Canberra Day 67

[Thursday November 17th]

Today I’m heading back to Jerrabomberra Mountain bushland reserve on the outskirts of Queanbeyan to do some birdwatching. I went there back in October with a limited amount of time and loved the wildflowers and orchids, so time to go back. Sadly the purple orchids had finished and vanished without a trace, but the tiger pattern orchids were fun to practice close up photography on. Google Maps on my phone shows you can drive to the summit, but that’s a sad lie…actually you have to walk, and its rather a long way actually! But I can do this these days, just should have brought a drink bottle! It’s the first warm day today and I’m feeling it…also I’m burning, cos stupid thought it would stay overcast and only sunscreened her face and shoulders. Anyway, what can I say? I did it, even though the last bit up to the top I really wanted to turn back and was doing 50 metre stretches at a time before resting in the shade for another minute or 5, but I came to see the lookout and couldn’t go back without it. The grade of the walk up to the lookout was actually really easy, until the 200 metres of stairs at the top to the lookout – ouch! But it was beautiful and it was worth it and there was a bubbler tap at the top. I got 2 birds I’ve never seen before so that was awesome; also a Wedge tailed Eagle in the distance! And I saw a fox in the middle of the day. I was glad to finally get back in my car at the end and crank up the AC for the drive home. It took me 3 hours to get up the hill what with stopping for birds all the time, and spending a fair while photographing orchids, but 50 minutes to come down! I wasn’t exactly running, but I was pretty keen on lunch and a drink at this point. And some cool air. So onwards home for a sleep of course to recover from that fun.

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And it was fun. I love the thrill of the chase with birds, recognising calls, tracking down the location of the bird from its call, trying for that awesome shot, using photography skills to compensate for light and awkward positions and distance and whatever other hurdles are in the way. Then sitting at home uploading my photos to my computer and checking out what I got! It’s a bit like a mystery lolly bag. Today while I was out I recorded 22 species of birds that I could recognise by their call or by sight. That’s a solid number. But by the time I’d been through all of the photos, I was up to 32! Some that I looked up in my bird guide, some that I posted on a Facebook group and someone helped me out, and some that I just couldn’t see well enough with my eyes at the time. A lot of birders use binoculars and identify birds on the spot. Because I like to take photos, I use my camera as binoculars which isn’t bad, but they aren’t as responsive and it’s harder to really see something at high zoom. So a lot of times I don’t know what I’m seeing at the time; I check once I’m home. It’s like a nice surprise waiting for me later, to prolong the enjoyable experience. This time there were loads of things I hadn’t been able to see but my camera had captured: birds high in trees above my head, birds in foliage, tiny birds zipping about that my camera was able to freeze for me to see later. And I got 2 lifers and a wedge tailed eagle!! That’s pretty cool. It’s a great hobby for me. Once you have a lifer, its yours and no one can take it away. I mention this often as a positive of things: that no one can take it away. The reason I think this is such a good attribute is that depression tries to take away everything from you. Tell you that you have nothing, strip away your abilities and tell you that you’re useless, convince you that you have nothing to offer. But it can’t take away the facts. The birds that I’ve seen, photographed, enjoyed? They are facts, especially the photographs, proof that I’ve gotten out, I’ve done things, I’ve pushed myself even when depression says I haven’t tried, that I’ve seen wonderful things, been to lovely places and I have the evidence that I can look at, see, that’s real and true and shows it’s a wonderful world despite what depression tries to tell me. That’s why I love bird watching, love photography, love getting outdoors to beautiful places. It makes me happy, and what’s more it reminds me of being happy when I’m not so happy. That’s a powerful thing!

So I got up from my nap and was thinking about tea when hubby came home and wanted to go for a ride. Well, I’ve got the time, it’s a lovely night, it’s daylight savings, what will I do? I’ve been wanting to ride around Lake Ginninderra for quite a while now, and so I decided, you know what? I’m going to do it now! Let’s do it! So I got dressed, put my bike and my stuff in the car and headed for Belconnen. I knew from researching it previously that it is 7km around. So I checked out a few off shoots as well and ended up doing nearly 14km somehow! And it was bliss. Can I describe how lovely it is to be riding around the lake at dusk with the beautiful light, the birds all squawking and feeding, the alternate warm and cool air and the breeze in your face, the world is your oyster, and knowing that this is your second exercise of the day, and you’re killing it? Oh it was so beautiful, other than the bugs, and once again I got about 20 species of birds before my phone died. I would definitely do it again, maybe a couple of laps or checking out other off shoots. I’d love to go back for a picnic too, there are little piers and seperate little beaches and playgrounds and lots of groups of people out enjoying the evening, which was truly beautiful. I felt so empowered riding around on my own, on my own adventure off my own bat, for the second time in the day, and just on top of the world! How great is that?! And so the dusk gently closed in until it was dark and I got back in the car and headed for home.

 

Canberra Day 66

[Wednesday November 16th]

After such a great, but late, night last night I had a bit of a slow start but in a good way. Not because I was feeling depressed, but just because I took my tablets late and am still a bit bombed out. I was excited for this morning. Music at midday with the Royal Military College Duntroon band was on at Canberra Theatre Centre (or so I thought) so that got me out of the house and on my bike at 10.40am for an 11am start. Unfortunately when I put it in my diary I put November instead of December so that was a big let down, and now what to do next? I think I might have gone home and sulked but the Canberra Museum and Gallery happened to be right across the square so…why not? It’s been on my list, here I am right in front with my bike locked up and nothing else on my ticket, so here we go. And actually I’m really glad that I went.

It’s a really interesting place, as museums always are. This one is about the size of 3 exhibition rooms at the Melbourne museum but they pack the content in. The first exhibition was Canberra stories, lots of old tales from the foundation, the war, the building of the city, and all kinds of bits and pieces. Then the UNESCO documents exhibition: famous documents of all kinds, like the Mabo case and diaries, war documents, environmental and historical documents of all kinds! Lots indecipherable to me in the old fashioned joined writing, but fascinating just to see documents so old and to think that back then absolutely everything was written by hand! Then an Australian record in the Guiness book of records for the largest collection of Doctor Who memorabilia! I’ve never watched the show so it was all a bit lost on me, but the amount of stuff the guy had collected was impressive by itself: DVDs, books, Tshirts, posters, mugs…the list goes on! And finally a delightful collection of Sydney Nolan paintings. I’ve never really paid them much attention before, but that guy had the best sense of humour in his paintings! They were all Kelly era paintings but so much comical cheekiness comes across, like the police whose diary page says he had to hide out in a wombat hole, but is actually shown diving into it head first with legs way up in the air and totally visible! If I had one of Sydney Nolan’s paintings in my house I believe it would make me smile every day! Of course if I could afford one of his paintings…

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A terrible photo of a great painting…might have to go back for a better one!

The afternoon was a bunch of jobs: trying to find out where our mail is going goes it ain’t coming here, it’s not in Melbourne, it’s not going to our last address, and I don’t believe they’ve received anymore at the office here. Australia Post! Then insurance forms for my next monthly payment, some blogging (not that you’d believe it with how behind I am!), a load of dishes, a load of washing, having a look at some new bird photos and that was all she wrote. I’m pleased with today. I’m glad I got out, even if it was a false start. I still made something of the day and I can be proud of that. Something to remember when I’m feeling like I do nothing and am no one. I found one more thing that makes me smile and that is worth a thousand other things in this world, in my world. 

I’m sort of feeling like I’m crawling out from under a rock in some ways, like I’ve been checked out of life for a while with my head in my own problems and not seeing anything else. But just now I caught my husband’s eye over dinner at our tiny 2 person table and realised that while eating on the couch is easy in our place it just isn’t the same as sitting across from my love and having a conversation. I need to pick myself up out of my own dribble and pay attention before life passes by! 

Canberra Day 65

[Tuesday November 15th]

Today was actually a bit of a mopey day. A bit self indulgent, a bit self pitying, a bit low, a bit depressed (as if that’s a thing that you can have a little of!), a bit trapped inside the house (self induced, maybe a bit self punishing) and trapped inside my head with only my own thoughts bouncing around…if that doesn’t get you down nothing does! Now I remember why I keep myself busy every day with my tourist attractions, with getting out of the house. Sitting around thinking about possibilities and what ifs and goodness only knows what other junk that’s coming out of my consciousness all day long isn’t the way to improve your mood that’s for sure! Bizarro scenarios, stressing about whatever awful terrible or just weird dream I had last night – they have really been acting up lately! – and I don’t know, just “having a gloomy do” in general about life and love and the future and whatever else.

Aaaahhhh! It’s a hard mood to shift when all of that sets in. Feeling unproductive and useless and so on. I mean I did one load of washing today. I backed up my photos. I ironed 3 shirts in the morning. That was about the sum total of my day. Ironing is always a pretty big feat! Not that I don’t like ironing, but I don’t, but it makes me hot and then I sweat and then my face prickles and I get irritated and vow never to do anything to increase my body heat ever again! I retire to the corner mopping my brow, drinking cold drinks, and letting my temperature regulate to a normal level. And give evil stares to the rest of the ironing for defeating me. But I just can’t stand that prickling heat and sweating! The onset of summer again is filling me with trepidation…I don’t know how it will go. I’m a bit nervous, a bit “we’ll see”, a bit hoping it’ll be a cool summer. I don’t want to stop getting out and about, obviously it isn’t good for me, so I guess I’ll do the air conditioned attractions once it gets hot. I did go back in the afternoon and get the rest done, somehow. It helped that there was a nice breeze coming in the balcony door to soothe some of my heat woes.

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That’s our apartment on the second floor – it’s pretty nice

SO! I know I have to learn to filter what applies to me and what applies to not-mes. But it’s hard to see the line. It’s that disconnect between what we have and what we think we should have, and etc, that causes so much heartache. But it is a bit hard to bear at times that the things I want are currently out of reach: a job, my old income, the chance to buy our own home. And the things that I might want in the future, or didn’t want before I got sick but the passing of time and age has brought to my attention. Etc. We could spend a lot of time here, and I did today. But we were invited out to dinner and that broke the trend, thankfully. Having to put on my party face to go out got me somewhat into a better frame of mind. As it turned out I didn’t really need it because I was amongst friends and family and we had a lovely time, especially with 2 unknown visiting guests, one of whom was a really good friend of ours in the town where we lived for the first 4 years of our married life. What an awesome catch up that was! And so that broke the evil spell, and Cinderella went on to be more productive for the rest of the week!

Canberra Days 57 to 63

[Day 46 OR Day 57 – Monday November 7th to Day 52 OR 63 – Sunday November 13th]

…okay I’m calling it, Day 57 to 63…our time here won’t be shorter here minus the NZ trip…you can’t take back days, so there we have it

To kept this moving, and because my week was pretty uneventful anyway, I’m going to give you another ‘one week snapshot’ and then we’ll be approaching up to date. Not my original plan, but rolling with the punches, and here we go!

Monday November 7th – first day home from holidays, a day spent processing holiday photos and cross checking them with my new bird book, doing a couple of loads of washing and not much else, feeling a bit dull and flat and tired. Then to get me going hubby suggested an after work bike ride around the city: ANU, Commonwealth Park, the lake, the Carillon, defense department, Lonsdale street. I believe this had the secondary purpose of making me change my front bike tube already from before we went on holidays! I just lost confidence that I could still do it so I put off doing it, missing out on some ride opportunities because of this, but as soon as I started there it was! Back again! I’m really down on myself lately; I’ve got to stop! Then tea at the food truck park from ’10 inch custom pizzeria’. Watching the skilled girl flipping dough into bases was lots of fun! Haloumi and potato wood fired pizza; winning! And rolling home again feeling excellent.

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Tuesday November 8th – a new friend kindly invited me out to morning tea at her friend’s house out at Bungendore. I arrived to a table set up down the back garden under fruit trees with chocolate cake and fizzy drink; so lovely! Got a cuddle with another friend’s little bubba who is growing fast and just adorable, and a lovely few hours chatting and getting to know the other friends. Then a drive around town taking in all the historic buildings, an awesome hot dog and the drive home. I discovered Sparrow Hill and Kowen Park for future birding, photographed the awesome Dickson street art and then home for a well deserved, and very satisfying nap. A load of washing and that’s a pretty good day.

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Wednesday November 9th – not much of anything today. A load of washing, lots of sitting on the couch, lots of rain and this fleeting rainbow as seen from my couch. Bit of a blergh day. I did get my scripts dispensed and my awful tax debt sorted with my accountant…no wonder I’m flat! So it was good that hubby called at lunchtime for me to ride down to Dickson and meet him for lunch at Alara’s turkish place. At least that got me kickstarted.

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Thursday November 10th – I took a while to get going today again. I had my plan of what to do but just couldn’t really get started. Instead of riding out to Mount Majura as planned I drove, and actually I was pretty glad cos I wouldn’t have done half as much walking if I’d been thinking about the ride home. So a late afternoon walk around Mount Majura from the Federal Highway entry birding which was interesting mostly for one fact. A Brown Falcon was hovering overhead which was brilliant in itself because it was pretty low down and I got some fabulous photos! But this always upsets all the other birds. All the little birds had completely vanished, and the big birds were all making an absolute fuss and racket! What was particularly fascinating was the behaviour of the ravens. There were between 15 and 20 ravens in the air also hovering, spaced evenly over the whole area that the falcon would be interested in and it was like they were creating a blanket of protection to prevent the falcon from getting down and attacking other birds. This was so interesting, I’ve never seen such teamwork from ravens before. Anytime the falcon got too near one of the hovering ravens there would be a scuffle and the falcon would move on. I didn’t watch the falcon the whole time, but I don’t think in two hours that it got down to the ground. Once I got further up the hill away from the falcon’s area there was a sudden explosion of little birds which was excellent. I’m really pleased that I got myself out to do this walk. Apart from all this the bush flowers and butterflies and dragonflies were also excellent.

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One Brown Falcon soaring above Mount Majura and every other bird goes crazy!

Friday November 11th – Remembrance Day at the National War Memorial. What can I say? I am so glad that I attended! I rode down on my bike. I’m getting quite used to just jumping on my bike in whatever I happen to be wearing and going. Before I would procrastinate about having to change my clothes, and maybe take a nicer change with me, and change again…and of course I never got started. But a different mindset about just going regardless makes it much easier to get out the bike and down a flight of stairs! Oy the stairs! Anyway, at least its only one flight. You have to book to attend Remembrance Day. You don’t have to pay, just book, and I can see why; it’s one classy event! From the Army, Navy and Air Force representatives marching onto the parade ground, to the Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon band playing absolutely beautifully, to the Australian Rugby Choir of veterans singing so wonderfullly, to that chilling minute of silence of a few hundred people, to the traditions of formal arrival of the Prime Minister and Govenor General and partner in town cars, to the outstanding speech given by Beyond Blue ambassador Jeff Kennett on veterans mental health and our responsibility to care for them once they are home, to the laying of wreaths by all the embassies…wow, what an hour and a half!! Just fabulous. The hymns played by the band…there were 5 that I recognised and weren’t they played to perfection?! I’m going to hear the band again in December, and I’m very excited! On another note, did you know that I do a weekly weigh in? And somehow despite all that we ate and drank in New Zealand…I lost a tiny bit of weight. It’s nothing conclusive, but still. Every little win is something. Another win was going laptop shopping and buying a laptop after only an hour of so of looking! MAJOR win, I hate looking at specs! Despite shopping at JB, we had an excellent saleman who was super helpful. I ended up getting a super dooper deal buying the last computer in my model, and YAY! I finally have a laptop that can connect to the internet, can process photos without dying, has a CD drive and once we get the extra storage, doesn’t flash ‘no more storage’ every time I try to upload photos! I’m really happy. I got my handbag repaired at the same time, had yummy tacos for dinner. And had a catch after NZ chat with grandma. What a day!

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The Navy, Army and Air Force backed up by the Royal Military College Duntroon band and the Australian Rugby Choir

Saturday November 12th – A big sleep in and slow day for both of us, hubby a bit under the weather and me the usual. Not a very eventful day, we canned our plans cos we just didn’t feel up for anything, not even bike riding or birding! Feeling that the day had been too sluggish hubby got a burst of energy to do the vacuuming, clean up the kitchen, do some washing and get some groceries in the late afternoon. We had Japanese for dinner at Bon Kura in Dickson with rainbow rolls which was excellent!

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Sunday November 13th – hubby under the weather again so had to cancel our lunch plans which was a big shame! As always a beautiful drive down south for fellowship. So Macca’s for lunch as a poor substitute. Afternoon naps all round, and not much more to it than that!

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Actually, that was pretty eventful! I’ve gotta stop telling myself that I am less, I do less, I’m worth less because I don’t work, I don’t volunteer, and I do different stuff to what other people are doing. Do I sometimes go back to bed at 11am? Yes. Do I sometimes lie in all morning? Yes. But do I always try to make my day something new and special? Yes. Do I nap every day? Yep, you betcha! But I’m doing my best to live the best life that I can right now and I am making gains in physical stamina and mental strength. You probably know all this without me having to explain it. But it seems that I need to explain it to myself rather often, so it may as well be written down for posterity!

The other New Zealand trip days

As for New Zealand trip Day Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven?

Day Six, November 1st: We woke to beautiful sunny ocean views from Crown Hotel in Napier again, breakfast at Milk and Honey like the first morning then check out and transfer to the airport for the next adventure. We’re off to Christchurch where we got in at 1pm. We had to be picked up in 2 cars: one for my suitcase, one for his bike! Lucky we’re staying with lovely friends whose accommodating parents let us borrow their cars. A lazy afternoon once we’d arrived sitting around in the lounge room chatting to our friends, their 2 cute daughters, their sister and parents until nap time. Then we went out to some friend’s of our friends house for dinner and had a brilliant time! They have 2 kids pretty much the same age as our friends so the four of them had a brilliant time, even more so cos their dad has rigged up a heavyweight hook in the lounge room to hang a plank swing or rings so of course that was a massive boon! And the parents are our age and so lovely to hang out with, what a wonderful evening, so glad we could do it.

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Off on our next adventure!

Day Seven, November 2nd: A nice day hanging out with my girlfriend and her kids and parents today. We had a nice walk down to the shops for a few its and bits with Miss 3 on her balance bike and Miss 18 months in the pram and I got me a New Zealand bird guide! Yay! Now I can find out what birds I’ve been shooting. A lovely morning for a walk, it’s nice to wander around somewhere new. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby had dashed off as early as they could wake up for a mountain bike ride in the Port hills that went for most of the day, and boy were they happy with themselves when they came home. Then we went to a friend of my girlfriend’s for lunch with her 2 kids and had such a fun lunch, a kid’s lunch she called it: mini franks and sauce, spinach feta triangles, tasty drinks; fun! A nice drive there and back checking out the countryside, a lovely nap, another nice family dinner sitting around the lounge room (the kitchen table is tiny!), our Bible study meeting and bed.

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Enjoying the backyard where we’re staying…turns out cute Silver Eyes are in New Zealand as well

Day Eight, November 3rd: A girl’s day out with my girlfriend who was having a kid free day thanks to her wonderful mum! So we had a walk around Travis wetlands cos I’m always on the look out for more birds! We got hussled by a swan and hissed at by a Canadian goose; fair to say that the breeding season is still well in play. Then we had a drive along the beach and a look around the estuary in town for more birds, a relaxed chatty lunch at a restaurant on the beach at Sumner and a walk through the cave rock getting sand in our shoes; fabulous. Then some shopping at Ezibuy and Postie. What I loved most about Ezibuy is they have my size in nearly everything! I should go there more. Then home for a nap. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby were off somewhere having a ball mountain biking, and the kids hardly missed us at all so a good day for everyone! Well grandma may have been a bit exhausted come to think of it, 2 kids all day is pretty full on. Lucky aunty was also there to run interference.

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Oh wow, sun sand beach rocks birds, oh my!

Day Nine, November 4th: We started the day with a 2 hour scenic trip in the car to Hanmer  with hubby, my girlfriend and her hubby and sister as I snapped away at the scenery with my camera. And lucky I did snap the scenery, since we got home a 7.2 earthquake has devastated the area and the road! Today is THE day that we’ve been most looking forward to, but actually everything has been great. And what a day! Lunch, a bit of boutique shopping (which I struggled to be interested in apart from the lollies and the art gallery, feeling a bit flat today), snapping a few more birds and an awesome pedal cart for 6 people and most importantly, lazing in the hot springs and screaming down the waterslides like kids; the best fun! That was awesome! I definitely felt better after the water bowl and water slide. 3 hours soaking, a nice bite of Indian on the way home and what a feeling of well being after a wonderful day with friends.

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The epic waterslide and water bowl at Hanmer Hot Springs

Day Ten, November 5th: A slow morning for me then a little shopping trip with my girlfriend’s sister and hubby to Kathmandu for a new (gorgeous purple!) rain coat for me and a nice hoodie for hubby, then a wander through the RESTART mall in the centre of Christchurch looking at the container shops and the progress that has been made since we were here 4 years ago. It was all interesting, but I’m just struggling today, most of my energy has been used up and I’m just dragging myself through the motions. I wish I wasn’t, I want to be fully into it because this is the last day of holidays, but I just can’t try any harder. Meanwhile hubby and pal managed to pull off another bike ride and hubby is in mountain biking heaven! A couple of loads of washing insisted on by the lovely lady of the house this morning means washed clean clothes ready to go, packing up and an early night for an ungodly early start in the morning!

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Fascination about bikes all round as hubby cleans his up for entry back into Australia

Day Eleven, November 6th: A travelling day and a half, but we eventually got home to Canberra in the afternoon. Up at 4 in the morning, first breakfast at sometime after 5am, second breakfast in a different city at 7.30pm, something weird with time going backwards, and still it took til after 3pm to hit home! Epic! With the humidity in Brisbane, then the humidity in Sydney…but at last some warm weather in Australia! Welcome home!

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Another airport, another lounge, this one not so shabby!! Time for second breakfast

Canberra Day 64

[Monday 14th November]

A friend of mine from my Wheel Women cycling group in Melbourne has a gorgeous rain coat that she wears on a lot of rides. Anytime I ride behind her when she’s wearing it, the slogan printed on the back catches my eye: shower’s pass. How about that? Shower’s pass. They don’t last. I’m sure it’s intended as merely a marketing slogan but each time I read it again it resonates with me on a deeper level about life. Shower’s pass. Bad things won’t last. This not so nice phase you’re in? Just wait, it’ll blow through. In the meantime wrap yourself up in something to protect you from the wet and the cold, and don’t despair; there’s hope. Maybe it’s silly of me to think so much into a jacket, but it makes me feel more optimistic and hopeful which can only be a good thing, so I’m sticking with it. Shower’s pass.

Like the much less metaphorical shower that I’m waiting out right now on a bench seat in a bus shelter sized space at the zoo. Medium chance of showers in the morning and afternoon, said the forecast. Well we had morning showers, we had lunchtime showers so I thought I’d push on and do something with the day, pick up the momentum again after last week’s slow slog. And I nearly got it right. I’ve had sunshine and a nice breeze most of the time, it’s been lovely and cool after the rain, perfect weather for walking around the zoo! There was one light shower when I arrived so I ate lunch under shelter watching the capuchins get up to mischief, and then it was time to meet the boa constrictor inside the reptile house so it didn’t bother me; it was over by the time I came out. I’m nearly done at the zoo actually, but the rain set in. It’s been 10 minutes now; hope it clears soon cos me making a dash for it on slippery paths is nobody’s fantasy! I was so pleased that in stead of sitting home waiting for showers that may or may not come, I got myself out of the house and resumed ticking off my list again. I was thrilled that I’d got around the whole zoo and aquarium except one new section without any rain…bum bah, spoke too soon! It occurs to me now that at some stage this morning I did plan to bring my own new raincoat and this would have been the perfect use for it! Oh well, I remembered everything else: house keys, car keys, under shorts, tablets…you know, the things I typically forget!

And what do you know? The sun is coming out again! The drips are getting further apart in time and space, the dark clouds have passed, and it’s onwards and upwards! Off to see that new section then home for a nap. 3.5 hours of walking around is enough for one day.

Here’s my new favorite creature. I don’t know if the photo really shows what appealed to me but the otter is on its back, twisting and turning and rubbing it’s back on the floor with all 4 feet in the air just loving a good old scratch and stretch on its blanky. It looks like bliss!

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Could you just die of love looking at this adorable otter rolling around on its back in its bed, totally carefree and just luxuriating in the feeling of its rug rubbing on its body?

In other events, the moon being the closest to earth that it will be for another 20 years or so event was saved from being a wash out due to an overcast sky by the wind pushing the cloud cover on. So at 11pm when I couldn’t sleep because it was too bright outside, I got up  and found that the moon was clear in the sky and took a few shots. I don’t think they’re anything special, it was just being part of the event. I hadn’t done any research about the best place to be, what time to view it etc so my shots probably aren’t anything different to usual…but I can say I was there when, isn’t that what people go for?

In other news we had our annual interview by Living In Australia study tonight. I’ve been doing this for 13 years now so it’s fairly straight forward. If you haven’t heard of them check it out online; they’re always recruiting and you do get a cash payment for your time. The questions are abut your health, finances, future plans, how satisfied you are with the different aspects of your life and this year some fun number and word games. All the data is kept anonymous and presented as a summary at the end and used by different organisations for statistics. Anyway, hubby went first and I went second and I tell you by the time it got to me there were nail marks imprinted on my palms and  my stomach was churning and I was stressed! What am I going to say for occupation? How do I explain what I’m doing now? How do you explain why I changed jobs? Or why I don’t have a job? Or about my health? Or about where on a scale of 1 to 10 I think lies the likelihood of us having kids? Or or or…??? Argh!! AARRGGHH!! And right then and there, like a cornered wild animal, I got defensive fast and furiously!! I mean I didn’t attack the interviewer or anything, it was defensive inside myself, reacting internally to every question and justifying myself and defending myself and fighting fighting fighting with myself about why I am where I am and where I “should” be and yada yada. Oy!! Just a bit exhausting and is it really necessary? It feels necessary, but I’m not an impartial judge so…still some work to go there. Have I mentioned that I’m thinking of going back to my psychologist? Might be time. We ran out of things to talk about before, but they’re stacking up again, wouldn’t you say?

New Zealand trip Day Five

[Monday 31st October, 2016]

I’ve been trying to get this done for days, obviously more than a week even but my computer has started down the slow walk to death after various bad treatments over the not so long period that I’ve had it. You know, dropping it on the floor while carrying it in one hand and food in the other (I mean tough choice, which do I save?), accidentally letting it fall off the bed while it was balanced on the edge trying to connect to the wifi while I’m upstairs (the wifi connection keeps getting weaker!), lugging it in a suitcase or carry on luggage or hand bag around the city and the world, letting it fall down the stairs while carrying it one hand stacked with all kinds of things that need to go up or down the stairs; all the way down the stairs! Balancing it on the laundry sink while doing the washing and maybe it slipped in…carrying it in the washing basket maybe getting it a bit damp, tripping over the power cord and tugging it off the couch, it all comes out! Obviously I live a bit too closely with my laptop, but that’s another issue. What have you done to your laptop?! says hubby. Oh nothing, why, it’s fine! But the toll has started taking its grip with a screw falling out, then another screw, then the backing coming off (but you can put it back on!) and finally a loose wire poking out! Oops! I do regret the amount of damage that I do…it’s becomes one long line of sorries! I never mean to do it, I never plan on it, and it always comes as a surprise somehow even though in hindsight obviously it wasn’t the best plan. Am I just clumsy? Hubby thinks more like careless or thoughtless or something. Either, either…well that doesn’t work well as text, but you know what I mean. The point of this gibber gabber? My computer which was never strong on finding wifi connections right in front of its nose has now almost ceased to find them at all! I stick the wifi right under its nose, it’s right there, but it secures the connection without internet, or connect to the internet but so tenuously that as soon as you want to actually USE the internet, it all falls down and drops out! So I’ve been trying on and on to upload a photo for this blog and I can’t! Jolly annoying since all the photos are on my computer only. And of course being away from “home home” I don’t have a USB to transfer the photo to hubby’s laptop. They are still on my camera so by some lengthy process involving cables and memory cards and installing software I’ll figure it out, but now my internet isn’t even sufficient to save this draft. Blah blah blah excuses excuses. On to the actual matter at hand!

Today is the last day of our cycling tour. It has gone really fast!! So far 78 kilometres, oh my. 78 kilometres of beautiful scenery, great food and birds; oh and nice company. Today is going to be our longest day, but plenty of stops so let’s do this! We started from Havelock North at 9.30am with the plan to cycle back to Napier, then onwards to the next part of our holiday. My quads are really stiff today! Maybe due to getting very wet, then very cold then huddling inside getting warm with no stretching yesterday blah blah. So I’m feeling a bit sluggish from that, then the first 3km are a small grinding gradient uphill making my legs feel totally feeble and useless. I hate grinding gradients! Although I am not a fan of hills, I’d rather go up and down sharp hills all day then grind slowly upwards. But after that 3km the rest of the day was lovely and flat so…besides at the end of that short 3km was an absolutely gorgeous winery, Black Barn Vineyard! I mean this was the epitome of a beautiful Tuscan vineyard set on a sloping hill with olive, fig and citrus trees, a private estate for rich people at the top of the hill with ocean views then a stunning winery including outdoor dining under the vines and…gee, am I gushing? It also has a cute boutique food and gift shop. It was so nice! BUT…it was before 10 in the morning so no tastings. It’s just a bit early. Besides, we’re not exactly starving for wine, hey? Next stop: Te Mata cheese factory! Oh yeah, much more interesting; I LOVE cheese! Tastings, tastings, tastings but sadly no purchases; just too difficult to get back to Aus. But seriously: Takina Gold, Camembert, pink and white terraces named after the now-extinct landmark, sheep hard cheese Sleeping Giant, young sheep cheddar, drool, drool, drool! Aahhh, but sadly no. But instead we had a drink and snack and I discovered the amazing New Zealand creation of berry smoothie in a bottle! Delish! Now back on the bike. We could sit here all day but…gotta get back on the flood levee bike paths and follow the Tukituki river out to the coast and check out the lovely wetlands around the mouth of the river. What a lovely ride once again, so pretty and what a fine day today; fine, warm, excellent! Then through the cute little town of Haumoana and along the coast on a gravel track to the stunning Elephant Hill winery for a tasting. It’s another beautiful vineyard and a unique winery with the outer building completely made of copper, designed to look like the ocean; and it really does, sea blue with an infinity pool, very posh eating, all the drinks back lit with blue lighting, and very professional staff. Actually by the time we got there I was a bit in the zone. 3 days of riding, of socialising, of new experiences, new people, new scenery, and I am a bit washed out. Plus its our last day in the north island and I’m not at all sure that I’ve seen enough birds yet. A tasting or two in and I’m over it. Instead I’m going to wander around outside in peace and quiet and solitude and talk to the birds and get some photos until the others are ready.

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Next up is lunch at the Te Awanga winery up the road (literally, like 300 metres) and a tasting at the table there. Much better than standing around tasting. Another beautiful lunch and a lovely lady who brought us tastings with sea views and a gorgeous cottage garden. Actually I’m over tastings, well not the white ones but reds have gotten on my wick, I never liked red much to begin with but tried them anyway and a couple were alright in that they weren’t very red-like, but I’m done with them now, unless its a sticky dessert type thingamebob. It’s odd, with the last tour I didn’t get sick of tasting over the 5 days, but here after 2 days I’m done. Well after filling our faces, off back to Napier. After some issues with wind, it’s meant to be a tail wind all the way home! YIPPEE! And what do you know? A lot of the way home is along a wetland between the shore and the levee, YAY for me! Birds and more birds! So 47km done today bringing our grand total to 126km with the group, and another few kilometres around town. Unfortunately my grand plan of doing the 1 hour walk around the boardwalk on the estuary in town didn’t really eventuate. I mean let’s be realistic: 47km today, 134km all up and I thought I was going to do a walk? With no way to actually get there once the bike was returned? No, no. A shower, a spa to repair my legs and wait for it, the best is yet to come! Dinner at the Mission winery! Exceptional 3 course meal! Truly amazing! Crayfish bisque; superb! Absolutely divine pork belly, which nearly everyone at the table chose. And vanilla and peach schnapps creme brulee with the most amazing super thinly sliced pink lady apple flash frozen and super sweet! Fantastic! Definitely a recommendation. No sad goodbyes, just glad that we got to do the tour and on to the rest of all our holidays.