CUWAM- Coast, City, Country

If I was had the strength, this blog entry would be called ‘ Burning the candle at both ends’….but I will save that for another day. I have was well and truly over done it this time…Having taken Catch up to a Mate motto a little too serious, taken it coastal, city and country in a matter of 6 days…and the time has come to STOP, to force oneself to take a long hard  look in the mirror, re-evaluate, re-group and re-focus.

Too much of a good thing…it is the only to describe the week that was….there is no denying it was good….Yet as the saying goes too much of a good thing ….

Has left me feeling burnt out by the experience, suffering from blogger’s anxiety, writers block….This entry contains the  words of a fragile soul…but it is a tale worth telling, so that others too, might learn from my experience

Coast

The Easter long weekend arrived. Good Friday…and you were good. The sun shone and I took my pale white body to Bronte beach for a dip in the sea pool…..A summer day had finally arrived in mid Autumn. Sitting quietly on a hill in a beach side park, I sipped on my coffee and whilst sunning myself and thought ‘ Isn’t life grand?’

Once home, I collected a few worldly possessions, namely Flora the cat, and drove South, arriving at the parental home is time for a chin wag and cool drink before joining some girlfriends at the local for a pub meal. Catholic guilt got the better of me, and despite the fact that I have not been to a Sunday Church service for 15 years, I refrained from eating meat, at ate a fish meal instead??

The catch up was great…A pregnancy confirmed, an infectious smile from a first time Mum relishing in her first ever girls night out since the birth of her bub…steady flow of conversation and drinks…..

Catch up with a Mate’s coastal experience: smiles all round

City

Upping the tempo a bit, I was to board a Hen’s bus to the city on Easter Saturday…My little brother is marrying his true love…What is not to celebrate?

The Hen and me

The Hen and me

An early morning seaside stroll and a coffee at Austinmer beach to kick start the day…Constrained laughter from my Father as my Mother and I attempted to ‘ Glam it up’ for the AAMI Golden Slipper Race day at Rosehill Race course.

My mother and I do glamour….but of the understated variety…A day at the races calls for in your face glamour and we struggled with a concept foreign to us…

The party bus left the sleepy south coast at 10am….city bound. 40 women, decked out in their finery, all intent of celebrating with Tennelle, the prettiest Hen of all. We laughed, chatted and drank on our bus ride to the West, then we laughed, chatted, and watched our money go west throughout the racing carnival!!

Come 5pm, it was time to call it a day…39 people got back on the party bus bound for the South…I took the high road ( or the low road, depending on how you look at it!!) back to the city….5 city rail carriages transported the drunk, the sunburnt and the penniless back to Sydney city….for come sun up Sunday morning…Catch up with a Mate was heading to the Country

County

Exhausted, I awoke early, packed a bag of summer clothes, and took the streets to catch the 7.30am public bus the Airport.

Arriving at the domestic terminal to be told I had missed my flight to Melbourne because it left from the ‘ International’ terminal…

Not one to be shocked by much anymore, the knowledge repressed from days working in the travel industry…this situation was real…Some domestic flights DO leave from the INTERNATIONAL terminal, and you need to get there 2hrs prior to departure with your PASSPORT!!

Forced to purchase a new ticket, my fear that I could be out of pocket hundreds of dollars was quickly quashed…$80.00 later I was on my way to Melbourne.

I was collected from the airport at 11am by bride to be Naomi…and we drove 2 hours north east…destination, Shepparton…to be part of the illustrious 88th Shepparton Tennis Tournament ( well part of the crowd anyway)

The Tennis Tournament had started on Good Friday, and arriving on Easter Sunday felt like arriving half way through a Steven Spielberg blockbuster…You weren’t quiet sure what had happened…Felt a bit lost….A dinner party guest who arrived as dessert was being served, having missed entrée and mains….awkward!!

I did my best to get involved, I drank a few beers and caught up with the locals I had befriended during my 2011 visit. I became an active spectator, clapping and heckling on demand, cheering court side for winners who went on to be winners , consoling would be winners who became losers…

And aside from tennis, I looked to my friend Jess for advice on what to do in Shepparton…Eat, drink and be merry…Coming from a very small family, I have long been in awe of Jess and her large family, it seems to grow bigger each time I am swept up into the maddess!! The Easter Sunday meal catered for the masses…on last count I reached 25 bodies…Realising this I hit the champagne!!

My time in Shep was short…3 nights and 2.5 days…I had failed to pack for the chilly weather conditions, and as a result wore the same outfit for preciously 3 nights and 2.5 days…I have my sights firmly on the 2013 Shep Tennis Tournament…Arrival date : Good Friday…Next year I will not be the party guest who arrives for dessert only!!

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In need of solitude I caught the 7am bus from Shepparton to Melbourne City on Wednesday…I spent a good part of the day in St Kilda and then took a tram to Carton, Cinema Nova and watched a mid week movie. But during my one day silent retreat, I realised I missed the company of my Shepparton family…I admitted to Jess that I felt ‘ bored’…or maybe that was code for exhausted??

I retired to bed early…for in the morning…it was back to reality…office work in Sydney!

Thursday morning, my 5am alarm signalled the start of the epic journey home. You know you have over done it when you have to catch 2 buses, 1 train and a plane to arrive at the work for a 9am start!!

In summation

Hindsight is a strange thing….I look back on the week that was and think it was pure madness to think that my sense of self would remain intact as I navigated coastal, city and county landscapes at such a fast pace….Madness….

Madness, yes, that is what it was, but it is my nature to cram things in…I once took a round the world vacation in under three weeks…Madness…Lesson learnt? Only time will tell, but my track record ain‘t good!!…By recalling the events of the past 6 days, reflecting on the highs and lows, it is my sincere  hope that I can help myself in the future, to slow down, smell the roses…and if I can’t save myself….maybe this tale with resonate with  fellow reader!!

CUWAM- Perth: Pets, People, Places

It’s the pointless things that give your life meaning. Friendship, compassion, art, love. All of them pointless. But they’re what keeps life from being meaningless.  Tim Winton

I feel the need to quote Tim Winton in this post as I spent 9 lovely, sun filled days in his home state last week. Winton, one of my favourite Australian author’s , captures  so vividly the beauty of coastal living in his writing…And Western Australia, you put on a show for me last week….Endless sunshine, fun-filled days spent frolicking at Cottesloe Beach and Rottnest Island…Yes, Paradise is where I was…and I am reminded now that I am office bound, that hell is where I currently reside!!

A one week holiday to break the endless cycle of office administration, house hold chores and pet grooming…A self indulgent week spent with good friends, eating fine food and wine in sublime / breathtaking surrounds….Was there a point to this escapade? Not really…but as Winton say’s….it is these simple pleasures that make the canvas of ones life colourful…

The week is over, done and dusted, compartmentalized in my brain in a section for ‘ happy memories’….But those memories are forever mine…and how lucky I am! My time spent on the West Coast adds another layer to my life story….let me share some of them with you.

My Rottnest Island tale has been told, now it is time to focus on life in ‘ The Hills’ of Perth.

Pets:Ruby and Ollie Stuart-Smith, dachshund extraordinaires and Hills based residents….Won over my heart. This brother and sister combo worked their magic on me…So much so that this cat loving girl has found it hard to adjust to the high-pitched meow of her once trusted feline companion…3.31am cries for food is NOT OK Flora!! Picture don’t do the cuteness factor of these hounds justice…but here goes…enjoy xx

Ruby

Ruby

Ollie

Ollie

People: My friends Lisa and Steve…living the dream in ‘ The Hills’ Perth….As a colleague in the office said ‘ I did not know Perth had hills!’…Truth be told…neither did I! And I am glad they do…I am a convert, a bush paradise awaited me, my home for five days. Thanks L and S for letting me stay.

Lisa and Steve

Lisa and Steve

Places: Lisa and I holidayed in style mid week….A day trip around Kalamunda, lunching and the like, I took myself on a day trip of Perth City, hitting the pavement of Mt Lawley and Northbridge, and hanging out park side  in Perth city. Come the weekend, Steve, Lisa’s husband joined the festivities….As a trio we indulged in Friday night drinks in South Perth and then tackled fine dining at Bathazar, Perth City ( licorice and garlic ice-cream…a winner!!) On Saturday, we upped the anti and continued the high-end dining experience by having lunch at Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale…Wow Wee…And when words fail, let the picture the story

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And now my time in  Perth is but a dream…a good dream, of the sustaining variety..and so to Rottnest Island, Lisa, Steve, Ruby and Ollie, and the beauty that is WA…thanks for the wonderful memories…xxx

CUWAM- Numbers Continued….37

And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…

Alex Garland, The Beach

37 hours…that is how long it took me to get to my holiday destination : Rottnest Island, Western Australia….37 hours to reach paradise.

I awoke on Friday morning…and the outlook was bleak….9 hours of non-stop office administration was in front of me…The very thought of it clouded my vision, and I felt sure that I would never see the finish line.

I arrived at the office at 8am….and settled myself for the monumental task of tying up all loose ends so that I could take a 5 day holiday….Hindsight is a strange thing…There was no way that all my administration woes could be solved in a mere day…but I gave it a good shot….and failed miserably!!

Students whinged and moaned, colleagues cursed, academics ranted and I huffed and puffed through the data processing marathon…Why oh why had I entered this race…For it was by 4pm that day it was clear I was the only competitor…and this was one race I was not going to win

I left the office at 5pm,defeated, with a half eaten sandwich in my handbag, and the onset of repetitive strain injury in my right wrist…The frantic post work conversation with a colleague in a similar situation…Kenny was being summoned for dury duty…and as he put it ‘ Having to do 6 weeks work in 1 day’…tied up further office tasks for me over the phone…Things I had overlook as I dashed to the  finish line….

And then to dinner…A longed for meal with friends from Queensland, Sydney and Wollongong…To Surry Hills for a Nepalese Feast followed by coffee and cake at Gnome Cafe on Crown street. And still I was ever the marathon runner….

My friend Jess, honed in fast…She could tell I was operating on reserve fuel, I had entered a new phase of operation..Hyperactive / autopilot….

‘ Are you on drugs, Speed?’

‘ No’

‘ What ever it is, I want some!!’

Post dinner, the time had come for some shut eye…A chance to rest my head on a pillow for a few hours, before I hoisted my weary body on the 7am flight to Perth.

Rest did not come, I lay down at 11.30pm and awoke at 2.30am…I remained awake for the remainder of Saturday…And it cost me dearly….I caught a 6am cab, then a 7am flight, arriving into Perth at 9am ( yes, I gained 3 hours)

I then wondered aimlessly around a Ferry Wharf for 4 hours….boarded the 2pm service to Rottnest…. On arrival at  3.30pm, I promptly caught the shuttle bus in the wrong direction of my accommodation….Realising this mistake, I boarded the return shuttle, and arrived safe and sound at Geordie Bay Guest House.

And despite the mere 3 hours of rest that separated Friday from Saturday…one thing became unmistakably clear as I set foot onto the island that would be my home for the next 3 days.. I was in Paradise…and from that moment on….nothing else mattered.

To be continued….

CUWAM….The Recovery Process

This song comes to mind as I attempt to rebuild my shattered sense of self, the person I was before I embarked on that ‘ joy flight’ to Queensland

The song assisting the recovery process

Monday morning was brutal, I awoke at 5.30am, had a shower in the disabled bathroom, dressed, gathered by belongings, my Toblerone and toothbrush and headed on foot to the Gold Coast Airport. Images of the Australian classic ‘ The Castle’ sprang to mind as I had booked my accommodation based on proximity to the airport….my hostel bed was ever so close to a run way….and that was just the way I liked it ‘ Ah, the serenity’

An early morning flight is a perfect way to start to working week, but this morning was made just that little bit more special by the acquisition of a blue head scarf from a $2.00 Shop at Central Station.

Armed with a coffee and a bagel, and the blue head scarf strategically attached to my forehead to hide my slow onset head injury ,I entered the office….ah, data entry….I do love thee….

The day was a blur, the only enjoyment coming from complimentary sandwiches, cake and water from a University function that has been over catered….

I stayed back at work to complete the immense task of recalling the weekend that was Toowoomba, it took me a whole hour to gather my thoughts, and photo collection…My head injury affecting my ability to recollect and collate my memories….or was it that I had repressed most of them??….I guess I will work this out later in a therapy session or two!!

A necessary shopping trip to  World Square on the way home, and arriving at my front door to the wails of little Flora, my angel, ever so eager to welcome me home.

Flora, to it seems, had a hard couple of days…An injured paw and bellie sores were presented to me whilst Flora dined on an entire pouch of Whikas Beef mince…My little angel was injured, and I believe it was a sympathy injury…She just wanted to me like me….

And to bed, where I struggled to stay awake through the final episodes of the comedy ‘ Come Fly with Me’, an airport environment I understood only to well my morning on the Gold Coast…..

And finally to sleep…and the recovery process could begin

CUWAM….Operation Grey Family meets single white female

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The slide show inserted in this blog is in no particular order…it is a train crash collection of the time spent in the sunshine state..but I would not display them in any other way.

Similarly, it would be unfair not to recall the events of the weekend in order..but my memory is blurred and my head is sore (more on that later)…and if you dare to read on some might say my weekend was not fair…but I disagree ( or maybe that is the concussion talking!!)

The January Floods could not dampen this families love for life, despite loosing most of their valuable possessions, the important stuff remained…them….And the Greys were in fine form for our 18th to 19th of June catch up…

The collection from the Gold Coast Airport, some might ask ‘ Isn’t Brisbane 91 kms closer to Toowoomba, wouldn’t that be a better collection point?’ …not the Greys, ‘ What ever is cheaper Kate’…Poor Max ( aged 1 ) and Sophie ( 3.5 years) were included in this pilgrimage to collect me….Party Mix lollies and a’ My Little Pony’ DVD series entitled’ Woe is me’ ( that is what I was starting to think) kept the tears at bay whilst we headed inland.

Whilst a random memory, this must be shared:

As Lauren drove I took an incoming phone call…the conversation was as follows:

Scott to me ” Kate, can you ask Lauren if I can give this Toblerone to our neighbour?’

Kate to Lauren ‘ Lauren, can your husband give the Toblerone he found in the cupboard to your neighbour?’

Lauren to Kate ‘ That was a surprise for you Kate, tell Scott he is an idiot and that no he can’t give your chocolate away’

Kate to Scott ‘ Scott, that Toblerone was a surprise for me…Lauren said no you can’t give it away..She mentioned the word idiot”

Scott to Kate ‘ silence…………..Sorry’

And that pretty much summed up day one….The fun and surprises just never stopped, a coffee bowl and a chicken sandwich which seemed to include the entire bird was devoured for lunch, fun times in parks were adults went on rides and children stared in amazement that adults could indeed appear childlike, a movie date to see the movie Bridesmaids, a late evening rendezvous at the ‘ Angel Cafe’ for cake and coffee….returning home late evening to find Scott pickling himself on the couch with Whiskey and Port ( who can blame him) …against the backdrop of the Saturday night movie ‘ Kindergarten Cop’, Lauren and I told him what it was like to be out on a Saturday night, in adult land and tears whelled in Scott’s eyes……

To Sunday, a buffet breakfast that Mum extraordinaire Lauren had created…..eat your heart out Nigella!! Pancakes, fresh fruit and an array of savoury items cooked in a space ship type device called the George Foreman something…I was impressed…and full before I actually started eating. After breakfast we were treated to Sophie’s spooky dance and the reenactment of a library scene were the kids read us books and the parents always seemed to be getting into trouble and being sent to the naughty corner….

A trip to the Japanese Gardens, for Toowoomba is the ‘ Garden City’….stunning garden made all that little bit more special our presence….A picnic in Queens Garden’s with a selection of pies from Big Dad’s Pies….and then quick trip home to collect my belongings for the pilgrimage back to the airport….What is that time already?..Afraid so…

But the fun was’nt over….30 minutes into the drop off journey, and despite the fact that a whole watermelon had been devoured….cries from the children echoed of the Toowoomba Ranges, they were hungry and bored….The adults in the front seat began to pray that a McDonalds would magically appear road side so the kids could be bribed with Macca’s cookies…..

We were saved by the Golden Arches, Scott parked the car and Lauren eyed off the entry to the restaurant…I had other plans…Looking after myself!! and asked Scott to flip to   I could retrieve my surprise, the ‘ Toblerone’ , I dived head first into the trunk but the did not surface with the golden bar….but gash to the forehead,blood seeping out of the wound…The boot has fallen on my head and I uttered expletives as Lauren put on yet another hat, this time of the Doctor variety and we headed into Mc Donalds, not for cookies, but a first aid kit….

When we finally left the car pack, we had filled out an incident report at Macca’s, and purchased 5packets of Smiths chips a packet of band aids, two bags of M&M’s from the nearby petrol station as McDonald’s had run out of cookies….

My mood had dipped slightly, but the smile returned as we crossed the NSW boarder for dinner at Seagulls Buffet ( It is pronounced Buffay not Buffet!!) I felt at home and was beyond laughing as Max, Sophie and Ashlea through ice cream bowls, spagetti and jellie  around the football oval sized eating arena….

Though I almost died, and cried tears of relief when I was surrended over to the Coolongatta YHA at 7.30pm, I knew a good night sleep was all I needed to be clear-headed about the events that had unfolded way to quickly on the weekend…I knew that when I awoke on Monday I would be backto my everyday existence, were the only cries I would hear would be from Flora, my needy, four-legged friend, that my meals would not be buffets but the meals of a single lady. that my excursions would be of the solitary nature, I would not have three ankle bitters in tow….

It was ever so hard to say goodbye to the Greys, but to be honest, I was beyond exhausted that I could barely remember my own name….’ Aunty Kate’ ‘ Boyle’ ‘ Kat’..I knew it was something like that….

But the thing about saying goodbye to good friends in that you have the memories of good times shared to last you to the next catch up….and with the Greys, you walk away with enough memories to last a life time….Thank you Lauren, Scott. Ashlea, Sophie and Max for good times, great memories, a touch of industrial deafness and concussion…love you guys xxxxx

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