Sunday, 30 December 2012

Are We Nearly There Yet?

When I first flew to Australia that was the longest time I had ever spent on a plane. Not only that to get to Heathrow I had taken the train from Aberdeen so already spent a large part of my day travelling before I even made it to the airport. I travelled to the other side of the globe and to the other hemisphere so surely this would be the longest journey I would ever undertake? Boy was I wrong. I left Broome for my friends’ house at 07:00 on the 22nd of December and arrived there after 18:00 on the 24th of December and only a three hour time difference.

So how did it take so long to get there? Well since I am so indecisive and played the will I or won’t I leave game in my head for over  a month by the time I arranged a leaving date with my manager I seemed to have agreed to stay until just before Christmas. Having left it so long the flights had become unsurprisingly expensive so I booked myself on to the bus. Broome to Perth: 2370km or 33 hours and 20 minutes on the bus. After getting the bus from Sydney to Melbourne which was about 20 hours if I remember correctly I am sure I swore no more than a day on a bus, however for a saving of over $300 I was willing to eat those words. Of course it might have been more interesting had myself and a friend communicated since she left on the same journey four days before me instead I got the benefit of her experience. She reminded me that the buses get cold and to layer up and whilst seeing her off I saw people with multiple water bottles and took note to make sure I did the same.

Therefore I arrived at the bus stop alone but well prepared. You know something, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Two other people close to my age got on and we were sat near one another. We got chatting and after the girl left the guy and I continued to talk which I was really thankful for later. Now I am not going to have a size-est rant but when a lady of extremely large proportions sat beside me my heart sank. I was wedged between the window and her large frame. Even turning the pages of my book was difficult. Thankfully it wasn’t long until the next stop and my new friend had been moved to sit beside a sprawler. In case you need clarification this is the person who will sit with their legs apart and arms on your seat with a complete disregard for personal space.  So bus friend and I had a chat and decided to ask to be moved to sit together, even better he preferred the aisle seat and I the window. Well it worked out great for me but apparently I felt quite comfortable with this guy because instead of my usual position of hugging of the window when I fell asleep I decided to spread out and he was worse off than before. I maintain that he should have shoved me over and/or woken me up but he kindly let me sleep and contented himself with winding me up about it for the rest of the journey. That aside we kept each other and a few other passengers who joined us company all the way to Perth. In-between the random chats and napping I also managed to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This is a book I was lent last year when I was working in the mountains but only managed to get 2/3 of the way through before the friend who lent it to me and I went our separate ways. I’m glad I didn’t finish it. I am in a very different place now and a lot of what Pirsig wrote made sense and rang bells with me now in a way it wouldn’t have last year. Some of it I couldn’t grasp on the first reading. It is definitely one of those nooks which has to be read repeatedly, especially for someone with a scientific rather than philosophical background.

Due to various delays we arrived in Perth at 17:30 on the 22nd of December, an hour and 10 minutes later than scheduled. I had spent thirty four hours and thirty minutes on that bus. Thankfully the hostel was only two stops on the train and a short walk away. Once checked in I dug out the necessary and headed straight to the shower. Ah, pure bliss! Once I was showered my next priority was to book a taxi for 6:20am the next morning. I had considered going straight to the airport on the last bus that night thus saving myself the taxi and hostel costs but my friend who had preceded me on the earlier bus was still in the city so the manager of my Broome hostel phoned and booked me into the same room. I am soooooo glad. The shower alone justified the cost but seeing my friend again and spending the evening with her made it worth every cent.

The next morning I was up early again and on my way once more. My taxi was waiting when I left the hostel and I didn’t have far to go to check in and drop my luggage however I had difficulty checking my backpack in as it kept falling over making it difficult for the machine to scan it. A helpful staff member sorted that out for me then another helpful lady helped me pay for my excess baggage on the check in systems. I could have become flustered; I had too much stuff and my carry on bay was a food bag from Coles which was I was afraid would not last the journey. However with much juggling of possessions I made it through to the departure lounge and even managed to buy a muffin and some water before finding a much needed seat. I am glad I didn’t let my disorganisation get to me as if I had been in a bad mood I would have missed out on an interesting conversation with a lovely older lady who joined me at my table whilst we waited for out flights. She was had accompanied her daughter to the airport as her daughter was on her way to Melbourne to visit her son for Christmas. In the thirty minutes I waited for my flight this lady and I kept each other company whilst her daughter sorted herself out. The muffing and conversation put me in a really good mood so even the juggling of my bag and laptop didn’t faze me as I boarded my flight.

 Once on the plane it soon became apparent that the family assigned the seats next to me would find their journey easier if I swapped with one of them. I immediately offered to swap and moved two seats back and apparently impressed one of the stewardesses in the process as she promised to look after me. She really was lovely, we had chatted as I boarded and I joked that maybe I could swap my bulky laptop for one of the iPads that Qantas now use to provide their in-flight entertainment. Obviously I was only joking but even if I hadn’t been I would have changed my mind. The iPad was fun but after watching one movie on it I soon became bored and returned to my own laptop out so I could access my own files.

Despite her promise to look after me I didn’t think there was anything the stewardess could  do for me as most of the time I am an undemanding passenger but I was proven wrong. Whilst writing my blog in the later part of the flight she offered a complimentary glass of champagne for being so lovely. Who says kindness doesn’t pay? Even more impressively, as we came in to land she also gave me a bottle of red wine to share with the family. I already preferred Qantas to Emirates but seriously folks, fly Qantas! I’m happy to say that next May I will be on my return to Australia. My only complaint was that we arrive half an hour early and I wasn’t finished writing my blog.

Finally I was in Sydney! All I had to do was to collect my luggage and find the pick-up point and wait for my friend to find me. Well it took her a little longer than anticipated but she finally worked where I was and how to get to me despite the airports one way system and I was on my final leg of the journey. An hour and a half later and we were at her home being welcomed by her lovely family in their very Christmassy home. I had arrived and it was quite definitely Christmas!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Holiday in Broome

For my last few weeks in Broome I gave myself a holiday. Initially it was meant to be a week off but one week turned in to two when I caught a stomach bug and felt too ill to do much more than lie in bed and feel sorry for myself on my days off. Even when I went back to work I was not eating much and tiring easily so I spent more time sitting around the hostel in the common area. This led to getting to know the folks I’d been saying hi to in the passing for the last few months and that was the end of my studying. I did consider taking it back up once or twice but the heat and humidity got to me so it’s on hold until I find somewhere cooler or at least with an air conditioned computer room! This means that I spent a fair amount of my final few weeks getting to know my ‘new’ friends.

One of the many upsides to this was that I finally got to go to my work for dinner as a customer as well as try out a Japanese fusion restaurant not far from our hostel.  Another upside was that though I have had a lot more alcohol in the last few weeks than I have in the last few months each time I have been drinking I have gotten to a point where I have felt the need to stop, something that rarely happened before my drinking sabbatical. Since I am a complete lightweight the fact I can stop means that I can now have cheap but fun nights out. Also the friends I made were very accepting of my limited drinking and didn’t push me to drink when I was abstaining or to continue drinking when I said I wanted to stop, definitely keepers those girls. On one level I am a little sad that I didn’t get to know them properly sooner but I did need my time out to sort my head out and save some money.

The downside of getting to know people and re-entering the human race is that I have been spending more money. However, I have enough saved that I shall not starve whilst I look for work back east so I don’t regret my lack of savings in my final weeks. Of course some of that was down to Christmas looming. Ah Christmas. How I usually dread thee. This year though it was different. For one thing there was a pleasant lack of Christmas songs at my work. On the 1st of December one of our duty managers started us decorating the place but since I am used to ‘seeing’ Christmas as early as November or even October this didn’t really make me feel like it was happening. It was a similar story at the hostel. I didn’t feel anywhere like I was having Christmas shoved down my throat like they do in the cities. Even the count downs on facebook kept taking me by surprise.  I knew it was coming but it just always seemed to be at some distant point in the future.

During my last week in Broome two of my ‘new’ friends were leaving the same week as me but a few days before.  I was sad to see them go and though we had only recently spent time together I missed them in my last few days. The sadness wasn’t too bad though as I am sure I shall see them again, in fact I shall be seeing one of them on my one night in Perth on my way to Sydney. That’s one of the awesome things about the backpacking lifestyle, it’s surprising how easy it can be to see your friends again if you really want to. My last shift in work was pretty normal, we were kept busy enough and I was able to finish at 9pm and have a last meal and a few drinks. Some of the staff stayed behind to share a few drinks with me and then I went with a few of them to the local club as some people I knew were meant to be there. The joy of staying in a hostel is that though the folks I thought would be there weren’t others were and were happy for me to join them for a few drinks. I can’t say I was overly taken with the club so I left after my second drink. It might have been a flat end to my night but a friend was kicking about at the hostel and we had one of those interesting conversations you can only have when one of you is drunk enough to be philosophical but not falling over and the other is sober but laid back and bored enough to be amused by this.

My last day in Broome was different. For one I was properly hungover for the first time in over six months. That’s what I get for mixing my drinks and not drinking enough water before bed. The other was that I hardly knew anyone left. I had some last minute bits and piece to buy so took a walk to the shops since I was now bikeless having donated it to a guy at my work the previous evening. I finished off my food at the hostel and gave back my kitchen bag in return for my $10 deposit, then I returned my blanket which resulted in another $10 being returned to me and I thought, woo hoo dinner. Of course that didn’t quite work out. After a quick dash to my work to return my work shirts I had to continue with my packing. I started it at about 1pm and managed to finish it about 11pm. I have no idea how many times I packed unpacked and repacked but I do know I seem to have acquired an awful lot of stuff in four months which could explain why I have less savings than I had hoped. A friend did instruct me to throw things out but I’m not very good at that. Maybe once I get to Sydney and have the moral support of a good friend  I’ll be able to face a clear out because apart from a few tops I got it all in there, even if for the first time since I got it I had to join  my two bags together to make one larger bag. Oh yeah and it was too heavy to lift, oops. Definitely time for a clear out before I start travelling again!

One of my many packing avoidance breaks was to go get an ice cream and crisps for dinner, I don’t care what you think of me I enjoyed that dinner. Of course the excellent company helped. I didn’t get to know many people at the hostel well so I was pleasantly surprised when one of the girls who I had a habit of conversing with in passing made an effort to see me and chat before I left. Once more I was glad I had gotten to talk properly with her whilst being a little sad that I hadn’t done it sooner but once more I am hopeful that we shall meet again during our travels as the backpacking community is a lot smaller than you might think, especially with the wonder of facebook.

Finally the day had arrived and it was my turn to leave. I got up at 5 am so I could make a call home before the long journey began then it was back to my room for that last minute packing and re-arranging and it was time to go. The place was more or less deserted as I mentally said good bye but I did bump into the manager on my way out and got a goodbye hug. Then it was see you later to my home of the last four months because of course I shall be back, just a soon as that pesky brother of mine and his fiancée have tied the knot.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Thoughts on Taking a Break

Way back in June I decided that it was time to take back control of my life which included giving up alcohol for a while. I felt that I had taken the living life in the moment concept too far, my lifestyle and my personality were conflicted and my grieving process had hit a brick wall. In short I felt like I was a complete mess. Therefore when I arrived in Australia, much too some peoples chagrin, I stuck to my no drinking rule. When my funds got low I accepted that the sensible thing to do would be to get a job in Perth and stay put instead of trying to travel north and run out of money somewhere along the way with no idea if I could find employment or not. When it became obvious that I wasn’t settling in Perth I saved as much as I could and moved on as soon as I felt I had enough money to live off of whilst I job hunted. I even postponed my plans to tour the west coast and flew straight to Broome on the understanding that I shouldn’t spend the money I had until I knew there would be more coming in to replace it.

Once more I was fortunate enough to find work quickly but my caution was well deserved as I needed to live off my savings whilst I waited for my first pay. Once I was earning I let myself go a little. Instead of saving I spent my wages on tours as though I hope to tour the west coast next May I wanted to see what I could whilst I was here since I am well aware that plans don’t always work out. Once the tours started to stop I started to save and study. Though I hadn’t planned it this way as well as stopping drinking I also stopped socialising. I wasn’t in any hurry to make friends and the people I did get to know were mostly by accident; the odd person passing through Broome on their way north or south and of course my study buddy. Instead of taking a break from drinking I ended up taking a break from life. I got lonely and I missed my friends but I saved and I studied and I knew I was building something for my future. Through my counselling sessions I realised that I also have a few trust issues. I don’t trust myself to be a good judge of character which has made me hesitant about trying to form new friendships. What if I trust the wrong person?

Well in the last few weeks I have rejoined the human race. It has involved some drinking but not a lot and not often. I’ve made friends with some people that I think I shall not mind leaving behind but I also made friends with some people who I am sad to leave behind (or be left behind my in two cases!). I’ve often read that is the things we don’t do that we regret the most and I think that I finally understand this. Yes I have done some stupid things in my past but mostly those things now make me smile at their ridiculousness or sheer idiocy however I needed this time out. I needed to go to the other extreme of control so I could fully appreciate that there is a happy medium. I’m not sure where that medium is yet but for the first time in over three years I feel like I am me. Not the me I was before Jonathan died or even the me before I met him, I am the new me and I am starting to grow comfortable with who that is. It’s hard and there is guilt because Jonathan never got to find out who he was without me. There is guilt because I love my life and have no desire for a life that resembles my old life in any way. That doesn’t mean I am glad Jonathan is gone or I wouldn’t have him and our life back in a heartbeat it just means I don’t want that life without him. If I meet someone else they’ll be very different because I am so different and I want different things. I realised a lot of this last year when I was travelling but I ignored the guilt. I pretended that the two lives were separate and unconnected. My time out has given me time to start to accept that they are not separate and I can be grateful for what I have without taking anything away from what I had. The guilt is still there but now I know it’s there and that means I can start working out what to do about it. For now though I think I’ll work on the acceptance of the new me and my new life. After all I know that all my friends, families and especially Jonathan would want me to be happy with how things are because no amount of guilt, wishing or anything else will make it how I though it should be once upon a time.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

STILL in Broome but not for long....

Having booked my flights to leave Broome before Christmas it wasn’t long before I started to question my actions. I had intended to stay in Broome until mid January but then I hadn’t counted on being invited to stay with my east coast friends for the holidays. Also despite my best intentions I really was ready to move on. In fact I was considering moving up to Darwin but the fact that I had booked my flight to Sydney from Perth and that I had a few counselling sessions booked in stopped me. As our customer base switched from tourists to local the hours at work became scarcer and our busy periods fell in to those of a normal restaurant. Whereas before there was barely time to catch our breath between breakfast and lunch then lunch and dinner I found myself taking 1-2 hour breaks. One day I even volunteered to take a 3 hour break as that way at least I could go for a swim. Most of the backpackers had moved on and the remaining staff were all looking for hours. The first time I found myself fighting for hours I went home and had a think and decided that it really wasn’t worth it. I had studies to do and enough money in the bank that I could call it a day at any time. I even spoke to my boss, half hoping that he would cut my hours so I had a reason to move on but though we had slowed down there were still hours to be had so in the end I stayed.

I can’t say I regret that decision. It’s a good place to work and I enjoyed my time there however as December arrived and the decorations started to appear I knew it was time to call it quits. My boss beat me to the conversation asking me a few days before I planned to speak to him what my plans were. I said I wanted to head east before Christmas and we agreed that I would leave on the 20th as then he would not have to employ anyone else to take my place. It was later than I was thinking but since it seemed to suit the business I no longer felt bad about leaving before I had originally intended and was happy to stay knowing I would soon be on the road again. Having quit my job going back east had become a reality. I set about booking my dive course and hostel in Cairns for January and started to look forward to catching up with my friends on the east coast and travelling again. I got really excited when I booked my dive course but part of me won’t believe it’s really happening until I’m there learning how to dive. I don’t know yet where I’ll next stop for work. I’m fortunate enough that I should have enough money to travel a bit first and hopefully stop somewhere I want to stay rather than need to due to lack of funds.

For now I am still in Broome which is a record since I started travelling. When I leave I’ll have been here for four whole months with only one night away from the hostel when I went camping up to the gorges. The studies are on hold as I embrace the holiday spirit and enjoy the time I have left here. For one thing it is way too hot and humid to study and for another I’ve discovered that hanging about chatting with the folks who are left is way more interesting.  It’s a good thing I didn’t discover this earlier or I suspect no amount of good intentions would have kept me sober, dieting and studious. Now though I am in the mood to be led astray a little, I may even have a few drinks along the way.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Pretending To Be A Grown Up

So it turns out that studying can be really bad for you bank account. Day two of studying involved not one, not two but three skype dates two of which lead to me booking not one, not two but three plane tickets.  The first skype chat was with a good friend from the mountains who invited me to spend Christmas and New Year with her family in Sydney. The second skype was with a friend who has travelled a lot and agreed that £610 was an excellent price for a one way ticket to Australia. Therefore before my browser had even seen a TEFL page I had booked a plane ticket from Perth to Sydney on Christmas eve  and a ticket from London to Singapore on the 8th of May then from Singapore to Perth on the 12th of May.  As if that wasn’t enough I looked into dive courses in Cairns and tours back south and decided that since I was on a roll I might as well book my ticket from Sydney to Cairns whilst I was at it. So by the 3rd of January I shall be in Cairns and with any luck I will be learning to dive by the 5th. Of course being me I then had a fit of conscience about leaving my work but I realised that it was time to look after me. Yes I had planned to stay until mid January but when my friend invited me to have a family Christmas with her my mouth said yes before my brain had even processed the question. Having given both my UK and Australian cards a battering I decided I better get back to my studies before I managed to spend any more money. Of course I can use the excuse of it being an anniversary of sorts. It was my travelling cowpanion’s birthday and therefore officially two years since I had become a backpacker. Making firm plans for my next adventure seemed a good way to celebrate, well that and cake of course!

Sadly life got very boring after that. Though I now had two days off a week instead of going exploring I was spending them studying my TEFL course. I did make excellent headway with it. I had two weeks of work, study and swimming then something different. I had my first counselling session since I started travelling. My counsellor is great. She really gets me and I left looking forward to our next meeting and feeling much more positive about life in general. What followed that was more of the same. I worked studied and swam and Broome got hotter and more and more humid. I had my moments where all I wanted to do was buy a plane ticket or found myself looking at the lifts section of the notice board but my Christmas plans and new counsellor kept me where I was. Life was boring sure but I was making real progress with my course and the saving was going spectacularly well. It turns out that sometimes even backpackers have to make the grown-up choices in life, However, having some decidedly ungrow-up plans definitely made the grown-up time a lot easier to handle, now where was that dive website again......

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Phoenix: Then and now

Back in 2010 when my grief was still newish and rawish but when I was starting to find my way in my new and uncomfortably strange life I wrote this in a moment of hope:


I am the phoenix and this is my fire.
All that I was has gone forever.
All that I shall be is formed in this,
Burning instant, that lasts a thousand years.

You treat me like medusa,
As if my eyes so full of pain and sorrow,
Could turn you into stone.

I felt like Icarus of myth,
My happiness and joy not wings but wax,
Were torn away, leaving me to fall.

Now I know I am the phoenix.
Because of love so true,
That it can never die.

Love will give me wings,
And lift me up once more.
One day I won't just rise again,
One day I will soar.

Now almost three years later I am living a life more different than anyone could have imagined and recently I wrote this:


Risen like the phoenix from the flames
I soar above it all
Riding the thermals of my adventures
Getting high on life

There’s tragedy in my past I know
The future’s still unclear.
The present, a gift I try to treasure,
Live life as best I can

Living as if tomorrow will never come,
As if I can have it all.
Living as if the day is never ending,
This moment all there is

I hope it shows that my fleeting hope became my new-new life so thought I'd share since there is a distinct lack of adventure and soaring to write about at the moment. Sticking with the metaphor I have decided to think of this current interlude as cruising along at high altitude until I catch that next thermal.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Thoughts on Staying Put

Sometimes you have to stay put to move forward. This is the lesson I’m learning in Broome. I’ve recently had my first counselling session in years and whilst I know I have come a long way, especially in the last two years, it helped me realise that I still have a ways to go. My counsellor really seemed to understand how I think. She said that I sounded like I was travelling towards something rather than running away, and we all know how I feel about that last phrase. Despite the fact that I have had some hairy moments since arriving back in Australia it took me two months of living in Broome to get to that first appointment. I used the usual excuses, “Everybody has bad days” and “It’s just part of the grieving process”  and my favourite “I’m over reacting”. The thing is whilst these are all true they don’t mean that counselling won’t help me. I was fortunate to get some extremely successful counselling in my early twenties and that gave me some great techniques for dealing with my ‘issues’ but the thing is grief has given me new issues. I have trust issues like never before, I suffer from bouts of paranoia where the world is out to get me and of course I get depressed. I know that these reactions are due to my hormones and other chemicals in my body going a little haywire. Right now I’m in a good place and I know that I work and live with lovely people who are quite happy to pass a few minutes conversation with me if I make the effort. When the dark moods strike though it’s hard to remember that and some of my old coping mechanisms simply no longer apply or are not possible in my new life. That’s where the counselling comes in. My friends and family love me but I love them too. There is only so much you can put on to those you love no matter how willing they are to take more. Counselling is a safe space where I can let it all out and be guided back to the good places by someone who cares but cannot be hurt by anything I say. She won’t try to fix me, she doesn’t think I’m broken, she simply understands I am in a place where I need to re-evaluate my attitudes and work out where I want to go next in my head and is happy to help me do that.

It’s not just emotionally that staying put can help me move forward though. I am once again supposed to be working on my TEFL course. By staying in one place long enough to dedicate time to this course I am laying the ground work for future travels. By working and not socialising I am saving enough money to be able to travel round more of Australia. I’d love to say the rest of Australia but it is far too big to be seen in even two years. One would need a life time and I’m sorry, as much as I love it here the world is too big and exciting to dedicate that much time to one place: even a place as fabulous as Australia, which leads me to my work. My work has taught me some valuable new skills. My waitressing has improved and my confidence in my customer service skills is at an all time high though I understand I still have a lot to learn about the hospitality industry. In fact I have decided that my next job should be in either a coffee place so I can improve my fledgling barista skills or in a fine dining restaurant so I can improve my waitressing skills. Fine dining would involve having to learn how to open wine prettily at the table not to mention that I shall have to stop dropping cutlery whilst clearing tables but baristas get up early, like really early, and I am definitely not a morning person. Both avenues have their pros and cons but either way it is my current job that has given me the foundation skills and confidence to pursue them.

I’m not going to lie. I want to move on. Life is boring right now but then that’s what happens when you decide that the credit card is not a viable option for day-to-day living. Boring means knowing where that I have enough money to eat and live for more than a few days should I suddenly become unemployed. Boring means I can afford to go home at a moment’s notice if need be. Boring means preparing for the future and more importantly, believing that the future is worth waiting for. Adventure is calling to me but this time it’s going to have to wait a little longer.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Another Adjustment

The week following my last tour was dominated by the loss of Jonathan’s grandfather. Though he had been ill off and on and was older but at the time of his death he was in pretty good health considering and in the end it was a heart attack that took him from us. Jonathan’s sister had been working when I heard the news and I didn’t want to risk contacting her until I was sure her family in Perth had been able to tell her.  Therefore it was the next day when we spoke. I was working and since Papa’s death had been such a shock it honestly never occurred to me to ask for time off work. I did consider flying down to Perth but Jonathan’s sister decided to go home for the funeral so she could be with her family so I stayed put and worked the hours I was rostered on for. That week I phoned Jonathan’s mother a few times but really what could I say? I knew as well as most that there were no words and nothing I could do. It was only the day after the funeral that It really hit me. On the day of his funeral I really think I did ok at work but as soon as I was told I would be finishing then it all hit me and my shift ended rather badly. However I let it go and sat down to eat some food and raise a dram of single malt to a man who I didn’t know as well as I would have liked but who I loved as my own grandfather. I’m not sure who at work knew what was going on or if they understood how hard it was but the people I told were sympathetic and I am fairly sire I was given a bit of extra leeway that week. However there is only so much that can be done and on the Saturday we had a big event. Thankfully it didn’t require too much from me mentally just a lot of clearing up but as I left work I felt everything finally hit me. A tearful call home to my mother and some (undeserved) ranting about my work place and the general unfairness of life in general followed and as hard as it was for my mother to hear it was necessary and cathartic and after wards I felt much calmer.

It was round about this point that I also realised that I had been harbouring my fear of having everything taken away again. Of course the realisation itself helped me to adjust my behaviour and I started trying to be more positive. I’ve always liked the leave it part of my take it or leave it life style but for once I have decided that leaving is not an option, at least not on a whim. After two months in one place and with all the fun parts done I’m working on preparing myself for my future wanderings. This means learning some new skill, one of which is making coffee. I had two days off after a full week on following Papa’s death so I took the first one to take some time out to relax but on the second one I set my alarm and went in to work at 8am to spend an hour or so with our barista. Afterwards I took steps to offset my newly acquired love milkshakes and often indulged love of desserts by taking advantage of the quieter pool in the hostel to start swimming again.

I’m not sure if it was the long chat with my mother, the joy of learning a new skill (I do love to learn) or the increase in exercise but on my return to work I felt a lot more positive. I suspect that I may not have fully processed the loss of Jonathan’s grandfather. From my extensive reading on the subject of grief after Jonathan’s death I know that attending the funeral is actually an important step in the process and it was one I denied myself by staying put. That might help explain my increased tiredness the following week but I suspect the increase in humidity that accompanied the increasing temperatures in Broome had a lot to do with it. A lot of people I spoke to that week commented on their difficulty in getting a good night’s sleep. Whatever the reason more than ever I had a week of eat, work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, etc etc and even the dreaded FB hardly got a look in. Having said that I did manage to fit in a few laps in the pool. I have no idea if that contributed to my tiredness or not but it certainly did wonders for my weight loss. I am now only 0.5kg (or 1.1lb if you will) away from my target weight!

As much as I enjoy swimming though I think I really will have to let up on the ice cream a little as there are only so many laps I can fit in to a week. The other adjustment I am making is from care free enjoyment filled days off to studious course filled days off work. Last year I bought and started a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course. So far I have one of eight modules passed and less than 6 months to do the rest. I have decided that since I am earning decent money here and like the place I shall stay put to save and study. These are three words not often associated with me these days so let just say it’s been an interesting adjustment. As of this week I have been in Broome for two whole months and have gone from fear that my life here will be taken from me to looking for reasons to leave. The itchy feet are acting up but I am stamping down on them. I have a counselling appointment booked for next month here and I am on to a good thing job wise. Yes I can come up with some good reasons to move on but if I want to make this a way of life I will have to accept that there are times when I have to spend 3-5 months in one place. Australia is huge and there is so much of it I have yet to see I am anxious to be moving, afraid I’ll miss out if I stay in one place too long but if I miss a town or two now that’s nothing compared to the countries and travel I could miss out on if I don’t finish this course. Which is why of course I am writing my blog because PhD or no I’ve always excelled in finding things I just have to do when there is study to be done. On that note I shall leave you an get back to learning Englisg, I mean how to teach it of course....

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Thoughts On The Fear Of Losing It All Over Again

I have occasionally joked that I am not afraid of anything except spiders. As you can imagine this isn’t exactly true, for one thing I detest cockroaches and other flying bugs. I have been called brave because I indulge my passion for travel and new places but there is a price to pay for this. The price is fear. I love my life. I currently live in a beautiful place, have a good job with decent people and even have a few friends at the hostel. Life is good, very good and this terrifies me. Whilst I like my job and believe that I am rather good at it I have been worrying that others do not think so and that I shall not be able to keep it as we move in to the off season and the other day I realised why. It’s nothing that’s been said or done by my bosses or co-workers it’s my past. I had a good life once, in fact a great life. I was happy and thought I had it all sussed then one day without warning it was gone. I realised now that subconsciously I have been waiting for this to happen all over again. I’ve been waiting for my new life to be taken away from me too.

It’s so obvious when I think about it and I can see how it has coloured my behaviour. I have survived having my life shattered once and I believe if it happens again I would survive that too but of course I don’t want to. However losing this job wouldn’t be life shattering, just a little disappointing. I have to believe in myself. I have to believe that if it doesn’t work here then I shall pick myself up and move on like I have done many times before. Hopefully it won’t come to that though.

Seeing my behaviour for what it is means I am able to change it. At work I am being more proactive about learning more skills and showing how flexible I can be. I am pushing myself forward and commenting when I think I’ve done a good job instead of pointing out my mistakes. I’m working at being the best me I can and even if after all that there aren’t enough hours then I shall move on. I have learnt a lot over the last couple of months in Broome. My restaurant and bar skills have improved and expanded and now I feel I have taken yet another step in accepting and embracing my new life.  Like every place I have visited before Broome has changed me and this time I feel those changes are for the better. Having said that I really hope my time here isn’t over yet.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Last of the Tours

After six weeks in Broome I had accomplished most of the tourist ‘must dos’ but there were one or two left for me to do. For the first I had to request and was given the first two days of the month off in October. This was so I could see the Staircase to the Moon. I spoke to various people and established that the best place to see this phenomenon would be at a local hotel. Their bar area overlooks Roebuck Bay and I heard they put on a good show. Now the Staircase happens when the moor rises over the bay when the tide is out. The reflection off the mud flats as the moon rises looks like a staircase, especially as the moon is just above the horizon. Since this is a natural phenomenon I wasn’t sure how it could be made into a show. I soon discovered it was more than that they provided comfortable surroundings whilst we waited.

The moon was due to rise at 6:48pm but I was warned to arrive at the bar before 5pm. I duly arrived and was able to secure a seat at the last table by the railings over looking the bay giving me a prime view which made my early arrival worth the while. I shared my table with an English couple and an older Canadian gentleman who I struck up one of those temporary friendships with. His opening conversational gambit was a comment on my Dr status. How did he know that? Not realising I had to be there so early I had arranged a phone call with a friend in the UK and became one of those rude people who has a full on in depth dissection of life conversation on the phone in public. I did redeem myself by apologising and since the others were also foreigners I was forgiven due to extenuated natural-phenomenon-deadling-time-difference circumstances.

The In the two hours we waited for the staircase the bar provided decent service and some nice tapas and music to keep us entertained as we waited. As the moon was due to rise the lights dimmed and the music became a bit mystical. Sadly cloud cover meant we missed the moon rise but as it cleared the horizon the cloud cleared and though not the most staircasey reflection it was still very pretty. Once the moon had risen the view really improved and the Canadian and myself decided it made for a much better photography practice. Yes I found yet another photography enthusiast. We not only exercised our cameras together he also showed me some of his previous photography efforts which included his maple syrup making operation back home. I kid you not I met an actual real life bona fide Canadian maple syrup producer though sadly he didn't have any samples on him, just his business card.

The next day I was supposed to skype with a friend but between us we missed each other yet again so my day really started when I got on the bus to Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Willie Creek is another institution and one of those ‘must do’s’. It’s not a working pearl farm but rather a show case for the industry. Our guide on the way there was informative and thought he repeated some of the stories I had heard from my tour the previous week the stories related to the pearling industry were mostly new to me. On arriving at the ‘farm’ I was delighted to discover our guide was none other than a girl I work with. She is always lovely and enthusiastic at work and was even more so as she guided us through the processes used to cultur3 and harvest pearls from the oysters. We had a quick break for lunch before getting on a boat and going on a quick tour through the mangroves where our new guide Jock showed us how the oysters are taken care of whilst they are creating the pearls.

Post boat cruise and it was on to the show room for some show and tell where my co-worker/tour guide told us how pearls are graded and allowed us to try some very expensive strings of pearls on. They left us to look around and since I wasn’t going to buy any pearls I bought some carrot cake instead. Though the tour was interesting and fun I did think they left us a little too long at the end though maybe our bus driver just got caught up in his book as I am sure I spotted an other employee going to find him once we were all gathered hopefully around the bus. Our drive home was a lot quieter with our driver only speaking to suggest one or two touristy things to do, including a visit to my own work. I had no idea when I started there that I was working in one of Broome’s top tourist spots but everywhere I go people go “oh you work there and get very excited. Once back at the hostel I had a quick skype home before heading back out to attempt to see the staircase for the second time. Sadly this time I slightly misjudged it. I had planned on going to a different location this time where I was told the view wouldn’t be as good but there would be less people. I think this would have been great if I hadn’t gotten the time of the moon rise wrong. I got there just in time to see the moon and it’s distant reflection on the water as it had risen 10 minutes previously. I was a bit annoyed at myself but not exceedingly bothered as I had seen it the evening before and the sky wasn’t much clearer. I am hopeful that as I pass through Broome next year I will get a chance to see it at its best and maybe get a decent photo having practised this time round.

My two days off were followed by five days working before I my one day off for that week. We were short staffed as a couple of people left unexpectedly but I was glad of the hours. We keep being told how the hours will decrease as the build up to the Wet continues so I was glad to get as many hours as I could to shore up my savings. My one day off though was fabulous.

I went on my last tour of the season and the last on my list of ‘must do’s’. I was up at 6am and on the bus to Cape Leveque by 7am and asleep by 7:05am I think. Comments were made about the bumpy road and my poor chances of staying that way but once more I proved them wrong and provided yet more amusement for my fellow passengers by managing to sleep over hours of bumpy road. As is usual on these things we stopped for morning tea and I started to wake up and become a little more sociable. Our stop was at an aboriginal community church in Beagle Bay which had the most amazing mother of pearl alter and it’s very own beagle. From there we moved on the Cygnet Bay which was another beautiful bay with white sandy beaches and inviting turquoise waters. The reason for stopping there was to visit the working pearl farm which was the first to be fully owned and operated by an Australian. He s stated it with his sons in the 70’s and they now make world renown pearls including the world’s largest ever pearl which is showcased in there store in town, so sadly we didn’t get to see that. We were given a more thorough explanation of the different kinds of pearls and how they are graded as our guide brought out a box of individual pearls and passed them round us explaining why one was seen as more or less valuable that the last. They also provided us with an extremely tasty lunch which did include an amazingly delicious chocolate cake which a fellow guest and I bonded over. 

After lunch I thought we would head straight to Cape Leveque but before we got there we stopped at One Arm Point where we met quite a character at a local aquaculture hatchery who introduced us to his fish and turtles before trying to sell us some really interesting jewellery made from local polished shells. I would have bought some earrings but cunningly went without my purse and so saved myself some money though really I would rather not have as the earrings were so different and pretty. Finally we arrived at Cape Leveque and I was able to swim in the ocean for the first time since I arrived in Australia. The water was the perfect temperature and there was more chatting than swimming in the end making it a very relaxing end to had been a pretty relaxed day all round. 

Back on the bus for once I didn’t sleep but instead read a book on my iTouch until we were almost back in Broome and my phone signal returned. I had a few missed calls and messages one of which was sadly bad news. My grandfather in law had passed away earlier that day whilst I had been out of range. As soon as I returned to the hostel I phoned my mother in law to offer her my condolences on her loss but sadly as I am well aware there was nothing I could do or say that would make her feel any better. I waited until the next day to speak to her daughter who was understandably upset and confused about whether to go home or not. In the end she decided to go home but I of course opted to stay knowing that really there was nothing I could do. Of course I was sad to miss the funeral of such a lovely man and be unable to say good bye but I did so in my own way with a wee dram of malt whiskey which I hope he would have approved of.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Life Goes On

My two day gorge tour was a fabulous time out but on my return to work I was more aware than ever of the impending ‘anniversary’. I was only back at work for two days before I was off again but they were hard days. On the Saturday I made so many mistakes the head chef asked if I was ok. I answered no but that there was nothing anyone could do and said I’d try to be more careful. Despite my mistakes I am proud to say that the customers were all forgiving in the face of my sincere apologies and most left with a smile on their face. I don’t think one of them could have guessed that my heart was breaking all over again. The next day I did better work wise and before I left I finally managed to tell my manger why I was struggling and apologised for my recent touchiness and request that he pass my apologies on to the other staff. The ‘the Day’ arrived. On Monday the 17th of September I went whale watching. My sunset cruise had been moved to the morning which wasn’t ideal as I am not a morning person but in the end I think it worked out well. Instead of having a packed day I moved my pamper session to the Friday which allowed me time to skype with friends and family. The cruise was fun and though I started the day in a sullen mood it had lifted by the time we were heading back. The mother and calf whale were fun to watch though I regret not spending more time just watching them instead of hiding behind my camera trying to get a good shot I did get enough glimpses to make the trip worthwile.

Back at work the next day and it was obvious that the news had trickled down the work grapevine. Sadly though I wish I didn’t still need it having everyone being a little more careful with me really helped. If there was ever a doubt in my mind that the folks I worked with weren’t good people then this day would have erased it. Since then I have been back to my more ‘normal’ self which means that I am easier to deal with though of course I will never be completely easygoing, I’m just too interestingly complicated for that. My day was also improved by my lunch ‘date’. One of my new friends from the gorge tour was back in town after doing a three day tour up to Cape Leveque with the same company that took us to the gorges. It was lovely to spend a couple of ours chatting with someone who was on the same wavelength as me and it was by far the best split shift break to date. I really hadn’t expected to make friend on a two day tour but two of the other girls had been in a couple of time over the weekend and we swapped details so we could stay in touch and I even managed to catch a quick lunch with them before one of my shifts. I am sure my co-workers have never seen me so sociable. It’s a shame none of my new friends were hanging about still I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing them at a later date when I make it to their side of the country.

I was fortunate enough to get another day off and after three days work I had my re-scheduled papmer morning. I got a manicure, pedicure and my eyebrows tinted and waxed and I loved every minute of it. I then treated myself to lunch at a nearby cafe before heading back to the hostel to send my brothers fiancée her birthday present in the form of an e-mail voucher. Of course turning on the laptop is always dangerous so my intention of having an afternoon swim became an evening swim but the water was lovely and warm and it was relaxing to swim as the day turned to night.

I was really glad of my relaxing day as it was followed by a pretty full on working week as I managed to pick up a few more hours due to some staff leaving. Having reviewed my working hours and week it’s no surprise that by Thursday I was flagging. On my last day I had to give and an order a steak sandwich as I felt my body need both calories and red meat. Though I love living the veggie lifestyle occasionally my body craves red meat and I am always happy to oblige it, though next time I may splash out for an actual steak as the ones my work serve look and smell fantastic and the customers certainly love them. One if these days I really am going to have to eat somewhere other than my work but it’s hard when I get a substantial discount on such amazing food. Still I think on my days off I might try and branch out a little. Of course it would be easier if I made friends but I just don’t seem to have the energy. I miss my friends but I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm or effort to make new ones. I’ve started chatting to a few folk round the hostel and for now that’s about as much of a social life as I can manage. I think I shall try to make more of an effort and see what kind of people I’ve been living with for the last month or so. After all meeting people is one of the joys of hostel living so I really should branch out from the ones who happen to be sharing my room.

After my hectic week I had another mixed day off. The morning started fairly early with a 9am pick up for a kayaking tour of Roebuck Bay. We didn’t let the fact we failed to spot any turtles  ruin our morning, there were jokes about them popping up behind us and swimming underneath us doing their own tour and we did spot a few rays and of course birds. The kayaking was really good fun. I ended up paired with one of the guides and she was really friendly chatting with not just me but the other folks as well as we passed their kayaks. I think I got the hang of paddling but since I was with an experienced person I’m not sure how well I really picked it up. I do know it’s something I want to do a lot more of and suspect that Queensland and Tasmania will be explored a little differently than I originally thought. The bay tour was three hours so we stopped for the obligatory morning tea. This tour managed to be different once more. As well as the usual chit chat we were treated to our very own crab race. One of the other guests kindly gave me one of his crabs and though I didn’t win I think my wee crab conducted himself very well considering how much smaller he was than everyone elses. After crab racing and refreshments it was back in the kayaks, we did do a little drifting on the way home on the hopes of glimpsing a turtle but it wasn’t to be and we were soon back on dry land and on our way home.

Back at the hostel I had time for a shower and quick lunch before heading back out this time to Cable Beach. For once I didn’t walk but took the bus as I wanted to arrive in plenty of time for my camel ride. I had planned on getting the free bus but once more made the mistake of turning on the internet and missed it. There was a paid town bus half an hour later but it meant that I arrived with only twenty minutes to spare which being me I managed to spend taking photos as I walked to the meeting point leaving the postcards in my bag still unwritten. The camel ride was fun and though I was disappointed that the owner of the business was absent due to injury the other guides were knowledgeable and friendly. I learned a little about camels as well as enjoying the scenery from a different vantage point with the added experience of changing my camera battery whilst on a camel, not as hard as it sounds but not something I’d like to repeat either.

I had booked the pre-sunset camel ride on the recommendation of one of my passing through roomies and as this session was substantially cheaper I treated myself to one of their professional photos. The guides took photos of us as we went but this meant that I was sure to have at least on decent photo so show the folks back home and I made sure Zack was in at too as he remains my faithful and constant cowpanion, my one constant in my ever changing world! The main reason for booking the earlier ride was so I could photograph the sunset from the beach afterwards. I am glad I listened to this advice as taking photos from a camel is fun but leads to interesting results. I don’t think I have ever just sat and watched the sun go down before. I had a great time exploring my camera and learning how to use it on manual mode. I took hundreds of photos of the sun as it lowered in the sky and even ventured down to the shore where I got some really cool reflection shots. Of course as the sun went down the tide started to come in so I found myself moving back, taking more photos then having to move again as the tide caught up with me. It was fun and whilst I was a little worried I would miss the sunset during one of my retreats I eventually found a rock far enough back so I could watch the final moments of the sun setting in glorious peace. Really it was the perfect end to a really good day out in Broome and one hell of a way to spend my day off work.

On my return to the hostel I arrived just in time for the weekly barbecue and $5 later I had dinner without the hassle of making a decision, cooking or cleaning – bargain. The next day I had a fairly early start so I spent the rest of the evening chilling in the hostel in my favourite corner and oh yeah, writing this blog proving that whilst I still have my moments of grief life really does go on.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Thoughts Three and a Half Years Later: The build up, the break and a different kind of love

On Monday the 17th September I had been widowed for exactly three years and six months. Most of the time these days I am at peace with my life but there are four times of the year I struggle with.  Jonathan’s birthday and the year anniversary are obvious ones but the other two I struggle with are Christmas and the six month points. I think it’s the point where I am moving away from one number to the next. It is now nearer four years since Jonathan died than three and it still feels wrong.

As part of an online conversation a friend of mine commented that she must have missed the news of me falling in love and my response was that I was in love with travelling. In a way I have fallen in love, not with a person but with my life. I cannot believe I am lucky enough to live this life. I work hard but the payoff is amazing. I am happy. Great you say but in a way it makes the hard days harder. How can I be so happy when he is gone? I know he would be proud of me and happy for me but there are times where I feel incredibly guilty especially on these days where I cannot help but remember that he is gone rather than remember that he was here.

I know what it is and I understand where it comes from and that it’s not useful but it is what it is. It is grief. It is survivors’ guilt. I am incredibly hard on myself at these times. I seek to find fault and punish myself for the smallest mistake. I am difficult and awkward with people in an effort to distance them from me. I know Jonathan’s death was not my fault and that it is wonderful that I am still here even if he isn’t but the very human illogical part of me needs to be punished because the guilt is there. There is no getting round it or away from it. I am here and he isn’t and it’s not fair. It’s not my fault but there it is. I am only human. So the build up goes. I get more touchy and more critical of myself and then the day comes. On the day I am sad that he is not here. I don’t take the joy I usually do in my life and even when I do something amazing it lacks something. I still think doing something amazing is better than hiding in my bed but it’s never as good as I think it would be if I did it on another day. I didn’t throw myself into whale watching trip like I usually would. I didn’t have the balance of experience and photography I have been striving for as I hid behind the safety of the camera lens. Yet by the end of the trip I was smiling. It didn’t help that it was in the morning and I had to get up for it, I really am not a morning person and it takes me hours to wake up but that was only a small part of it on this day. The first person to try and talk to me I just wanted to go away. I was annoyed as I knew it was her job to be friendly but I didn’t want friendly I just wanted a quiet place to take my photos and remember/forget but as we headed back to shore at the end of the cruise I was in a better frame of mind. The mother and calf whale we found and the sea journey itself had calmed me. I wasn’t happy but I was more at peace and managed to have a normal conversation with a few of the other passengers.

After a mid-afternoon snooze a skype chat with a good friend then another with Jonathan’s parents I was still tired and sad but in my usual way. Jonathan’s mother took her laptop out to his garden so I could see it and that helped as I could see ‘him’ and blow ‘him’ a kiss and say I love you. The storm had broken and passed and the next day in work I was a different person. I was smiling not my slightly manic I’m-alright-really-I-am smile but a genuine I’m-sad -but-I’m-ok smile. I’m back on track to remembering how fabulous my life is. Yes there is a part of me that is sad and wishes life were otherwise but it’s back where it belongs, tucked away in the what-might-have-been-but-is-impossible-now place in my heart that keeps my happy memories safe so I can enjoy the life I have now and make more different happy memories. Memories which will fill the new parts of my heart that grow every day I remember it’s good to love the life I have just as I love the life I used to have. Not as a replacement, not more, not less, just differently.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Working to Live

The season in Broome is winding down as the build up to the Wet begins but from my hours at work you’d never know it. As the other backpackers leave they are not replacing them and instead spreading the hours out amongst the remaining staff. This has been great for me for a few reasons. First and most obviously more hours equals more money. Whilst I do need to save up as much as possible with the hours I am working I am able to enjoy some of what I earn as well. The other was my own personal build up. As the three and a half year mark since Jonathans death approached I was glad that the number of hours I was working kept me busy and gave me something else to concentrate on.

One of the highlights of the last two weeks is the fact I got paid for two and a half weeks work. At 40+ hours a week lets just say I was feeling rather well off. With the next few weeks work more or less guaranteed I decided to use my first pay to do fun things and treat myself, after all my lifestyle choice is all about working to live so I had to do some living. Also as the dry season is coming to an end I wanted to see some of the Kimberly region before it became unbearably hot and inaccessible. With this in mind I made a list of some of the tours I might like to do and went to the local visitor centre to see what would be the best order to do them in. The girl I spoke to was really helpful and lovely. She strongly recommended that I do one of the gorge tours I’d chosen sooner rather than later now we were in to the build up but was happy to chase up a photo tutorial tour first for me as I really wanted to do that first. When she phoned to say that tour wasn’t available the next week I was happy enough to follow her advice and decided I would go on a one day gorge tour the next week and also try one of the whale watching tours before all the humpback whales headed south for the summer. However I got a lovely surprise when I got to work. Instead of the Wednesday and Thursday off as expected I was given Thursday and Friday off the next week. This meant on pay day I was able to go back to the visitors centre and book a two day gorge tour with Kimberly Wild for that week and a sunset whale watching cruise for the next week instead of settling for a one day gorge tour. Though the roster is done on a weekly basis I knew I would have the Monday off as that was the three and a half year mark and I wanted to do something special to remind myself how good life is and not dwell on what could have been.

I booked my two day tour on the Tuesday before it left and did try get some new clothes in town but I felt uncomfortable in the shops and I missed having a second opinion so I settled on doing some food shopping and headed back to the hostel to get ready for work. The next morning I slept in but still had time (just!) to go to the shopping centre at the edge of the town where I went to Target to get a second pair of work trousers. Well my shopping experience couldn’t have been more different. I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new bikini and some shorts that fitted since I was there and the lady in the changing rooms was lovely. She helped me choose the right sizes and complimented me on the weight loss, not in a sales type way but genuinely. In principle I’m not a fan of Target but with customer service like that and clothes that actually fit I shall definitely be returning, in my mind the cheap prices are a bonus. Next I went to a sports shop where another helpful person sold me reef shoes for my tour and then finally to top off my spending spree I stopped to treat myself to the new Matchbox Twenty album only to find that if I also bought a Gaslight Anthem I would get them both for $40 instead of $30 each. Well who could resist such a bargain?! I made it to work that day just in time but I still had to use my break time to run to the town centre to buy a torch which had been forgotten in the excitement of buying the mornings goodies.

Before I knew it tour day arrived and it was worth waiting for. I had an early start and was the fourth person on the bus. The other three were all older but the lady on her own looked like an interesting and fit person and the other older couple looked like they could do some walking too but the two couples who got on after me........They had walking sticks!! I was hoping for some exercise to work off all the deserts I’d been eating but here were people who looked like they would struggle to walk for more than 20 minutes never mind a few hours. Now don’t get me wrong I had nothing against them at this point I was just concerned about what king of tour I had gotten myself into. The rest of the group though were younger and obviously fitter and we ended up with an eclectic mix. We spent the morning driving and made it to our campsite in time for lunch. Of course we couldn’t spend all morning on the bus, we did stop for morning tea and biscuits which I enjoyed immensely despite being unsure of how much I would be working them off over the next two days. Whilst weightwatcher has made me more aware of what I eat I am glad to report it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the finer things in life. On my first tour Last year I was amazed that everyone had slept on the bus but I must admit that after working so hard I was glad of the to spend most of our morning drive asleep. The campsite was lovely and there was a mix of actual cabin rooms, safari tents and camping on the ground. Our group was a mix of all three and I impressed out guide by asking if I needed a tent or could I just sleep in a swag under the stars. I did confess later that as well as wanting to see the stars I was also just too lazy to put up a tent! After my trip across the nullarbor last year I was more than capable but if it wasn’t necessary why waste the energy? Besides it wouldn’t have been the same without my nullarbor tent buddy.

We had a lovely salad buffet style lunch then we were back on the bus and on our way to Gekkie gorge. Here we got on a boat and took a trip down the river where I got my first real taste of the gorgeous Kimberley scenery. My camera was working overtime especially since we had been fortunate enough to get seats at the back of the boat which allowed me a clear view of the scenery behind us and enabled me to get some great shots. I also discovered that freshies ( fresh water crocodiles) are not at all scary and in fact are rather cute. We saw a number of them as we cruised up and down the gorge though none close to the boat as they are shy creatures who are easily spooked. Sadly I didn’t notice until the end of my tour that our skipper/guide with the rather nice voice also had a rather nice face. Myself and another younger girl got a little silly about it later and one of the other ladies had great fun teasing us about it which was entertained a few other as well.

Back at camp we had some time to ourselves before dinner and I got to know a few of my fellow campers as we took photos of our campsite and discussed photograph before a couple of us retired to the campsite bar. For once my not drinking alcohol was easily accepted and the discussions centred on photography and our travelling experiences amongst other things. It was soon time for an amazing barbequed buffet and once again I found myself going back for seconds. As a backpacker I eat an almost vegetarian diet as it is cheaper and easier so a buffet of steak, sausages, chicken, stuffing and salad was too much temptation. Of course being female I do have that spare section of stomach so was also able to fit in some mud cake for desert. I finished my day off with my first attempt at some night photography with my new camera but with nothing to rest it on I tried using Zack as a prop only to give up and use one of my shoes. This is why our guide found me at one point lying on the ground squinting at the sky with only one shoe on. I must have made quite a picture myself at that point! I can see why the visitor centre recommended that if I were to do a day trip I do the other one as it would have been too much driving not enough content for one day. However for me it was a perfect start to my two days off after my recent hectic schedule and the next day really gave us our money’s worth content wise.

The next day we were up with the sun. I set my alarm for 5am in the hopes of catching the sunrise. The sky was already light when I woke but as I put on my glasses I saw the moon and Venus in the sky and my first thought was ‘I must get my camera’. I rushed to get dressed (I had showered the previous night) then grabbed my camera and off I went again. I stopped to roll up my swag and dump my sleeping bag on the bus before making myself some tea and muesli for breakfast only to run off halfway through to get more photos this time of the sunrise. Yes I’m a nutter but I wasn’t alone as there were two of us trying to capture the arrival of the new day. Soon we were back on the bus and this time it was all change.  Remember the two old couples from earlier? Well they were so rude! They complained about everything and were never happy and they decided they wanted to sit at the front of the bus. Now on a tour there is an unwritten rule that you keep the same seat for the whole tour so though this doesn’t sound rude it is bad form. Another lady was suffering a bit and asked to swap and the rest of us decided to make the best of it and all moved about which is how I ended up at the back of the bus with my fellow  photographer friend. Once there we discovered we now had the best views plus I am blessed and can sleep anywhere so much to everyone else amazement and amusement I drifted off and snoozed on the longer sections of road.

Our first stop of the day was Tunnel Creek and it was stunning. We had been warned to put on our bathers and reef shoes and occasionally as we walked through the massive caves we had to trek through the water. The caves were stunning and at the other end of them we were rewarded by a swim in a deserted water hole. This was why we were up at 5am and it was worth it! The water hole was beautiful and the swim a great way to start the day. We were able to mess about in the water for just over half an hour before we started back through the caves. On my way through I had my camera to hand whilst strapped securely round my neck but on the way back I left it in my bag so I could just enjoy walking through the caves. On the way back we passed a quite a few people which made us extra glad we had gotten up so early and had the place to ourselves on our initial trek through. Well most of us were glad. The old couples complained of course and even suggested they didn’t want to go through the caves. It was the highlight of the tour and they didn’t want to go! Our tour guide explain this and since he wanted them to get their money’s worth assured them he would walk them through it and that they would be ok. All the way through both ways he only left their side at the waterhole whilst we rested and as we left the caves in order to enlist the help of two of the younger guys to help the old people out the cave entrance. We stopped for an orange break and never have oranges tasted so good. It had been a long time since breakfast, the day was heating up and the orange quarters were deliciously cold and juicy, a perfect end to our morning excursion.

Next we were on to Windjana gorge where I took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. The road may have made for a bumpy ride but I had been up late then early with my camera and I had some missed shut eye to catch up on. Windjana was beautiful but I am glad I ended up taking the visitor centres advice and going sooner as I would not have enjoyed it as much if it were much hotter or more humid. Our guide walked us into the gorge and told us more about the site and the freshies of which we saw a fair few of.  He then left us to go make our lunch whilst we ventured along a path which wound in and out of the shade allowing us some amazing views interspersed with welcome cooler patches. We were given forty five minutes to ourselves in the gorge then it was lunch time. It was another salad buffet but just as tasty as the previous days. After a rest and some washing up it was back on the bus and we were on our way back to Broome. We stopped at an impressively large boab tree and a rather large termite mound, yes termite mound.  I thought they would be really spaced out but the landscape was covered in these impressive formations. We also stopped at the longest cattle trough in the southern hemisphere and the boab prison tree which sadly help up to forty aboriginal ‘prisoners’ during the white settler days. There were eighteen of us and we couldn’t imaging all of us fitting in that tree never mind twice as many. It was a sobering sight and a reminder of the more brutal aspects of this country’s history.  We were back in Broome by 7pm and despite or maybe because of all my sleeping on the bus I was too tired to go look for food and made myself a nutritious cereal dinner before going to my room to get ready for my 7am shift the next day. My ‘weekend’ was over but what a ‘weekend’ it had been!

Monday, 17 September 2012


My dearest Jonathan

You were my north, my south,
My east and west.
You were my guiding light,
And all the rest.

You taught me much, showed me more,  `
And gave to me your heart.
So though my love you left too soon,
Your heartbeat carries on.

You'll always be remembered,
Our souls for’er entwined
The echo of you heartbeat,
Forever heard in mine.

For every breath and every step,
I never take alone.
For in my heart and in my soul,
Your heartbeat carries on.

Love always, your Lynne x

Monday, 10 September 2012

Poem: I remembered

Yesterday I remembered you were gone,
The sadness squeezed such tears from me.
I cried out my hurt and fear of this life,
And I wished for you back by my side

Oh to remember the times that we had,
The years filled with laughter and joy.
The times we both cried when life let us down,
The love that we shared pulled us through.

Then there’s the smiles and love that you gave,
Spinning me round but not letting me fall,
These made me fall in the most basic way,
Your strong arms kept me close to your heart.

Today I remember how you were here,
And the memory makes me smile once again.
I wish you were here and not gone away,
But the memories you left will live on.

Thoughts on Never Ending Grief

Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that we never stop grieving and I don’t think we should. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting that all widows should hang about their houses like Miss Haversham but I think that grief can be incorporated into who I am now and into the life I now live. I believe the best tribute I can give Jonathan is too live my life as well as I can. I no longer spend every second of the day thinking of him and wishing he were still here. Most days I think of him from time to time but as the next ‘anniversary’ date approached he has obviously been in my thoughts more and no matter how much time passes he will always have been taken from us too soon and it will never be fair.

Therefore I think that it’s healthy to take time out of my life every now and then and just grieve. I feel it is right for me to occasionally dedicate time to remember how it was and be sad that it is no more. I still miss Jonathan. I still love him and I doubt I will ever stop and it hurts that he is not here to receive and return that love. I need to take the time out to acknowledge this so I can spend the rest of my time living and loving my new life as well as I can.