Wheel Women

This past week, and the week before that, were all about the bike. And the women. And the rides. And the cafes. Put it all together and it’s a winning formula; there is almost nothing I could recommend more! And it’s all due to the women’s cycling group Wheel Women. Have I mentioned them before? Once, twice?? But they’re always worth another mention or more because they do amazing work getting us women on bikes and keeping us there.

I have to say that my involvement with (possibly read: dependence on) Wheel Women is one of the main reasons why going to Canberra for 3 months from September to December 2016 was hard, and why coming home was so good. I really didn’t know if I’d keep up riding in Canberra without my supportive group. Wheel Women’s director kindly put me onto a cyclist in Canberra, but her group was more of a mountain bike club, and the road cycling group she referred me to rode at 6am on a weekday; enough said! She offered some one on one rides, but in the end I sort of bumbled around until I found a few places on my own. It was a nice offer though.

Of course I took my bike, helmet, cycle computer, bike clothes and other accessories (there a lots of add on products that you “need” when you start riding!!) with me to Canberra. But having the stuff with me, and actually using it are two different things. I’ve proved this before. Having to think out where to go, how to get there, what the route will be like, what to do if I got stuck halfway due to accident or mechanical, if I’m up for it etc becomes a barrier very easily. With Wheel Women, organised rides are thought out, planned and advertised by someone else. All I have to do is turn up at a specific place and time and follow the leader; that holds a lot of the attraction for me to keep up riding, I’ll admit. Is that laziness? Maybe. But it’s a winning, working formula and I think it’s an attraction for a lot of us Wheel Women members. I did try to find some new riding locations in Canberra, and I fell in love with Lake Burley Griffin and its surrounding bike paths so that kept me going on rides a bit. A few local rides to brunch or dinner, to sightseeing near our place etc made up the rest of the rides, twenty in all; not terrific for 90 odd days but hey I did something more than look at my bike on the verandah!

As much as I was looking forward to riding with Wheel Women again when I got home to Melbourne, I didn’t get straight back into it because we were away a lot during January; but now that I’m back into it, I feel like I never left. It has amazed me though how quickly your bike fitness diminishes when you aren’t regularly riding. You really do have to do a couple of rides a week to maintain your level, and it is worth maintaining that level of activity so the next bike ride feels better. But on the plus side, it only takes a couple of rides to get back to where you were; it’s a constant state of flux.

What has been the most wonderful thing about returning to Wheel Women rides, aside from the excellent rides, is the response of Wheel Women members. I’m not saying I’m anyone special, or trying to be pompous, or blowing my own horn but the lovely, sweet response I’ve received to being back on rides has been overwhelming. I honestly don’t know whether I feel more humbled or thrilled or excited or overjoyed or loved at each next ride. Catching with my old friends and being welcomed back so warmly; meeting new members and striking up new relationships. Man, it is SUCH a great group of people. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group of women that are so unanimously supportive of each other, tolerant of others at a lower level, encouraging to all, utterly friendly and so focused on building each other up regardless of individual personalities. It’s such a privilege to be part of Wheel Women!

So, here I am back riding with my cycling group and loving it! But it’s not a group that you make friends and develop relationships with, it’s each of the special women that have made my day each time I’ve gone out riding with them. These women are really special treasures: women who’ve overcome their fears, their past experience, their lack of experience, other people’s unhelpful opinions, their weight, their age and more to tackle what is essentially a sport but for most has become a means to transport, to a broader social life, to permanent skills and, most importantly, to independence. Who knew that so many benefits could come out of trying out cycling?

I certainly had no idea of the depth of experience and privilege I would come to experience when I started cycling with Wheel Women. I wanted to attempt to start bike riding again; that was my entire ambition. A few years hiatus from cycling followed a bad fall off my bike onto my chin and hand, narrowly missing falling into a 3 lane road in peak traffic. This left me shaken and lacking confidence to return to commuting to the train station to travel into uni. Several years down the track, I was off work on sick leave but having been used to working hard, full time I wanted to do something, anything, to fill in a little time in my week. My hubby was riding lots, commuting to work every weekday, long rides on Saturdays and 2 or 3 early start weekday rides plus any other chance he got. I thought it would be nice to get started back on my bike slowly before attempting anything too drastic with him. Knowing my fitness wasn’t great, and I’d recently stacked on a LOT of weight, I wanted a quiet, friendly environment without too much expectation and did I get a lucky break falling into Wheel Women’s arms! They wrote and taught the 8 week program administered by another agency, and so I was involved with them right from Day One. A very good way to start. I’ve talked about some of those early days before and you can read about it in my other blogs.

Today I want to share the rides I’ve done in this 2 week period. Between the beginning of the week before last and the end of last week (a fortnight all up) I have done 7 bike rides, each and every one of them has been with Wheel Women.  I should say that this is the most I’ve EVER ridden in a similar period. It’s also the only time I’ve gotten on my bike to do a ride THREE days in a row. So I’m kicking goals, as they say, which is not the point of the piece, but I just wanted to make sure you realise that this isn’t a typical or usual or expected run of rides. All the same, I’m thrilled that I did it all, and it’s more points on some fictitious blackboard somewhere out there in the universe that tells me whether I’m doing good or not. I’m doing good! Brain, take note. You seem to very easily let the good things slip through the net while retaining the smallest bad things for my constant reminding. Well, here are some solid facts for you as proof that I can do it, okay?

13th Warburton rail trail, 34.5km

Chatting to Alicia at Woori Yallock

This is cycling to me – riding with my friends and chatting at any opportunity

15th Moonee Ponds Creek trail, Upfield bike path, Capital City trail, 18.5km

Mixed business cafe with the girls

The face of cycling to me – smiles, happiness, water, and a new cafe menu to check out

17th Specialized sale, Capital City trail, Moonee Ponds Creek trail, 16.5km

oo ooh so much stuff

RIDING to a BIKE clothes sale with my BIKE buddies and shopping for BIKE stuff galore…now how to get it home??

18th Otway and Great Ocean Road classic, 30.5km

yep struggling a bit

This is Wheel Women – when the going gets tough, there is always someone beside you keeping you company, someone at the top of the hill encouraging you to get there, someone behind you letting you know you aren’t being left behind and someone at the finish line cheering. It inspires me to dig deeper.

 

23rd Merri Creek trail, Main Yarra trail, 25km

me and kathy

Friends on every ride

24th Williamstown, Maribyrnong River trail, Bay trail west, 30.5km

Classy ladies Sylvia, Robyn, Judy, Alicia, Lyn

We ride, we find thrones…what can we do but be glorious, Lycra-clad queens of cycling?

25th The Women’s Ride, Gardiner Creek trail, 13km

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The aqua and purple team of Wheel Women teaching 30 women how to change a flat tyre after a ride along the Gardiner Creek trail – what a terrific morning!

That’s 168.5km all up in a fortnight in case anyone is counting. I’m sort of stuck at the 30km per ride mark which is my next thing to tackle, alongside mastering hills. But it’s not really the point is it? The point is the company, the enjoyment, the fresh air, the friendship, the new cafes, the new sights and places; the personal achievements are kind of a lovely bonus.

P.S. Aren’t you glad there are keen photographers around to capture all my best moments?! All photo credit to the Wheel Women Facebook page, most likely to a coach or ride leader, or fellow member. Enjoy!

 

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Canberra Day 96: the final day

[Friday 16th December]

Well here it is, the last day in Canberra! For me anyway.

Can you believe it?? I can’t!

I’m in a bit of a cranky mood: if my husband has to come right back to Canberra early Monday morning, why are we driving all the way home this weekend, when he’ll have to go straight back? Why not just have both of us stay the extra week? But I don’t get a say so pack the car and keep quiet! Hubby doesn’t need the extra stress.

Today I have one last catch up for morning tea with an old friend that I’ve become reacquainted with here in Canberra. I just wish there was more time, but gotta fit in what I can fit in and live with that.

Today there’s just one thing on my tourist list, and I’ve been waiting a LONG time for this. The Music at Midday concert is finally here. I turned up a month ago on a date mix up so it has felt extra long waiting for this! Luckily it could be squeezed in before I left. This is a Christmas concert, a real Christmas concert with actual carols and jingle bells, played by the Australian Federation Band at the Canberra Theatre! Finally I get to hear the band again!! And a bonus: a terrific singer who gets right into the spirit of things. The minus is that I’m the youngest person in the audience by roughly 40 years!! Really? I know it’s a week day, but there has to be someone out there in my age bracket interested in great music played by a talented band. But it was a great show, the hour was over in a flash and I just loved it.

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Unfortunately that’s the fun part of the day over. Now I need to clean the apartment (lucky its small!), empty the bins, distribute the leftover food and household supplies we had to buy for this place, and get ready for lock up and leave. Surreal really. Can it truly be over? Are we really finished here?

And then all that’s left is to get in the car and go! We’re just going a couple of hours tonight to stay at Lake Jindabyne so hubby can get in a nice long road ride in the morning to blow out the cobwebs, and of course I’ll look for birds anywhere. Then we’ll figure out our way from there. We didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone, because of being away last weekend, so I’m sorry about that but let’s hope we meet again. Til then, friends. The grand Canberra adventure is over.

Canberra Day 94

[Wednesday 14th December]

Well today was a terrible day career-wise, nothing fatal but nothing fun, so it’s a good thing that I’m in Canberra with a licence to explore and enjoy new experiences.

I’m having some issues with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) that manages the registration of 14 different health professionals, including pharmacists. Previously we had our own pharmacy board, but in 2010 several boards were amalgamated and now we are managed jointly. This new organisation, AHPRA, manages our annual registration including our compulsory continuing professional development (CPD) requirements, whilst another organisation manages the regulation of pharmacies and pharmacy departments. All very boring and tedious, until your annual registration comes up against a problem. In my case a CPD problem. Each year between October 1st and September 30th, every registered pharmacist in Australia now has to achieve 40 hours of CPD to qualify to be re-registered. After the amalgamation the amount of CPD to be achieved began as 20 hours and increased over a couple of years. Its pretty standard now, and pretty achievable if you’re working, which is the point; to keep you up to date.

I first went on sick leave in March 2014 and stayed on sick leave for several months before I dragged my reluctant body back to work only part time for 6 weeks in September/October that year to complete my contract at the Alfred, in the vain hope that I would build up professional fitness quick enough to convince my workplace that I was fit and well to work and be re-hired. I was desperately hoping to stay on because I loved that job. It was a joke looking at it now; there was no way I was even fit for the very part time work I was doing then let alone more. But the point being, between October 1st 2013 and September 30th 2014, the annual CPD year, I worked 6 months and work generates CPD as does starting a new job as does changing positions within a job all of which applied to me. So even at the 6 month mark when I got sick I had oodles of CPD numbering probably around 50 or 60 hours. So I finished my feeble 6 weeks in dispensary, ended my contract and went back to bed.

By the time I got going again and went back to work, it was July of 2015. Already up to 9 out of 12 months of the CPD year, and to be honest, to this point CPD hadn’t even crossed my mind! A little teensy nervous breakdown and the associated issues had occupied the major part of my brain for months on end and work had just gone away. Even now returning to work I was conscious of the need to get up to date with the many new drugs and devices that had hit the market in the last year and a bit, but I hadn’t thought particularly of my CPD requirements with respect to my registration. I did all the required new job CPD, I did study on things that were relevant, I recorded it all and never really thought of whether I was making the 40 hour amount. Which is unfortunate, because I didn’t make it! I got 25 hours, not 40.

And there is no clause for people on sick leave. Or for people not working. You’re either practising or not practising. So, in November 2015 when I was re-registering as a pharmacist and got to the compulsory question about whether I had completed 40 hours in the previous year, I had to answer in the negative as in I did NOT meet the CPD requirements. And I won’t say that all hell broke loose, but all kinds of official pharmacy correspondence started flying around the web and through the postal service, and today is just another step in the painful process that is rectifying the situation! I’m not complaining about having to fix this up; I should have to. I’m a health professional and patients need to be sure of me being up to date and on top of the latest drugs and professional practice. I’m just complaining about the amazing bureaucracy that prevails in these matters! It is not easy to show that you have done your best to fix it, that you’ve learnt your lesson, and that you’ll do better in the future. Especially if you’re out of work again, because things just don’t come up when you’re not dispensing and reviewing medications on a daily basis. You have to actively look for things, and it’s just harder. But it’s part of my commitment and I have to just get on with it. So I’m off to send yet another email, which will probably get yet another “out of office” reply, followed by an actual reply sometime in the next two weeks or so telling me that there’s yet another technicality that I haven’t met because I was never told about it, followed by another email from me phrased very conservatively despite my inner rage and so on. You get the drill!

So there’s that, and following that the awful words “we’re terminating you”!! Seriously?! I went back to work officially in June 2015 with a fixed term 9 month contract. I guess I always assumed that there would be a possibility for extension at the end, assuming they liked me and my work was up to scratch etc. But no, despite putting me through two traditional interviews and a non traditional observation of practice interview I was never successful in getting an extension. So I was told I would be put on the casual list and they’d call me, which they never have but that suited me lately being in Canberra and all. So now out of the blue I get a call to say sorry, it’s just a HR thing but because you haven’t worked for us in 3 months we have to terminate you!! I’m sorry, what?! I’m costing you zip, I’m (usually) a resource available at short notice a 4 minute walk away, and if this was always a HR thing, why didn’t you just say goodbye at the end of my contract, instead of giving me an impression that I’d be called up to work?? So when I get back I have to return my keys and it’s all over. Well what a wake up!! Could this day get worse for my career?

Luckily I have good things planned so let’s off to the High Court to observe other people getting the rough end of the stick, potentially. I won’t pretend to understand the case that was being argued but the solemnity and the ceremony of it all was very impressive and the two counsels arguing were humorous in their own way, especially one who referred to “my learned friend” at the beginning or end of every sentence! I’m pretty sure even the 5 judges were smiling under their wigs. A bit of light relief, and I’m glad that becoming a lawyer was never on my list. I took my fill then left, remembering to pause and bow to the judges on my way out!

And now to really flush all that career mess out of my system!! I’ve been looking forward to this christmas concert by Igitur Nos at the National Library for a couple of weeks now. Turns out it wasn’t quite what I was expecting…more classical music, Latin and high brow Christmas songs than your typical carols. But it was pretty nice. Then a drive by a few places of interest: the historical and very pink Calthorpes House, and a few embassies.

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Lucky I have a lovely catch up with a friend after lunch. Nothing so soothing as hanging out with a friendly face and chatting away the afternoon. A super cute little baby helps just a little bit too! Happy day…in the end.

Canberra Day 93

[Tuesday 13th December]

Alright lovely readers, we’re on fire! So let’s keep it moving with the next Canberra day; promise we don’t have far til the end.

Today is a bit about goodbyes. The days are increasingly more about leaving and less about Canberra but I’m still fitting a few things in. I had lunch today with a new friend who has been super lovely to me and hubby while we’ve been in Canberra, and we had a great time catching up, albeit for the last time. I also realised that I’ve gotten behind in keeping family and friends up to date so I wrote some postcards, and then bought a few souvenirs to remind me of the experiences we’ve had. As I was popping into the souvenir store at National Portrait Gallery I saw that they had a new exhibit: this one was digital so photos of it don’t do it justice, but some incredible talent in short videos.

I started thinking today about things I needed to organise before I get home: firstly make an appointment with my psychiatrist for the first time in nearly 4 months! He gets booked a month or two in advance so no time like the present to make sure I can see him soon after I get home. I can’t believe that its been 3 months without meeting with him. I guess it shows how far I’ve come that I went off to Canberra so cheerfully knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him for at least 3 months. Any early in the piece and I wouldn’t have been prepared to go more than a month without seeing him. It helped a lot that I have his mobile number and have the okay to call at any time, definitely. And hey, I’ve survived 3 months without any debrief or counselling. It’s not something I’d recommend but I’m pleased that I got through it, and got through it pretty well. But nevertheless I’ll be glad to touch base again.

Today I had a couple of things I wanted to do. First off was yet another trip to the National Library which has been a surprising treasure trove of interesting exhibits and fascinating behind-the-scenes insights. Today I’m checking out an exhibit of Robert Ingpen called Wonderlands. Does it sound random to you? Maybe it wouldn’t be if you saw his paintings, or illustrations, in such books as Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and more. He’s a genius artist and the display was wonderful, if brief. And of course I had to poke my nose into The Sell exhibit once again; can’t get enough of cheesy advertising!

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Alice in Wonderland

I also wanted to walk next door and sit in on the High Court, but unfortunately they had concluded earlier in the day; much earlier at 11am. But hey, why not have a look around at the courts while I’m here, especially as you can’t take photos while the court is sitting, but you can photograph the rooms empty. And I have to say, the staff at the High Court couldn’t be more lovely and helpful! I highly recommend making time to talk to them if you visit. They have such a mental dossier of interesting facts and figures about the courts, the judges, past cases, upcoming cases, history of the courts, the decor…really anything that you’d ever want to know!! Just ask; you won’t be sorry.

Then on the way home I drove around the rear of Parliament House, an area you don’t see in pictures or in person much at all. Turns out, Australian Federal Police don’t really like you seeing it, at least not if you pause the car and take photos!! First time being pulled over by federal police! Oops! That’s an experience I don’t have the nerves to go through again. They were perfectly lovely and just asked me to keep driving, but still, flashing lights and the word “federal” have a way of pushing your heart rate up!

Last and most important job of the day: take dinner to Chester at work. This poor guy is working his butt off 60 hours a week at the moment, and barely seeing daylight!! They just will not extend the deadline despite the extremely poor chance of it reasonably being met. So we’re going down the path of it being unreasonably met! I say we: I’m not really doing anything, but I feel terribly about it, even while swanning around enjoying myself.

Canberra Day 90

[Saturday 10th December]

Well here we are at Day Ninety! Can you believe it?? The original mission was to get to this place and we got there. Don’t worry though, we’re not quite finished…I promised to go to the last Canberra day if it was after Day 90. And that isn’t quite here, but don’t worry, not long to go.

This is our last weekend in Canberra. Well actually we’re spending today on the road and tomorrow in Melbourne so I guess last weekend was our last weekend. Too bad we didn’t know at the time; that’s how life goes I guess.

So we’re leaving for Melbourne this morning, driving through the day instead of the night for a change. It’s a nice change. Starting out a 7.5 hour drive after 5pm doesn’t make for good math. So this is the view we had all day today…not too shabby! And that’s all she wrote.

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Canberra Day 88

24th Feb 2017 – Firstly, my apologies for taking forever to get this post done! It’s almost irrelevant now, but I said I would do it, so…I am, on principle, IF that stands for anything by now. Some major procrastination has been going on around my writing and also the fact that I have to choose 1 photo out of 1000 photos, and out of 3 big events for this day.  But let’s just get this out and done.

[Thursday 8th December, 2016]

Day 88!! Can you believe that we’re this close to 90?? It has come around so fast and I can’t believe we’ll be leaving Canberra soon! I’m actually going to feel some pain leaving this place: I’ve gotten quite attached to this city and its attractions and its people and its design and so many little things. I almost feel like I could live here, if it wasn’t for the winter weather, and the summer weather a bit. It’s been a wonderful 3 months in my life, but it’s time to think about going home and keeping up the momentum that I’ve built up here. Meanwhile my poor husband is having nowhere near as much fun! He’s working very long days starting at 8am and going til 8 or 9pm! It’s not sustainable and he can’t keep it up for much longer, but they will not extend the deadline even though its nigh on impossible to meet!! So I’m free as a bird from dawn to dusk this week, although I’m not loving the dusk aspect, and he’s eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at work! Its not good. Speaking conservatively.

First of all, and something that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, is the graduation parade of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Since the Remembrance Day parade at the War Memorial I’ve been looking for any occasion to hear that band again! The Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon are incredible!! Unfortunately there aren’t that many opportunities, and even less that fall in our time here. I’d love to hear the Australian Rugby Choir again too, but since that isn’t going to happen I’ve pre-ordered their CD coming out for Christmas. So I’ve had this date marked in my calendar for a while. Turns out I had the academy and the Royal Military College confused, and I could have gone to both and heard the band twice, but I thought it was one and the same. So instead of the backdrop of the ceremony being the paved parade ground and historic buildings of Duntroon, it was the parade oval of the academy. Never mind, I’m here and sitting in a great seat and ready to go. Turns out if you dress up, wear some heels, wait til 5 minutes before starting time and walk straight to an empty seat at the front, everyone accepts it! Pick up a program from the seat, get out my fan and camera, and don’t start any conversations; well, that’s right in my wheelhouse! Except I’m in the sun and it is BURNING my feet! Move back a row and closer towards the big leafy tree; still not good. Move back another row; people are staring. Sit down and don’t move! I’m in the shade body wise now, much better, but now the tree is hanging down a bit and obscuring my vision, and my feet are still burning! Tough, the ceremony is starting. And here comes the Australia’s Federation Guard onto the parade ground to perform the precise foot manouveurs of the graduation ceremony as a united marching force of Army, Navy and Air Force! Very impressive! Then the wonderful band, then the graduates, then the Governor General in the government Bentley, the inspection of the guard, and so on until the throwing of the caps. And in that 2 hour or so ceremony (more of the so) only 6 (and I use the word only sarcastically) of the graduates and Federation Guard standing still in the blazing sun had to carted off the grounds. And I mean carted. 3 service people actually fainted to the ground, the other three started staggering and wobbling around, and I swear one guy came THIS CLOSE to impaling himself on his ceremonial sword! Hopefully it’s not that sharp! Each one had to be frog marched off, and its weird but all of the people in charge of the escorting off of their fellow people were short; like they could fit under the patient’s armpits! Is that intentional? I’m so glad I went, it was really interesting and certainly not something you get the chance to do everyday. Home to bed for a short nap after all that exertion!

Then after a nap and lunch I went to the weekly Thursday only behind the scenes tour at the National Library. If you ever get a chance to do this, its a brilliant option; it is incredible back there! Full sized newspapers from the 1900s onwards bound into enormous books, audio and microfilm files of newspapers filling dark passage after dim passage of small drawers, a 2015 robot trundling books and audio and bits and pieces all over place on command announcing itself around every corner, and so much more! Truly fascinating. So much going on that you could never imagine. And all in a bombproof cellar under the main library! Definitely go if you get the chance.

Then another main event of the day, and also something that I’ve been waiting for: this time the fascinating Circus 1903 that has no animals and is located in the Canberra Theatre, not in a tent. It’s after hours, which I’ve been avoiding so I’m home when hubby is home, but he’s not going to be home tonight til late due to work so out I go! This is a circus based on circuses in 1903 as it suggests, so its a very interesting set with fabulous old fashioned costumes, a super tall New Yorker announcer and such a variety of circus acts. And an enormous puppet elephant, with a baby elephant! And when I say puppet, you have no idea! They were incredibly lifelike and very cleverly controlled, so impressive. All of the acts were very professional: balancing on boards sitting on progressive layers of rollers, cycling and skipping rope on the high wire, acrobatics in a dangling ring, proper knife throwing that had my heart beating fast, bicycle tricks, human throwing and juggling on the floor and from heights, regular juggling, and more. A fabulous night out!! The end!

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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