Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The End of my Australian Adventure

Leaving Cairns was hard but I was excited to be back in my favourite Australian city, Melbourne. Sadly I was so excited I managed to leave my laptop on the plane. I was staying with the same family friend who had kindly out me up on my previous visit and realised within moments of arriving what I had done. I called the airline straight way with my flight and seating details but they said that nothing had been found. I even knew exactly where I had left it. Being the cheapest of the cheap flights the seats lacked any storage so I had placed the laptop down the side of my chair for landing. The airline were completely disinterested and unhelpful and despite returning to the airport and numerous phone calls it was soon clear that the laptop was long gone. I was gutted. I had travelled all over Australia with my old beat up laptop coming to no harm yet the second trip with my new one and it was gone due to a moments carelessness.

Fortunately as upsetting as this was I had much to cheer me up over the next few days. Not only were my hist extremely kind and friendly I managed to catch up with an old friend from my PhD days. She had recently mover to Melbourne to take up a university research position. I thought it would be strange ot see someone from my past life in the setting of my new life but as soon as we met up it felt completely normal. In fact we  got on so well that she invited me out to the university to see her research and cooked for me on my second last day in Australia. I was fascinated by her research and I must admit it did make me miss my lab and the days of being a research student. In fact I even considered looking into the optic scene in New Zealand, though what I thought I'd find there as a working holiday tourist I have no idea.

I also visited one of my favourite places in Australia: the National Gallery of Victoria. Way back in 2010 I rediscovered a love of art and it was on ethe the constants thorughot my time in Australia. Every city I went to I visited the galleries and this was my favourite. As well as being somewhere to get lost i for hours they have a brilliant tea room, it's a winning combination. However there was something else to tempt me there this time. My hosts had told me about the current exhibition: Monets' Garden. Painting fromt eh start of his career all the way through to the end when his eyesight was failing him. I paid extra for the audio commentary and spent hours walking back and fourth amongst his masterpieces.I am constantly fascinated by artists ability to create such amazing scenes when I can barely draw a stick figure and Monet, well he was brilliant. I know nothing of art and techniques but his work kept drawing me back and the story of his life and the evolution of his garden was something I had never thought could be so interesting. NGV once again you made my visit to Melbourne extra special, brilliant, just brilliant.

My old uni friend wasn’t the only old friend I caught up with though the others were slightly newer old friends. During my ‘holiday’ I managed to have lunch with a friend I’d met on my one tour I did whilst in Broome and also the girl I’d met in Cairns just a few months earlier. It turned out that she too was on her way to New Zealand though whilst I had decided to head straight for the middle she was going to Auckland. As we were both on working holiday visa’s we figured we’d bith be moving around and decided to stay in touch so when we did end up in the same town we could catch up once more. In this new life of mine making friends and saying goodbye happens all the time. I’ve been fortunate that I have actually managed to meet up with a fair few friends due to coincidence or planning but it’s still hard to say goodbye to the ones you really click with. Therefore the idea of meeting up with a friend I’d made in Australia whilst travelling New Zealand definitely appealed.

My final act in Australia was to go shopping. I headed to one of the largest electrical stores and bought myself a new laptop. I bought the same make and model and vowed to myself to take better care of this one. The financial pain was somewhat lessened by the fact the laptop was on sale and as I was flying out that day I was able to reclaim the tax at the airport.

And finally there I was leaving Australia with no return date in mind, just a vague intention to return to see the bits I missed sometime in the not too distant future. I checked in, went through security, insisted they give me a leaving stamp and boarded my flight. Soon we were taking off with the pilot announcing that though Wellington airport wasn’t open yet it should be by the time we got there. Oh yes, I headed for my new life in Wellington, New Zealand the day of the biggest storm for over a decade. An so ended my Australian adventures....... for now.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Saving Money in Cairns

After a week of emotional ups and downs of missing the boat, making a new friend and working out what to do next I settled back in to my old life surprisingly easily. The temp agency did indeed send work my way and I was asked back by more than one employer after doing a decent job. The midday reception hours at the hostel were a hit with the summer tourists and I even managed the odd hour or two of housekeeping to help with the savings.

I love Australia, between the fabulous weather and the lifestyle I had in Cairns I was as happy as I had been in years so I thought it would be difficult for me to accept that my grand plans for staying had been well and truly scuppered but it turns out I adapt to life changes much better these days. I considered applying for a tourist visa and doing some travelling but in the end I decided it was time to go. I was happy with my life as it was and Australia had been the making of me but it was time for the next adventure. I had wanted to visit New Zealand since I was an adolescent and finally in a round-a-bout way the time had come for me to fulfil that wish. The only problem I had was in deciding where I would start when I had a whole new country to explore and 23 months to see it in. Therefore the next month was spent consulting friends and random backpacking guests about what to do and where to go. In the end we decided (seriously, it was a group decision) Wellington would be the best place for me to start my next adventure and the tickets were booked.

One of the hardest parts of being in Carins whilst planning my next adventure was the lack of diving. As I was saving for my next adventure I imposed a strict no diving policy on myself. Thankfully the cooler weather and lower humidity meant I was able to take up running again. I missed swimming and diving but having spent so much money on diving previously I knew I had to resist. The running kept me fit and between that and my return to my fruit diet I felt healthier than ever with the added advantage that my bank account was increasing for the first time in a long time! It wasn’t all work and no play though,  I did managed the odd night out with my new roommates and I also was planning a weeks holiday in Melbourne before I left Australia for my next adventure.

And so ended my life in Cairns. It went from being a two week holiday destination on the way down the east coast to Tassie to my home for almost 6 months. It was the longest place I’d lived in since leaving York in 2010 and I found a new love there that I hope will bring me many more adventures over the years. Life there wasn't always easy and my return didn’t work out the way I’d hoped but I learned a lot about myself and about the amazing people that lived at and visited the hostel where I worked. Next stop Melbourne then a whole new country was waiting for me....

Hostel entertainment on BBQ night

Looking up when drunk one night I saw these words of wisdom...
View from my room not long before I left for the final time

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Back in Cairns

Sorry I know we're time hopping here but since I was on a roll I thought I'd tell you about the time I quite literally missed the boat in. Back in May 2013 after a lovely holiday in Singapore it was back to my beloved Cairns to try find a boat to go live on. You may remember from early 2013 I had become rather enamoured with diving and the Great Barrier Reef. The story continues.....


Since I had planned to travel the west coast my flight from Singapore landed in Perth however my love of diving meant that within 24 hours of landing in Perth I was leaving again and heading back to Cairns. I was excited but I was also nervous. I had it all planned in my head. I would go back to the hostel and stay as a guest. I would let the agency know I was back in town and work for them whilst I waited for a spot on the boat I wanted to go out on.

On my return to the hostel I was told that I would have some options. They had always said they’d have me back if there was space but I knew that the girls who were working when I left were both there for the long haul. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the hostel would be extending their opening hours on a trial basis and that they were happy to have me back doing my old job but with different hours. During my day at Perth airport I had emailed the boat to let them know I was back in the country and ask if they were looking for a new trainee divemaster but as I hadn’t heard from them I decided to return to the hostel staff.

Turns out it was a wise decision as not long after I made my decision I discovered that I had literally missed the boat as they had held trials the week previously. I won’t lie, despite the fact I had decided to return to the hostel I was a little gutted. I love diving and the thought of becoming qualified still holds great appeal. I was in the botanical gardens when I received the email and lunch and a walk helped me recover from my disappointment. The next day I was back in the hostel flat and it was like I’d never been away. The tours were booking up faster and the hostel was getting busy. However since I was working the mid shift on reception I let the temp agency know I was back in town with much better availability than before. They remembered me and promised to send some work my way so life even though my boat dreams were wrecked at least I would be gainfully employed whilst I worked out what to do next.

Thankfully living and working in a hostel provides great social opportunities. I met a lovely Danish girl on the bus from the airport to the hostel and took great delight in introducing her to my favourite bar and the concept of dancing on the tables at the Woolshed club. She was in Cairns for the diving and made me very jealous by going out on one of my favourite boats but made up for it by being friendly and willing to get drunk with me. Sadly she moved on quickly and I was left with the new hostel staff and some long termers who were still there from my previous stint as an employee. Fortunately my new co-workers turned out to be both lovely and friendly. Despite the rocky start to my return it looked like things just might work out after all. 

Written 12/03/10 - Desperation

With the passing of a beloved actor that I grew up with my thoughts go straight to Robin Williams family. As the post pile up on FB the sorrow grows and then come the other posts. The ones remaining people that even the strongest of us can suffer. As an adolescent I struggled to figure out not just where my place was but if I had one. In my early 20's I finally got professional help and learned how to cope with my depression and anxiety. I was fortunate that I had the support of a loving partner and family. An unintended consequence of this was that when Jonathan died I had the tools to cope with the depression brought on by my grief. Even so I had some extremely tough and hard days. I didn't blog back then but I did write. 

A year after Jonathan was taken from us this is how I felt. I can honestly say I have found my place in the world now and I am comfortable with who I turned out to be but back then the thought of who that might be terrified me. Thankfully with the love and support of both my families I stuck around to work out that life as just me is definitely worth living after all. If there is anyone struggling who is reading this please know that no matter how hard  life gets it can get better but sometime for that to happen you need help and that help can give you the tools to cope with anything life throws at you. I'm living proof.


Brandi Snyder once said “To the world you are one person but to one person you are the world.” I have no idea who Brandi Snyder is but the internet assures me that it was he who said this, the quote though I know well. When I first heard it I was at university and madly in love. To one person I was the world and to me he was all that I needed. This is an amazing gift but also slightly terrifying, especially if you are 17 years old. We met young, we fell in love and it was extraordinarily scary. To meet the love of your life at 17 to know that this is the one person you want to make your world and spend the rest of time with. Well you’re 17 so surely it won’t last? But it did. At 22 we moved in together. We were each other’s worlds and we refused to get married. We met young and were together for 5 years before we lived together. We had so much time together that there was no need to rush and we knew that we would be together forever so there wasn’t the need for what was to us, just a bit of paper, especially when the money for a wedding could get us to Australia or Salsa dancing in Cuba. It wasn’t always perfect, we fought, we argued and we managed to slam a few doors but through it all our love was never in doubt. Through the dark times, through the hard times we could turn and say “You love me” and know it would be true. It was an amazing gift I and I thought I knew how lucky I was but there is another saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” and I now know that this too is true.

A year ago forever came to an end. A year ago my world was taken from me. A careless moment, a terrible accident and forever was no more. In an instant I was no longer the world to one person I was just one person in a very large and scary world. I have many friends and a large and caring family but I was not their world. They did not live and breathe for me but no longer did he; I have never felt so small.

When you think about grief you think of sadness that a person has gone. You think of regret for all that was not said, or that was said in anger or confusion. Unless you’ve been there you don’t know about the madness. You don’t know how empty life becomes. All you have is worthless and the part of you that cares has gone with the person you have lost. You are nothing and yet there are people all around you telling you to eat, to try to live and carry on. It’s what he would have wanted. Well he died so maybe his opinion doesn’t count? Sacrilege. How could you, who loved him so, ever think such a thing? Because I hurt. Because I am angry. Because it is not fair and there is nothing I can do.  Eventually as time passes I am learning to live with the pain. The hurt of missing him everyday has become my constant and now it is part of who I am then one day I realised that my life is filled with grief. The pain and sadness surrounds me and there is no room for anything else.

A friend told me of a lecture in which they learned that grief will never shrink but we must expand our lives so that it can remain the same but no longer fill our lives. This made sense to me and it is a course of action I can live with but how? How do you increase your world when all you knew has gone? I am but one person and I feel so small. There is a desperation in me. I must belong, I must fit in. I must be who you need me to me. I need you to validate my existence because if you don’t will I disappear? If I don’t tell you that I’m here will you forget me? If you forget me what will I become? If I am but one person how do I go on? Where do I fit in? I must go out there alone and make my world a larger place. I have to travel to explore. The world is so large that surely there is some where for me? A place where I belong, a place to call my own. A time and place where I can say this is me. I am not who you need me to be. I am not who you want me to be. I am just me.

I wish there was a map. I long for someone else to plot my course. The responsibility for my life alone could crush me if I let it, and sometimes I long to let it, but yet I carry on. Somewhere in me, buried deep within there is a part of me remaining; a me I never knew, me without him. I am scared to meet her, afraid to let her out. What if no-one likes her? What if she is takes me places I never wanted to be? Yet...... what if she is someone good. Maybe she can care. Maybe she can be someone, thus me I cannot conceive. I reach out then snatch my hand back. I am so desperate to fit in and desperate to belong but desperation is kin to despair and I know where that can take me. So the desperation must be banished and I must let you go. For though you’ve held me when I fell I now know you cannot pick me up. You cannot plot my course for me. I am afraid but the fear is losing its grip. You held me when I fall now you’re telling me to go. I know that your words come from your heart but there is only so much you can give.

So where so I go from here? A wandering soul. For 10 years I found a home, the place where I belonged. Now this place is gone my soul wanders on once more. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Thoughts About Being On My Own Again

Finally I have decided to go back and edit my old unpublished posts. So if you're still interested and don't mind reliving my last year with me here are my thoughts from my time in Singapore back in May 2013.


On my third day in Singapore I had a slight crisis of confidence. Where as in the past I had jumped feet first in to my exploring and being a tourist in Singapore things happened more slowly. Maybe I was out of practice. Maybe it was a hangover from the emotional rollercoaster I had recently been on. Maybe I was actually getting, gasp, old?! Whatever the reason as I wandered round the botanical gardens under the impression that my camera was out of action for the day I felt my spirits slump. The enthusiasm I usually had for new places was missing and I wondered if it would have been the same if someone else had been with me? In short I felt a little bit lonely, a little but sorry for myself and annoyed that the life I thought I loved might have ended so soon.

After lunch and finding my camera battery though I got lost in my photography. I ‘m far from professional and I don’t have the talent of some of my friends but I love being behind the camera. I love trying to capture my subjects at just the right time and though I do edit I feel great satisfaction when I look at a shot and think, nope, doesn’t need a thing done to it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in Singapore and it did leave me feeling a little lost but then it’s only by being lost that we find things, unexpected things.

On my first two days in Singapore by early afternoon I was feeling low and lost yet on both days something happened to turn my day around. On day one it was the Lego art and the cityscape at night. Then the next day it was spending hours with my camera taking hundreds of photos, dozens of them of the same subject over and over.  So by day three I was feeling more like my old self. I really looked into what Singapore had to offer and discovered it is more than a city of shopping. I want to go back and do the things I missed. I don’t regret not looking into it more before hand, I learnt in America that the wait and see method suits me best.

Looking back it wouldn’t have been the same with someone else. Even when I am with a patient and understanding friend there are only so many photos you can take before feeling like you are wasting their time. I arrived in Singapore a little wrung out and jetlagged. I left rejuvenated and ready to get back to my life in Australia. I was going to get on that boat. I was going to have a sunny winter. And once I was ready I was going to go to New Zealand. Maybe....whatever happened I felt myself once more and I knew I was in the right place, for now.