Thursday, May 31

Awesome video of adventurer

I like to see myself as a 'bit of an adventurer' - nothing like this guy.  I was attracted to the video not only because of the topic, I am exploring blogs with videos, and from the first view of the video,  I thought the guy had no legs.  Clearly, when you watch the video, he does have both legs.

I was looking for blogs about adventurers - senior ones, but all I found is US  websites promoting travel by seniors.  I'm  not one to go into the snow/icy places because my body does not like cold.  It hates it and makes me sick, but I would perhaps enjoy the wonder of the ice.  Climbing up?  Not me - ever.  Even scary sideshow alley rides have freaked me.  This video is awesome though.

Luckily on my adventure I am most unlikely to see snow, and the only ice is likely to be in a drink!!!

Found this video on

Wednesday, May 30

Things to do, people to see...

I spent an hour this morning listening to a Webinar.  It is not something I do regularly - I remember doing it once, but not lately.   I do receive ProBlogger newsletters, but from time to time have had limited time to take in the superb information, but from June 1, I am going to concentrate on a number of things in my life.  I'll explain later.

Slowly over the last few years I have taken an extreme interest in photography, and have purchased a Canon SLR 1100D Camera.  Probably a bit technical for me, but my last photography class cleared up a lot of this for me.  And only a week or so ago, I was asked to put my photos, on cards for a local shop - Wynnum Markets.  I had a busy time selecting some photos of local places - Wynnum Jetty, Shire Clerk's Cottage, Manly Harbour, Waterloo Bay Hotel, etc - and putting them on cards, and in packets with envelope.   Today I delivered 40 of them ready for sale.  Shall be interesting to see how they go. Or not.  But tourists might find them of value.

Listening to the webinar sent me back to Problogger's website.  I listened and watched his video on the value of adding video to a blog.  Can I?  Yes, I can.  I have all the equipment to do so.  Will I?  Not sure.  Still, it has all reminded me of the value from his site, and as I intend to be more 'out there' with my blog, I'd better take note of the wonderful material that he has.

Now I have finished my study I can focus on some other interests in my life.

As well, I made a few phone calls, made three trips into Wynnum (sadly I could not co ordinate them all at the one time, but have managed to sort a few things out for a function next month.

And I think I will be hosting a "Let's get back to Letter Writing" workshop in the next few weeks.  I do like the idea of handwriting letters, and do short notes on my cards.  I wonder if anyone else is interested in making sure the art of handwriting letters is not lost?  We will see.

Monday, May 28

Maps and more

I have been using the Maps app on my tablet to find information about the route I plan to travel, but today went to RACQ to find a few hard copy maps.  I have been a member  for a while, and this entitles me to some free maps.  One is Outback Queensland Travellers' Guide 2012, and the other is a neat map of Queensland and Australia.  I also scored a book of accommodation all around Australia.

I have often used RACQ Trip planner to plan where I am going to go - (outside of the city that is) and I find it most useful.  I have printed out the pages giving me instructions to get to Charleville from Brisbane - not that I need the directions, but the mileage is of great help.

I also visited Dick Smith's to ask some questions about UHF radio.  I will get one for emergencies, as clearly my phone will only work in the big towns around Australia.

Sometimes I have a little laugh to myself.  Most of our trips south (and over the years did quite a few from Brisbane to Melbourne or Adelaide) but they were very quick and usually with the children seated in the back.  We would stay one night usually each direction, as both of us (me and MM) could drive.

This trip is different.  I will be on my own, and taking time.  If the budget allows I will stay in some motels, but I am mindful of a limited budget, so if I have to stay in the tent, that will be ok too.

Some of my planning brings back memories of my days as a Girl Guide - I remember the heavy canvas tents and the timber poles and heavy pegs.  Today's camping is very light weight in comparison, and there are so many things to make life easier on the open road.  No sleeping on the hard ground for me - if I do have to spend time in the tent, I will have a blow-up mattress.

So different.

Sunday, May 27

Photography Class

I use two cameras - one a Samsung PL 120 digital camera, which I keep in my bag, so I have it 24 hours a day at the ready.  My other camera is a Canon EOS 1100D which I take with me if I am planning to take photos at a function (I do the Wynnum Chamber of Commerce events), and I do take it when I am looking for special shots, travelling etc.

When travelling it is always useful to have two cameras, though I recognise that I could use my mobile phone too.  I once in China my digital camera died, and I had a lot of challenges getting another one.  They all seemed extremely expensive, and I eventually had one posted from Australia - and that was another challenge, as for some reason the post office wouldn't deliver it to me.  A long and amusing story for another time.

I always struggle with the finer points of using a SLR, so mostly will use any of the automatic options available to me, but I know they are limiting and I know the camera and I can do much better if I knew (or remembered) the settings when I was out and about.

The course through Take Better Photos yesterday, has been very helpful and given me many ideas for taking photos on my journey.  I have done two other courses  but this one was the best by far.  So professional too.  I received a notes folder that looked much smarter than the few printed pages I received on one previous course, (and another more expensive one provided no notes at all!).  But best by far was the 'cheat cards' a collection of 5 small laminated cards with all the information I need - settings etc.  They came with a ring to attach to my camera, so they are always there, and a tiny light, which we used to take this photo.

I had not driven around the north side of Brisbane for a long time - well, at least not around the Chermside area, and boy, it has changed.  We used to live there, and on my way to the class - I was very early, I passed by the house at Aspley that we lived in, in the 1980's (unchanged), the house we lived in at Stafford Heights (major changes there with a huge deck where we once considered doing so, and a garage on the front of the house and fencing, and the house at Chermside West, which was also unchanged.

I can use any of the above cameras for video - which I do use from time to time.  Also I have ordered a mini digital camera, which will afix to my windscreen somewhere, so that I can record some detail of my travels as I drive.   Am hoping to catch some images of camels, kangaroos or emus on the side of the road.  Dangerous things on the unfenced roads of the outback.

Saturday, May 26

Photography Classes

The weather wasn't looking good earlier in the week, but we awoke today to a very cold morning, but the skies are clearing and sun is out, so I am more hopeful that there will be some good light this afternoon for class.

When I first went to China in 2008, I took a small digital point and click camera, and so wish now that I had progressed to a SLR, but am so pleased that I have a Canon 1100D to work with.  I did have an earlier Canon, in my last trips overseas, but I have so many photos that are just not quite good enough.

I have had several classes since my return, and today I set off for another one.  I am determined to master much more of my Canon and not rely on the automated settings that I often resort to.  The classes are at Chermside, just streets away from where we lived some 20 years ago.  I've not been back there for many years.

The classes are with a company called Take Better Photos. One of the things that encouraged me to join there class was that they give each participant/student cards with easy instructions for using the more complex setting on the camera - and they get YOUR camera's instructions.  I like the sound of that and I am looking forward to seeing if they measure up.

The course I am doing is the Travel and Landscape Course, and is at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre, at Chermside.  I am all ready with my camera (fully charged), tripod, and everything else I will need, including a warm coat, and umbrella (just in case) though there are indoor areas so we need not get wet.

Have a look at the Downfall Creek Bushland Centre here.

I have also joined the Bayside Wynnum Camera Club and for the last two months have submitted my photographs for the in-club competition.  There is so much to learn, and I do want to take quality photos on my journey.

Friday, May 25

What next?

I am planning life after house sitting.  I have for a long time considered driving around Australia on my own.  Have camera, will travel.  At this point, this is what I am planning - to leave Brisbane some time in December, and head south.

My mother and sister are in Adelaide, so I may be there by Christmas - maybe just before, or it might work out that I don't get there until after.  To early to be specific.  But, bit by bit, I am making small plans.

I have a route mapped out.  I want to go out west from Brisbane - see what is out there in places I have never visited.

I am purchasing, or hunting in the shops for quality items at low cost to help make my journey comfortable.  I am buying a tent and a sleeping bag (the latter is on layby already) and I laugh and say I hope not to use either of them!!!!  Still, as a Girl Guide we learned to "be prepared", so I am.

There's a list in my Excel files - growing bigger by the day, of items I am hoping to take.  I am looking for lightweight, low cost items, though some I will have to pay a premium for.

What should I take???

Helicopters hovering....

I know there is a big news story nearby - as there are news helicopters hovering.  They have been doing so for more than half an hour - they were then when I came home.

It does remind me of the house sit last year at Paddington, during the Brisbane floods.  I was luckily well above flood level there, but rather boxed in as it was difficult to go anywhere because of the floods and the supermarkets had been cleaned out.  Nothing to do but stay home, but the constant - it went on for days as did the flood - hovering of helicopters, and traversing from one place to the television studios at Mt Coot-tha, which was not far away was constant.

Today I feel the tension that I experienced at the time of the flood.  This time I think it is because of an industrial accident not far from where I am staying.  The only thing I can find on the websites of the news (print, television) is scant detail of an accident where a young man is trapped in the crushed cabin of a crane which tipped over.

I guess I won't know until the news tonight to learn if my hunch is correct.

Postscript - what a lucky young man!  At 22 years of age his life almost came to an end, but luckily he survived with only minor injuries, but it was a precarious two hour effort to save him.  


I am pretty adept at sleeping well - especially if I have done some exercise and follow my nightly ritual (ABC Classic Radio on for one hour, and reading until the eye lids start to waver), but at this house sit, it is the bloke I sleep with that keeps me awake at night and is responsible for my regular fatigue.

Wynnum Jetty before sunup.  (At least I am woken early for some wonderful photos!)

The bloke, as I often refer to him as, is Marti the little fluffy Maltese terrier (terrorist) that is my constant shadow.  I know I am here for him, and not much else, and have been slave to him for all these months, but he's driving me crazy.

I do laughingly make comment from time to time that I am tired because "the bloke I sleep with snores and shakes", so most folk think I have a human with me.  Nope, it is just this tiny little cute dog, who is clearly a control freak.

Lately as the weather is cooler he tries to cuddle up to me at night, and by 5 am he is ready for some action.  I am an early riser, but sometimes, just sometimes Marti, I'd like to keep the eyes closed until at least 7 am.

When he wakes and is readying for action, he creeps up towards my head, and if I peep over the sheet there is this white face with huge black eyes looking at me.

Now, I often do a countdown as my house sit nears the end, but I am now doing a count to a night when I don't have to sleep with a dog.  Just four weeks, and here I come.  I have about 6 weeks with no animal, then a break of about 3 weeks, before the next house sit - with another small dog.  Luckily Ally sleeps in the laundry.  Peace at last?  Sleepins?

Friday, May 18

No 11 again?

It has been a good week - particular as I have been able to lock in some dates for my house sitting for the rest of the year.

The owner of this house (No 11) returns on June 30th, and I will move into another house close by for about 8 weeks, then I have some weeks to travel - am hoping to (a) go to Rockhampton for a couple of days on the train and (b) go to Melbourne and perhaps Adelaide, before returning for another 8 weeks at a home somewhat east from here.  (No 11).

Both these places have a pool - but I don't whether that will be of interest to me until September, October, November.

I had a query as someone wants to house sit to earn money to pay of a debt.  I don't think this is  a way to do that.  I do not get paid, nor do I want to, but even so, it is hardly a quick way to make money.  Doing surveys on line might be more profitable.

I am still making plans for the rest of the year....  still not sure of some things.  We will see.

Monday, May 14

Two Duck Stories

I wrote previously about the family of ducks that live nearby - mother and father duck and fifteen babies.  I watched them pecking at the grass on the side of the road when they were little  and have been pleased to see them all recently - it appears that all or most survived.  It is hard to count 17 ducks as they wander around and I am in my car passing!

The other day, not far away, a family of ducks caused some traffic chaos.  As I drove out into the busy road, I found the traffic had stopped.   I could not see what the problem was initially - there appeared to be no accident, but the cars were lining up and there were about 8 cars just waiting.  Only the first car could see what was happening.

Then, I could see.  A row of ducks was crossing the road.  Drivers were patient, as the ducks, in no hurry, meandered across the road to the safety of the other side.  Then the cars moved on.

Nice to see.  Rather amusing.

Long house sits vs short house sits.

Both have challenges, which I will explain.  I have done both - and I am not sure which I prefer.
Currently I am on a 'long' house sit - which has been for approx 10 months, but with a short break.  My owners are in China - and the worker is a teacher so came home for Spring Festival holiday period.  The house is comfortable, and I have my own car here and much of my own 'stuff'.  I like using my own crockery, and as I do different things in the kitchen, I have a few of my own things too.

As my marriage is long over, I do not have a 'home base' - and subsequently have more things with me here than might be expected.  I do have other items in a shipping container at my daughter's home.  I also do a lot of craft, art, photography, so probably have more 'working items' with me which I wouldn't have on a short house sit.

I am restricted because of the small dog that sees me as his mother now.  Weekends away are possible, but challenging as I have to take him to another place, if it suits the other family member, and as my ageing mother is interstate I have preferred to use this alternate accommodation for the dog when I need it urgently to go to my mother.

In a short house sit - I only take what I will need in the few days, or weeks, so much of my 'unwanted' goods go to the shipping container, which I can access quite easily at the moment.

However, I find this sometimes irritating - I do have to plan ahead, so that if there is some equipment I may need I get it in plenty of time.  I do  most house sits close to where I have lived for many years but sometimes I feel the need to get away as far as possible from some not too happy memories.

I have friends who house sit for long periods - and sometime short periods, but there are two of them.  Loneliness is something I manage - and I can see the value of two people in a house.  Especially if both work together on things such as the garden, mowing, housework etc.

Now, I am not complaining - but trying to set out some realities.  There are some things I cannot do in a 'strange house' - I don't like 'playing' with electronics - I can use the television, but I usually ignore the DVD player.  I play radio quite a bit anyway, and prefer to watch a movie on a big screen, and sometimes I do that here as I have a data projector.

Luckily my health has been ok - and when I did have a minor issue, I could manage it by myself.  But I wonder if I was not so lucky and something happened.  I do have family living not far away, but if I had to go to hospital in a hurry there could be complications.  Who looks after the dog - he is a house dog, so needs to get out every couple of hours for ablutions?

Well, it is just 6 weeks before I move on from this place, and I am looking forward to it, but as I write this, my next house sit is rather vague and I don't know where I am headed.  I would like to settle down, but that is something else I need to consider.

My preference?  A long house sit without an animal, so I can 'escape' for a day or a weekend or so.  Mmm.  (The reason most people want a house sitter is to care for animals.)