Sunday, 28 May 2017

It's all about me - a special guest post

Minibreak = roadtrip

Arrived well past my dinner time, lucky I had a snack before we left home.  So we’re at the Vibe hotel inMarysville.  My first time in a hotel.  Smells funny.  I rode in an elevator – don’t like them very much.  Lots of doors.  Here we are room number 3.  I have my very own bed, they even left me a toy (I don't do toys) and a chew stick and a bone shaped water and food bowl (empty - what good is that?).  Let’s see, there is a big bed, a couch, TV, table, desk and a bathroom.  Kind of like home, but all closer together.  Mum and Dad left me here.  I was a bit scared, but ate my dinner and watched some TV.  I thought about ordering room service, they bring you food – how good is that? 

My first hotel stay!
I tried to reach the mini bar because I could smell chocolate, but it was too high. 
Phew they came back.  Got to go outside via the back door for a wee and poo.  It’s a bit colder here than at home, but good smells.  Golden Retriever 20 minutes ago, small bitzer like me, I think she had chicken for dinner.  Time for bed.  Appears I have a choice of 2 doggy beds, 1 couch or paws crossed the big bed.  Yay, I got to sleep on the big bed.  Sweet dreams.

Checking out the trout

Next day (Editors note, Saturday 27 May 2017)
Not sure I like these "dead" statue things, they're scary
OMG "dead" dogs in pockets

Cute right?
They call me Lola the explorer.  Early morning stroll, bit chilly, so I didn’t mind going back to bed for a while whilst mum and dad went for breakfast.  They came back with food!  Bacon and sausages, yum, this place gets better and better!  So once we all had full tummies we went for a walk around town and to a nice park.  That park had a stream and it tasted delicious!  I drank lots, the bacon made me thirsty.   
Then we got into the car and went to Steavenson’s Falls.  I had to stay in the car, the sign said no dogs.  No idea why, what do they think I would do, drink all the water? Anyway, had a snooze and waited. Then we went to Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden.  Bruno was nice, he let me in the gallery and then we had a walk through the garden.  Statues and stuff.  People that didn’t move.  I think they were dead, all sorts of weird things.  Not for me, although mummy seemed to love it and kept wanting me to pose with the dead things.  They had nice water there too – still thirsty. 

Yep, that's me with muddy paws after I fell in
Yummy! This stream water is delicious
Back in the car for a drive.  Stopped at lots of places to check out the streams and the trout.  No trout but lots of streams.  Lucas would have been in swimming, so I gave it a go and paddled.  Not bad, a bit cold and I slipped in at one place.  Back to the hotel for a siesta, I was pooped out – I’ve only got little legs!  Another car trip back to the water falls to see them lit up, whatever, I knew the drill I had to wait in the car.  Steak and Guinness pie for dinner and sleep time.  I’m going to dream of bacon.
After a long sleep (Sunday)
Brrr it's chilly.  I just want to stay cuddled up in bed.  But time for a wee.  Grass was wet, but the water wasn't coming down from the sky.  Dreams came true.  I got heaps of bacon and sausages.  Couldn't even eat it all.  Said goodbye to the nice girls here.  They gave me lots of cuddles and said I could come back anytime.  They even knew my name.  I like mini breaks, but there is no place like home.
Love and Licks   
Lola xxxxx

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Golden Gap Years - call of the wild or call of the world?

Gap years, ah yes, all those young backpackers traipsing around South-East Asia, drinking out of buckets, attending full moon parties, staying in hostels and eating 2 minute noodles.  Sounds fun right?  OK well maybe not the 2 minute noodle bit, but who doesn't think about packing it all in and heading off for a year (or 3) at least once a week.  Surely not just me? And how old is too old to take a gap year?  The answer is never. Hello Golden Gap years!

In fact, aren't gap years wasted on the young?  All those amazing places and too hangover to enjoy them.  Oh that's right, been there done that and it was great fun.  I can remember several holidays which included a fair portion of nights out drinking and days recovering before doing it all again.  Wouldn't change a thing, at the time, it was far more appealing than visiting the Louvre.  Although the Louvre is pretty cool.

Machu Picchu - Emi's 50th

30 years ago, I thought I had to travel whilst young because I'd be too old and it would be no fun at all when I got to 40.  And as for 60 - well that only meant one thing, 1 foot in the nursing home door.  But guess what, travel is still exciting!  I still want to go places, see things, do things (maybe not drink out of a bucket, but hey, never say never).  Yep, the style of travel changes.  The passion and excitement doesn't.

So Golden Gap years have become a thing.  Kids have left home, divorce, retrenchment, pissed off with work, whatever and you just want more than a miserly 4 weeks a year (my favourite perk at work, being able to purchase 4 additional weeks of lifestyle leave).  The only question is, to take an extended period of time off and then go back to work, or start off retirement with a couple of years roaming the world?
50th trip to India and the Taj
A major regret that people in old age have is that they didn’t travel enough when they were young and had the energy to. Travel requires time and money, as well as energy and reality just gets in the way which is why I guess we don't get all the travelling that we might like to do when we are in our late teens and twenties done. 

We've met so many amazing people along the way who are well over 50 and are doing so many adventurous things and good on them!  Who can forget the gorgeous Val and dashing Don in Nepal.  They were and continue to be, our inspiration!  And good on Sharon and Rob who have just returned from a second hiking trip to Nepal.  You go guys!

Val and Don in Pokhara Nepal - our inspiration


So when and where to go?  The next few years we are hoping to save, buy our practice caravan (started looking) and do lots of shorter trip around Oz.  But who knows, I did catch myself looking at grey nomad jobs the other day.  That or win lotto. 
Next tattoo maybe?
Bugger. Back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’

‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’  I made this my motto during this year of less is more and my dabbling into minimalism. I discovered that this saying was used during the Great Depression when people were very good at wasting nothing and the trend seems to be now returning.  For some, the priority is saving money, for others, it’s saving the planet. 

Here are a few simple tips that for many, were a way of life and that I'm going to try and adopt in today’s throw-away world.

1.     Fix it – Before rushing out to buy a replacement, can it be fixed?  With so much information out there these days,, you can find how-to’s on just about anything and there is something quiet satisfying about getting that old coffee maker working again (no I haven't tried yet). Can we fix it? Yes we can!

2.     Everything old is new again – A coat of paint, some new upholstery, shiny buttons, using what you already have and giving it a new lease on life is limited only by your imagination.  That and not being so lazy when it comes to sewing on the buttons.

3.     Try second-hand – from Gumtree, EBay, op shops (I found the best pair of Italian shoes for $2) to local buy, swap and sell groups, there are heaps of wonderful bargains out there and who knows, I may even get around to selling my own clutter.

4.     Grow your own – Nothing beats going out to your garden for fresh vegies and they always taste so much better.  Especially when hubby is an expert!
5.     Cook your own – Now that we've grown all those beautiful tomatoes and zucchini, I need to create some magic in the kitchen.  Hmm that mans actually cooking and not just watching MasterChef.  Will start that tomorrow as we had take away kebabs tonight.  Oh and I hate throwing out anything - I love left overs!

6.     Eat out less – Eating out at restaurants used to be a special treat, so I need to cut back and plan nights out to make them special once again. And if I can find a bargain coupon, even better. 

7.     Save up for special things – Everything can be obtained instantly these days with just the swipe of a piece of plastic.  Instead of instant gratification, I'm going to return to the pocket money days and save for something special, or better still, do without!
8.     Think before buying – Is it a need or is it a want?  Can I make do with what I already have?  Do I really need a shiny new toaster when the one I have works perfectly? A bargain is only a bargain if it is something you really need and will be useful.

9.     Compare and Save – With so much competition and information readily available, shop around.  For major purchases ask for a discount and even for minor ones, ask if they are likely to go on sale soon.  They can only say no and you can always walk away and wait. 

   .  The best things in life are free - Not everything worth doing costs money! In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. I've been finding the library is not just a great place to borrow books, but has heaps of free stuff to do.    Or of course checkout WeekendNotes (great articles by that wonderful writer JuliaA) and all of the other what's on websites and newsletter that are out there.   No need to spend a fortune on entertainment or doing stuff!


Friday, 12 May 2017

A week away in Merimbula NSW

Following our self-imposed overseas travel ban, holidays this year are going to be road trips.  So we've just returned from a week up in Merimbula, from the Aboriginal word for ‘two lakes’.  Located on the Sapphire coast of NSW, it's about 580km from Melbourne. Took us about 9 hours, including various stops for food, walks and wees.
Lola the Explorer
Stayed in a cute little house about 1km out of town.  Great views from the front balcony, a large sunroom out the back, nice back garden for Lola the explorer and a kitchen filled with enough stuff to keep even inspector gadget happy.  Except for sharp knives.
Great to see CC and cc (Cindy and Charlotte) who drove all the way down for a quick visit.  Scrabble, tea, wine and chocolate - Saturday nights have changed a lot since when Cindy and I first met way back in 1991. Her dear brother Mick invited a few of us home after meeting on a cruise and there she was, jaw swollen having just had her wisdom teeth out.  Anyway, we must have clicked because in August of that same year, Yvonne and I gate crashed her 21st and have been firm friends ever since.  In fact, she's known Emilio nearly as long as I have having met him that same summer in Spain way back in 1993. We've shared lots of holidays, laughs, tears, drinks and cigarettes over the years. And can now add games of scrabble to that list.

1st morning haul - it's gonna be a good week

Dolphin spotting
The one that got away was this big


So a week relaxing and  fishing.  Plans to do lots of reading and writing didn't quiet happen, but all good. Nice to not have plans. 

Lola was a trooper and ended up exhausted each evening.  I forget that she's over 11 years old.  The steps to and from the secret beach were tough!

It's a Wobegong - and the amazing thing was that I knew that!
Merimbula is lovely as are the surrounding towns of Pambula, Eden, Tathra and Bega. Yes, Bega, not just a cheese brand.  No factory tours, but they do a pretty good cheese toastie. And of course, you can't leave without a 1kg tub of Bega butter.  Well you can, but we didn't.

Fish packed in ice, one large tub of Bega butter, another 9 hours on the road and we were home. Plenty of time to count caravans and dream of a life as a Grey Nomad. The thought crossed our minds more than once to just pack up and head off.  And today, that pesky thing called work got in the way.
Yep, that's how I felt at the thought of returning to work