Tuesday, August 1

Goodbye Southport Tomorrow

Well, it is nearly the end of my house sitting at Southport, Queensland.  I return to Brisbane tomorrow and continue the preparations for the drive to Alice Springs and Uluru.

Some of my plans are up in the air but am still happy with the way things are going.  There is just a little complication in that I am involved in a TV program to be aired on SBS in a couple of weeks. I am a bit freaked out by it all - but so far proceeding.  All a bit exciting and fearful!!!

I am not a great fan of SBS - in part because for the past 4 years I wasn't able to access the channel, however, I have been able to catch up with some interesting programs on line.  The program is called Insight and they do some very interesting programs.  Today I watched a program called Critical Care, about doctors and nurses who suffer stress on the job.

I was a registered nurse, in the days when there was less violence in our society, and though I had some very stressful episodes, I didn't quite have the challenges of those interviewed on this program.

However, I have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - over a number of things in my life.  One, in particular, stands out.  A doctor tried to commit suicide on Christmas Eve.  It was a particularly horrific event, and I seldom get through Christmas without thinking back to those days.  On the SBS program, there was mention of debriefing - and the friendship with other staff members after a "bad day".  Sadly I was on night duty when the event above occurred and there was no debriefing.  I do feel scarred by it.

Am hoping I won't be scarred by being on television.
 The program is about housing for senior solo women.  Should be interesting.

Tomorrow it will be goodbye to Southport - and much more prep for the journey to Alice Springs.

Wednesday, July 26

A Week to Go at Southport

I've been house sitting at Southport on the Gold Coast.  Have I mentioned before that I am not a fan of the Gold Coast?  It is a beautiful place no doubt and a great place for tourists, or a visit, but I don't want to live here. 

The traffic is crazy.  And so are other things.  I don't like the apartment  - it is rather cold, and not easy to see the sun or sky from the apartment.  I've had a few challenges whilst here too.

Next week when my travelling son returns, I will go back to Brisbane.  I then have one week before I set off on my adventures in the Van.  Murtle the Turtle.

I have a meeting to attend on August 8th, and if all organised I will head off towards Dalby that afternoon, in an effort to get to Mt Isa by the 15th of August.  I am just hoping that Murtle and I are up to it!!

I have a busy weekend - with grandchildren and sport.  So, have a lot to do now to prepare for the journey.  Watch this space.

Writing?  Mmm.  I have not done as much as I had planned.  A couple of days to catch up though.

Will you "follow" me on my journey to Alice Springs and Uluru?

Monday, July 24

Busy - House Sitting and Travelling.

It really has been a busy time.  I thought staying at Southport on the Gold Coast would mean more time to write and do things.  But it has not worked out quite like that.

Fun at the Spit

A Whale 

The Gold Coast High Rise Budilings

I have had to make a few trips to Brisbane for a few things, I've been to Murwillumbah, and I have spent two days in Brisbane at the WordPress WordCamp.  There's been so much to learn about WordPress - and I am quietly confident that I am headed in the right direction with it all.

At Murwillumbah I was pleased to visit the Tweed Regional Gallery - where I took photos of the surrounding hills, and of course Margaret Olley's Gallery.

There is just over one week before I head back up to Brisbane to prepare for the trip to Alice Springs.  It's approaching faster than I thought it would.  And I still have a lot of preparations to do.

Staying at Southport has given me the opportunity to see around a bit more.  I've never stayed more than 2 days in this tourist spot.  I am not a great fan of the place despite there being many beautiful places.  I can't cope with the high traffic, the noise, etc.  So still for me, it is a visit only place.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Maybe I will get a few phone calls (but my phone doesn't work here - maybe they will catch me as I drive to Brisbane), and I will not see my family.  Most unlikely.  One is working in Brisbane and the other is in Finland.

Party? Gifts?  Cards? Friends and family?  Nope.  

I am shouting myself a birthday gift, about which I am quite excited.  I am going on a Whale Watching tour from the Gold Coast.  

We will see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, July 20

Life or Death

For some years I have had an interest in obituaries.  Yes, as you read this you probably think I have some sort of weird obsession with death.  That's not true.  I do have a different perspective to most people about death.  I was for many years a nurse, so was familiar with that part of life for some people.

One of my yearly memories goes back to my late teens when I was a trainee nurse and I sat with an elderly lady who was looking back on her life as it was coming to an end.  She told me quite a bit about her life.  She was quite a character and caused us a lot of problems in the hospital.  In those days there were no nursing homes or palliative care places, and she had "lived" in the hospital medical ward for some time.  She'd had an interesting life.  Rumour had it that she had been a prostitute and she may have been the lover of a famous person many years earlier.  I don't know the truth of it - hence my lack of names here, but in any case, she was the first person that I spent time with talking about their life.  I learned that folk on their death bed find it easier to talk about their life at this time.  It somehow relaxed them.

There have been others.  I have always regarded being at someone's death, is as honourable and exciting as being at a birth.

In a few months Tim Bullamore, one of the UK's top obituary writers will be visiting Brisbane - he's due to talk at the Brisbane Square Library on October 15th, and I plan to be there.

He says, obituaries are about life, not death.

Another of my Blogs at my website. Click here.

Living in the Van

After five weeks house sitting in Clayfield, I moved into the van. It is essential I learn to live in it - though it would be good to do some small trips in it.  That won't happen - though I will go to Beachmere before I set off for Alice Springs.

It's been cold.  Very cold, but I have managed.  In part because I have spent time IN my daughter's house.  The grandchildren were on holidays and other grandparents were there too.

Each night when I departed the house - I filled a hot water bottle with hot water.  Some nights I heated the water on my stove, but it was easier to do it IN the house.

Eventually, the new curtains were completed.  I have not taken a photo of them yet, but am so pleased with them. They certainly work to block out the light and the cold. Privacy is good too.

I took the grandchildren to a cafe at Manly, on the William Gunn Jetty for lunch one day.
Tide Cafe and Wine Bar on William Gunn Jetty, Manly

Boats at Manly Harbour

The Manly Harbour

My son has gone to Finland so I am house sitting for him in his unit at Southport.  It's still cold.  And frustratingly the television does not work.  Luckily I have a small one in my van, so I will go and collect it tomorrow.

Today I was busy - went to a podiatrist to check on my feet, after going to Paradise Point.  I have a few ideas of keeping me busy over the next couple of weeks, though I hope the weather warms up a bit.

Monday, July 10

Around Clayfield

Clayfield is a lovely old suburb close to the city of Brisbane.  You can read some of its history here.  The suburb was part of my life for many years, though I have never lived in it.  I have spent time as a house sitter in a friend’s house as she travels overseas.

My daughter went to school at Clayfield College – way back in the 1970’s/80’s.  We lived in the northern suburbs of Brisbane during that time, and usually, it meant a drive to the school.  For a short while, there was some public transport to the school, but mostly it was me who drove to and fro.

I remember when she started the school, it was a fraction of its current day self.  I remember the old swimming pool, the old houses used as classrooms.  Over the years Janet was at school, it acquired land around the site, and grew and grew. 

I remember the old Turrawan Hospital across the road.  Our son had his tonsils out there before Janet was a student at CC, and I remember smuggling a little puppy into the hospital to visit a friend who was a patient there.  It is of course no longer a hospital. 
There was a bowling alley on the corner of Sandgate Road, opposite the school.  The school purchased the building, and it became the up-market gymnasium for the students.  I remember when the new swimming pool was built.  Over the years there have been many developments.

But always the one thing that I loved about the suburb was its old houses.  Again, over the years there have been changes there too.  Many of the old homes have been replaced by multi-storeyed accommodation.  Flats. Apartments.

It is the fear of everyone who remains in their old traditional houses that next door neighbours might sell – and it is usually the developers who offer the highest sum – and next door they have a tall building with many inhabitants, few who become friendly neighbours.

It was just around the corner from where I am house sitting that I went to church.  St Marks Anglican Church.  That was until I became a “trouble maker” when I discovered paedophilia at our son’s school, and endeavoured to get the church to act and protect the boys.  Of course, they didn’t.  I never attended church again.  Sadly, despite being an active member of the church community, not one other parishioner bothered to contact me.  Some days I think I might go back and see if anyone recognises me.  Perhaps if someone did, I might still be accused of bringing disrepute to the Church.  Wasn’t it the paedophiles that did that?

I still love driving around the streets and observing the old houses.  It is a suburb where the folks generally have plenty of money, so the upkeep on most of the houses is excellent.  Keeping the timber homes in good condition is very costly.  Painting the timber alone comes at some cost.

There are private homes that have been built – and I love the ones that have clearly been blessed with a creative architect.  There’s one near here that I would love to photograph. 

Not today.  Rain is heavy.  Darn, I’ve just done some washing too.

An old style Clayfield House with verandahs closed in.

Sunday, June 4

I Don't Like Noisy City Life

Here I am living just 7kms from the city of Brisbane – wishing I could be living in the country again.  I have lived in cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane), but they get busier and noisier every year and I long for the tranquility of the country.  Give me the Outback any day.

My New Friend Lulu

It won’t be long before I set off on my trek to the Red Centre, but meantime here I am.  House sitting does mean that I don’t have to stay here for long.  Clayfield is a bit of a contrast really.  It is very built up – but there are many trees and so many birds.  Different birds to those that inhabited the park at the back of my place at Beachmere.  Two giant crows are regulars at the back door to try and steal Lulu’s food.  Mostly she eats it first.  There are a couple of peewee’s that also visit hoping the crows have left something for them.  Usually not.   The parrots are around – one of the trees out the front has been in flower so they have had many busy meetings/meals there.  The high palms also attract another bird. 

There are different bird sounds in the trees too.  I know not what they are.

During the day, it is quiet – but often I hear the dickheads with powerful noisy cars/motorbikes letting off steam.  Even in quiet Miles Street a motorbike ridden by an idiot took off about 90 kms an hour, roaring, speeding along its length. 

I know blokes like loud noises.  It seems to give them power in some way.  They don’t have the brains to realise that travelling at high speeds in cities or even on the open road is likely to be a killer.  Almost every day there are stories of blokes who have hit a tree/come off their bikes.  It’s crazy that they keep doing it.

At night, even as I lay in my bed I hear the cars roaring along Sandgate Road, and I am some distance from this key roadway.  Then I hear the sirens.  Almost every night.  Being not far from Brisbane Airport there are also planes coming and going and frequently, helicopters can be heard.

One of the things that irks me is the continual building of high-rise apartment blocks near the city.  Everyone whinges about the traffic congestion and yet the governments (state and local) encourage new buildings.  It only adds to the congestion on the streets and compounds the parking problem.  There are some apartments being built that do not have car parking provided.  They are assuming that since it is close to public transport and other major places that there will not be a need for people to have cars.

In the Garden

Surely, if one drives around they’ll see that many homes/units have two or more cars.  Mum, Dad, and the children have cars.  Here in Miles Street there are some 40 or 50 cars parked in the street.  I find it annoying as it makes it difficult when one is backing out of the property, oncoming traffic is difficult to see.  Makes me mad.

Still, I love much of the housing around these parts.  Typical Queenslanders for the most part – timber and brick homes of the 1920’s to 50’s – lots of timber, verandas, gardens and more.  Sadly so many boring looking high rises are being built in the area.  I would not like to live next door to a high rise building.  You’d seldom meeting your neighbours, or get to know them. 

Actually, friendly neighbours are rare in cities, I think these days.  I watch some English programs with little village, with friendly communities.  Oh, don’t watch Father Brown or some of the other police shows – love them but they do seem to have too many murders in the villages!

Tuesday, May 23

Walking Through a Changed City

I remember visiting the city years ago - not long after we arrived in Queensland.  Brisbane was a little behind the times in the 1970's in many ways - and over the years since has become a modern busy city - though a little smaller than our southern major cities of Melbourne and Sydney.

A visit to the city is often in my calendar, but usually to meet someone, attend a meeting or a function.  House sitting not far from the city at the moment enables me to visit more often - just to explore.  And that is what I did yesterday (May 21st.)

After watching one of my favourite TV programs (Landline on the ABC), I donned comfy shoes, grabbed the camera and set off.  I drove to Wooloowin Station - not far, but an uphill walk if I don't have the car, on the home stretch.

I could have driven into the city - car parking is inexpensive on the weekend ($5), but it is even cheaper by train.  I think it was $1.49 each way!

Being a Sunday afternoon there was not the frenzy of activity that the city experiences between Monday and Friday of a working week.  Less cars, less people.  Quieter.

Close to the Central train station is an old church, St Andrews Uniting Church.  It was built in 1905 -it's on the corner of Creek Street and Ann St.  It is Heritage Listed and you can read more about it here.

I recall when I first joined the Society of Women Writers Queensland, that they met in the church hall.  I do remember a funny incident when a man dressed in women's clothing came along to the meeting.  I am not sure that he/she got the welcome expected.  I think most of us gawped, while trying to stay polite.  He/she asked to go to the toilet and was pointed in the direction of all toilets.  He/she walked a little unsteady in the right direction - and was never seen again.  

When it was built the church would have been one of the taller buildings of the city - but now is surrounded by much taller blocks.

I wandered around the city taking photos - exploring slowly.  As it turns out I had a painful leg, which limited my activity.  One place I did visit was the General MacArthur Museum.  I had been there on more than one occasion but not for quite a few years and they have updated their exhibits quite a bit.

One of the latest additions is a map showing the various places in the South Pacific and Asia where there was military action.  I had not realised that Broome and Wyndham in Western Australia had been bombed during World War II.  More information here and here.

General MacArthur's office is as it was during the war.  Brisbane was very central to the Allies during the war - and there is a great deal of information there.  

There are several portraits of General MacArthur painted by Sir William Dargie - a famous painter of that period.  There are two of his portraits of the General on display. 

I didn't spend as much time in the city as I had planned as my painful foot/leg begged me to stop.  However, I will probably do a few more such visits now that I am living not far away in Clayfield.

Friday, May 19

Me and Cats

My relationship with cats is quite a story.  I remember that when I was little my sister and I had a cat each.  I think mine was Tinkey and hers was Winkey.  I have no idea how the names were created.  We might have been in primary school.  It was a long time ago.

We lived on Railway Terrace, (at then Ballara Park in Adelaide), and as readers can guess it ran parallel to the train line - the Marino line.  One morning we woke up to discover that one of the cats had been run over - we can only assume by a train.  She had carried home her tail and a leg.  In those days there were no veterinarians to euthanase an animal - and our father had to kill our pet cat with a spade.  He was very depressed about it for a long time afterwards.

When our children were little, we lived in Melbourne, and we had a cat called CFer - C for Cat.  However, she contracted a disease and died.  We've never owned a cat since.

For a long time, I was allergic to cats.  I'd sneeze and my eyes would run if one came near me.  If I went to someone's place and they had a cat, I'd beg them to keep it away from me, but cats love to sit on my lap.  It was a hard life for a while. In 2000 I started drinking Tahitian Noni Juice and my allergies cleared up.  

Really, the only cats I spend time with are ones where I am house sitting.    

Lulu is 17 years old - and I have known her for most of that time.  She was Bill's cat - and he passed some years ago, but Lulu lives on.  She can be a cantankerous cat - and is known to swipe with a paw with claws outstretched.  She is deaf and blind and these days swipes when taken by surprise.  

So far I have missed a swipe this time.  She is very demanding.

She has rather wonderfully coloured fur - with black, grey, white and ginger. 

It was not easy to take a photo of her, but I managed a couple.  She refused to sit still, except with her back to me.  It was meal time and she was more interest in getting me to fill her dinner bowl.  For a cat that does nothing but sleep all day, she's got a big appetite.

At night she comes in and massages me!!  It's quite funny.  And she won't settle and sleep (on my lap) until she is satisfied that I have been pushed all over. 

I do like cats.  

Wednesday, May 17

House Sitting Again

It came out of the blue.  I was packing up and moving out of my unit at Beachmere, expecting to live on the streets in my campervan.  Then an unexpected phone call from a friend, whose home and cat I have cared for several times in the past, and an offer to look after her house and cat again.

Now I am living in the house in Clayfield - and Lulu the cat loves me being here.  I get a massage from her every night, when I let her inside the house.  She's 17 years of age - with failing eyesight and hearing, but with a good appetite!!

(I am familiar with the suburb of Clayfield as my daughter went to Clayfield College which is very near where I am living now.)

She spends most of the day sleeping within metres of the back door.  
I have been here for less than a week - and am somewhat settled.  I know the house well - so not a lot of learning to do.  I am so familiar that I don't need to learn to do anything.

But I have some challenges.  Most of my belongings are in a storage facility near Caboolture, about 45 kms from here.  I have some issues with it - as the guys didn't pack it well.  Such that I have difficulties accessing some of my belongings and some of my boxes have already broken.

There are also items in my campervan at my daughter's place, and I have things packed in the boot of my car. I've not had the time to sort them out.  

I don't have some of my cables - and some other items that I will need over the next few weeks.  Also, some files are "buried" in the storage.

Photo by Andrew Possingham, South Australia via Unsplash.com

The photo is not of Lulu - will try and arrange that later.

It may be that I will do some more house sitting - this is my second stint this year - and I have another one in July.  

Sunday, May 14

Neighbours - the Good and the Bad

It was something that I have discussed before.  I have had a range of neighbours while living at Beachmere, and was devastated when my "best" ones moved north.  Their replacement - an older couple didn't impress me.  We shared a duplex - and a driveway.  I was away when they moved in, and when I returned I knocked on the door to introduce myself.  

The gent answered, and was unimpressed to meet his neighbour.  "We don't need to have anything to do with neighbours" he stated to my surprise.  The conversation was short and difficult for me.

As it turned out - over the next 8 months our "relationship" developed.  He spoke with me occasionally and brought my rubbish bin in at times.  I did little things for him - yes, I took his bins up from the road a couple of times and put his "junk mail" near his door.

The house on the other side of the fence had a series of tenants and in the four years I was there, some five different tenants had come and gone.  Barking dogs was the biggest issue and noise.  On one occasion I spoke to the owner of the a dog that had barked non stop all night - the dog was home alone for over 24 hours.  He told me he didn't give a "F...... Sh..  " about me.  He claimed it couldn't have been his dog.  Mmmm.  As it turns out his mother heard his tirade to me, and I can only guess she was the one who "suggested" he apologise to me.  Which he did.

Another image from Unsplashed

Anyway, I moved out just under a week ago.  I'm house sitting now.

Within hours of arriving at my friend's place - I am housesitting for her while she is away - and LuLu her cat needed company - neighbour number one appeared.  He'd been keeping "an eye" on the house and came to check that I was not a robber.  Interesting man, same age as my daughter, who lives next door.  We chatted and he's invited me in for a cup of tea.

The next morning, it was the neighbour on the other side who introduced herself.  Quite friendly and offered her services if I need help etc.  

I was taken by the difference in the neighbourhoods!  This is a very old suburb - with a bit of class.  The area I came from certainly was not classy - many young people and some with big issues in their lives.  

Neighbours was something I wrote about a year ago.  

I do think it is a good idea to be friends with neighbours.  You never know when you or they will need help.  And why not be friendly?

Thursday, May 11


Oh, if only I could say and know that I would never move again.  Ever.  Moving on one's own is a BIG job, though I did have the help of a friend for a few days in the end.

I think it will take me a few weeks to get over it.  I have a storage unit where most of my things are, but also have my van packed with things (that I will give my family) and food and cleaning stuff that I am not sure where they will end up.  It was a stressful time, and my whole body ached.

So many things I have given or thrown away - and I still have some to get rid of - but it was a huge exercise, and I do need to check things.

I also had some fun with my Shredder - it must be nearly 20 years old, and it worked well - for a while - before it died.  I still had papers to destroy, so I rushed off to Officeworks to buy a Rexel.  I'd done my research and liked the idea of this moderately priced beast - that does up to 50 pages at a time!!! 

The Shredder aisle was easy to find, and my chosen machine was on display.  When I went to purchase one though I learned that they had none - just the display one and that I could find one at another store, but it was going to be a long trek to pick it up.  So I asked to buy the display model.  They don't normally sell the display model - but I convinced them to let me have it.  Whoo Hoo.

It was very easy to set up and impressed me immediately.  It shreds the paper into smaller pieces than the old beast, and the collection box is much easier to empty/manage.

Image of Rexel Shredder from Officeworks Website.

It did its deed, and I filled almost two bags of paper bits.  I left them at a friend's place.  She'll wonder where they came from, as the last delivery to her for her worm farm was different cuts of paper. 

One day I will find time to tell her!

Wednesday, April 19

Getting Rid of Years of "Valuables"

Well, they are valuable to me.  I wonder if my family will be interested in my school end of year books?  I'm not mentioned in any of them - they are just part of my past but after some 50 years I am ready to send them to the bin.

My mother gave me a cook book on April 1st, 1966, to recognise that I had passed mu nursing exams.  It was a wonderful book but I no longer use it and it does look like it is 60 years old with yellowing brittle pages and recipes in old measuring system.  

Some books I cannot part with, but I have taken one pile to the local op shop.  They were great books but I (a) don't have room for them and (b) unlikely to read them again.  In fact I have saved quite a few that I want to read again, or can't recall ever reading.

I won't say it is easy.  It isn't but I don't want my family to have to chuck them out at some time in the future.

Moving into the van has also created some challenges for me.  I didn't know that I had to lie down and crawl a little way under the van to reach the emptying pipe for the toilet.  It is not going to happen.  I have been to Roller's favourite shop BCF, and checked out other options. I am meeting with a guy who will help me make a decision and/or hopefully do the necessary work.

I still have to buy another Roller Sticker and flag.  And practice more in the van.  You can read more here