22 December 2012

Season's Greetings!

Best wishes to you all for the holiday season, whatever you're doing and wherever you are I hope that you have a great time surrounded by people you love and who love you right back.

With a bit of luck and a lot of good management, by the time this post goes up The Sparky, Samson, Nutmeg and I will be somewhere between home and the Gold Coast ... hopefully well over the New South Wales boarder. We don't have any definite plans at this stage save that we will be jumping in the car (really) early Saturday morning, driving for roughly 19 hours to my parent's place, staying for a week or so and then driving back again. We do know that we want to rest a while and we do know that we have to be back by 7 January (2013!!) to get Samson to the vet ... other than that it's all pretty open at the moment. A bit of rest in the sunshine and a bit of time at home should be just exactly what I need to get myself back in one piece and ready to face another year.

I will be pretty much disconnecting myself while we're away so if I don't see you again before then, I'll see you in the new year, refreshed and ready to go and with so, so many things to do and say and celebrate!

17 December 2012

Astro's Garden

We've been in our unit for nearly ten years now. I'm not sure I want to dwell on that for too long actually, when we first moved I thought we'd be there for four years at the most. In my mind it was a stepping stone, not a resting place but plans change and circumstances change and here we are still.

Over that time we have planted a front garden, insulated the roof, pulled out ducted heating, fully renovated the bathroom, laundry and kitchen, built a deck, knocked a hole in the dining room to put in a sliding door, replaced doors, handles, window furnishings, light fittings, put in air conditioners, wired in sound and mounted tvs, added built in shelves, painted and repainted ... in fact the only thing that we haven't done yet is replace the carpet and floorboards (in the unrenovated rooms anyway) and if we're there much longer that's likely to happen as well because neither of us like them, oh and the shed in the back needs replacing too.

Through all of that though, our back garden has just never quite made it to the top of our 'to do' list. We've tried, we've started and then stopped and then started again, we've moved things, pulled things up and laid things down, for a couple of years we even had a veggie garden but basically beyond the deck the back yard has not ever really been a part of the house that we're happy with, let alone proud of.

That is until one day a couple of months ago when we brought our dear Astro home and laid him here, in a corner of our garden that we knew wasn't going to undergo too much change -

That's not to say that it didn't need work, we weeded and tidied before we dug and then we bought some chip bark to cover the dirt. I wasn't particularly thinking of blogging at the time so I don't have much in the way of before photos, but the background of some of these should give you an idea of what things were like ... it's no coincidence that they are all pet photos, there really wasn't anything about the garden itself that was photo worthy.

As you can see, there are times when that corner has looked better than others but overall it has had a sad life. Not as sad as the rest of the yard though, as you can see from these next few photos.

Having started, we were determined not only to keep the corner garden neat and tidy but to get the rest of the yard into order as well, which is how we ended up spending most of Cup Weekend (we both had the Monday off so we had four days straight) majorly landscaping the yard. Over the weekends since we have added some plants and some vegetables and, finally, we have a backyard that we are both very, very happy with.

The only thing left now, aside from keeping the plants alive (particularly the vegetables) will be to plant something larger in Astro's corner. At the moment we plan for that to be a weeping cherry which Little Bro and The Artist have said they'll get us as a combined birthday/Christmas present but that will have to wait until the new year ... and we have already changed our minds three times in two months so it remains to be seen if that is what we actually end up with.

One thing's for sure, I will never be able to let the garden get to the state that it was again ... somehow it would feel disrespectful to Astro, who certainly loved his time out here and would probably have liked it even more now.

15 October 2012

and then ...

I never intended for this spot to be too serious. It was always supposed to be about fun holidays and cute pets and light and fluffy stuff. I certainly didn't intend to have two serious posts in a row.

In fact, I have started and stopped a number of posts over the past week, determined to lighten things up and keep things moving. Sometimes they're just in my head, sometimes they get started as drafts, always I end up staring into space or blankly at my screen, unable to finish a thought or a sentence, much less a paragraph or a post.

And then this happened. The 'man' and 'woman' in the article are my uncle and aunt.

All of a sudden I feel even less like writing about holidays or pets or the number of baby showers I've been invited to lately or even the stresses of work. I don't feel like pretending or putting on a happy face and so for just a little longer I'll be away ... thank you all for your understanding and for the kind words you've posted and e-mailed. I'm sorry I haven't been myself lately, hopefully I'll be back soon.

Hug your loved ones.

01 October 2012


26 December 2009 to 30 September 2012

26 September 2012

Saturday drive, somewhere between Chum Creek and Toolangi ... bliss!

18 September 2012

Travelday - Our day in Naploi

One of the things that really struck us about our location just outside of Sorrento was that it was quite. Sure, it was a bit of a hike for us (all up- or all downhill, depending on which was we were going) but it was worth it to be away from the sounds of the church bells, the garbage and recycling trucks, the late closing (and then even later packing up) restaurants ... for the first time since leaving Zurich we had a quiet, uninterrupted night's sleep!

On the down side, we did sleep in a little later than anticipated on our first morning. Not so badly that our day would be interrupted too much, until ... we discovered that the drain in our shower didn't work! Basically the whole little bathroom flooded in about 30 seconds and threatened the rest of the cabin too.

Not to worry, we thought, it's a caravan park, there'll be a shower block somewhere ... and there was, but it was being renovated because it was off-season (sigh ...). So, off we trotted to the reception desk where we were advised that the maintenance man was nearby and would be in to fix it for us. Great, is there somewhere we can shower now so that we can get our day going, I asked. No, was the response, but he'll be there straight away.
Straight away, it turns out, is a relative term and after we had sat waiting for him for half an hour we went back to reception to re-iterate that we would actually like to be able to go out at some stage soon (now, I know we could have just gone out unshowered, and The Sparky had almost convinced me at this point that that's what we should do, but honestly even the thought of it as I sit here typing makes me itch, I'm a bit weird like that).

The lovely young lady at reception got back on to her phone, had a quick conversation and then assured us that he was heading straight to our cabin now ... and this time he actually was, in fact he beat us to it. A little more waiting as he poked around in the drainage pipes and suddenly, voila, the water was draining properly! Thank you Mr Maintenance Man, you made my day.

A short while later, showered, dressed and fed, we were walking back down the skinny, windy road into Sorrento. We then meandered our way through the streets, stopped for the by now obligatory morning coffee and pastry, and gradually made our way to the docks ... where we found that the next boat to Naples was over an hour away ...
Not to worry, if we'd been hard to stress way back at the start of the trip, by this point we were so mellow we were just about melting! The day was lovely, the view stunning, the people watching fun and the local stray (you couldn't possibly call them feral) cats were adorable ... but too fast to get any photos of!

Phew! Looks like I was feeling wordy when I started writing this last week. Not to worry, the photos can tell the story from the time we got on the boat ...

Except that for some reason Blogger won't let me add anything at the bottom, so let me just add here that Naples was basically everything we were told it would be. Honestly, I did wonder how much of it was just hype but Naples really is the one place we visited where I would not recommend the 'wander of the beaten path' approach that we took elsewhere, within a block of doing so we found ourselves feeling quite honestly uncomfortable and looking for a way back to the main drag ... and we're neither of us the most easily shaken people. We also bumped into a bloke trying to sell us a fake iPad, which of course he swore was real (The Sparky still gets much pleasure from the fact that he later read about this scam and can say we experienced it first hand!).

That said, we also met some fabulous, friendly, helpful locals outside the pizzeria (without whom we'd still be standing there trying to work out the system!) and enjoyed the best coffee of the holiday ... we actually went in because he had cannoli out the front and we were still trying to find something to meet our Venice experience) and we are so glad we did. It definitely firmed our opinion that the smaller the bar and the older the barista, the better the coffee will be.

Looking back on Sorrento.

Sorrento from further out (no idea what happened with the colours here).

Castel dell'Ovo, as the boat pulls in to Napoli

A small portion of the crowd waiting to get in ... a large number of whom were locals which eased my concerns.

Not sure if it's the long wait talking but these really were the best pizzas we'd ever tasted.

See the lovely wood fired crust ... and they didn't even fit on the plate!

Yes, there's a lot of hype ... but this is one place that's worth the talk.

There were also only two drink options, small Coke or mega water ... we got one of each.

This was taken moments before things got a little hairy ... I'm quite curious about the history behind this, any ideas?

17 September 2012

In Search of Kindred Spirits

If I told you the answer was "Yeth",
would you know what the question was?

06 September 2012

If I were a Twit(erer) ...

... you'd read such brilliance as this ...

6 September 2012

8:17 am - Myki really? Even the ski lifts in Queenstown have a better card reading system ...

8:19 am - in fact so do Venice and Rome ... and Italy's government is basically broke!

1:18 pm - Just watched idiot cross road, phone to one ear, finger in other to block out the noise of the FIRETRUCK HE WAS WALKING IN FRONT OF!

2:23 pm - 8.5 years later and my boss still feels the need to tell me that dictation tapes need to be rewound before I start listening to them ...

3:59 pm - If you wanted it filed in Court before 4:00 you shouldn't have given it to me at the last minute ...

4:32 pm - Less than halfa until home time!

4:34 pm - e-mail from Dymocks, perfectly timed distraction

5:12 pm - Apologising for keeping me late won't change anything ... not coming in at 4:50 with urgent work might ...

5:18 pm - off to answer the most important question of my day ... has Astro put on any more weight

04 September 2012

Travelday - Sorrento (Amalfi Coast)

From Florence we traveled to Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast. Most of the day was spent driving and unfortunately we hit Sorrento right at what probably equated to peak hour ... there were scooters and cars everywhere. Trying to negotiate the tiny, unknown streets was a little concerning. We did it though and made our way through the town and out the other side to our accommodation. Once settled, we walked our way back into town for a nice quiet evening

Beautiful water and a quaint little boat.

Gorgeous but slightly hazy view.

Innovative architecture (this was also the most footpath we saw, mostly there was none).

At least they're wearing helmets right?

Sunset ... and some more of The Sparky's patient, steady handed camera work.

03 September 2012

Goodbye ... for now ... sort of ...

Three weeks ago today I was relaxing in Queenstown NZ (insert obligatory comment about how fast the time has gone). The holiday itself was nice, although perhaps not as quietly self-reflective as I had hoped. Fun was had, good food was eaten, sights were seen, those who wanted to went skiing and we all had a good time.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand

Unfortunately it wasn't anywhere near long enough for the full relaxing affects to take hold and I was still in a bit of a state when we arrived home ... so much so that I actually physically felt a cloud fall over me when the plane touched back down in Melbourne.

So, with the combined effects of post-holiday depression, SAD, HAD, a head cold, work stress and a dying cat getting the best of me I kind of shut down and disappeared for a while. I didn't want to be thinking about where my head was at, let alone sitting here typing it out, telling you all about it. Honesty is not something that comes easily to me when I'm in that state, I'd much rather pretend everything is okay ... or hide until it is.
Oh, just some more snow covered mountains ...

Then, the sun came out this weekend and Astro put on weight for the first time in six months (!) and things started to maybe look a little bit more bearable (also, the hormones are back at a normal level at the moment so the HAD, which is the worst of them, isn't affecting me at the moment - sorry if that's TMI, it's why I don't like talking about the d-word too much, it's linked to stuff that most people don't want to talk about publicly).

I spent most of this past weekend thinking about today's post. I have decided that it is time to really crack the metaphorical whip and get myself moving. As much as the 'Manifestos' are a good idea in theory, in practice they just aren't working. I need to just jump right in and start doing things. I must start exercising so that I sleep better, if I sleep better I will be better equipped to handle the stresses of work, if I'm coping better with stress I get home less tired, if I get home less tired I'm more likely to do some housework, if I do the housework I'll feel better about myself, if I feel better about myself I'm more likely to spend some time exercising, if I spend more time exercising ... well, you get the picture ...

Hooray for Spring sunshine!

I threw around a few ideas for new a series ('Just Do It' and 'Spring into Spring' got scrapped pretty quickly) but then realised that another thing that has been bothering me lately are the boxes I'm mentally placing around what I do and say here. Somewhere along the line, in my attempt to structure my life, the art has gone out of it ... the reason I stuck around here after our holiday was over had been squashed. Of course, I've seen this before - when depression kicks in the art is the first thing to go, even though it's the thing I need the most.

In the end I decided that what this post would mostly be about would be the fact that I am going to start doing all of the things that I need to start doing (get up early, exercise, concentrate, clean, organise) and stop doing all of the things I need to stop doing (allowing myself to get distracted, stressed, take the lazy option).

There's always one ...

Of course, as you may have gathered by now things changed even after making that decision and this has turned into a different post entirely ... in part because last night I realised something else, something right up there a couple of paragraphs ago, I spent most of the weekend thinking about this post. Really? It's time to get some perspective back. This place, my little part of the internet, was supposed to be about writing, creating, sharing, in my own way and what was on my mind. It is not something I do to make money and the making new friends part of it is a bonus ... a wonderful, happy, fun, shiny bonus ... but still not the reason I'm here.

And so, I'm stepping back for a short while. I will finish my Travelday posts ... I can't leave you stranded in Florence ... but aside from that I will be writing for the fun of it and sharing photos of my life, my pets, my home town if and when I want to. No boxes, no structure, no stress ... but hopefully a whole lot more fun!

Not a great photo, but wonderful memories.

09 August 2012

Three Things Thursday - Olympic Edition

When I first started thinking about this post I was going to go with 'the good, the bad and the ugly'. I quickly quashed that idea because it meant that there would be two negative thoughts to only one positive and that's not really where I want these posts going. Not that there hasn't been quite a bit of 'ugly' to choose from (temper tanties at the women's 100m hurdle qualifiers, Aussie swimmers chasing married men, the constant bagging of our elite athletes just because they don't get gold ...?), it's just that I would prefer to focus on the positive aspects of the games. So, in no particular order I give you three of my favourite things about this year's Olympic games:

1 - speaking of the women's 100m hurdles, I think a huge shout out needs to go the the two American ladies who came in behind our Sally Pearson in the final. Kellie Wells in particular could (possibly) have been forgiven for being less than gracious in defeat, after all she was 0.02 seconds away from being the Olympic record holder. Instead both she and Dawn Harper openly congratulated Sally and appeared to be completely satisfied with their PBs.


2 - I love it when I stumble across stories like this one as I wend my way through the internet ... the enthusiasm of the three athletes from Curacao is contagious and the stand that the bloke from South Sudan made just about brought tears to my eyes ... and I'm not the teary type.

3 - Finally, as I sit here I can't for the life of me remember what the third moment was ... I know I had one in mind but it's gone ... instead, I will leave you with this clip from the BBC's coverage of the opening ceremony. Let the games commence indeed!

07 August 2012

Travelday - Florence in Photos

Some places simply speak for themselves so I'm going to let Florence do just that.

06 August 2012

More Manifestos

Okay, so I'm the first to admit that I haven't got off to a good start insofar as writing about these manifestos goes, given that it is already two weeks since my last post and there was perhaps some inference that it would be a weekly thing ...

That said, I'm feeling a little pleased with myself about how I've gone with actually doing the things I said I would do. In review:

1 - I walked to the train station three times the first week and four the second. Not quite every day but Melbourne turned on the water works a couple of times (and one day in particular I had a really good reason for not wanting to spend the day in mud splashed pants). If I can keep up an average of three times a week I'll be very happy;

2 - honestly, I actually forgot about the stairs a lot at first but now I'm using them on at least half of the times that I go downstairs, again if that's an average I can keep up long term then I'll be happy;

3 - the before work thing has actually been a lot harder to get back into than I thought it would. I have done a lot more exercise on the weekends and in the evenings but I do really need to get the morning thing happening again;

4 - which brings us to the alarm situation, yes I have as declared been setting the alarm for 5:30 ... I haven't yet been able to get myself out of bed then though. I'll keep working on that one;

5 - done and done!! Not actually lodged yet but sitting there ready to go ... so, so happy to get that off the list.

it is slowly becoming light in the morning while I wait for the train

So, that's the past two weeks done and dusted. The next two weeks will actually be divided into three sections, Monday to Friday pre-holiday, Saturday to Friday holiday and Friday afternoon to Sunday post-holiday. Given that there's a good chance that the best I'll be able to manage while I'm away will be to upload a few scenic photos, and at the risk of putting you all to sleep before the end of the page, I'm going to put them all out there now.

Pre-Holiday I will ...

1 - make our work lunches the night before;

2 - go for a walk in my lunch break;

3 - breathe deep ... not metaphorically but actually, physically breathe deep and strong. I'm told it's good for you;

4 - clean the house ready for the cat-sitter to stay; and

5 - plan and pack (guarantee you this won't happen until Friday!).

During Holiday I will ...

1 - rest;

2 - relax;

3 - read;

4 - write; and

5 - walk.

(Okay, I admit that's cheating a little but it does all go towards helping me to be healthier I promise!)

Post-Holiday I will ...

1 - create an exercise plan;

2 - create an eating plan;

3 - empty the ironing basket;

4 & 5 - cross two more major, but at the moment unexplainable, items off my long term to do list.

my way of apologising for inundating you with too many words ...

02 August 2012

Pick Me Up Quotes ... and you apparently too

So, I started this last week without any formal introduction ... in fact looking back it appears I said nothing at all! The basic idea being that I condense all of the weird and wonderful things that cross my screen and my mind into three thoughts to present to you on a Thursday. As evidenced here, things can get a bit out of control if I just lay out everything that's on my mind in one hit. So, hopefully narrowing it to three things will help to avoid random rants about children's toys that I not-so-secretly covet while confining the posts to Thursdays only will mean that sometimes you'll be able to come here and actually find a new Travelday post, or if you're really lucky, some new manifestos ...

Based on the response to last weeks quotes, and given where my own head is still at at the moment, two of today's three things are simply pick me up quotes found here and there -

The third wanders way off into random territory again, but I'm so excited I just have to share. Those of you who kindly read every word I type will be aware that The Sparky is mere months away from finishing his four year apprenticeship which means that right now he is doing refresher courses and sitting his three A-grade exams (an A-grade electrician being a fully qualified one). His first refresher course was on a Monday a couple of weeks ago and he came home that night a little concerned, not because it's a difficult exam but because it is known to be the easiest to fail as there are a few steps that if missed mean an instant fail. So, he rigged up a simulation at home and for three nights I sat there and mock-tested him over and over (and over and over) again. On the Thursday morning he ran through it a couple more times then headed off to to the test. His results came in earlier this week and ... he got 100%!!!! Not a single mistake or forgotten step! I'm so proud I could just about burst.

Phew, that ended up long winded. Here's another dog photo to get you back on track ...