Friday, January 30, 2015

word of the week #5

I was struggling for a word this week. I knew what I wanted to say but couldn't find a single world, I considered "greetings" and "farewells" but neither was quite right. I asked The Husband whether there was a single word that means saying hello and goodbye simultaneously. "Ciao" was the immediate reply. There was no denying he was absolutely correct and so  ciao it is, although decorated in the Aussie green and gold rather than the Italian tricolour. 

In the last week we had a reunion with a relative in Brisbane who we had last seen at our wedding, followed by a goodbye soon after. We flew from Brisbane back to Sydney to be reunited with all of the family we had left behind when we set off on our drive up the east coast. There  was much celebrating for Australia Day with a huge family gathering and there have been some lovely days this week filled with recurring hellos and goodbyes with our family in New South Wales.

Then finally over the last few days and up to this morning (Thursday night in England) we had the bigger goodbyes. The final ones, for now, with so many people who have spent the last few weeks welcoming us into their homes and showing us around the sights. It is so bittersweet to grow close to relatives  and find how well you get on only to have to say goodbye and travel so very far away from them. Important, instead, to be grateful for having seen them and made so many great memories; though that doesn't stop tears at the departure gate (and maybe just a few now, as I sit on the plane writing this).

But after departures comes arrivals, and the fabulous prospect of saying hello to my parents, and Millie too. After three weeks away there is a building excitement at the thought of being back where we belong, sharing stories and pictures with those closest to us and getting the chance for the much missed hugs from my mum. The wonderfully warm welcome of home awaits. There are longed for hellos to come, making the goodbyes that have gone more bearable. Ciao.

Monday, January 26, 2015

365: week 4

My latest contribution to Project 365 from The Boy and Me. Apologies for the lateness of the post, and also the quality of some of these pictures! I have actually taken photos of the pictures on the camera screen using my phone due to limited internet so they aren't quite as crisp as they might be!

18. The breathtaking view of the Glasshouse Mountain from our accommodation on Sunday morning.

19. An unexpected encounter with a dolphin as we stopped for a quick look around Rainbow Beach.

20. Testing my fear of flying to the limit as we travelled over the sea in an eight seater plane.

21. Spending the night on the beach silently waiting to see turtles nesting, and being rewarded with an amazing sight.

22. I loved this hand-drawn town map as we stopped for supplies in Kenilworth.

23. The only photo we took in a very wet Brisbane, walking back through the city after dropping off our hire car in a downpour.

24. Lovely to be staying with relatives and enjoying the chance to cuddle some dogs, even if it did make Millie feel even further away!

Friday, January 23, 2015

word of the week #4

This has week has been filled with the most incredible experiences. We have seen turtles nesting at night on a coral island, and discovered an amazing underwater world as we snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef. We stopped at Rainbow Beach for a drink and happened upon a dolphin swimming right by the shore. This morning we sat surrounded by mountains shrouded in mist, drinking coffee and watching a kangaroo and its joey grazing just metres away. 

There have been rainforests and beaches, mountains and lakes on our trip. All manner of creatures from bugs and butterflies to koalas and crocodiles (in a zoo rather than wild!).

We have also seen the fiercer side of nature, caught in incredible thunderstorms that made driving treacherous, as hailstones fell and branches blew into the road. There have been insect bites galore but luckily no sunburn despite the extreme sunshine earlier in the week.

It has been a truly memorable seven days, and I feel very lucky to have seen so much. Despite the extremes of weather, it has been a privelige to get to experience so much of nature up close and see so many animals in their natural habitats. An incredibly special week.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

365: week 3

Apologies in advance for sunshine filled holiday pictures when home sounds in the depths of winter. I have also gone back and edited last weeks having realised I only did 6 pictures!

11. Obligatory photo from the plane window. This is all I have to offer as pretty much all of sunday was spent aboard a plane!

12. Playing with the filters on our new camera, in the orchard at my cousins house.

13. Enjoying a winery tour complete with a cheese and wine tasting at the glorious Hunter Valley.

14. The bleached trees lining the road as we set off on our drive up the east coast.

15. Falling in love with the koalas at the sanctuary in Port Macquarie.

16. Beautiful flowers as we left our accommodation in Coffs Harbour.

17. Our views as we sailed a boat up and down the Tweed River bright and early on Saturday morning.

Friday, January 16, 2015

word of the week #3 feeling incomprehensible. I'm eleven hours ahead of my family, and go to bed as they wake up. Tomorrow I cross a state line and gain another hour. Making it exactly twelve hours difference between home and here*. Incredible. Bizarre to have lost a day and yet somehow feel like I have fitted so much into the last week. losing all meaning. I am not, as I have frequently mentioned, a morning person. And yet today I awoke at five, ate breakfast at 7.30 and by ten had done a long walk too. I love rising early and starting my day as the sun comes up. being kind. I can't believe that, although the days are flying by, we have had the opportunity to come away for such a long trip. Great to think we are not even half way through our holiday, and to have days of travel stretching ahead. best spent in the company of family, especially The Husband. As much as I am missing home, particularly my parents and Millie, it has been great to spend some time with my family here in Australia. It has felt incredibly lucky to be able to come on such a special trip with grandad and share some amazing experiences with him. And after months of feeling like time with each other was snatched between trips for work it is wonderful to be away with The Husband, enjoying each other's company and exploring a new country together.

*told you it was incomprehensible! Have since realised it has gone the other way so ten hours difference rather than eleven, and definitely not twelve!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

365: week 2

4. First Sunday roast of 2015, a lovely sight on a winter afternoon.

5. Millie keeping me company while I work from home. Love her resting her paws on my toes!

6. The dressing on my damaged thumb, from my foolish kitchen episode.

7. Millie trying to get away with being on the bed by making it look like she's helping me to make it.

8. Much needed cup of tea after a long and eventful day.

9. Nothing more beautiful than the view of the city on a Friday night as I wait for the train home.

10. Bags are packed and we are getting ready to go on our trip.

word of the week #2

Now before I explain my choice for this week, I want to be very clear that I realise, relatively, nothing I'm about to describe is particularly brave compared with the types of situations others might be facing. I thought that I was going to pick "game" as in, I'm game for that, but somehow brave worked better with what I wanted to say.

This is a hybrid of part-written posts that were all supposed to get uploaded this week but for a myriad of reasons, none made it to the point of publication. So do bear with me if this meanders a little!

I got looking back at my old blog when I was doing my first 365 post, just to see how I had got on last year when I started. I found this post, written exactly a year ago (or at least it was on Monday when I started writing about it!). It served as a good reminder, as our trip to Australia is ever more imminent, of promises I made last year. My secondment this year has resulted in lots more travelling up and down the country, and I have become far more confident with that, but I was still finding the thought of our long-haul flights ahead daunting. Reading that post was a start, but even more influential was the number of New Year posts where people had written about travel. They regretted not having done more in the months gone by, they vowed to visit more places, and to travel further afield in the year ahead. I realised what a wonderful situation it is to have the opportunity to go and visit family and cities halfway round the world, and decided to think positively, not fearfully. To be excited, and giddy, and brave when I start to panic, or worry, which I know I still will.

It was also haircut time, and I opted to get some reddish auburn highlights in my usually blonde hair, and have several inches cut off too. I had that moment in front of the mirror where the hairdresser had trimmed it, daring myself to ask her to take it shorter. I'm gradually getting used to both the occasional flash of red, and the shorter style, although new brushes have been purchased in an effort to keep it looking fairly groomed.

This week there was also, what shall hitherto be referred to as, the mandolincident. The vegetable slicing mandoline, rather than the musical mandolin, I hasten to add. The Husband very kindly purchased one for me for Christmas, and I excitedly lifted it out to make sliced potatoes for the top of a stew. Having problems with the finger guard I made the oh-so-foolish decision to carry on without it, and less than three slices later managed to take the top off my thumb. So part of my absence this week has been due to a slight level of incapacity, I had no idea just how crucial my right thumb was to daily life. Getting dressed, typing, holding cutlery, carrying a mug, I am very much suffering for my stupidity. I failed spectacularly at being brave when I had to change the dressing, instead opting to put headphones in and close my eyes whilst The Husband and mum have both had to clean it and cover it. I am doing it on my own now, having pulled myself together and stopped being quite so dramatic.

There has also been another opportunity to do some travelling with work in a few months time. On one hand it was a great chance to visit a new country, do as I had promised above and see the world, meet some interesting people, and do something different from the day job. From the minute it became a possibility I have been telling myself to be brave, to venture away from the norm and go for it. I didn't want to turn down such a one-off trip, and went back to work in January determined to go. The thought of flying without family filled me with dread, and the idea of going on a trip so far away and having other people plan the itinerary, flights and hotels also felt alien. Yet I kept giving myself a pep talk, telling myself that I couldn't miss out. Then we realised that the ideal period for getting visas and immunisations would fall at the time I was in Australia. Going on our holiday knowing I would be under significant pressure when I got back to sort them out in time felt less than ideal, and the chance that they could not get sorted felt risky. Still I felt silly, like I was wasting an opportunity, and letting people down; sticking within my comfort zone rather than exploring the world. I didn't want to pull out, but realised that it would be better to do so before bookings had been made, and better to decide now than spend our holiday worrying about coming home. So today I did just that. I spoke to a number of people and explained my reasons, I apologised and reiterated how grateful I was for the opportunity. I feel relieved, and glad that I was confident enough to change the plans when I realised they just weren't feasible for me at this time. I realised that sometimes being brave is not about pushing your boundaries but about accepting your limitations.

Linking in with Word of the Week at The Reading Residence

Sunday, January 04, 2015

the year in books: january

I'm looking forward to joining in with the year in books again this year, and hopefully blogging a little more regularly about the books I've read. I tailed off last year, but in December I did a summary of all of the books I remembered reading over recent months. I have received lots of books for Christmas, and picked this one to be my first read.

I think I will likely get through quite a few books in January, both because my commute starts up again tomorrow, and also because I have holidays coming up. I may have to resort to the kindle (I much prefer real books!) purely from a baggage allowance perspective, but hopefully this time next month I will have a few books to tell you about. Have you read The Humans? What did you think?

365: week 1

1. A day spent with family celebrating the New Year. I had rather too much fun helping my cousin's two year old son play with the present we bought for him. They do say you always buy people what you would like to receive yourself!

2. Perhaps inspired by yesterday's  creativity, I decided to use my new notebook (a gratefully received Christmas gift) to do an illustration for my first attempt at Word of the Week. I loved lifting out an old set of coloured pencils and fineliners - more drawing this year I think!

3. Lots of things making me happy in this picture. A warming cup of tea, much needed after my second session of C25K - it was great to be out in the fresh air with Millie dragging me along - she can still run faster than me! Also note the matching coaster and tablemat - a Christmas gift off my Grandad, complete with co-ordinating tray as well. Something I didn't realise I wanted until I opened it, and laying the table with my new set each day has made me smile every time.

Linking in with the #365 project from The Boy and Me

Friday, January 02, 2015

word of the week #1

It's quite tempting in these last few days off work to excitedly join in with lots of blogging projects, only to inevitably fail to keep up with them when real life kicks in again. So without any promise of long-term commitment, I thought I would join in with Jocelyn's word of the week project this week, having often seen it on twitter last year.

I make no claim to artistic skills, and no vow to hand-draw my words in future weeks, but I was doodling over lunch and decided to illustrate this week's word in a new notebook. I have grand visions of getting to the end of the year with a notebook of weekly words but one day at a time for now! Also not sure we have the luggage capacity for me to take coloured pencils off to Australia!

The last week began in a post-Christmas haze of illness, feeling rubbish and sleeping away the days on the sofa, dosing up on medicine and the last of the chocolate coins. I had an extended pity party, especially as I trudged to work on Monday feeling under the weather and cheated of my long weekend off work. Now though, I'm feeling much better (although many of my family are still suffering), and am starting the New Year appreciating being well, and with renewed focus on optimising my health.

Yesterday there was a long dog walk (with brief attempts at running), today there has been a vegetable packed food shop (and another walk planned shortly). It is good to feel well-rested, well-recovered, and positive about the year ahead. Here's to a happy and healthy new year.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

first things first

The first day, of the first month, of a new year. I love January 1st, and today has been a good one. A lovely day spent with family, sharing the last of the Christmas gifts and enjoying good food and good company.

The first time I have ever completed a journal for a full year. It is looking a little more worn now than when I first bought it, but I still adore this 5 year diary. It has seen some places this last year, Devon, Milan, Somerset, London, Edinburgh and the Lake District. I can't wait to use it this year and be able to compare entries as I go.

The first dog walk of the new year. Which also coincided with the first day of the couch to 5k (again). Inspired by Penny's recent success I'm determined that 2015 is the year I finally teach myself to run. It seems silly to need to learn what should be a natural instinct but it is a skill I seemingly never acquired. It was good to be out today, moving in the crisp air, music on my headphones. A little embarrassing admittedly to feel like my lungs were going to burst with the effort of running for 60 seconds, and realise that my running pace was a mere amble for Millie - still I suppose she has four legs to my two?!

A new book to start the year, I lifted one out of the large pile of Christmas books I was lucky enough to receive. I'm not sure what projects I will link up to on the blog this year, but I will definitely be hoping to join in with The Year in Books from Laura - it has brought me, and my family so much enjoyment to rediscover reading.

The first proper attempt to take photos with our new camera (not these ones I hasten to add!). Our Christmas present to ourselves ready for our holiday ahead. I feel like it does far more than we are capable of making use of, but I'm looking forward to learning and improving over the coming year. 

And now the first (long) weekend of the year stretches ahead of me. The Husband is in work tomorrow, but I am fortunate to be off, and I look forward to the coming days. I am feeling much better than I did just after Christmas, and so the year seems to have got off to a happy and healthy start.