My leaving speech

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For those of you who don’t know me and are just here for the food, welcome! I’ve been here at Council for a while, almost exactly six years. Not as long as some of you; but to others I’m like the Oracle of Delphi. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll know someone who will. 

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As you all know, I am guaranteed to cry, so let’s just accept that now and I’ll muddle through this as best I can. If all else fails, I’ll do an interpretative dance.

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This is going to be hard for me to do, because as some of you know, working at Nillumbik nearly broke me and my marriage to Dan. So here are some memes to make you laugh through this bit.

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Working as an EA or PA, your life is dependent on the symbiotic relationship you have with your Manager.

Three weeks after I started working here, I met with CC and Mr T, lately of this parish, to ask WTF had I done? I’d left a job I loved, with colleagues I loved to work closer to home and was working for someone who did literally nothing and also had no idea how to mange anyone. When I asked ‘How are you today?’ his answer would govern my whole day.

Somehow, I muddled through, joining committees and starting up AdminChat, offering help across the organisation where I could so I had stuff to do to fill my days. My mental health and in turn marriage began to suffer. Several people along the way helped hold me up, not least J – whose opinion of me i valued over everybody’s else on the Management team, and still do. When R left, J was asked to step into the role; at our first meeting, he said ‘I’ve never had a PA before, what do I do?’

J’s life is compartmentalised into work and home; he’s cautious about letting life spill between the two. J is also not the most loquacious of people, so we worked our way out of how to work together through Doctor Who (I’ve met two of them) and working through issues logically and systematically as that is how our brains work.

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Officially I’ve lived in Greensborough for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else since I left home twenty five years ago, I’ve moved house over twenty times.

When you look at my CV, it can look like a shemozzle too, because I’ve done there, been that, living in a seaside town, being a chamber maid is a rite of passage; I’ve been a bar maid, worked in a warehouse; I’ve even done silver service, although not successfully. I’ve worked in retail, including a book shop (so – no I didn’t take home much money); memorably opening at midnight for the release of the Order of the Phoenix which may or may not have caused a sense of humour failure when I was still in the shop 18 solid hours later. At that same bookshop in Winchester, played it cool and chatted to Colin Firth about Rohinton Mistry’s books. I may or may not have photocopied his EFTPOS receipt for his signature. 

 

I worked for the Civil Service in the UK over three different training camps. Spending the longest time at Army Training Regiment, Winchester one of their basic training camps. I looked after A-Squadron; supporting a Major, Captain and two Warrant Officers in the office, and six other Captains with their staff as they trained the recruits. Across the camp, every two weeks, a new intake started for the twelve-week course, a sausage factory of people turning into lean, green, fighting machines.

[There is a point to all of this, I promise].

I sat in a little office with D, the payroll clerk for the unit, the two of us surrounded by paper, listening to Radio 2 all day. Recruits would arrive, followed by greats sheafs of paperwork. They’d either stay and create more paperwork that would continue to follow them through their careers: or leave and I’d have to generate and process their discharge paperwork, closing their files. This was also where I watched my signature get smaller and smaller as I signed my name hundreds of times a day.

D was painfully shy; he wouldn’t even blow his nose in front of me – he’d always excuse himself to the bathroom first. Can you imagine him being in a room with me for eight hours a dayThe poor boy.

Watching Pass-Out parades of recruits every other Friday was both joyous and heart-wrenching at the same time. It was a whole festival to celebrate the hard work they’d done, with the recruits doing various displays to show off their fitness, skills and confidence to family and friends. Just after 12pm, family and friends would sit down in bleachers, staff would appear from all over the camp, leaning over the back wall of the seating, listening to the excited murmurs underneath us. A full marching band would put on a display, assemble at the back of the square, then the Sergeant Major would shout, “By the riiiiight! Quick, March!” The drums would start and the recruits who’d changed into their second dress, all polished boots and brass buttons, would march on to the parade square.

I’ve worked here for longer than I’ve worked for anywhere else. The job I had the longest before now was at the Sovereign Centre; everything I learnt about team work stems from working in that busy leisure centre. 

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Staff training sessions were a hot mess of hangovers, running scenarios with casualties all over the building, most of us in hysterics and us practicing CPR until your arms were on fire and knees your have given way. I learnt more about customer service and tact and diplomacy by rebooking over a thousand children into swimming lessons, navigating the endless expectations of their parents and the children’s diary commitments, until (unbelievably obnoxious serial complainant residents) arrived in my inbox.

But I’ve been on poolside and fished people out. Knowing that if you have to go in for a rescue, your colleagues would have your back to clear the pool. 

I’ve done CPR and broken ribs to keep someone going long enough for an ambulance to get to them. 

I’ve taught ladies to swim, who thought they’d be the ones looking after handbags for the rest of their lives. 

People I worked with at the Sovereign Centre came to our wedding, I still email and message D and other people I worked with at the ATR. Also at our wedding were a couple who gave me a spare room rent free for a few months when my first marriage ended. I spoke with Furriner on her first day back at work after burying her father, I walked into the lunch room and unknowingly, I told her she looked like she needed a hug, so I gave her a hug. I reciprocated the love and care my best friend W gave to me in entrusting her two children to me after we met on poolside over twenty years ago, and made her Archie’s god-mother. His god-father is Hubs’ best friend, who joined the Australian Army on the same day as Dan, again over twenty years ago.

Here we come to the point of all this.

I share these memories of my life with you, because people you meet at work shape your lives in hundreds of ways, day in, day out. I lived in Winchester, working at Waterstones and the ATR for just a couple of years; can you imagine what I’m going to be able to tell people about working at Council for six years? What we’ve done, built, created, the people we’ve helped along the way?

At my interview, I said I wanted to work for Council because I firmly believe we provide services, opportunity, art, facilities for people who want to access them, but don’t have the money to. But I’m done with residents complaining because they think moving a car park would ruin the aesthetic of a playground; or residents complaining because we take time out to celebrate IDAHOBIT, health initiatives, prevention of violence and that is before we get to the Not In My Backyard NIMBYish attitude of people who want to subdivide their land to make money, but don’t want their new neighbours to build on it.

But, I still believe that and I’m proud to have worked here. But now I’m prouder of the friends I’ve made that will be with me for life.  

2018 reading review, including my book of the year

In 2018, I was aiming to read 52 books. I hit 80 this morning on 28 December, I’ll explain why I posted this early at the bottom of the post.

For one of my “19 in 2019” I want to get to 100 books, which means less time on social media (can only be a good thing) and broadening my reading repertoire (can only be a good thing). The hardest part of getting to 100 books will not be turning books I love around to promptly re-read them – I will be strong! This year has been a period of growth for me, mostly thanks to two women:

  • Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule I read this twice and listened to it twice this year.
  • Brené Brown, with Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead which I promptly brought for the Management Team at work. Yes, seven additional copies. Mine is already dog-eared, highlighted all the way through. Both of these got listened to and read at least twice as well.

As you will see from the list, I’m also addicted to Agatha Christie, with a penchant for audiobooks Joan Hickson reading Miss Marple and Hugh Fraser reading Poirot. Agatha Christie has been a companion for 30 years, I don’t see that changing any time soon. I also finally got round to reading His Dark Materials trilogy, Book Club gave me a couple of books I wouldn’t have picked up, and also one that I could not finish. My rule of thumb is 100 pages plus my age; if I’m not in it by then, I close the book and move on.

Stand out reads of the year include:

  • Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks – damnit, the man can do everything.
  • Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern – a book I hugged with joy when I finished it.
  • Promise Me Dad, Joe Biden – read with tissues, then tell everyone you love that you love them.
  • Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming – I listened to this, then went back and watched his Who Do You Think You Are episode, which prompted the book. Glorious but heartbreaking and his Scottish burr in your ears is really rather lovely.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat – I think I’ve watched the Netflix special eight times (see a pattern here when I get excited about something?) I ordered this for my Christmas present, to me!

Book of the year though, has to be Osher Günsberg’s Back, After The Break. I cannot stress how well this book captures what it feels like to live with ‘a different brain’ as Osher puts it. The book also addresses via Audrey his wife, what it’s like to live with someone who lives with a different brain. I’m up to my fourth reading of it, it is now a permanent fixture on my bed side table.

Thanks to the book and subsequent media attention, Australia is now, (at last), catching up with those who’ve been listening to his podcast and had heard from the man behind the TV presenter persona. Sharp suits and counting roses is one thing, but Osher is also proud about sharing his mental health and sobriety journey. I really recommend his podcast; Osher is a skilled interviewer, not being afraid to go ‘there’ in conversations. Also as they are long-form interviews, the conversations are wide-ranging, intimate and every single one of them brings an “a-ha!” moment.

What I really love about the podcasts though is Osher still getting goofy talking about his family, Audrey and Georgia. Audrey recognised how scared he was in one of his fragile moments and told him “It’s ok, because I’ll be there with you” which started leading him towards the light again. Here’s Osher talking about that moment with Todd Sampson – when Todd interviewed him after the release of the book.

I’m so bluddy proud of him. It has been an extraordinary year, Men’s Health cover and all. Here’s me, bursting with joy to meet him back at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

Happy Second Anniversary to all of you. I was going to post this review on 31 December, with my final number but brought it forward to today after he popped a wedding photo up. There was no doubt what my book of the year was as soon as I’d finished reading it.

Osher

 

A new year

I think I blinked and missed 2017. It certainly didn’t seem like a full year had passed from putting the Christmas decorations away – it only felt like a couple of months and I was hauling them out again.

Christmas came down in our house yesterday morning so we could rearrange the lounge-room. Christmas was sorted, reconciled and put away with “order and method” as Mr Poirot would say. I also packed up the ornaments we never use, but brought as part of other sets, and put them in the charity box. We’ve two boxes and two black bags of things ready to pay it forward.

The fake tree was more branch than pine leaves after I’d taken the lights off; it was gently ejected from the house with gratitude and thanks. I’d tried to find another one in the Sales to replace it, but I should have been quicker getting to the shops. When I got to the sales on 28 December, Christmas was DOWN. The only festive articles remaining were wrapping paper and cards, both of which we’re fine for.

Our longe is an odd L-shape and our furniture doesn’t really fit in it. In an effort to maximise the space, we move it around much more frequently than in any other house we’ve lived in. As Archie has grown, his area of the space ebbs and flows, at the moment Lego is slowly taking over the house, containing it is hard work. Gone are the days with a big box of bricks, everything is now sold in sets, which is frustrating. Archie also has his own bookshelf, with sheepskin rug and cushion for lolling purposes.

I am back to work in the morning, Hubs is off until 8 January and is taking Archie off to Canberra tomorrow for a few days. I think I’m most looking forward to the house being tidy and not being asked where things are. I never realised that I would be the memory bank for random objects in the house.

Anyhoo, break time is over – back to tidying up and working out what I’m up to for the rest of the week. I can go for a swim, run, yoga class or whatever I want to, when I want to. How excitement, so I want to make the most of it.

Fur babies

I had a very lazy morning today. We were woken up at before 7am, but I stayed in bed until about 10am. Dozing, wafting, whatever you want to call it, I was out of it today.

Waking up, WhatsApp said I had a notification from Mum. “Branston has just passed away, very peacefully on the floor by the bed.” As soon as I read it I rang home; stoic at first, then as I told her about my ‘phone call with Bec yesterday, I started weeping.

It’s not just about a cat, it never is. As Dad said just now when we talked on FaceTime, they do leave footprints on your heart. Cats choose you, if they don’t want to live with you or your family – they’ll toddle off and find someone else who suits them better.

Chief Brody chose us when we went to the cat rescue, yelling at us until we got him in the carrier and home. I am very much his human, but he sleeps on Archie’s bed most nights too. I chose Doctor Hooper from kittens needing homes at work, but his personality was too domineering to live with CB who is very skittish (as he was sixteen weeks old when we got him, we have no idea what his history was before he was left with the cat rescue). Doctor Hooper in the end was re-hoomed to live with Ruby, a friend’s daughter. His first night home with them, now renamed Taco, he slept in her room and has been an integral member of their family since.

Branston was one of two cats I’ve not re-homed from a shelter; I was on a wait list for kittens and thought I’d missed out on this particular litter. However, another lady who was going to choose two didn’t call back. So I got a phone call, “Can you come over today to choose your cats?” I didn’t hesitate and whizzed over. Branston and Pickle. Branston pure tortoiseshell and Pickle, one of those big, fat white cats with blobs of colour on. I wanted kittens because ex-husband was in the army in the UK and we would be likely to move around a lot. I wanted them to be resilient and come round with us.

We lived next door to a couple with Borzois, one day Donna asked us to keep the cats inside until she’d let the dogs out because they wouldn’t go into their garden as Branston was out there wanting to play with them. She was still a kitten, this teeny, tiny thing scaring dogs who stood level with my waist.

Pickle was a lot like Chief Brody, a bit skittish and more than a bit stupid too. She’d climb trees then couldn’t work out how to get down them. We moved house but she didn’t cope with it, she started weeing everywhere, in the end we surrendered her to a shelter where they’d already got a lady lined up who wanted an indoor, loving cat. I do wonder how she got on, and if she had a happy life?

Branston was cheeky as. She was so little when I got her she’d curl up in a six-egg carton to sleep. Then when she was too big, she’d push the cardboard around on the floor because it sounded good. I took them both to the vets for their initial check after they’d been home a week. They got given a treatment for worms, fleas and ticks. With gunk in her ears and eyes, and dribbling white medicine the look of indignation she gave me was one I can still see now.

I’d let them out in the morning, call them in before I’d left for work and quite often would miss the bus I’d want to catch because Branston would be off and away, running like a rocking horse up the alley behind the houses. But if I gave up on the game of getting her back in and leave her out, I’d be greeted with angry yells when I got home.

One days she came in and was ill, so sick after she’d vomited, she fell over sideways. Picking her up in a towel, we took her to the vet where she was put on a drip. For two days I was a mess, but she came home and was fine. We never did figure out what it was that caused it. When dickhead and I went to Cuba for a holiday, Dad moved in to the house for two weeks to look after them both as the cost for a cattery was more than our holiday. Branston and he bonded then, when dickhead and I separated, I went to live with Mon Bears, who had an indoor bunny. I asked if Aged Parents could have Branston for me until I sorted myself out.

By the time I had sorted myself out, Branston was definitely my Dad’s cat. She adored him, following him around the house. It was on his side of the bed she passed away today. When he was ill in hospital last year having surgery for bowel cancer, she would sit in the window and wonder where he was.

But for me, my overriding memory of this cat was her gregariousness. I’d never known another cat like her. Ex-husband’s brother was a mechanic, doing a mini-service on our car on a visit down to us, I sat on a picnic blanket talking to them both. Branston sat beside me, as a car drove past, she’d go back to the house, stand in the door way, then come back to sit beside me on the blanket. When you stayed with Mum and Dad, you’d wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, then see the cat looking at you, ‘Yow’.

The last few years of her life, she got a pet-passport and went camping with Aged Parents, she loved it. In and out the caravan all day long. She would appear on the table when I’d talk to Aged Ps over FaceTime. When I walked in the house in March this year, I called “Branston!” she came down the stairs and looked at me in disbelief then started singing with joy when she saw me.

If you’re thinking about buying an animal for your family for Christmas, think about the time investment it is, whether you really do want that cute fur-ball until the end. Think about what it will feel like at the end of their lives. Fifteen years Branston was with us, Pickle was with us for three. Fluffy (because she was), Beaky (another tortie who looked like an owl), Sooty (black all over) and Susie (black and white, occasionally black all over after she’d been asleep in the coal hole) were members of our family for between five to twelve years too.

I’d have them all over again, my life has been all the richer for them.

The lights were on, nobody was home

In our office, the standard indicator of “LEAVE ME ALONE I’m busy y’all” is headphones in.

Today I had one thing to do, formatting a massive legal document that instead of the four leisurely days originally I been given to complete the task, what with being ill, that was reduced to today. #wibble In addition to my headphones in I turned around to face my right-hand screen so had my back to people approaching my desk. I’d also forwarded my phone, switched off my emails after putting an out of office on and I’d stuck a $2 store windmill that was a foot and a half high on top of my desk, (another bugger off I’m busy indicator at our end of the office). Then I put a sign on said windmill saying “I was busy – please email me. If you talk to me, I will ignore you. If you continue to talk to me after reading this far, here’s a Paddington Bear hard stare.”

And I still had a steady stream of people coming up and trying to talk to me.

I got what I needed to do done at 3pm, but I had to go over the road to get a second cup of coffee and then headed over again to get lunch when I was having a sense of humour failures about my interruptions. I don’t often put myself on block-out and I know I’d not been well so people were asking to see how I was… But if a windmill and a picture of Paddington Bear staring at you can’t get your attention – there is no hope in the world.

This was the stare:

Paddington

I was tired at 8:30, it’s now 9:26 and I think I’ve pushed into overtired and the second cup of coffee could come back and bite me on the butt for good measure.

Tomorrow in Australia we get the results of the poll on whether we should legalise same sex marriage. Hold each other close people. It’s about equality, not religion. It’s about recognising that a family, is a family, is a family. Our families are all made up of brothers and sisters, mums and dads, aunts and uncles, cousins – basically humans. We’re all human, and all the time people are treated as ‘other’ – they’re seen as less than. Which for me has been the rhetoric I’ve struggled with the most in the media.

It’s equality. You are equal to me, I am equal to you. Some are not more equal than others. I first read Animal Farm in 1990, it was published in 1945. Seventy-two sodding years ago, we do not need to be arguing, debating and voting on sodding equality still? Really? After the vote, who the hell knows what is going to happen. That part still isn’t clear. For all of you humans who are happily watching other humans get married to each other and the sky hasn’t fallen in; point and laugh that we had to have a vote to get this far.

Rant over.

Personal support in an Emergency Situation

Today was my first day without a nap since Wednesday last week; for which I feel inordinately proud. And inordinately tired.

I had training today for Providing Personal Support in an Emergency Situation. The Councils and Emergency Services of Melbourne learnt some hard, difficult lessons on Black Saturday, but a lot of good came out of that horrific time.

We now all take time to train, and re-train, staff. We practice setting up Emergency Relief Centres, we share knowledge, manuals, information, technical improvements, everything we can to spread the load. As an example of a seemingly small thing, our council is having a weekly meeting across different departments to ensure we are as prepared as we can be as we head towards Bush Fire season, (mind you, we’ve also had some pretty awful floods over the Christmas break too). Being able to set up a functioning centre with people who will greet affected residents appropriately in an emergency situation is part of that.

The last thing anyone needs if they’re standing there with car keys and a phone and nothing else is a grinning lunatic asking how they’re doing. Being greeted with compassion and empathy as this animated excerpt shown to us today from the inimitable Brené Brown, (who seems to be marching through my life with a torchlit beacon going “Follow me!” at the moment), comes from connection.

Connection from recognising in others what you’ve seen in yourself and being able to stand with someone. To walk beside them. Not to take over and ‘fix’ them, because if you’ve ever been ‘fixed’ by someone; when they’re gone, you’re lost all over again.

Some of the communities we work with have bounced back quicker than others, some have memorials, some not. Because it’s their community and if there is one thing we’ve learned, one size does not fit all. Not everyone wants to rebuild. Not everyone wants to go back. But everyone does have to find their new normal, because the old normal has gone. That first step of finding the new normal is often being welcomed into a relief centre, by someone like me.

One long running conversation we’ve had in various forms was whether to have a memorial at the council office where I work. We’ve (as in employees of council) have long argued against it, despite a fair amount of staff losing family and friends in the fires. We recognise the date each year, coming together to stand in silence, supporting each other. We may change our view down the track, but officers want(ed) the memorials in the communities, not where we work.

One of the most glorious (in every sense of the word) is the Black Smith Tree in Strathewen, which has to be seen to be believed. Each leaf is inscribed; all 3,500 of them; all hand made; all made all over the world, but when you stand underneath it – it just looks like a tree. Simple in its execution, but spine-tingling good, the care and love in each leaf makes you weep. At the base of the tree it says:

I have risen from the flames
I have stretched across the earth
I am shining with your name

I sit in an office, I move paper around. I very rarely meet with residents during the course of my week. I sometimes talk to residents on the phone, but mostly I’m just one of ‘those people’ who work in Local Government, something I do not often speak about on here. Not least because of confidentiality and our Code of Conduct.

Our staff get maligned, complained about, berated, even verbally abused. Residents complain because they’re not getting their way, because they feel hard done by, mistreated, or they think if they keep saying the same thing over and over, legislation will unravel around them as if by magic to make their problem go away. The vitriol and hatred that comes our way sometimes is heartbreaking.

We choose to work in Local Government because we want to give back to our communities. Local Government is not easy, we are administering (literally) the laws of the land, enforcing legislation which is confusing, can contradict other Acts and can make no sense when sitting alongside the next tier in government.

But on days like today? I’m so damn proud to work in Local Government. Because we are with you, and not just when you need us or when something goes wrong. We are with you from the birth of your children; to helping row your parent out on their final journey; we’re immunising your children; helping P-platers get their driving hours in; providing accessible arts and culture and sporting facilities to everyone; providing crossing supervisors for schools; inspecting restaurant kitchens to ensure they’re clean; helping you navigate how to build a house; providing meals on wheels; funding libraries; because together – we’re stronger.

I’m arriving on a jet-plane – eventually

This is the email I sent to Wittertainment, but didn’t get read out. It’s an overview of the flight from Melbourne to London that started on 24 March. I’m not going to re-type it, so sorry, (not sorry), for the in-jokes and Witter vernacular…

Dear Captain Kramer and Captain Oveur,

I get to watch your bad selves on the live stream this week, for the first time evs. because as much as I love you and Jason, I ain’t getting up at that time of night in Australia. I’ve been listening to you since Radio 1, and Viggo Mortensen answered a question of mine in an interview.

Thank you for keeping me sane over the past few days. I’d stockpiled some podcasts and redownloaded, (is that is a word??) some old favourites for my trip back to the UK from Melbourne. When it all got too much, your witterings, bickerings, dulcet tones and the rants kept me grounded (hysterical laughter).

On Friday night, my husband, son and I had dinner at Melbourne’s Airplane Station. The boys went home and I checked in to fly to the UK for my brother’s 40th. After a busy week, which included Adele’s concert on the Sunday night, I was shattered and fell asleep straight after take-off. I woke up after ten hours (unheard of) and watched La La Land; the enjoyment of which was somewhat disrupted by rather a lot of cabin announcements.

What happened on the journey is either a farce, or a Monty Python sketch, I’m still working it out what comedy genre it fits into. However, in terms of flight bingo, does this clear the board?

  • Late departure by half an hour.
  • Gate given at Dubai, Captain excitedly explains “It’s very unusual not to be put in a hold pattern at Dubai, but we’re number three in the queue!”
  • “We’re being put in a hold pattern”
  • “The weather at Dubai is terrible, we’ll circle for a while”
  • Two hours later, “We can’t keep circling, we’re running out of fuel, we’re checking our options”
  • Diverted to Muscat in Oman.
  • We circle around Muscat for another hour.
  • We get a bird strike on our way to land in Muscat. They’re also still building the new airplane station. The A380 that we’re on is much bigger than the planes they normally see. The pilot edges us around buildings carefully, construction workers are taking pictures on their phones and watching in awe.
  • On the tarmac in Muscat for three hours, “While we’ve been refuelled; we can’t take off until we know we can land in Dubai, and the weather is too bad.”
  • “Now the weather is heading towards Muscat.”
  • “The crew have run out of hours.”
  • “There’s a replacement crew coming in on a private jet.”
  • “We’ve got to cancel the flight. We’re going to deplane you, put you in hotels overnight, to come back here in the morning.” We all pile off the plane, onto buses to the old terminal. As we’re heading down the stairs, the Captain explains that 30-odd flights had been diverted to Muscat’s airplane station.
  • We get into the terminal, are directed upstairs to the arrivals lounge, then get asked to go back downstairs. We need to complete visa paperwork, to leave the airport, to go to the hotels. One man begins to hands out carbon paper copies to 400+ passengers, we run out of forms.
  • We wait for more forms.
  • We wait for a bit more, as we don’t know where we’re staying so we can’t complete the forms.
  • We have forms.
  • We wait for our stamps at immigration.
  • We wait for a bit more. The staff were great, just completely overwhelmed with the amount of people.
  • We have stamps.
  • We wait for buses.
  • Nearly eight hours after landing at Muscat, I’m put on the last bus.
  • Arrive at the hotel to be met by amazing Manager, who assesses the bedraggled state we’re in “Some of you check in now, some check in later. Lunch is all ready and waiting” (it is nearly 5pm). I’ve not eaten since the last meal serving on the flight, which was about 6am – I’m coeliac – all the snacks on board have gluten in, I could have eaten my arm off.
  • The next morning we get told we’re being collected at 2pm from our hotels to fly out at 5:30pm.
  • A whistle-stop tour of Muscat is arranged through the front desk, including a visit to the Grand Mosque, which was stunning. While we’re out and about, my flight to the UK is confirmed for 9am the following day – I’m being put up in a hotel again in Dubai overnight.
  • 2pm we’re collected in a bus, head back to the airport. All our boarding passes have been printed A-Z by surname, we rattle through collecting them and head to the gate.
  • 4:30pm we start getting on the plane, again being bused out as we’re miles away from the terminal. The Captain has his window open and is hanging out waving and posing for selfies. People are standing on the tarmac taking pictures.
  • 6ish we take off and head back to Dubai.
  • We land and are advised to head to the transit desk to sort out our flight details. There’s 400+ passengers, all waiting for boarding passes, individually printed off with connecting information on. More by luck than judgement, I’m in the right place at the right time and hear London Heathrow being called; my hotel booking is written on my boarding pass.
  • Head up to the hotel in the airport, we’ve all been booked on the same reference number, that the hotel staff have no record of.
  • We wait for a bit more.
  • An hour later, I have a room! My meal voucher is also given to me, it’s now 9pm, I’ve not eaten since lunch. But I have to get a train to another terminal to eat. I’m now in sense of humour failure.
  • I head back to the hotel room, have a shower and fall into bed.
  • Up with my alarm, I collect another meal voucher for breakfast, this time I can walk there.
  • I find the gate for the flight, we’re boarding – yay timing!
  • I go downstairs to wait a bit more in another lounge. I might have another sense of humour failure.
  • On the plane, I put on Singin’ In The Rain [Oi kaan’t stand it], raise a glass to the venerable Debbie Reynolds and suffer uncontrollable AALS and guffaw through my tears.
  • “Is there a doctor on board?” We have a medical emergency on the flight.
  • We get closer to Heathrow, we are told we’re landing without going into the usual holding pattern. We come screaming into Heathrow, to be met by ambulance, a mere seventy-two hours after we left Melbourne.
  • When we get to the baggage hall – you know where this is going already – they’ve lost our bags too.
  • And I’m Not Even Joking.

Tinkerty tonk old fruits. x

2016 ‘B’

I’m done with this year, so it’s over for me. I’m no longer in 2016, halfway through Saturday morning I decided that I could let the most recent events of this year beat me, or I will come out fighting.

Look out world.

I’m not going to recap, I’m not giving it the airspace. I’m not worrying any longer about the biography of my life, that’s just a history lesson. I will let it make me stronger, but no more will it hold me back.

I meditated last night, slept like a log and feel awesome this morning. Day 1 of 2016B, I’ve eaten well, got my hair cut at lunch, will burn some sage this evening and meditate again tonight to head off to sleep.

I need to blog this out, so you’ll be along for the ride with me.

findyourwhyinlife

I’m on vacation!

Best said in Billy Crystal’s voice.

Last Sunday my brother and sister in law, with our five children, flew from Melbourne’s new(ish) Terminal 4 to Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast in QLD. We settled in to our apartments, a stone’s throw from the beach, unpacked, had a family dinner, a glass of chilled white wine and slept like logs. The next morning, we got up, hit the beach with all the rugrats, played in the surf and built sandcastles. In the afternoon, we went to the pool.

Then we did it again, and again, and again.

I’ve read a book and a half, Middlesex and All The Light We Cannot See, if you were wondering. Not watched much TV, we’ve been too busy outside. I’ve been walking around on the beach with my hair mussed up, in a bikini, not giving a flying foo-wee about what other people think of me. It’s not so much that I’ve suddenly become body-confident; more that this is a holiday I’ve desperately needed, so I truly CBA to worry about what other people think of me. Their expectations of a bikini-body, are just that, theirs.

I’ve unwound completely.

Yes, you did read that right. Me. I’ve relaxed. I’ve been too busy with sandcastles and watching the children in the waves or the pool to worry about my to-do list, my in-tray, or any other put upon me pressures. It’s been lovely. Considering five children of varying ages, we’ve had no major breakdowns or confusion, we’ve been in and out of each other’s apartments, giving each other a break when needed. We’ve only had one trip to emergency too, for a bad sprain.

Hubs flew up on Wednesday, he went fishing with his brother on Friday, there was a party for Pa for his 70th on Saturday, on Sunday I ran / walked 4km (it was 21c and 70% humid *puff*) with my girls. 

It is now Monday, we’re heading towards the end of our break now, with a trip to Australia Zoo on our last day. But I’ve given myself the headspace I needed, I can start breaking out my notebook and pens now.

A year of reading – February redux

Here was January‘s selection if you missed it, or are bothered *cough*

This has been a slow month, not sure for why, but I didn’t feel like I read much.

Deenie was a completely impulsive grab off a trolley in the library, read in one sitting and returned the next day. I loved Judy Blume growing up, I’ve still got Wifey and Smart Women on my shelves at home. However, after reading the exorable In The Unlikely Event last year, it’s fair to say her writing style is her writing style and has not changed in forty years. I will revisit Wifey and Smart Women again this year, and if I’ve grown out of them, I will pass them on to someone else who will enjoy them.

Gratitude, working my way through the Oliver Sacks back catalogue. This was one of the last books published, and is only four essays he wrote towards the end of his life. It’s slim enough to keep in my handbag, but at the moment it’s by my bed. Either way – I can’t bear to put it back in the bookshelf yet, as I keep re-reading them.

The House of Hidden Mothers by the gloriously talented Meera Syal. Although selected by BC, I would have read this anyway, as I love her writing. I love the seamless way she weaves India, India-UK, UK cultures, smells, foods, architecture, families – life. Since I read this, I’ve made no end of curries from scratch.

The Mysterious Affair At Styles, Agatha Christie. Introducing Hercule Poirot, not only through the first book with him in, but also to three Agatha Christie newbies. All of which liked it. Hurrah! We suggested they either read some of the short stories or a Miss Marple or even And Then There Were None next, as they all said keeping up with the characters was a bit hard work. This iconic book now re-set on Soldier Island (ahem) has only 10 characters and rattles along nicely. V said she wasn’t sure if she’d read Styles again, as she knew what happened. Both L and I said that re-reading them is half the fun, as the clues are (sometimes) there, and then the big reveal at the end is very much a part of the fun.

Curtain and Cat Among The Pigeons, Agatha Christie. Closing the loop, Curtain is the last Poirot. Both audiobooks, really well read by Hugh Fraser, I listened to these while pottering about the house.

Secret History, Donna Tartt. Reviewed on A Good Read last week, I ordered it from the library, but it had another back order behind mine so I would have to read it earlier than some of the other library books I’ve got waiting. It got bumped up the list, it’s one I read back in 2002(?), and loved it. It is so dark, so claustrophobic, probably better read in the winter, not in the summer, but I still love it.

Upcoming, is a revisit of The Rosie Project for BC2, Uncle Tungsten and Hallucinations from Oliver Sacks and I’ve got 6 hours left of Neverwhere to go, which I’m heartily enjoying Neil Gaiman reading to me.