friend, who said I should have it.  We sat outside on her verandah in the sunshine and made jewellery from the Quandong stones which we had collected from the garden.  Or rather, I drilled the holes, my friend strung them and made them into two rather lovely necklaces, which are enormous, almost architectural in their style. But I also learned that sacred jewellery is made from them by the Aborigines.’ The kids decided since there were so many of them left over, that they would also make some one for their mum and one for a friend and each other.  We had picked up and cleaned up much more of them than we first thought from the garden and yet they still litter the floor at the back of the house, there are probably thousands of them and there will be many more when fruit season comes around. It is a shame that I did not get to see the blue fruit, but they have long gone, only the debris remains.  But we have seen the jewellery made by the monks at the nearby Buddhist Temple, Chenrezig up on the hill nearby.  The only difference being that they have added a bead and tassle to their ones. Ours are simpler, but hang beautifully as a double necklace, made by my own dear friend. There is one for me and one for my mother. Along with a bracelet one of the boys and I made from all of the beach shells and coral that had natural holes in.

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Handmade Quandong & Beach Jewellery

I tasted custard apple for the first time today, it has an interesting taste, I think I am more taken with the Mangoes and also the quite amazing Fruit Salad Fruit, a strange looking fruit which as it ripens and sheds its outer skin, you are left with something which resembles a skinned banana, but you can taste so many other fruit.

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Fruit Salad Fruit – Monstera Deliciosa

We each described it differently after a taste, one thought pineapple, another melon, and another banana.

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Jack Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried Jack Fruit, which is another native one, it looks a bit like a hedgehog on the outside and has a pungent smell to it when it is ripe, but makes an awful mess and leaves a glue like substance, its sap which is difficult to remove, on everything that it touches. It was my friends’ first taste of the fruit too, she had read that you could prepare it and use it like a vegan version pulled pork, which is very popular.  It had a sweet taste in its raw form, which was quite pleasant, definitely fruity.  But once cooked takes on a whole new persona.  It lost its appeal somewhat and then only took on the taste of the spices and sauce which it was cooked in.  So isn’t something I’d be likely to try again.

I thought that I would do some things differently whilst I was away, but didn’t.  Firstly I thought that I would write lots of poetry, but didn’t write any at all.

I also thought that I would meditate but although there were times when I sought peace and calm I did not, not even once! Well, not intentionally although the calm swept over me every time my toes hit the sand.

I thought that I might struggle to drive a manual car again on roads which I do not know, with the different layout and rules, but I took to it once again like a duck to water. One drive out in the car, ten minutes in and it all came flooding back to me, the first drive in an unknown place. The South of France all those years ago, it was as natural as breathing. I soon learned some of the routes to enable us to get back home. We did have the mobile sat nav, but when the signal was non existent or the batteries low, we somehow still made it back.

The fact that I was open to trying new things, experiences and directions, meant that this was the holiday that I needed it to be, filled with wonderful places, beautiful sights, friendly and welcoming people.  It was a very pleasant surprise to be wished a safe journey, by the people I met around the town before I left. They had observed my arrival, as a tired unwell traveller and observed the change in me finding my feet and would all stop to talk and find out what I thought of their little town.

The nearest town Mooloolah is more like one of our villages, spread out over a greater area, but with similar facilities to a British country village. A few essential stores and a fuel station, but there is a good network of regular trains going past at the bottom of the garden.  I have never seen such lengthy freight trains, but maybe next time when I return to this part of the world, I will take a journey on the train with my friend.

As I said Goodbye to the house, the area, my friends and their transport which has carried me safely on this journey, I watched the greenery whizzing by as a passenger in the car, thinking of many of the things that have captured my heart about this place and the many things I have yet to see and feeling quite emotional about leaving.

I will return one day, to my friends again and this place which has captured not just the imagination, but reignited my spirit of adventure and also a little piece of my heart. There is so much to see and I have barely scratched the surface, I simply have to see more.

The Daily Post – Explore

The Storm – A short story

via Daily Prompt: RadiantIMG_8699

The weather reported that the cyclone was passing over right where they were. It could have hit at any time. They had been expecting it for days, battening down the hatches and protecting the house and garden hoping that the damage it might cause if any would be minimal.

So far they had been safe. But now at that moment on this day, louder than ever the sea was calling them, they went to answer the call.

Travelling to the beach, there was no sign of bad weather.  The sky was bright and clear, a real blue sky for miles with no grey of rain. They parked and bought refreshments at the nearby café. As they stumbled across the sand, past the lake and up the dunes to the top, they paused as they were met with an almost empty beach, no crazy surfers hitting the waves for once heeding the warnings of danger.

The occasional local wandering along, with dogs, racing through the sand and water, charging around barking excitedly. Or others with some companions walking and taking in the spectacle of it all.  Lifeguards on patrol retrieving rubbish from the beach, no one out at sea for miles around.  She stopped for a moment, looking out with her friend at the softest sand and crystal blue sea gazing in wonder at the sight before them.  A wall of waves and foam, about 40 feet in height, the sand being swept up crashing upon the shoreline and their faces.

Suddenly there they were, like little storm hunters barefoot and racing towards it, they ran into the water. Embracing the storm for a moment the wind lashing at their faces and sand biting their skin, cleansed by the elements.

They had gone expecting to find great treasures washed upon the shore, a storm can bring such wonderful things to the beachcomber. Alas, no sooner had the large waves brought in an abundance of things, which they scurried to collect, then another would arrive to sweep the beach clear once again. The beautiful shells and things being replaced by fragments, shattered in the process.  But they did not cause sadness, they held a beauty all of their own. For the storm granted them freedom. Yes, freedom to run to jump, to think and to breathe.

They stood, transfixed as the waves grew and broke before them, such power which no one could harness. Nature at its finest and there she walked along, arms outstretched, welcoming it all with a radiant smile. Suddenly with all the previous stresses of her mind now gone, washed away by the storm carefree she walked along with her friend, both of them in silence at the wonder of it all.

Returning in the direction of the car, greeted by wet dogs and smiling people along the way, she thought quietly of her loved ones at home and the moment they had missed. This glorious beach which would be the perfect place to walk, hand in hand with her lover and their beloved dog racing towards the surf. Wind in his fur, tail held high in excitement, hardly anyone around. Miles and miles of pure white sand, not littered by rubbish, but freshly groomed by nature for their pleasure. Her friend in tune with her suddenly voicing the same thoughts agreed, they should be here to enjoy this too it would be the perfect beach for them.

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Turbulence and Travel.

The sound of plastic luggage squeaking in overhead lockers.

Quandong and Beach combed jewellery clattering around my bag,

Making the sound of lapping as though it is water upon the shore.

Casting my mind back.

The lurch of the aeroplane as it rolls from side to side through the sky.

A momentary thought of Please keep us safe sent to the universe.

We pass through a storm, lightning illuminating the sky.

But there is no fear.

I try to sleep, but muscles ache from sitting and I cannot block the noise of chatter.

My throat sore from lack of sleep and recycled air.

But I am calm.

I am thinking of my loved ones.

The smiles upon faces glad that I have returned safely home.

I am remembering the recent new memories I now carry with me.

The new plans I have yet to make, for next time.

The hope that I will return to this place sooner rather than later.

To travel once again to far off places to visit my friends and make new ones.

To find more of the beauty in this world and embrace it with all of my being.

To know that I have been blessed beyond measure.

One of the fortunate ones.

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.