Sunday, 24 March 2013

Year Four, Week One

Well I survived the day but as always the aftermath wasn’t easy. Yes I kept life normal on the surface but inside it was a struggle. The days that followed were easy days work wise. I only worked two morning shifts but made up my hours with an extra evening shift. Unfortunately work was quiet so it was a case of finding things to clean and keeping the place tidy and stocks up: too much time to think, too much time to wonder what could have been.

On the plus side the lack of morning shift meant I finally got back in to my TEFL course. Since my current flat mates had moved in during the build up I haven’t been overly friendly so like my life in Broome there were few distractions. I did manage lunch and a quick breakfast break with my currently only Cairns friend but mostly I kept my head down, studied, worked and slept. I didn’t sleep as much but it was still a handy relief and distraction. . Strangely enough I wasn’t in the mood to write which I usually do when I’m feeling low but I did take the time to submit this blog into a blog exchange competition (  The idea of swapping lives with a completely random person seemed to be right up my street. Maybe that is why entering didn’t take me too long, sadly it wasn’t really much of a distraction. Maybe I should have gone out on a boat or tried something new but that would’ve cost money and I don’t want my diving to be tainted by grief. That’s my place where I feel free. When I think of Jonathan when I am diving I think how he would love it and how proud he would be. Usually I’m happy with these thoughts but when my emotions were that fragile I wasn’t sure I could cope. So I stayed at home.

Though my work isn’t strenuous or difficult I must admit I was glad when my day off rolled around. The four year one week mark was difficult and I did have an extended moment of grief after finishing work that day. It was my own fault. I had spent a week doing the whole I’m fine and yes of course I’m ok thing and of course by now I am rather good at it so no-one questioned it. The strain of pretending that now that day had past I was all fine was starting to tell so what did I do? I watch the Up Love Story on You Tube. See, told you it was my own fault. It’s such a short clip but it tells their story so well. I had that. We had that. Now I have the memories of that. You know something it is sad. Fortunately the next day I was off work so I would have time to rest and recharge. It’s tiring this grief malarkey you know? Four years on and it’s still oh so tiring. Oh well, one week left in Cairns then it’s on to Sydney and back to some of my dearest friends before I take that long journey home. At least I know there’ll be plenty of hugs in my near future and you what else, that’s enough to keep me going and make me smile again.

Monday, 18 March 2013

*That* Day Number 4

Well the day has been and gone. I think I did rather well at my first shot at keeping life normal at such a hard time. The week started out with a few wobbles and I was definitely more self absorbed than usual but once I realised that an excess of sleep was the way forward things seemed to even off a bit.

After my day off I had an easy start to my work week with only a small evening shift then a full day on Wednesday. Maybe it was the amount of time spent being nice to people or maybe it was just the realisation that the date really was rolling round again but I did find the full day a bit much and started to struggle. Thankfully the nest day I was off again and that gave me time to regain my equilibrium. I didn’t do much and that was exactly what I needed. I did venture out of the staff flat and down to the esplanade where I enjoyed the cool sea breeze whilst I used my kindle app to read in my iTouch. I even ventured as far as the nearest sushi place for lunch before returning to my shaded spot for yet more reading. Since I had a lie in that morning I missed the afternoon nap but did go for an early night. With all that sleep I thought I’d be right the next day but I don’t think it was good sleep as after a slightly disorganised morning shift it was straight back to bed for a three hour nap. Only my alarm on my phone meant that I didn’t miss my evening shift. The extended nap did the trick though and my evening shift seemed to go a lot more smoothly. Everyone at my work was aware that it was a difficult time for me but apart from a few meaningful “Are you ok?’s” they stuck with my wishes to act as normally as possible. The light handed concern and extended nap meant I finished that day in a much better frame of mind than I had the previous full day. I was glad of it as it meant I was able to have a skype home and talk dresses and other nonsense with Josh’s mum for a while before heading back to bed. I honestly do not want to know what my flatmates must have thought since every time they saw me I was either sleeping or working!

The next day was once again a short working day with only an evening shift to conquer. Again an excess of sleep seemed to be the answer to getting through the day and that evening I arrived at work refreshed enough to be interested in my friends activities. She was on the brink of submitting her competition entry that she had been working on for the last month or so. For the first time near that date I managed to think about someone other than myself and I found myself genuinely excited that the moment had come. She had to make a few tweeks here and there before being completely satisfied that she had done all she could but finally it was done. All those weeks if hard work were over and now all there was left  do was to count the votes as they come in. And I still say that naming Malaria as her most unforgettable souvenir is an inspired answer.

Finally it arrived and I really wished it hadn’t. Even now it still sucks. I cannot believe four years has past since I saw my loves face and heard his voice tell me that he loves me. Some would say that it’s been four years and I should move on, some would say it’s only four years and to give myself time. All I know is that in the last four years not one man has come close to making me feel like he did. Not one person has made me feel so at home with myself. No-one has given me a reason to stay put. No-one can hold a candle to my Jonathan. So on that day I was sad. I missed him so damn much it hurt. But it was different. It was blurry, almost like it happened to someone else. I was sad and I missed him but I didn’t feel that lost feeling I had grown so used to. I felt that I was where I was meant to be, for now.

See my life has some direction at last. I found a new passion in diving that I’d like to explore firther. I feel more at peace with who I am now and who I am becoming. As well as remembering that day I also remembered everyone else effected. I remembered how hard my friends and family tried to be there for me in the aftermath and felt peace knowing that though it may have taken me some time and I know there is a long way still to go I am finally on the right path for me. So at the end of my that day I got online and I booked plane and train tickets so I could let the people who have always been there for me know for sure that I was coming back to them, even if it is only for a short while. After all more than anything that is what Jonathan would have wanted. He loved his gadgets, he loved to travel and he was definitely his own person but most of all he loved his friends and family and put them first. Finally, I feel that I am on my way to remembering and living that and that might be his most important legacy of all.

You up there in heaven,
With me down here on earth.
We never meant to part,
Yet fate had other plans.
One day our time will come,
Together once again.
'Til then I keep you safe,
Your heartbeat carries on.

P.S. If you are at all interested in seeing where I live and the video (and competition) which helped keep my mind otherwise occupied on the run up to that day then here it is:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Struggling to Keep Life Normal

Sometimes I think that grief is like an illness. You get hit with it and it rules your life but gradually you begin to work out how to live with it. In fact sometimes you can even live as if it’s not there, dogging your every step waiting, waiting for that moment of weakness then BAM. It hits you all over again. I will never understand how my emotions work. I did good last week. Life was more or less normal then the 7th rolls around and it’s like a switch is flipped. The emotions got harder to control. The memories returned and my body, falling back on a tried and tested coping method, craved sleep. My mind craved alcohol but made do with ice-cream.

I’m very lucky. I was happy for many years with Jonathan and he left me with a lot of happy memories. I’m fortunate that I am at a stage in my life where mostly those memories do make me smile. I like to remember him and all we were to each other. I like to remember the fun and stupid times. Even the memories or our many trips to Asda and our slightly worrying obsession with which ones had the best macaroni cheese make me smile. Usually. But March rolls around and it’s like going back in time. I’m right back where the grief is strong and I am too weak and too shell shocked to fight it. Except not quite. It was there today. It’s been sneaking up on me but it’s not as cunning as it thinks. I’ve gotten to know it you see and I know when it’s there, waiting to pounce. I made it through the day. Once that was a major achievement for me now it’s a daily occurrence but on this day I’m taking it as a win. I made it to my front door before I lost it. In the shower I let it in and then I let it all out. The pain, the confusion, the grief, it was like it only happened yesterday. And then it passed. The memories retreated to the place they live, deep in my scarred heart and the words started to flow. You see that’s how it works. The grief triggers the words and then, magically, I find peace.

We’re not there yet, that date is still looming slowly creeping closer yet before I know it, it will arrive.  But today was hard and yet I made it through and that gives me hope. It gives me the courage to keep trying to live life normally; after all it’s what Jonathan would have wanted.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Trying to Keep Life Normal

Once again March had arrived but for the first time in four years it did not jump up and down to make its presence felt. Instead it was more like a gentle but insistent nudge. I knew it was March and I knew what that meant  but I wasn’t going to let it dictate how I lived my life this time.

Anyone who had suffered a major loss knows what a big statement that is. In the early days grief ruled all. Even after I had started to put my new life together years after Jonathan died grief came and went as it pleased but I was getting better at putting it off. Saying “Yes, I know you are here but not now, later” Then later would come and grief would be back in control for a short while.  

I didn’t do anything obviously momentous that week I just lived my life. I went to work, I napped a lot (it’s the humidity, honest!) I hung out with my friend and caught up on my blogging. I did get an infection in a blister on my foot and was amused to discover that sugar and cabbage really do draw out infections. That handy advice saved me a $50 doctor fee not to mention the prescription charge as well as providing great amusement when I told all and sundry that I had a foot wrapped in cabbage. It’s the little things that keep you going I guess.

On my day off I spent the day at my laptop going through all my photos for a competition to win a holiday in WA. Yes I know I’ve been there but I’d love to go back and explore it properly, especially at someone else’s expense. I did have the unusual experience of getting up before sunrise without the incentive of a dive. I was the moral support and camera holder for a friend who is entering a rather more complicated competition of her own. The 5:45am start should have been ok since I finished work at 9pm but instead of going to bed I spent time searching my photos for a red, white and green themed competition. I’m not sure I entered my best photos but it was good practice for the next attempt. Of course I don’t expect to win either but maybe if I start entering these things it will encourage me to work harder to improve my photography and well, you never know and it never hurts to try.

Of course in the spirit of keeping life as normal as possible I did venture out once. I still had my ice-cream voucher gifted to me by a friend on my birthday! It was a cooler day but still plenty warm for some chocolate and vanilla gelato from the best place in town; I even remembered to take Zack and my camera. I think it’s safe to say that at the end of the week it was Lyn 1 grief 0 and it felt good.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Thirty One: Week One

The first week after my birthday was filled with mixed emotions. It was a great week. It started with my overnight reef trip on the Rum Runner then continued with a trip to the beach in between shifts one day, lunch the next, then dinner at a fabulous Thai place the next. It was a really good week but there was a cloud on this silver lining. The reason for this flurry of activity was that my young German friend and co-worker was leaving at the end of the week to continue her own Australian adventure by travelling down the east coast.

During her time in Cairns we had often had some interesting conversations. She has a habit of asking the kind of questions that really make you think. In fact my post “Thoughts on Time” was inspired by one such conversation. She loves knowledge and isn’t afraid to discuss ideas that one or neither of us had any clue about. It was fun to try and work out the answers to her questions in the way my friends and I sometimes did when I was at university, I think my brain hasn’t been this well used in years to be honest and I loved it. As well as the more in depth conversations there was our joint love of ice-cream and the odd evening walk down the esplanade. Suffice to say I knew I was really going to miss that girl and I was right.

Sad as I was to say goodbye to another friend I at least had the comfort of knowing that I am pretty good at staying in contact with the people who I really click with. Don’t worry I did warn her that she is now stuck with me even if it is just stalking her on facebook. I was also excited for her as I was sure she was going to have a fabulous time travelling down the east coast. I have twice planned that trip and both times thought it sounds great fun, who knows, one day I might even travel it. Travelling might be one of my passions but for the near future it was not something I had time for.

Despite the loss of another friend life in Cairns was still good. On my next day off I cheered myself up with a wee white water rafting trip down the Tully River. I choose the extreme option which meant that I spent as much time in the water as on it but it was a brilliant day out. We tipped our raft repeatedly, jumped off of cliffs, body surfed and even rode one of the more gentle rapids without our rafts. We were told the day was about team work and thank goodness I was with kind and strong men who were happy to pull me and the other girl back into the raft otherwise I’d have been going down most of the river without the raft! We were such a good team we even recognised and foiled our guides’ final attempt at tipping us over. Well four of us did and two of our group threw themselves in for the hell of it. I love the reef and am looking forward to heading back out sometime soon but it was great to spend a day doing something completely different. Of course when I got home I missed being able to tell my friend all about it but she was one step ahead of me, I logged on to FB and she had left me a message. I told her about my day and she even found time to reply to let me know how she was getting on too.

I couldn’t believe it but February was already at an end but at least I finished the month in style. The next day it was March and that I knew would be a challenge of a very different kind. However that would come when it would and until then I was determined to enjoy my life as much as I could, now what was that about bungee jumping....

Thursday, 7 March 2013

My Thirty First Birthday

Well they do say time flies when you’re having fun and despite some ups and downs the last year has been a lot of fun. On my thirtieth birthday I felt at peace with myself. I was unsure about how I was going to make my life work but I had an idea of how I wanted it to go. Now a year later I’m getting there. I always joke about how plans and me don’t work and that I am bad at the little decisions but good at the big ones. Yet here I am a year later living the kind of life I planned on my thirtieth birthday. I’m not at the place I thought I would be and I had no idea then that I’d be working in a hostel never mind have pretty decent waitressing skills by now but here I am, living my dream.

More than that I’ve been working towards keeping my dream alive. I’ve almost completed a TEFL course. I’m looking into ways to make something out of my love of diving and learning about tourism. I’m taking the chances offered to me to learn about the things I love in the hope that somewhere along the line it’ll all come together and I might even get a ‘proper’ job out of them.

On my birthday itself I had a pretty chilled day. I was working early and late as I asked not to be given the day off. I found time to open some cards and a few presents and I enjoyed doing nothing more taxing than napping during my afternoon break. For me the real fun was to come the next day. I had bought myself an overnight trip out to the reef. I went out on the Rum Runner early on the Thursday morning and arrived back mid afternoon on the Friday, with just enough time to shower before my evening shift at work.

The trip was fabulous and the reef was its usual beautiful self. On the way out we were joined by a pod of dolphin for a while. I have swum with dolphins but there was something special about seeing them swim and jump alongside the boat. As soon as we reached the outer reef it was time for our first dive. Our guide was just as excited as us since this would be the first time he had dived this location as well. It was as beautiful as I have come to expect and a great start to our trip. We stayed under for almost forty five minutes which was a new record for me and I even had air to spare once we surfaced. Our second dive was at a different but equally good location. Again we were under for a decent amount of time thought this time my air usage wasn’t as good due to the spectacular scenery distracting me. For our third and fourth dive we headed to a more sheltered reef where we could safely moor for the night. The visibility wasn’t as good but the site was still beautiful and it was interesting to see the compare the reef at night to our dive during the day.

On the Friday morning it was the usual early start for the morning dive but as always it was worth it. Not only was the scenery good I got my first really good look at a lionfish. Our second dive was at another different but spectacular sight which was a great end to a fabulous trip. The boat was older so it had loads of character and though the cabin didn’t have aircon the crew were happy for the guests to take their mattresses up to the deck and sleep under the stars. All in all it was a fabulous birthday present. Every time I get into the water to go diving I am awed by the variety of fish and coral and reminded of how little I know about the planet I live on. I really am going to have to learn what all these fish and other animals are if I’m going to make a habit of this diving malarkey.

Even after the trip had ended the fun hadn’t. After work I met up with some of the folks from the trip and crew from the boat and a fun night of drinking and table dancing more than made up for my sobriety on my birthday. All in all I can say that thirty one is so far a lot less painful and off to a much more promising start than thirty. Here’s hoping it continues for a long, long time.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Thoughts on Time

Time is a funny thing and physicists don't quite understand it. We can go up and down, left and right, back and forward and everything in between but try walking out of time and you might as well try flying by flapping your arms. Everyone knows that time only flows one way. Time goes forward and we are carried along with it. We can't step out of it and go backwards or sideways just ever forwards into the unknown. We are anchored in time but is time similarly anchored to us?

How many times have you gone to phone someone only to have them call you? People talk of coincidence and premonitions but what if it is more? As an adolescent I struggled with depression. There was no rhyme or reason and nothing to trigger it. I maintain to this day that I had no idea what was coming to me. I never imagined Jonathan would be taken from us far too soon and that one day my life would be blown to pieces in such a silent way. In the aftermath I struggled and I suffered as I have never suffered before but I had some emotional tools at hand because I had suffered before, all be it a shadow of what I suffered then. Now I look back and think..... Can something that has that big an impact defy what we know of time? Can the echoes go backwards as well as forwards? Four years on and life has reached something of an equilibrium point. I have a new normal and I am happy with it even if it does provide its own stresses and challenges. Yet sometimes I have to relive that day. Occasionally my brain insists on replaying the moments my life splintered in a horrifyingly real nightmare. The police, the stairs, the relatives room and finally Jonathan. Jonathan lying still and alone. Jonathan as I had never seen him yet still I asked "Is there any chance?" Knowing there wasn't hoping with all I had there was. It plays in my head in seconds yet it took hours. The day my life shattered. It is a moment in time that has forever changed me. It will affect me and my decisions for the rest of my life, is it really so hard to believe that it might have affected me before it even happened? Is cursed ground really cursed or do the echoes of future tragedy make it feel so? Are premonitions not us looking forward but is feeling the echo bouncing back just as it will bounce forward in the way we all know and accept as normal? The equations allow one to go backwards so maybe it does but we are just unable to comprehend it. Maybe time, like so many other physical phenomenon is simply more complex than we can imagine.

Living at the Reef

Ok so Cairns isn’t actually the Great Barrier Reef but it’s close as I could get without living on a boat or tiny island. As well as loving living so close to the reef I was working in housekeeping and reception at the hostel whilst enjoying the company of my friends old and new during my time off. In fact my Broome friend and I even went on a snorkelling trip together.

As lone travellers we were both used to going on trips by ourselves so we wanted to take advantage of each others company to do a trip with a friend for a change! We had both been out to the reef separately but both wanted to go back so a backpacker budget boat trip seemed the ideal way to end my friends time not just in Cairns but in Australia. We had a great day, even if we did sleep rather a lot on the boat and both managed to burn out bums. Not content with snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and taking many photos with our hired underwater camera we made a proper day of it. We finished the day with a glass of wine at a local bar before heading in to the city for a forty minute massage at the night markets and a burger at my favourite Aussie burger chain, Grill’d; a place where the food and service is ten times better than MacDonald’s or Burger King/Hungry Jacks any day of the week. It was a great day even if it was a little sad as my friend had recently applied for and been granted her New Zealand working holiday visa and would be flying over there in the next few days.

Before she left my Broome friend had a surprise for me. She gave me a thank you/early birthday present in the form of a pair of platypus earrings. I had been happy to help her out with some visa stuff. Since I had already completed the process myself it was easy to get her through the online process quickly, especially as she only wanted the one year visa however I was delighted with my present and really appreciated the thought as well as the funky earrings themselves. I was definitely sad to see my Broome friend go but she left me with some good company. I was getting on well with my co-workers and spending time out of work with them, so much time in fact that I seriously neglected my TEFL course and my blog. After all when you have a friend who isn’t just willing but eager to go on walks along the sea front and to the botanical gardens what can one do but get out there and enjoy the city?

It wasn’t just my new friends distracting me from the more mundane things in life it was also the Great Barrier Reef. I decided to splash out and buy myself an overnight diving trip for my birthday but apparently I couldn’t wait until then as the week before I was due to head out I booked a last minute trip out to Green Island on one of my days off. I was fortunate to get one of the last places on the Ocean Free sail boat which put more emphasis on getting there and back in style as opposed to the other boat I was considering which was more about getting there quickly. I am so glad I choose the trip I did as I had forgotten until I got to Green Island that I don’t actually like the beach that much. Don’t get me wrong Green Island is beautiful and I loved walking through the trees glimpsing the sea occasionally until got to the end of the path then there was this beautiful beach framed by lush forest panorama in front of me.  Green Island is a resort so it has great facilities as well as a crocodile/koala park but none of this could hold my attention for too long. See as well as being a great way to get out to Green Island Ocean Free will take you on a dive. Yes, I know the point of Green Island is that you can walk in to the coral and snorkel but further out by the boat the coral was in much better condition and the chance of a dive was just too much for me. Not only did I get to dive but I was able to borrow the guide’s camera and have a bit of one-on-one tuition as he gave me some tips to improve my diving. It was a pretty sweet day off and made all my hours housekeeping more than worth the while.

Not content with my impromptu diving trip on my return I managed a quick shower before a friend and I were off to the cinema to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Quite by chance my day off happened to fall on Valentine ’s Day, usually I’m not fussed either way about the day but in this occasion I was glad since it meant I got to see this classic film on the big screen and share it with my newest young friend. I hadn’t seen it in years and it was very different watching it in my thirties than it had been seeing it in my twenties. In fact I asked my friend to try and re-watch it in ten years time as I had since it made such a massive difference to how I saw the story and the characters. Let’s just say I was a lot more sympathetic to Holly this time round.

It was yet another fabulous day off and more than enough to keep me going through my next six days at work. Usually I worked two or three days with my days off split up but I had swapped some shifts so I could work right though to have a day and a half off together. I even organised things so I could work on my birthday, all so I could finally get back to the outer reef for two days and one night of serious diving. 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Thoughts: Still Fighting

Almost Four Years on and I still get those lost days. Days when I look at my life and wonder did I make the right choices? Am I doing it right? Or am I completely off course and lost and not even realising it? I know from experience that my life is more than the sum of its parts. I had a good life before and I gave it all up to travel to Australia. I had a secure life even though it didn’t feel that way. Now my life is by its very nature uncertain. I used to prefer that as the security I had before felt like a lie whereas the uncertainty I face now felt more honest. Now I’m not so sure.

I don’t have to do the kind of work I do. I could find a ‘real’ job and settle down but I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. Four years and I still don’t want to face that day. I don’t want to remember that he isn’t here and will never be again. Yet I have to. I have to get past this. Every year I let that date influence my life, death wins. I have fought for so long to live my life and to embrace all life has to offer. Why does it have to be a fight? Why can’t it be a joyous acceptance? Sometimes it feels like every good day, every happy memory is something I have fought for. Something I had to struggle to obtain. Should it really be this hard to be happy? Is it always a struggle or does it just feel like that because the dark clouds are closing in again?

They say that you can’t wait for happiness to find you, you have to go and look for it. I guess I thought that once I found it then it might stay put so I could enjoy it but it seems as soon as I find it it’s moving on again like an eternal game of hide and seek.


Since first writing this I’ve felt happy again. I even believe I am happy but the next hard date is round the corners so once again I’m wondering how long it will last. The thing is happiness never lasts but I need to remember that it does come round again and again and again. So what if sometimes I have to fight for it? Don’t they say if it’s worth having it’s worth fighting for? And I’m not always fighting. Occasionally someone says or does something for me and happiness is gifted to me without any effort on my part. It’s not always a fight but when it is then I know I’ve earned my happiness and maybe that’s something I need to think about more. After all you can’t have rainbows without the rain and it’s the heaviest rain that produces the brightest of them all. 

Settling into Life in Cairns

My time in Cairns so far had been all fun but it had been a month since I had worked. My bank balance was getting low and I was getting bored. I know it sounds crazy but there is only so much holidaying I can take. I had a job in the hostel housekeeping but I needed to eat as well so I set about applying online for work. There had been talk of some reception hours but I didn’t want to rely on that in case it turned out I wasn’t suitable, after all that would be a completely new roll for me. As well as looking online I went for a walk around town only to arrive back at the hostel and announce to the manager/receptionist/friend that I didn’t want to be a waitress anymore. Fortunately for me one of the other employees was moving on soon and had been working a lot of hours so I was able to pick up a few paid hours with the promise of more if I worked out ok. This made me happy because as much as I actually like working in customer service I think I needed a break from waitressing. Also I appreciated the challenge of learning a new role which would push me out of my comfort zone.

In other good news a friend from Broom had been working her way up the east coast and was due to arrive in town the day after me. She arrived at 21:00, was at my hostel by 21:30 and we were in the pub by 22:00. The rest of the week was spent exploring Cairns together. I showed her my favourite place to buy ice-cream and we chilled out at the lagoon down by the esplanade. I was also fortunate enough to be offered a few trials. I turned down most but one was an agency which I thought might be useful so I went to see them and worked a function for them. It was easy money as I had been waitressing for the last nine months but it did re-enforce that I was happy to have a break from it.

During my second week living in Cairns the hostel employed another girl for housekeeping in exchange for accommodation. I was slightly apprehensive about not getting to choose who I lived with but all my worry was for nought as she turned out to be a young really lovely German student. She was in Australia to practice her English and thankfully got on well with my other friend so the three of us spent much time together. Life was further improved by my ear infection clearing up allowing me to get back in to the water once again, very important when the coolest place in the city is the lagoon.

After two weeks working and living in the hostel I knew I had struck it lucky once again. I liked and got on with the people I lived and worked with and I had friends to spend my free time with. For the first time since losing Jonathan I think I actually had a sensible work/life balance going on. I didn’t realise it then but now I do I best be careful, after all I’d hate to get too normal at this late stage in the game!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Resting in Port Dougals

Port Douglas is one of the places I had been instructed to visit on multiple occasions as it is a beautiful little town. It’s known as a millionaires playground but there is room for us backpackers as well. I stayed at Dougies, a friendly hostel where the staff were happy to help. This was a good thing as it turned out I needed help. As much as I had enjoyed my reef then rainforest experiences all that water had left its mark and I developed swimmers ear. On my way from Cape Tribulation to Port Douglas I talked a poor couples ears off partly because I love Australia but also partly to distract myself from the pain. I have been fortunate enough to never suffer swimmers ear before but this meant I didn’t realise what it was at first. I just knew my ears hurt and of course I was worried I had caused myself some permanent damage and my fledging diving hobby would come to a quick end. In pain and worried I headed to the doctors only to be told I’d have to wait for an out of hours appointment. Knowing if I waited until the next day I could go elsewhere for a third of the price I decided the pain wasn’t that bad and headed to the pharmacist next door. She was lovely and had a look and told me she thought it was swimmers ear. She couldn’t prescribe me anything but she did give me some decent anti-inflammatory/pain killing pills which really helped.

The next day I got myself a doctors appointment, hired a bike and headed out of town to the cheaper doctor, thank you Dougies for that information! Once there my swimmers ear was confirmed within minutes by the grumpy doctor who sent me a lovely and sympathetic nurse to get my ear cleared out so the drops prescribed would work. Then it was back into town to get my ear drops. Since I was in holiday mode instead of heading to back to the hostel I went to four mile beach to administer the drops and enjoy the scenery. The beach had a stinger net in place so there was safe place to swim but with my ear I had been instructed, no water for a week. A week!! Oh well, at least it was nothing serious.

Port Douglas was a nice town and I’d love to go back but sadly I did spend a lot of my time there asleep. It had been a busy few weeks and with my ear infection I had very little energy. I did go down to the lookout point to watch and photograph the sunset and I did walk around the town a fair bit but mostly I rested and it was fabulous. After two nights at the lovely Dougies I headed back to Cairns on the shuttle they arranged for me.

Bat Country!
I arrived back at the hostel just after noon meaning I had missed the receptionist by five minutes due to the bus being delayed. Fortunately by now I knew the drill and headed to the 24 hour access gate and common area to find my key. Except there was no key. I was sure I had booked in for the following week. I told the receptionist that even if they didn’t want me as housekeeping staff I would still like to stay as a guest as I liked the place and there would be no hard feeling. After all it wouldn’t be the first time. I applied for a job at my last hostel and got on very well with the girl they hired instead of me. Obviously though I hadn’t booked and when I thought about it I hadn’t paid for my room in advance like I normally do however just as I was settling in to the common area the manager arrived. I explained who I was and he informed me that yes they were expecting me but later. He also confirmed that I would be able to start work the next day as on the strength or the other managers recommendation (not just a receptionist, oops!) and my age and experience they had put me on the roster for next week to see how I got on. I had a room in the hostel for two nights then assuming all went well I was to move out and into the staff accommodation. I have to admit I was a bit thrown but delighted that I would at least have somewhere to live whilst I looked for waitressing work. So it turned out I hadn’t just returned to Cairns, I had return to my latest home.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Taking it Easy at Cape Tribulation

hen I first arrived in Cairns I was at a bit of a loss about what to do with myself so I asked my facebook friends what I should do knowing a few of them had been up this way before. One of the things suggested by multiple people was to go up to the Daintree Rainforest. Thankfully the receptionist at my hostel was happy to help me out and got me booked on to a tour up to the rainforest which would include an overnight stay and a drop off the next day at Port Douglas. 

Thus I once more found myself on a bus heading out of Carins. This was a very different tour from my Uncle Brian’s experience. Our guide was friendly and chatty but in a calmer more mature way. The drive up to Port Douglas was spectacular. The road twisted round the coast giving me a different view of the reef and the rainforest.  Myself and two other backpackers were left to explore Port Douglas whilst the rest of the passengers went on to a wild life habitat. The three of us purchased some snacks and headed to the lookout pointed out to us by our guide. I think we were meant to explore the town but I had two days planned there and the others didn’t seem fussed so we took it easy until we were picked up and on our way again. We had a quick stop at Mossman Gorge where we took a short walk to a spot in the river where it was safe to swim. Only one of our group, a small child, indulged but I did spend some time paddling and enjoying the view.

Once at Cape Tribulation I introduced the other two backpackers to the delights of wedges with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream before we took a walk down to beach where we could see the rainforest actually meeting the reef. The beach was deserted until we arrived but the signs warning of stingers and crocs dissuaded any of us from taking a dip in the sea. The tour was only half over but for me that was it for the day. I was dropped off at my accommodation with promises that I would be collected the next day.

Once in the rainforest I decided to explore it in a different way, I tried and loved jungle surfing! It was like flying through the canopy and I felt so safe my last ‘flight’ on the zip rail was done upside down. It was an experience I recommend everyone (who isn’t afraid of heights) try at least once. As we walked up to the first platform and when we waited for our turn on the zipslides our guides told us more rainforest facts which set me up nicely for my rainforest night walk later on. We didn’t see many animals during our night walk but we did see a bandicoot and I can now claim to have licked a green ants bum. As we were walking through the dark forest it started to rain which in my mind was perfect. I did put away my camera as I was feeling slightly over protective of it but the sounds and feel of the rain made up for the lack of photos. I did get it back out when our guide stepped inside a large stranger fig and lit it up creating a beautifully eerie effect in the dark forest.

The next day when I was checking out I had a lovely surprise as two of my diving class were sitting in the common area waiting for their lift to the bat sanctuary where they were volunteering for the week. It was fun to see them and catch up but too soon they were on their way. Just as I was settling down with a book my fellow backpacking tour friend appeared and he offered to show me the beach walk he had taken the previous day. Sadly as the day before the tide was high so I missed standing in the reef and forest at the same time but it was still a lovely walk, the company was pretty good and we were not eaten by crocodiles.

As promised our guide did return for us at midday and it was time to continue our tour. Our first stop was the Daintree river for some croc spotting. Our guide was great and really made the effort to find us a big croc but they were all hiding. In the end we only saw a baby one up close but that was good enough for me. Back on the bus we had one last stop at a beautiful lookout point before it was back on the bus and on to Port Douglas. Thankfully my driver remembered I was to stop there because I had got caught up talking to a couple and ended up giving the poor folks a lecture on all the great places in Australia they should visit on their travels. In hindsight they were probably quite relived I wasn’t going all the way back to Cairns with them! And so with hasty goodbyes my rainforest meets the reef experience was at an end. 

Thoughts: The Widder Paradox

I wish I had met him. I have lost count of the number of time someone has said this to me or I had said or thought it about a friends deceased partner. I talk about Jonathan a lot. He was a big part of my life and his death was the most influential event in my life since meeting him back in 1999. When I talk honestly about why I decided to come to Australia I talk about his death which leads me to talk about his life. Jonathan was a great guy and I am fortunate that I was able to be with him for ten years and to love and be loved by him always. I like to talk about some of the daft and fun things together and I love to remember how he made me feel. Thus people get to know him and inevitably comes the ‘I wish....’. The thing is I wish too. I wish that he was here seeing and doing all the wonderful things I am seeing and doing. I don’t pine for our old life. I don’t wish for mini-me’s running about the place raising hell – trust me they would. I don’t miss the snow, the rain or any of the other crappy UK weather. I kind of miss my physics but not the last proper job, sorry last proper job, it wasn’t you it was me, honest. I DO miss Jonathan. I miss him like crazy sometimes and I miss him in a gentle used to it kind of way the rest of the time but whatever happens, where ever I go and what ever I do I miss him. I love my new life. I get to do very cool things and meet amazing people I just wish that he was here too. Except if he were here he wouldn’t be because I wouldn’t be. We’d be in the UK moaning about the weather planning out next trip to the sun or maybe even mini-terrors, sorry children. I wouldn’t know about this life so I wouldn’t miss it. Do I want that life? If it means having him yes of course I do. But better I’d quite like this life and him. Of course I get neither so I have to settle for this life and occasionally allowing myself the odd “I wish” and “if only” because no matter how illogical they are I’m only human.