Friday, August 31

Maggie Season

I was going to go for a ride on my bicycle before I move houses, but I am having second thoughts.  It is magpie season!!!  I love magpies - they are wonderful, regal looking black and white birds, and for most of the year they are harmless, but come nesting season they get all paranoid and go crazy protecting their territory.

At this time of the year, riding or walking in their territory is asking for trouble.  Usually a lone bird will swoop down and attack the human riding or walking in the vicinity of the gum tree where the nest is sitting.  They will peck at eyes and head - and have been know to cause quite a lot of damage to people's faces/heads.

There are all sorts of things done to protect one's head - from wearing icecream containers with eyes painted on, to wearing bicycle helmets with a myriad of computer cable ties sticking out of them, to waving flags and sticks.

Most folks 'know' the area where a savage magpie holds humans at bay each spring, but even then, they can end up victims.

For more information about Australian Magpies, click here.

At this house sit I am having more trouble with galahs.  They nest in the tree at the front of the house, and all night throw down small pieces of branches, and the bean like seeds which make a mess of the house.  As well, the garden is splattered with bird poop.

Now, I love birds, except when they make a mess or when they dive bomb me.  I think I will just put the bike away.

Thursday, August 30


Yesterday I went online to check that I had been paid by Adsense - which I had, but to my horror I discovered that much of the money in my account had disappeared.  The only entry that I could see was one for Telstra - which was very strange because I have no account with Telstra - my phone and Internet are with other companies.

I had to wait until 8 am to contact the bank, which I did to discover someone had taken multiple amounts of $70 for "Telstra Prepaid" - and depleted my account.

After a discussion with the bank on the phone, documents were drawn up and faxed to the Capalaba branch, where I went later in the morning to sign and discuss.  It seems I MAY get my money back, but it may take 7 weeks.  In the mean time there will be an investigation.

The account used has a new card, as only 2 or so months ago, someone in Adelaide cancelled the card of another account of mine.  We never got to the bottom of it, but all my cards were subsequently cancelled and new ones issued.  It is a pain as one has to change all the regular direct debits that one has arranged.  And remember new numbers - and that I am not good at.

How the new card was used by the scammer is unknown as I do not use it - it is all online, so unless someone had a scanner and was able to find the number as they walked past me, or something I don't know.

I did post the story, or part thereof, on Facebook.  and I have had a wonderful response from caring friends.

Meanwhile it has made me terribly conscious of the risks, and I will check my account more often.  While it could not have gone on much longer as the balance of my account had almost reached the zero limit and indeed would have without my Adsense earnings.  I will be looking at other alternatives, but we are so hooked on the ease of making payments online.

Sadly many of my friends have also had similar experiences.  Take care!

Sunday, August 26

Shameless Self Promotion

I have this day sent emails to friends and  writing colleagues asking them to visit my blog.  If you have arrived here as a result of that email, I thank you.

I find it extra ordinary that I have far more readers in the USA and Russia than I do Australians.  I think that says much more about the greater population of those two countries, and the obsession by Americans, particularly women, on blogging.  I think we must spend more time enjoying the great outdoors - and why not.  We have some wonderful weather most of the time.

I have this day written a letter to my local state parliamentarian about addresses for 'homeless' people like me.  I have had a 'discussion' with an officer of "The Department of Transport and Main Roads" when I went to change the address on my driver's licence.

I have asked that my mailing address be used instead of a physical residential address, as I have "no fixed abode" and the easiest way for anyone to contact me is by mobile phone, or my post box.  I will have about 20 addresses between now and the end of November, and clearly I will spend all my time in the dreaded queue in the transport office if I was to update them each time/day I move.

I should use a family member.  MMMM... Daughter has house on the market and will move soon to heaven knows where, and son is living at a new address on the Gold Coast and will hardly ever know how to contact me other than by cellphone.

Could I use a South Australian address - my sister has been in the same house for some 20 years?  No, I must have a Queensland residential address.

I am rather enjoying the discussion with them, as every suggestion comes to nought.  I could use a friend's address - but that won't help anyone track me down.  I don't advise ALL my friends, exactly where I am.  Not hiding - but email or phone me and you will get a quick response, but that doesn't work for the government.  Where do I register as my address for voting.  Still have to deal with that one.

Meanwhile it is a stalemate.  I am rather enjoying it - as they ask me some very strange questions.

I think I will just go and have a cup of tea and a giggle about it.  Back to the Transport Department this week for round two!!!  And the other government departments that can't cope with the idea of a senior woman being 'homeless' or 'no-fixed abode'.

(My cup and saucer is from  Robin's Kitchen at Wynnum Plaza purchased from my winnings in a lucky draw.  $50 to spend at the Plaza and I spent it all at Robins.)

Saturday, August 25

Where do my readers come from?

(I have been exploring my statistics to determine where my readers come?  What country?  I am surprised that there are a high number of readers from places like Russia, but not surprised to see that my readership in Australia (my home country) is low, and readership in USA is more than 8 times greater than my Australian readership.)

This is my last week in the house sit at Manly.  I shall miss my early morning vista's towards Stradbroke Island, and watching the sea as it changes colour, and mood.  Today there are clouds on the horizon so the water is insipid blue, but relatively calm.  There are the occasional boats (tinnies) - small aluminium fishing boats as the Saturday morning recreational fishermen go out on their journeys in search of fish.  Fishing hasn't been good lately.  My fishing gear waits to be 'christened'.

On Wednesdays the yachties head out in the afternoon - WAGS - Wednesday Afternoon Gone Sailing, and the sea is their playground for several hours.

Next weekend, I pack up and ready to 'escape' on Monday morning - and leave the place as clean as I can.  Luckily the cleaning lady arrives on Monday afternoon, so she will add the extra polish so the owners come home to a clean fresh house.

Yachts in Manly Harbour this week
I have a few days left in Brisbane, and will attend various presentations at the Brisbane Writers Festival from Wednesday to Saturday, and on Sunday I fly off to Melbourne.

Thursday, August 23

Why should home owners register for free and house sitters pay?

There are quite a few websites promoting house sitting - providing house sitters with a range of house sit opportunities, and home owners an opportunity to list their home and dates when they will be away.

In most, if not all, home owners do not pay.  House sitters do.  It can vary between around $65 a year, to over $100 a year, and some websites have various regional charges.

I have never charged for my efforts - which in some cases have been fairly heavy workload with animals, gardening, mowing lawns, collection and collating mail etc.  For the most part I have been happy to do it - though a recent house owner wanted to charge me for some things, without acknowledging some of the expenses I had on her behalf.  (The payment for the privilege of staying at her home, she said!)

Some home owners leave cash (say $100) for any extra expense - batteries for smoke alarms, globes, extra pet food etc, and most, except the one who wanted to charge me, have given me lovely gifts when they return.

I'm loathe to charge a fee - but at the same time I would like my extra efforts to be at least recognised, and not to be treated like some unpaid staff member!  I know that I cannot go away for a night or a weekend while house sitting - and a payment to the sitter of some $50 a month would be a nice thank you, especially for long house sits.  5 months or more without being able to take a night off is tough!

In the case where there are pets e.g. cats, dogs, etc. the home owner would have to pay some $10 - $15 (and often more) for the care of their pet in a kennel or cattery - so a week's kennelling would be around the $100 week mark.  When the house sit is around 6 months, that is considerable savings upwards of $1500 per pet.

Sure they pay the electricity, water etc. but the house sitter still has costs of his/her own.

I know my presence has saved some householders money - like the Christmas Eve when a neighbour drunkenly smashed the fence so that he and friends could swim in the pool (major safety issue here) and the discovery of a water pipe which had broken and was about to flood the house!

Most home owners are great - but I have had a few that I will never go back to!

It is not easy to walk out of a house (especially where a pet is under one's care), but I do think that there should be some recompense to the house sitter and that home owners registering on a house sit website pay a nominal sum, and perhaps the sitters pay less to register.

I doubt it will happen - but I'd like some house sit websites to consider it.  What about it HouseCarers, HouseSitters Australia, Happy House Sitters?

Some Things about House Sitting.

A reader has commented that I don't write too much about house sitting - I am sorry about that - so this post will I hope address that.

I have been house sitting on and off for about 7 years now - good ones and bad ones.  Living in someone else's house is not always perfect.  I don't complain as I house sit for a reason - once to get away and get peace for writing and later when I became homeless.  Not under the bridge living homeless, but still, I had no home/base of my own due to marriage breakup.

House sitting has been good to me though - and I have learned to bring a small supply of my own things - things that I like.

They include

  • My own bed linen.  I love my bamboo sheets, and I like my own silk pillow.
  • My own bath towel. I actually like a bath sheet - a BIG towel.
  • My own electric WOK.
  • My own iron - (this house has a fancy one that I need instruction on, so happy to use my own for the little ironing I need to do)
  • My own cups and saucers.  (I know, petty, but I just like them)
  • A box or two of foodstuffs.

I do cart a computer, printer, camera and a box of cables too - but not too bad.  Also I have both winter and summer clothes with me, as I have needed warmer ones during winter, and with spring about to start  ......

House sitting is more about having someone IN your house to deter robbers.  And pet care of course.  In this house I have no pet to worry about, but the house is also a business, which someone else cares for - but there are some security issues.

Pet caring is ok with me - but I have some rules.  Cats are ok, small dogs are ok - that is one small dog - not a group of them! Fish are ok.  No rats, or snakes please.

I always meet once or twice with my host family and I ask for a lot of information - contact details of some family member should I need help.  I like to have plan B - what if I get sick or someone close to me (e.g. 97 year old mother interstate) does.  

I need to familiarise myself with the house, layout, keys, security, etc.  

I have had some quite weird experiences - drunken neighbours destroy a pool fence on Christmas eve to have a swim, water pipe burst and damage avoided because of my action, drunks on the property etc, dog rushed to vet.  And so it goes.

Most of my work comes by referral - and I knock back 90% of the requests, just simply because I am already booked.  I have friends who do it too.

One has to be reliable, and some folk are asking for police clearance but it has never been an issue for me.  I have my own car though sometimes I have been provided with a car too.  

Why am I thinking of giving it up???  I just long to have my own place again.  Maybe next year.

Wednesday, August 22

Best Time of the Day for Photography

While a nice sunny day has some appeal for photography, the fact is that the best light to get the best shot is very very early in the morning, and late in the afternoon.

That will work for me when I am on my journey around Australia, because as most Aussies and those who travel our outback roads know, it is more dangerous on our roads as kangaroos in particular, are likely to leap out into the headlights ie the front of your car, which is likely to cause (a) damage to your car (b) injuring or killing the kangaroo - or worse to the driver and passenger.  I have resolved NOT to drive early in the morning or late in the afternoon - and hope that I will be setting up my camera somewhere at that time to get some really great photos!

When the weather is cooler, bed is enticing, and I shall have some sleep ins, as I do not want to too tired while driving long distances.  I do have an itinerary, though it is flexible, and I have tried to work out places some 200 - 300 kms apart.  If I set of driving at 10 am, and average 80 kms an hour (allowing for breaks for rest and photography) I should arrive at my destination around 3 p.m.

There are some days when I may have no choice but to drive 450+ in a day.  I have created extra rest days before/after these long trips. I will no doubt take photos at times when it is not the best time for photos - but I can hardly be ready at dawn and dusk with such long distances.

This area is quite a challenge for photographers.  It is in a hollow - and early morning it is dark, and late afternoon there are many shadows.  A case for photoshop!

Monday, August 20

Three Trips I must do in the Next Three Months

It is some three months before I set off on my adventure around Australia – and I have a few adventures to have before I go.  I have been increasing my driving recently, in part to be more comfortable with driving on country roads or long distances.  As well, I like the freedom to choose what I want to do and where I want to go.  I am not a person who goes from A to B without stopping and exploring between – and I find the most amazing places and things when I venture off track.

I do have a few places to visit before I set off on my journey.  They are

  • Mt Mee – this is some 75  kms from Brisbane, and I have little recollection of visiting this place, but it is becoming more developed and there are some great places to visit e.g. wineries, and other tourist spots.  Also there are some stunning views back towards the coast.  Here is some tourist information.
  • Boonah – again it is a long time since I have visit this place in what is known as the Scenic Rim.  I remember a great winery and lavender farm here, and I would love to visit the place and take some photos of the acres of fabulous lavender.  As well the town centre, which is more villagey, has some wonderful shops.  Tourist information on Boonah
  • Bribie Island – I will be going to Bribie in October, for a Writer’s Retreat, but will try and find time to visit a friend from way back.  I usually stay overnight at the retreat and visit Sally on my way home, but as I am only going for the day (house sitting duties and a dog to take care of at Birkdale. (It is possible that I can visit Mt Mee and Bribie Island on the same day).  Tourist information on Bribie.

Saturday, August 18


I'm stricken with the 'flu, but recovering somewhat, but with such lovely weather it is hard not to want to be out in it.  I had seen a great shoe shop advertised at Sandgate, on the north side of the river, and set off to see if I could find a neat pair of shoes that fit well, and thought maybe I would go on to Redcliffe - a place I hadn't visited for many years.  I used to work on the Redcliffe Peninsula as a marketing manager for the big shopping centre there.

So I set off - the sun was shining, it was our warmest day since April, and fabulous weather for my day out.

I had intended to go to Sandgate first, but ended up heading straight over the Hornibrook bridge first.  It really didn't matter, as long as I was back to Manly by 2 pm, as I had a funeral to attend at 2.30 pm.

I was surprised to see the new bridge over the Pine Rivers estuary - I remember when I first went to Redcliffe there was an old wooden one, and then when I worked at Redcliffe a new modern bridge was built.  I had a scary incident driving over the bridge when a car tyre, from a load in front of me, bounced towards me and as I stopped it landed in front of my card caught under the bumper bar.  No damage done, but scary.
Now there is another bridge to cope with the huge traffic between Brisbane and Redcliffe on a daily basis.  Also if there is an accident on one bridge, traffic can be diverted along the other.

The white building is the entrance to the old Hornibrook Highway.  Now demolished though parts of it are left behind .

It appears that someone feeds the pelicans each day at 10 am, and when fishermen clean their catch they hang around hoping for more morsels.   This is on the waterfront not far from the bridge.

I had quite a chat with a gentleman who told me his wife thought he was out riding and getting exercise, but he was usually chatting with the fishermen, who gave the scraps to the pelicans.

I drove on around the seafront and came across the wreck of the ship, Gayunda.  From Wikipedia "HMQS Gayundah was a flat-iron gunboat operated by the Queensland Maritime Defence Force and later the Royal Australian Navy (as HMAS Gayundah). She entered service in 1884 and was decommissioned and sold in 1921. She then served as sand and gravel barge for Brisbane Gravel Pty Ltd until 1950, when she was scrapped. In 1958, Gayundah was run aground at Woody Point at Redcliffe, to serve as a breakwater structure.[1]"

The wreck of the Gayundah at Woody Point

The area around the Woody Point Jetty is very clean and picturesque.  And I did pick a fabulous day to visit!

The wonderful waterfront at Woody Point

The Redcliffe Jetty

The Redcliffe Jetty was a picture - it had been renovated since my last visit there and a number of people were enjoying the walk to the end of the jetty. Day trips go from Redcliffe to Moreton Island, which is clearly visible from the jetty.  For more information about tours check here or the Redcliffe Information Centre.

I stopped for coffee and a florentine at Mon Komo Hotel, which is on the site of a popular hotel of years ago, when there were daily performances showcasing life in the 1940's.  It was very popular in its day, and I recall the sadness when I heard it had closed down.  Mon Komo Hotel is fabulous, and I stopped long enough to enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee and biscuit.  I hope to return one day - I was very impressed.

I drove along Anzac Avenue, marvelling at the development since I was last year.  The shopping centre where I worked quite a few years ago, has undergone massive changes, and is undergoing further major changes.

I headed back towards Sandgate, but took a detour at the old Hornibrook bridge chatting to fishermen there, who were not having a great deal of luck catching any fish, but enjoying the day anyway.

Some parts of the old Hornibrook bridge remain, and at each side there is a great fishing platform, and old bridge pylons have been left to encourage fish to spend time in the area.

I had lost advertisement about the shoe shop at Sandgate, and had no idea where it was, but after traversing the new bridge, I turned left and found my way into the main shopping area - essentially one street.

As slowly as I could I drove along and turned into a side street and set off to find the shop, thinking I would have to ask a local. However, I was surprised to discover I had parked close to the shop, so went in and was lucky enough to find at least one pair to my liking.  The shop is called Heel to Toe.

I shall be back to that shop again!!!  

What a wonderful day.  I must do it again one day soon.

Friday, August 17

Twit? Tweet? Twitter?

Ok, regular readers might think I have lost the plot a bit - but let me explain.  I do have a Twitter account, and use it rarely, but as I am embarking on my travels and upscaling my writing business, I suspect I better learn more about using it.

I know I have lots to learn as I don't understand all the jargon I hear.

I found this video on YouTube (I have to say, there is so much to learn there..................) and thought it might help some of my readers, especially those who write, or have a website.

You may need to watch it several times, and complete the different steps.

Does it seem a bit overwhelming?

Thursday, August 16

Did I go to Vietnam????

No, I didn't but something strange happened the other day.  I was putting some things in my purple back pack when I noticed something deep in one of the pockets.  It was a Mentos pack - with only one or two missing.  In clear English and Vietnamese I suspect it said

"For Sale in VIETNAM ONLY"  

So how did I get it?

I am sure I bought some in the airport at Denpasar, Indonesia in February when I was there.  Perhaps the rules, such as they are, are not adhered to there.  Like a lot of other rules I suspect that are bent to suit the occasion.

Hu'ong bac ha

Probably means Mentos.

Wednesday, August 15

What is it I Don't Like About Housesitting?

The truth of the matter is that I long to have my own home.  Use my very own things, and not have to be extra ordinarily careful when I use things of the home owner.

Now, let me explain.   I am terribly grateful for the three home owners who have enabled me to 'squat' in their homes, and take care of their house, pet, garden etc, but there is nothing like being in your own space.  I don't have my own space.  At the moment most of my 'worldly goods' are housed in a shipping container on my daughter and son in law's property.  If I want to find something it is a bit of a hunt.  I didn't put all the things there, and some boxes are a mystery to me.  When I left my husband, I had nothing, but two years  of house sitting has enabled me to work out what I want to do.

I am feeling somewhat restricted at the moment.  I think it is about 5 years that I have been 'roaming' and having to make do, and I don't see that changing for a year or so.

I like my own sheets (bamboo of course), and I use them on my bed.  In this house I use the dining table for my computer and the bar for my printer.  Nothing is as I would like it.

I am often fearful that I will break something, or render something useless.  I guess that might indicate how careful I am using the home owners things.  Luckily in all the years of house sitting nothing like that has happened.

In some homes I have got on speaking terms with some neighbours - in fact had a very good relationship with one, but there is a sense of aloneness about it all.

One of the major things that is occurring now is that I have no fixed address.  So many documents require you to have a 'street address' and when I say, "Well, I don't have a fixed address.  I am in this house for the next couple of weeks, then I am travelling, then in another house for a few weeks, and then travelling again" it creates problems.  "Homeless"  "No fixed abode"  - I could use my son's address, but he's had a couple lately and currently he is 100 kms from where I am now, and my daughter lives close by, but her house is on the market.  Also I am required to give a landline phone number.  I don't have one.  It is quite annoying at times.

Now I am counting down to my trip.  Hoping that I can finance it without too much hassle, and hoping that it is successful in many ways.

What are my goals on this journey?

  1. To see more of Australia
  2. To take photographs - especially of the outback and historical places.
  3. To meet the wonderful women and men who live in the 'country'.
  4. To safely circumnavigate most of Australia.
  5. To do occasional workshops for Writers
  6. To maintain my blog and grow my list of readers
When do I go?

I am due to set of late in November.  My last house sit finishes on November 20th, so perhaps a day or two after that.

Why am I going alone?

I don't know anyone who likes doing what I like doing.  I want to be totally in charge of what I do - so will be a solo traveller. Some have volunteered to come with me, but they have restrictions.  Must be back by...... bla bla.  I don't want to be tied down.  

When do I return?

Who knows?  Maybe May or June 2013.

What will I do then?

Who knows, but I hope to find a small house to rent - perhaps in the country.

This photo I took recently - and playing with the ISO this strange photo appeared in my camera.  I hope I can do better on my journey.

31 Day Blog Challenge

Well, it has started and I am so impressed with the blogs of others in the challenge.  I certainly have a lot to learn.  I have done two of the tasks, and one other that I jumped the gun with.

But today I am unlikely to be productive.  The dreaded flu has got me, and I am going to take myself to bed for much of the day to assist in a quick recovery!!  Oh, and I do have a new movie to watch on my laptop if I wish.

I only have about two weeks to go in this house sit - so I shall be starting to pack my things up.

Melbourne and Uni graduation beckons in September, and a train trip to Adelaide.

September will be a busy travelling month, and towards the end of the month I move into the house sit at Birkdale - the last before I head off on my BIG JOURNEY.

Back to bed.  Sniff.  Sniff.

Sunday, August 12

Big Day Out

Initially I had just planned to go to the Ekka (Queensland Royal Show) on Friday.  My usual plan, if I am on my own is to spend about two hours there - looking at animals, craft, food, and heading home.

This year I was interested to see how the site is developing as it is undergoing some major changes.
However, at 8 am I received a phone call from a friend, to tell me that one of her guests for a Queensland Rural Women's Network was unable to attend and there was a free space.  Would I like to go?  I had to be there in the Emporium Hotel (not far from the Ekka), at 9.30 am.  I said yes, and then scrambled to find some clothes suitable for the event.  As I took off my Ekka clothes I put them in a big plastic bag, and chose to take them with me.  Perhaps I might find somewhere to change, somewhere to park my car, and save myself some time.

I made it just in time, and had a wonderful morning with interesting speakers, good network and great food.  The speaker was Helen Gluer, the under treasurer of the Queensland Government.  You can see a photo and read about her here.  She was a hilarious speaker, and shared information about the state's financial situation, which I think many of us found enlightening.  We know our new state government is desperately and unpopularly trying to get the state's financial situation on the right track - and upsetting so many who have lost their jobs or their government financial assistance, and it was good to hear an non-political explanation.

After the event I chatted with Bev Ryan, someone I hadn't seen for a while, though we were connected via online communities, and I hope to attend some of her events - she has networking and educational events for women writers.

Then I had to make a decision or two.  Where do I change into my Ekka gear?  Where do I park?  I chose to head back towards Manly and change at my daughters place at Hemmant, (thus saving me a few kms) and I caught the train from Lindum.

It was at the station that I met a man who turned out to be quite interesting - we were sitting on the seat waiting for the train, when a feral family (sorry to use that description, but I have seen them many times, and just feel for the children as the mother seems to be completely crazy and the kids yell and scream frequently), and one feels quite sure that the family are under the care of one welfare program or another.  The man said, "I am phoning my wife, so she can hear the screaming and remind her why we don't want any more children."

It turned out that he was doing business nearby when his car broke down, and I presume it was towed away, and he was catching a train into the city.  Clearly NOT a train traveller.  But we got talking and chatted all the way into the city.  He offered me a job too - which I will explore later.  He runs seniors accommodation and is often on the look out for relieving caretakers.   Would this be me?  I don't know.  Still, I will investigate.

Soon I was at the Ekka - around 2 pm.  Much later than I had planned, but still I made it.  I arrived in time to see a parade of cattle, and made my way to the quilt displays.  I must say they are awesome.  After having just two lessons, I really am a novice, and in awe of what others are doing.

Really, there are some wonderfully talented folk around - I wonder if I will ever get mine finished, or if I, one day, will be able to produce work as good as this?  I doubt it.

Next stop was in the Woolworths Food Pavilion.  Wonderful local produce.  I had a chocoate coated strawberry, and a white chocolate Licks icecream, and bought some cheese from a Kingaroy display, and bread, olives, and olive oil from another.

A short walk through the fruit displays to see Girl Guides and Scouts, side by side, with fruit displays.  Had a great chat with a Guide who had organised the display and glad to see "Girl" has returned to the name of the organisation which I loved as a young girl.

In all I spent less than two hours there, but I had my Ekka fix.  Maybe next year I can spend more time there.  I am happy that I went.  No regrets.

Strange Sight in the Air

On Thursday afternoon I was driving back to Manly from Capalaba, when I noticed various jetstreams in the air.  It is not unusual to see them at this time of the year when the air is very cold, and particularly the jets taking off from Brisbane, when the sky is clear blue.  I am always fascinated by the white line streaking across the blue skies, but what I saw as I drove was rather scary.

Two planes headed east - perhaps towards New Zealand, seemed to be travelling parallel to one another and then one turned and seemed to head towards the other one.  I assumed that they were some distance from one another, but clearly when they got close, one veered away from the other. Was this a crash about to happen?  Oddly enough I expected to see something in the media about it, or at least see or hear that others had witnessed it too.

As soon as I could I stopped and took a photo with my Samsung, and here it is.  What do you think?  You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it and see the 'near miss'.

Friday, August 10

Shopping, shopping

Isn't it amazing how inexpensive women's clothing is at the moment?  Not that I need anything, but I am, like any woman, tempted.  I have been looking for a loose long sleeved shirt to wear while driving - I want to protect my arms from the sun as I drive, and I have found it hard to source what I had in mind.  Until yesterday.

And guess what!!  The only colour I could find was purple.  My family and friends know that purple is my favourite colour, but it also seems to be the colour of choice for a range of manufacturers.  Still, I did smile as I walked to the counter with the shirt, wearing a purple t-shirt, purple ear rings, and scarf.  The shirt is much larger than I would normally buy, but as it's sole purpose is to protect my arms and go over other clothes I chose something that would be loose on me.

Also bought a new GPS - the old one was at the end of its life (things usually pack it in at about 2 years of age!!).  The new one has a bigger screen and free lifelong upgrades - lifelong of the GPS that is!

One of the other items I was interested in was one of the "My Family" stickers for the back of my car.  I found one with a 'mother' with a pile of books.  Will probably put it on this afternoon, but for today I am going to the Ekka.  I love going - I usually run around and look at things, take a few photos, and head home.  No show bags, no scary rides.  I like looking at the animals, the crafts etc.

The above photo was taken on a walk earlier this week - it is an old quarry that has filled with water, and is now a nature park.

Thursday, August 9

How others live.....

House sitting gives you insight into the way others live.  I mean, the way they shop (reviewed by what is in the refrigerator or pantry) , how the house is set up and laid out, security (or lack of it), the way the yard or garden is set out etc.  Every little thing can be perused or 'researched'.

One of the things that I noticed in particular is security or the way the house is 'locked up', or how they access or exit the building.

I am always conscious of certain things, like security, because I am on my own.  The last house was locked up very well, but if one had to exit in a hurry, one had to find a key to get out.  I always think that this is a danger as, even if the keys are left out in a prominent place, in a panic in a highly volatile event (e.g. fire), one may not be able to see one's way around, let alone see the key.

In our home we made sure we had a secure lock (which was quite solid and moderately sophisticated) but easily opened from inside without the need for a key.

In this house it is much the same, and I wonder sometimes how one would escape if there was such an event.  Really the two 'good' exists are the front door (don't forget the key!!!!), and the balcony, though one would risk breaking legs unless the fire brigade was there with a ladder!!, or the side door (laundry) where funnily enough the secure lock is broken and doesn't work, and it is easier to get out - but to where?  Via the side gate should be the best option otherwise one would be trapped in the back yard, with a high fence, though one could jump in the pool to escape flames.

On the ground floor one could escape from the downstairs bedroom to the back yard too.

I would give this a medium to high rating for escape, but one needs to think about an escape plan.

Which reminds me that everyone should have an escape plan in their house.  Even discussing it with the children.  I know that these days most young folk seem to be aware of these things, though I have a sense that some teenagers opt out of clear thinking.  Is it the constant music from their iPod, music players that seeps a lot of common sense from them?

Luckily, I have not had an emergency when house sitting, but I am pretty careful to switch things off, and lock up securely and be aware of my 'escape route'.

Dear Reader, do you have an escape plan which your family know about and perhaps practice (if you have young ones at home)?

Today's suggestion - make sure you know your own 'escape plan'.

Tuesday, August 7

Blogging Challenge

I signed up for the 31 Day Blog Challenge - I was going to do it last year, but study got in the way, but I am keen to do it this time.  The program starts next week - 13th August, 2012, and I already have Daren Rowse's book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

My copy is sitting in the computer, and I will print out a little of it to inspire me to get writing.

I hope to learn quite a bit which will help me on my round Australia trip - as I will be blogging and taking photos along the way.  Even though I have been blogging for a few years, I still have lots to learn.

Below are two photos I took on a recent cycle to Lota.  Lota Creek winds its way through the mangroves, and there are old boats and old jetties dotted around the area.  In summer it is a haven for mosquitos but none found me - it is still very cold, especially if the sun is not shining.

Jetty to ....?

I don't think this boat will be going anywhere any time soon.
I enjoy riding my e-bike, but it's battery is on its last legs, so it tends to give up before I arrive home, so I ensure I don't take it too far.  Still trying to decide whether to get a new battery, and whether to take the bike with me on my travels.  Thinking..... thinking.....

Monday, August 6

Big Day Out

The family were up early - setting off to Downey Park for a big hockey carnival.  Granddaughter No 2 was playing in the Brisbane team - and they did very well, even getting into the grand final, but were pipped at the post with a penalty corner score for the other side right at the end of the match.

I was a little late - they had already played two games by the time I arrived, and I was a bit miffed I had to park so far away, but there were several events on in the region, and I just had to hoof it.

Mid morning there was a march past of all the teams which came from around the state.  It was a fun march, although I think using the term 'march' is unfair.  It was a colourful event, and everyone enjoyed it.

Granddaughter No 1 tried tree climbing as she was not involved in the carnival.  I heard later that she fell out of a tree.  Mmm.  Luckily no major injuries.

I left not long after midday, and trekked back to the car, and set off for 'home' - my house sit at Manly.

I had made a point to go to the Brisbane Bayside Steam Railway Society Inc, which is on Wynnum Road, opposite the Bayside Secondary College beside the BMX track.

It runs on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month from 10 am to 4 pm.  These dedicated volunteers do a wonderful job and the whole area is a credit to them.  It is a popular place for boys' birthday parties.

The club has a steam locomotive called Dinki Di, it is a 2.4.0 American Logging Loco.

"Members bring their trains to the site on running days. There are a range of locos, Queensland Diesel 1200 Class and DH43 Class locos, a range of sugar cane locos and a range of N.S.W. steam engines.

The track is laid on a mountain range. When you go for a ride on the trains, we leave the station, called Wynnum Junction, round a 120 ft radius to Wynnum Road, and then start to climb the mountain range. The climb has a gradient of 55:1 in which the track rises 4 meters. When stage two is complete there will be a spiral loop incorporating a large bridge.

Here are the contact details if you want to make arrangements for an event, birthday party with them.

PO Box 2244, Tingalpa, Qld 4173
Phone Robert on 3393 3176

Opposite the railway complex is the BMX club, and I watched for a short time the remote controlled cars racing around the track.  I was surprised to see so many people there.

Plenty of entertainment for all ages in the Wynnum area.

Saturday, August 4


I guess not all travellers take a printer with them.  I had planned to take my Brother Laser printer, however, I am pondering taking a Canon Inket, so that I can print some photos as I go.   I might be able to sell them on cards as I like to do.  I had pondered buying a more expensive printer which just does 6" x 4" prints - still considering my options.  I do have an old inkjet and was going to get some new inks, but I remembered that the last time I used it, the printing was all squishy, so I just purchased a new printer online from Officeworks, which I hope will arrive on Monday.

I have some work to do for the Bayside Information Centre, plus I want to create some letterheads for myself in colour and I don't wish to pay to have a large number printed, as I will only use small number of them.

It was important to me that the new printer is light, and of good quality, so I hope I have chosen the right model.  The Officeworks store I visited did not have one available, so, I used their online system for the first time.  Quick and Easy.

This morning I attended my second patchwork class at Dolls and Doilies at Wynnum - I will end up making a quilt, and I am surprised how well it is coming together.  I had no plan other than to learn the techniques - that I might be able to use some time in the future.  I have been able to cut and sew blocks together, but I needed to learn more about organising the backing and finishing a quilt.  I  may get serious and make some next year, when I return from my journey.

Friday, August 3

Food Ideas

One of the topics that I have discussed with others in relation to my planned drive around Australia is FOOD!  I am going to take the opportunity to lose weight - so food planning is essential.

While stopping at a restaurant or hotel for a meal will be on my agenda occasionally, I am hoping to save money and calories by my own meal preparation.  It will be important to me to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables along the way of course, and I will take bottles of water to drink as well, and no doubt a bottle of wine will find a place in my esky.

Some places will provide breakfast - often motels provide this as part of their accommodation package, and I will avail myself of that and eat the healthiest food that I can find, but if I am paying for it in a package, I'm not going to waste my money and get other food, unless of course the fare offered does not suit me.  I don't eat eggs very much, so often brekkies come with some cooked egg meal, but I can eat around the egg.

Lunches - I am unlikely to waste time stopping for lunch.  I will of course stop frequently, and will get out my chair and take time out from driving but sitting in a cafe will not be a regular feature of my days.

I have found some interesting canned products - Heinz have small cans (85 g) of shredded chicken breast - in a few varieties.  They are small, light and inexpensive and I can eat half at a time and put the remainder in my esky for later.  I can have them with a salad, or between bread slices or on a bread roll, or even in a wrap if I have them on board.  The website has a lot of other ideas as well, but as I will be doing little cooking I will probably keep to the simple ideas.

Another product I have found is John West cans of salmon.  Quite a variety in small cans, but one of my favourites is the naturally smoked salmon, and I can substitute these - so chicken one day, and salmon another.

Other neat products include a variety of fruit in small tubs, Goulburn Valley brand.  I have fruit salad and diced peaches, but there are more - easy to carry and easy to open. Of course I would rathre have fresh fruit, but there are not many places to get fresh fruit in the outback, so these will suffice.

There are many great poducts on the market, and from late September I shall start collecting items to take.  Meanwhile I will keep my eyes open to see what is available.

I wonder if any readers have any other ideas about suitable, easy food to take on such a journey.

Wednesday, August 1

31 Day Blog Challenge starts soon

I found about this program last year, but it was wrong timing for me.  Dad had not long passed away, and I was studying full time, so it was not to be.  This time, it works a treat for me, and I have signed up for this program.
It is not just about creating Blog Posts, but learning more about blogging, increasing readership and with any luck making some money.  I have lots to do.  However, it will set me up for my travels as I intend to blog about my trip as I go.

At the moment my departure date is the end of November.  I have a house sit at Birkdale until November 25th, so it will be some short time after that, all being well, that I set off.  I do intend to be in Adelaide around mid December.  I know, it will be hot.  I am looking for a house sit in Adelaide at that time.

Some days it will be a challenge for me, as I am headed to Melbourne on September 9th, and then Adelaide on September 15th, and then back to Brisbane around the 22nd of September.  Blogging while travelling is ok, but doing the "lessons" will be a challenge.

If you want to know more about the 31 Day Blog Challenge, you can click on the banner to the right.

If any of my readers choose to participate in this, will you let me know please?