Canberra Day Forty

[Thursday 20th October, 2016]

It is a wonderful thing to have friends. It’s been one of the most amazing things about being ill: finding out how many friends I have! I love you all!! Today’s plan was to have coffee with a friend, actually someone I knew before we moved up to Canberra. We caught up at a great cafe, coffee and cake for $10! At Canberra prices, this is a bargain. We have definitely found food prices are higher than Melbourne; maybe less competition? Or people on higher salaries? I don’t know. Anyway Cafe Injoy gets my recommendation. A brilliant catch up for a couple of hours; what better way to spend the day? Then I drove around the village of Hall checking out the Canberra tracks historical signs which was kind of fascinating; plus the scenery over there is gorgeous on a sunny spring day. Then I called by “home” to get yet another few things that we forgot when we moved! Then “home” for a nap, then out to a ‘create your own’ burger 2-for-1 deal and free sundae from Macca’s Monopoly, and home again, gig-a-de-gig!

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Canberra Day Twenty Six

6th October, 2016

Well this is going to be short and sharp because its after midnight and I do REALLY need to get to bed. But I’ve been through today’s 700+ photos and reduced them to 200 odd which I’m pretty pleased about! Nothing left over to sort out. I’ve got good photos by now of several birds up here, so unless what I take is better then into the bin it goes. I’m battling storage space on my laptop and online and everywhere!! But I do so love taking photos, and the birds and scenery are just so enticing. I’m trying to become more satisfied with just looking, but recording for posterity is just so tempting, even if I never look at the photos again! So I’m spending some time with memories, going back through the archives and deleting whatever has turned out to be pointless or meaningless or unmemorable, or just a bad photo. And when I’m processing current photos I try to keep the same principles in mind.

Today was about hills and dales. I went back and finished the the woodlands walk this morning-afternoon: beautiful birds and the day was perfectly warm and sunny and lightly breezy; perfect! As I was walking around I noticed blue painted arrows on the fire trail path pointing in the opposite direction to what I was going. I ignored them because its a loop, so why would it matter? But I should have done the hilly section when I was fresh instead of at the end when I just wanted to sit down. Why aren’t there more seats sprinkled around walking tracks? The rest of the signage was lacking, as everywhere, until I got back to the main road where it’s not that necessary. As always, instead of following the map in my brochure or Google maps if it comes to that I just blundered on, and ended up doing an extra larger loop as well as the intended loop! How many times?? So I’ve now done a 7.2km walk on Tuesday, a 1.5km walk on Wednesday and a 5km walk today!! And I’m not even manic!! I’m just building my stamina. But I think that’s enough for now. Besides I’ve gotta get back on my bike; its been 10 days or more.

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Tomorrow is Rest Day. I planned on it being Inside Day cos I’ve really had more than enough sun over 3 days and I’m looking a bit red. But the weather is just so good; gotta make the most of it before it starts raining again! What I want is for this 3 month stint of free time to be over (not too soon!) and to be able to say that I’ve improved myself. That I’ve improved my cycling distances and hill climbing, that I’ve proven myself able to walk distances, times, durations, and profiles that I wouldn’t have previously thought possible. I can say that I have improved on all of these things so far, and that’s in almost a month. So let’s see what the next two months can bring. I’ve just got to plug away, like I did today. I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a hill and think, YAY I’m gonna run up that hill! But I know that if I go a little way, take a rest if needed, go a little way then I’ll get there. I learnt something very valuable recently when I was doing a hill climbing, cornering and descending class with my lovely Wheel Women: never look at the next hill from the top of the current hill; it will always look daunting. Wait until you get to the very bottom, and then look up. Try it; it really changes the rise from Mt Vesuvius to a little mole hill. The next most valuable thing I learnt: just take a small section of the hill and do that; don’t worry about doing the whole thing. Once you’ve done one section, worry about the next. Breaking it into chunks helps to achieve the climb, however you’re getting there. I think you can draw the relevant parallels in life. So that’s my plan! Slow and steady, winning the race.

Canberra Day Twenty

Friday 30th September, 2016

It rained today. Again. A lot. It’s positively mushy underfoot! It can stop now, by the way. There’s plenty of water for everyone. More than plenty. I know we aren’t the worst off by any means but still. And the chill wind! Is it snowing somewhere?

I woke up bright and early at some outrageous hour because the thick clouds were creating a great wall of glare! Too stupid with sleep to shut the blinds, I slept intermittently til hubby got up and we both complained about it; just hadn’t done anything about it! So I got up for a shower (!) and breakfast, but couldn’t hack it. Back to bed, a good sleep this time, then up for some study to finish my CPD year which ends today, some lunch, and then the highlight of the day, if not the week; afternoon tea with a good friend from my Traralgon days. One of those brilliant people who you can catch up with after who knows how much time, and all manners of experiences and just pick right up and go with it! Awesome!

We had afternoon tea at Via Dolce right in central Canberra, and wow, what a place for decadent cakes and pastries! Definitely recommended. So a lovely cake on some gorgeous china, a wonderful chat about all manner of things, and just a feeling of well being to be catching up and enjoying life. Brilliant!! Then a wander around the Canberra Centre, kind of like Doncaster or Melbourne Central shopping centres in Melbourne, then trying to find the travelator that went to my car park; that took a while!! Some groceries for tea, some scripts dispensed, then home to our lovely hosts who are back from their cruise full of stories and happiness. A lovely meal together over green curry, and tomorrow we’re going to the beach! And it’s going to be 22 degrees and sunny! But that tale is for tomorrow. Chat later!

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Canberra Day Six

16th September, 2016

Well friends, another day, another adventure. I felt myself getting a bit tired mentally today but tomorrow is going to be bright and sunny, and I’m getting out and about! Just thinking up ideas, and planning what to do gets me up out of my rainy slow mood into a better gear.

So many options for tomorrow!

The spring flower festival Floriade is opening tomorrow; one look at the website and I’m excited! Not so excited about how far I’m going to have to walk to get there…might take my bike. Then there’s the Raiders game…if you’d listened to a quarter of the radio that I’ve heard this week you’d know this is the biggest thing since sliced bread! Something about NRL, I think that’s rugby, and Canberra’s team that lost last week but still have a chance at the grand final because this week they’re gonna win the final, but they already played the final, but they’re playing the final so get behind it…I’m lost!! Whoever these Panthers are that are fighting them, I hope they understand the gist of it all! Tsk, rugby! Bring back AFL!

Then there’s an NRS (national road series) road race which for the uninitiated is a bike race over 3 days for the best in the country who haven’t made it to international pro level, or who have stepped down from pro level. My husband thinks he’s one of them so we’ll probably go check it out at some point; they’re usually a lot of fun with side carnivals. Might even show him a loop of Lake Burley Griffin now that I know it like the back of my hand haha! Then there’s my birding, a loose plan for lunch with hubby at Piallago and the possibilities are endless!

Today rained then was sorted of fine then drizzled and I wasn’t sure when was the best time to go riding so I ended up not going, which is a shame. I think it would have topped off my day in better fashion than a sleep. But too late for that. Tomorrow is another day. On a recommendation I checked out the Red Hill lookout today, another rainy view! Are you seeing any repetition here? There’s a cool restaurant up there that I wouldn’t mind checking out another day. But tomorrow is going to be sunny! Maybe I’ll do Mount Ainslie, Mount Pleasant and Red Hill lookouts all in one! I’m still glad I went the places I did this week in the rain, but I’m excited to go back in the sunshine. So Red Hill lookout, then a random drive around looking for little strips of local shops where I might buy a present for a friend; finally found one in Yarralumla on my second detour. Sadly because I dropped hubby to work at 8am, the shop wasn’t open but at least I found it so I’ll be back.

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Back home, a bit of blogging and website portfolios, then down the street for a couple of jobs. Lunch, games with the cat who is become a good friend of mine and hubby’s, a nap and deluxe nachos and long chats over dinner! Awesome Friday night. And now even a timely bedtime!! I so need it, and can’t wait for tomorrow to dawn for more adventures! What’s your pick of activities? Comment and let me know.

Beating the weather

Lately my life has been all about learning.

Learning new skills, learning that I can be the old me again, learning that old skills are still stored carefully in my brain waiting for me to dust them off again. Learning to have confidence in myself and trust in my abilities. Important stuff.

There’s a learning point that I’ve been thinking of in particular.

You never know if you never go.

You never know if you never go. This is slowly but surely becoming my new motto.

Instead of staying home just in case the weather is awful, the traffic is terrible, the people are critical, the class is long and boring, the walk is too steep and etcetera, I’m transitioning into a more cautionsly optimistic frame of mind.

Cautiously optimistic is a term coined by my GP and is used when we think we’re have a breakthrough but it could be nothing or it could come crashing down or it might stick. We’re hoping, based on not very much maybe, but we’re hoping.

So being cautiously optimistic would look like saying to myself, what if the weather is lovely, it doesn’t rain, the traffic is a breeze, they are all lovely and kind, I learn lots and the content is interesting, and I manage the walk and have the satisfaction of accomplishment? What if?

You know by now that I completed the Wheel Women-run She Rides program in Hawthorn. By the nature of bike riding the classes are held outdoors. I was happy to be enrolling in the autumn class rather than summer because I get hot easily. But of course the flip side is that autumn can get cold, and as it turns out wet. Wet was something I hadn’t really thought about beforehand but there was a lot of it around!

So every Tuesday for 8 weeks I committed to meeting the group in a car park at 10am to take the class. The classes were held over March, April and May. Other than the first class all of the classes involved some riding around of various distance. So I’d wake up on Tuesday morning and look out the window to see what the day looked like it had in store and what kind of riding conditions were out there.

I have a second storey window that looks west-ish. Probably South-West-West if I remember correctly from school, but it doesn’t really matter. The morning sun, if it is showing, bounces off the new plate glass type multi-storey construction in front of my window a ways away so I can sort of get the gist of east and west. All irrelevant detail really.

Sometimes it looked windy. Sometimes it was raining. Sometimes it looked clear. Sometimes it wasn’t rainy but looked ominous. And to be honest, sometimes it was beautiful and sunny. Somehow the story doesn’t have the same drama when things go well but of course sometimes they go well, and really well!

If I had pulled the pin every time that I thought the weather was going to mean the class was cancelled, I’d only have made about half of the classes. But there was no weather cancellation clause, the rider being that if it was truly too awful to be outside well at least we would all have coffee together and a nice morning anyway.

And you know what? In eight weeks we never got rained on once! The weather was never terrible, just a bit windy or a bit chilly. Now that winter weather has arrived the weather we had for those classes looks even better by comparison! And we had some really nice, lovely, enjoyable days too. Must mention the good days!

One time we had to move our class from the outdoors to the nearby cafe to continue talking about bike gear; but only for the last half hour anyway which may well have been spent the same way on a clear day.

One time we sat in the nearby rotunda and chatted while it dripped around us.

Every time that we went on a ride it rained before, or after, or both and a couple of times it started raining as we got into our cars to go home.

But every time we had a great class, a lovely social event and nice chatting over warm drinks and fun riding.

And the stats have gotten even better: it has now been 13 weeks since the first class and in all that time we have only cancelled one class. That’s it, one class.

We’ve sat in a cafe with our hot drinks until the rain cleared, we’ve had coffee instead of a ride once only, and last Thursday it started raining as we got in our cars!

The forecast has looked terrible, the radar has been worse but I have really learned a valuable life lesson over these weeks.

By treating the situation as non negotiable, it takes away all the umming and ahhing that I usually do, mostly from a sitting/lying in bed position. No procrastination, because it’s an inevitable event.

You are going. I am going. The other girls are going to be there expecting you after having organised themselves and gotten to the meeting point. Our dedicated coaches are waiting for you to show up so you have to go. Telling myself ‘if it’s really bad we’ll just have coffee and it’ll be fun’ got me out the door on the worst days.

And do you know what? That worst day by forecast we did a 14km loop into Herring Island and back, which is somewhere that I’ve wanted to go back to since the summer but didn’t realise there was a bike path that could get me there.

And so this day, and each and every week I have said to my self, and likely to some one else too cos I’m like that, ‘if I hadn’t come, look what I would have missed out on!’

I would have stayed home, probably in bed to be honest, trying to avoid the rain when in fact by going I found out that there was no rain (although it was jolly cold!)! At least not between 10am and 12pm. It was beginning to spit as we got in the car but we did it! A nice flat ride, interesting sights and a surprising location, great company and that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that is just so lovely.

To feel like, I’ve really done something today! I wasn’t going to go, I thought it would be awful and difficult but I went (kudos for that), I participated (easy once you’re there, getting started is always the key!) and I had a great time and now I can rest mentally knowing I’ve done something worthwhile for myself and I’ve been a team player and it’s such a nice feeling!

Rather than wasting away the day waiting for the forecast and the outlook to be better before venturing out. Turns out you really do have to JUST DO IT! And more times than not, it will be well worth your while and you have experiences and enjoyment that you would have missed waiting for the sun to come out!

Raymond Island

Hello again friends,

I know I’m a bit off my usual topics at the moment but I had an amazing four days away at Wattle Point on Lake Victoria near Paynesville last week, and I just want to relive it over and over!

Cuddly cute Koala soaking up the afternoon sun on Raymond Island

Cuddly cute Koala soaking up the afternoon sun on Raymond Island

Did I mention at any stage that I’ve gone back to work? I’m currently doing 3 shifts of 5 hours from 8.30am to 1.30pm each week on Monday, Thursday and Friday. I started back EXACTLY six whole months since I left and it’s going well.

Except that it sometimes cramps my style! I say this jokingly, mostly, but being off work with the whole week at your disposal apart from doctors appointments, psychologist appointments, classes and whatever activities I was up for had its great points especially in the last two months after I started lithium and was actually able to function!

The most adorable baby Koala learning to climb and cling to branched all by itself!

The most adorable baby Koala learning to climb and cling to branched all by itself!

And having to work around three shifts of work is fine, except when an extended trip comes up. I worked around my Thailand trip (more to come on this!) because I was booked in before I started back at work, but this week long holiday came up with my mum and dad and I had to just take the bits that I could get. My year long contract finishes next week so I want to make the most of being able to make money while I have the opportunity!

The majority of Koalas just seem like they're snuggled up in bed, gum tree

The majority of Koalas just seem like they’re snuggled up in bed

In the end I worked Monday, caught public transport 4 hours across Victoria to spend Tuesday and Wednesday with mum and dad, caught public transport back to work Thursday and Friday, then drove back with hubby and a great friend to spend Saturday and Sunday. Just a bit tiring but the lengths people go to for a holiday… 🙂

The first Koala of the day, quite at home next the the main road and the kids playground and low enough down to touch!

The first Koala of the day, quite at home next the the main road and the kids playground and low enough down to touch!

So the holiday. It was a fascinating opportunity that came up through the Otis Foundation, an incredible institution that raises money for women who have had breast cancer. The money goes towards providing holiday accommodation free of charge to the woman with breast cancer and her family. The idea of the holiday is to leave breast cancer and all of its trappings behind: chemo, radiotherapy, medicines, nausea, pain etc and just go on retreat from the real world for a while.

Sitting pretty, propped up on all side

Sitting pretty, propped up on all side

And it truly was a retreat! The house at Wattle Point was fabulous and absolutely suited to holiday makers with loads of windows looking out over Lake Victoria, an open fire for chilly nights, outdoor decking and BBQ, tables and chairs for outdoor dining, spa, window seat, hall book shelf and gorgeous gardens, pond, orchard, chook yard, canoes and trampoline. Amazing! And there were all kinds of birds, plus rabbits and hares running across the lawn!

Stunning!

Snuggled up with a branch for a prop

Snuggled up with a branch for a prop

Sleepy grandpa Koala with a "do not disturb' face

Sleepy grandpa Koala with a “do not disturb’ face

20 minutes from Paynesville, 20 minutes from Bairnsdale, 10 minutes from Blond Bay game reserve, 25 minutes from the silt jetties, Bluff lookout and the flora and fauna reserve.

So much to see and do!

I can see one hand dangling, and neither leg is hanging on...

I can see one hand dangling, and neither leg is hanging on…

But one of the most amazing of all of the local attractions is the Koala trail on Raymond Island. This is connected by chain ferry to Paynesville, an easy 5 minute crossover and then the delights begin!

Immediately! For free! And so thrilling and delightful! So on a perfectly sunny glorious morning we headed for Raymond Island.

Another Koala in an incomprehensible position with too many limbs lolling down!

Another Koala in an incomprehensible position with too many limbs lolling down!

Snoozing along a limb in the afternoon sun

Snoozing along a limb in the afternoon sun

The very first tree after you cross over the road from the ferry to the park had the first koala! Right there! Right in the fork of the tree! You don’t even have to look; it’s right there! And it’s not in an enclosure or a wildlife park; these are wild koalas put on the island nearly 100 years ago to prevent them from becoming extinct. I went through the park last Tuesday and again on Saturday with more people, and as hard as it was to believe, there were even more koalas the second time around!

Just postcard perfect! Thanks for turning your head just at the right moment

Just postcard perfect! Thanks for turning your head just at the right moment

This Koala climbed out here to feed...looked pretty precarious!

This Koala climbed out here to feed…looked pretty precarious!

Fluffy ears with a good view of the world from up in the sky

Fluffy ears with a good view of the world from up in the sky

I hope you enjoy these super cute delightful creatures as much as I did! I think from now on when I’m having a down day, these will be my cheer up photos!

The cutest, most alert koala of the day...check the next photo for what he did next!

The cutest, most alert koala of the day…check the next photo for what he did next!

Having a good ol scratch, oh to be that flexible!

Having a good ol scratch, oh to be that flexible!

Swan Bay

Yesterday morning we took a walk around Swan Bay in Queenscliff. The morning had been pretty chilly and there was still a brisk wind off the water as we headed off around the waterside walking track.

The upside of a chilly morning is the clear sunny day that follows; perfect for bird watching and taking photos and just being out and about!

I didn’t see quite as many birds as I had hoped, however a lot of birds were far over on little islands of sea grass or tidal mud so although they were there, we didn’t get a good look.

I really need to look into getting a pair of more powerful binoculars. I already know mine are terrible, but just need to get out and look for my next pair; they would make a huge difference!

Pair of Crimson Rosellas walking the spouting of a nearby house

Pair of Crimson Rosellas walking the spouting of a nearby house

Beautiful duck in the wetlands: Pacific Black, Australian Shoveler or Australian Grey Teal??

Beautiful duck in the wetlands: Pacific Black, Australasian Shoveler or Australian Grey Teal??

Australian White Ibis poking around in the shallows

Australian White Ibis poking around in the shallows

White-faced Heron in the Swan Bay

White-faced Heron in the Swan Bay

Australian Pied Oystercatcher amongst the sea grass

Australian Pied Oystercatcher amongst the sea grass

Stunning Crimson Rosella in the bushes

Stunning Crimson Rosella in the bushes

Beautiful crimson and light blue colours of the Crimson Rosella

Beautiful crimson and light blue colours of the Crimson Rosella

Group of male and female Chestnut Teal ducks in the sea grass

Group of male and female Chestnut Teal ducks in the sea grass

Fabulous blue male Superb Fairy-wren on the path in front of us

Fabulous blue male Superb Fairy-wren on the path in front of us

Pretty female Superb Fairy-wren edging out of the bushes next to the path

Pretty female Superb Fairy-wren edging out of the bushes next to the path

New Holland Honeyeaters thronging through these yellow bushes

New Holland Honeyeaters thronging through these yellow bushes

New Holland Honeyeater dangling down into a flower

New Holland Honeyeater dangling down into a flower

Immature New Holland Honeyeater preening on a branch

Immature New Holland Honeyeater preening on a branch

Group of Little Pied Cormorants drying off on the shore

Group of Little Pied Cormorants drying off on the shore

Royal Spoonbills swishing their bills for dinner

Royal Spoonbills swishing their bills for dinner

Another yellow bush, another New Holland Honeyeater

Another yellow bush, another New Holland Honeyeater

Caught in mid twirl: New Holland Honeyeater dancing around

Caught in mid twirl: New Holland Honeyeater dancing around

Australian Magpie in the grass

Australian Magpie in the grass

Group of Australian Grey Teal ducks resting on Swan Bay

Group of Australian Grey Teal ducks resting on Swan Bay