If Everybody Had An Ocean

I love surfers.

I love everything about them and their culture and sport.  My trip to Western Australia brought me back to my teenage years when all I wanted was to live by the beach and be in the water everyday….who am I kidding…I still want that.

I have a thing for surfing.  Which is weird because I’m from Canada…not the coast where there is a potential for surfing, but from Ontario…the part of Canada no where close to an ocean, or even to waves remotely surf-able.  I think my love for it all came from my summers being spent at Sauble Beach….closest thing to an ocean Ontario would get.  I had pictures of surfers, beaches and the ocean on my walls of my bedroom at my cottage and imagined having little blonde surfer babies when I grew up.

It’s amazing how some hopes and dreams get bogged down as you get older and how it only takes one moment for all of those past dreams to come flooding back.

The first round of holidays here in Australia have just come and gone and during them I took a trip to Western Australia…in particular to Perth with a few day trips centred from there.  We took a trip down to Margaret River and as soon as arriving in the little town I knew I would love it.  We explored around a little bit and the eventually found our “resort”…which was actually a little surfers hostel just across the road from the beach.  As it turns out Margaret River was hosting a surfing competition for the week/weekend that we were there…unfortunately there was no surfing going on the day we arrived but we could still walk around the venue…and there were a few surfers out in the water.  I spent a good amount of time snapping pictures and just enjoying the peace that a beach and ocean give me.

After Margaret River (and a bout of Gastro that Simon had to endure) we drove back to the city and I explored while Simon recovered.  The next day we took a ferry to Rottnest Island and explored by bike and rented some snorkel gear.  We also signed up for a trip out on a boat to find some off island snorkelling areas.  When we got to the destination our guide mentioned that there was an Australian Sea Lion sighted and that we might have a chance to see him in the water…well my animal loving eyes found him straight away and off we went into the water to play and swim with him.  Seriously one of the most amazing moments of my life…I could have reached out and touched him, that’s how close I was.  Unbelievable.

After our adventure across the island it was back to Perth on the ferry and my turn for Gastro.  Awesome.  My last day on vacation in Western Australia was spent in our hotel room bed, not being able to move.  Oh well…Simon got to explore and he took some pictures to share with me.

All in all it was an amazing trip, regardless of all the vomiting, and I would highly recommend to anyone to take a trip to Western Oz.

~ Hugs and Love ~

 

I’ve Got Two Tickets To Iron Maiden, Baby

Teenagers.

I hated being one and then decided to spend my life teaching them and being surrounded by them on a daily basis…a LOT of people ask ‘why’?!

It’s difficult to explain, and I don’t know what it says about me, but, I just get them.  Yes they can be gross.  Yes they can be rude.  But what a lot of people don’t see is that most of them are amazing.  I’ve had my run in with some very unpleasant, rude, mean spirited and sly teens (and I’m positive I have had dealings with their future grown up selves) but when you look deep inside, and really get to know them, teenagers are inspiring.  They are dealing with an incredible amount of pressure and are still trying to develop emotionally…it is the time in their lives where their adult coping skills are being developed while at the same time having to deal with their still present internal little kid. I have the greatest respect for the struggle they face on a daily basis.

Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining my homeroom year 9 group on their camp.  (In Australia each year group goes on a camp for a few days during the year…I LOVE this idea and wish we did this at home but due to numbers it’s near impossible).  It was an intense week (16km canoe, 20km hike and a 50km bike ride) and there was whinging and some not-so-shining-stars…but I came away completely inspired by my group of eighteen 14 year olds.  They were challenged both physically and mentally but they came together as a group and made it through…and as an outcome, a much stronger group because of it.

I am so incredibly happy that I got to experience Australian camp and even more so because I got to experience it with so many outstanding human beings.

~ Hugs and love ~

Catching Up

Wow it’s been way too long and so much has happened!

I am currently on my first round of school holidays and have some time to sit down at my computer and share some of the adventures I have been on.  Way too many for one post so I will post a few times this week to space them out!

Rewind in time to over a month ago and that’s where I’ll begin.  It was Labour Day weekend here in Australia and I had a long weekend ahead so Simon and I planned a little road trip to a place I wanted to get to the first time around but never got there:  Philip Island.

We packed up and hit the road after work on Friday (March 7th) and drove down to the Island.  We pulled into the little town of Cowes around 10pm and headed to his family’s holiday house where we would be staying the weekend.  It had been a long day so we made it an early night to bed and planned for our exploration to take place the next morning.

I was up just before the sun and headed down to the beach for a little solitary explore and as soon as I stepped outside it felt like I was back home…that it was the middle of July and I was walking down to the beach at Sauble to chill out.  It was eerily familiar…I don’t think I have ever felt so much at home in an unknown town during all of my travels….that feeling will never leave me.

Saturday:  woke up, went for a walk, explored the island, went out to The Nobbies, got tickets to see the little Penguins later that night, ticket entrance to Churchill Island Farm, explored around there for sometime, also picked up tickets to a koala conservation and saw some sleepy Koalas…headed back to town, changed, went to a very cool art/food festival and had something to eat then headed back out to watch the Penguin Parade.  At the Penguin Parade you are not allowed to take any photographs and I was such a good girl so I sadly have no personal record (except in my brain) of what I saw, but let me tell you this…it was freakin’ super cute! These little foot high penguins come out of the ocean, on to the beach in little groups and wait for a few more, then a few more, until they feel confident enough to walk up from the shore to their little nesting grounds in the hills of the conservation area…was I silently running a commentary of their little conversations to each other while getting out of the water, getting washed back in to the water and during their climb??  uh…YA (also it may not have been so silent…)  Since I couldn’t take any pictures here is a little video about the Parade:  Penguin Parade

Sunday:  up early again, walk, trip into town for some shopping, trip to the beach close to us…saw some (100’s) of crabs come up from under the sand, had lunch, went to a surfing beach…tried to bodysurf in a bathing suit not made for body surfing…while catching a wave I got caught up in it and it grabbed (yes, the wave had hands and grabbed me) my feet and proceeded to pull them up backwards, over my back, then head, forcing me into an underwater backwards somersault manoeuvre …a boob may have popped out…I was finished with body-surfing.  Back to the house, dinner out and back to chill.

Monday: early wake up, walk, packed, clean the house, visited with family, headed off with one last stop to see Pelicans being fed.  Pretty cool and got to see a sting ray in the water afterwards as well!

It was a wonderful weekend away and the perfect start to what turned out to be one incredibly busy month ahead!!!

Next stop:  A special birthday dinner and a week with eighteen 14 year olds!

~ Hugs and Love ~

Blackjack

On Friday I returned home from what had been one of the best weeks of my life.  I was so excited to sit down and share my experiences on my blog.  Upon waking Saturday morning I contacted my mom who was anxious to hear all about it.  After telling her all the amazing things that I had been blessed with the past week, she gave me the saddest news I have received in the the past ten years.

On Wednesday, March 19th the world lost an incredibly sweet, furry soul.  Blackjack was a stubborn old man and I believe lasted as long as he did because of all the love that was given to him and also because of the love he still had to give. Although we were apart in his final days he was never alone and never far from honest love and the warmest hugs and pats.  Even though I was prepared for him not to be there when I returned home, the loss is still incredibly hard…my heart is broken and the grief is, at times, too much to bear.  What will get me through are the reminders that he had such a good, happy life and that he finished his years off exactly where he belonged.

For those who do not know, here is Blackjack’s story:

I met Blackjack in the winter of 2001.  I had gone back to University to study Kinesiology and in one of my classes I met Jeff, a very cute boy, who I was put together with to work on an assignment.  He invited me to his house to get to work and when I arrived I was excited to learn he had a dog.  A young, adorable, crazy, black and white Lab/Border Collie cross; Blackjack.  I gave him a “hello”, and I’m sure quite a few pats, and then sat down at the dining table to get to work.  And then something crazy happened…Blackjack came up to me while I was sitting in my chair, climbed up on my lap, and with two paws on one leg and his other two on my other leg he just stood on me…right up, not sitting or curled up on my lap but stood on me…as if to say “I like you, I claim you”.  He gave me a few kisses and then jumped down after some instruction.  Jeff had never seen him do that before and in all my years of being surrounded by dogs I had never seen that either.

As time moved forward, Jeff and I progressed to a relationship.  We were together for a few years so Blackjack became a huge part of my life.  A big change saw us moving away and sadly where we were going we couldn’t take Blackjack with us. It was a difficult day saying goodbye, a bit more so for Jeff because Blackjack was his after all, but he was going to a good home so we took comfort in that.  After a little more than a year away, my relationship with Jeff ended and I found myself back in my hometown.  Not long after, my brother asked me if wanted Blackjack back.  His friend, who had taken him in, had moved to a tiny apartment in Toronto and felt it was unfair to keep him in such a small space (Blackjack, though not a big dog, had a medium build and LOVED to run).  I immediately said yes, and, after convincing my mom it was a good idea, I was off to pick him up in Toronto.

It was an emotional reunion and a pretty quiet ride back to my place but it didn’t take long for Blackjack and I to find our rhythm.  After my breakup with Jeff I was almost 30 and was not in the best of health.  Blackjack rescued me from a very dark place and he quickly became my world.  He fell in step with my family and friends and was always willing to become part of a good story.  For the past ten years he has been where he was meant to be.  He was so incredibly loved that I know, without a doubt, it is not only my heart that is breaking because of his passing, but countless others as well.

He had his trying moments:  peeing on peoples legs, killing and eating bunnies, humping any dog that came into the house, very VERY selective hearing and of course his “old man” gas…but for all his inappropriate behaviours there were many more delightful ones: he loved anyone who took the time to say hello to him, he was fiercely loyal to me and his family, he loved unconditionally, he knew when you weren’t feeling well and would do whatever he could (in doggy ways) to make you feel better, he was kind, incredibly gentle and extremely patient.

My life will not be the same without my crazy man beside me and I will forever be left with a Blackjack shaped hole in my heart.

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.  You are his life, his love, his leader.  He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion”

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“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds.  He is the part of me that can reach into the sea.  Has has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being: by the way he rests against my leg, by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile, by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.  When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.  When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.  When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.  When I am a fool, he ignores it.  When I succeed, he brags.  Without him, I am only another man.  With him, I am all-powerful.  He is loyalty itself.  He has taught me the meaning of devotion.  With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.  He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.  His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.  His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.  He has promised to wait for me…whenever…wherever – in case I need him.  And I expect I will – as I always have.  He is just my dog” ~ Gene Hill

kisses hat

us

bolgdog~ Hugs and love ~

I Only Wanted To See You Bathing In The Purple Rain

Another road trip.  Back to Melbourne.

The plan for this past weekend was that I was going to hang around Echuca and go out on a boat to go water skiing (just ‘skiing’ here…side note:  ‘skiing’ is water skiing and ‘hockey’ is field hockey…you have to add snow or ice in front so they know you’re talking about the Canadian versions!)…anyway, skiing didn’t happen for a few reasons, which was okay…nobody really needs to see me try to ski…on water or on snow.  So while watching the news on Friday night and learning about a cool festival being held for just Saturday night I asked Simon if I could tag along to Melbourne with him (he was heading into the city anyway to pick up some art he had on order) and I asked if he wanted to go to the event too…of course always being up for an adventure he said yes so we were up early Saturday morning and on our way.

The concept of the night is incredible and, from what I did get to see, totally cool…however, for someone who suffers a bit from claustrophobia, I had a difficult time when we moved to the more popular area of the event.  At about 10:00pm Simon got to see me have a little mini panic attack but I recovered when we moved off to a less crowded section of the street (and when I say less crowded I mean about 15,000 people around me instead of 150,000).  I was slightly disappointed because I really wanted to see more of the instalments but I honestly wouldn’t have been able to make it through the crowd of over 500,000 to see the rest.

To get an idea of what the night was about and to see some professional pictures from the event have a look here.

For some of my own pictures just scroll down!

All in all it was a fun night and it was followed up by the best breakfast I have ever had in Melbourne (and trust me, I have had many breakfasts in the city) so all in all I was incredibly glad I tagged along on an impromptu road trip!

Thanks for stopping in!!

~ Hugs and love ~

Country Victoria
Country Victoria…this was taken from the main road in Heathcote…from our parking spot.  Love it. 
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paint in light

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Cathie had fun too
Cathie had fun too!!

 

Alice The Camel Has One Hump

I’ve been on my first proper road trip.

My friend and I packed up and went for a drive Saturday morning and we headed to a small town in central Victoria for some hiking…or ‘bush walking’.

We wanted to get to a place called Hanging Rock but upon arriving the park ranger was turning people away as he was closing up early due to weather conditions…the dry, hot temperatures (at or above 40 for pretty much the entire time I’ve been out here) had cause a total fire ban for the state and was great cause for concern for that particular park.  He was helpful though and directed us to another park that was open so off we went…staying cautious of the conditions.

We explored a very nice wooded area (with a very short walk) near Mount Macedon and then had a lovely drive through the town named the same.  Still wondering where to get in another hike, we eventually found the Camel’s Hump and proceeded on a short, but very steep, hike up to the top. We were about 1km up and the view was amazing!!

We continued to explore in the park and found Memorial Cross which has a strong history as a monument to a fallen solider in WWI.  Very beautiful location with another gorgeous view.

After exploring and cleaning up we headed off to dinner in the tiny town of Macedon and ate at a local restaurant called Olive Jones and had a very entertaining night!  When we were getting out of the car we heard live music and decided, even with the heat, we would sit outside in the garden to listen to the music…well it turned out the music was a one man karaoke singer who enjoyed his own jokes and dancing like a fool to his singing.  Simon and I made a pact…”no eye contact”!! It was funny and a good night all around….even if it did take 2 hours to order, eat and pay!

It was an excellent start to my adventure here and I am looking forward to many other road trips and trips in general!

~ Hugs and Love ~

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This is a lake in Australia
This is a lake in Australia

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Place to rest

View from Camels Hump...you can see Hanging Rock in the distance
View from Camels Hump…you can see Hanging Rock in the distance
Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock
Memorial Cross
Memorial Cross

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...and we saw some goats!
…and we saw some goats!…

Fat Bottom Girls They’ll Be Riding Today

I’ve been exploring.

By bike.

Or “push bike” as they call it here.

I have been getting rides into work since I have started and I am not one to be reliant on others so I figured I best get used to riding and get familiar with where I need to go.  It has also been crazy hot here so getting a lift to work has been a blessing.

I set out yesterday to get a handle on the bike that was left for me.  Headed into town and stopped by the local bike shop to search for a lock and a basket.  YES…a basket.  I will be riding to work mainly and my school bag has been incredibly heavy this first week (and I can’t see it getting any better) so I thought I would need a little extra storage…plus…with it being this hot I will need to shower every morning when I get to work!

Anyway…I thought I would take you on a little tour of what my bike ride looked like today…I didn’t video my trip into work but I will do that this week and I will also do a little video of my new work surroundings as well!

It is 3:20pm here and 42 degrees Celsius…when the wind blows it just makes you hotter because the wind is also 42 degrees!!  I have honestly never felt heat like this.  I am grateful it is a very dry heat…and I am also very grateful for air-conditioning!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Hugs and love ~

It Ain’t No Trick To Get Rich Quick

I woke up this morning with a clear mind and a happy heart and I spent some time thinking back to the time just before I headed out on my current adventure.  I remember wondering why I wasn’t feeling much about it.  Excited yes, but contained excitement and absolutely no nerves…which for me is very VERY strange.  I am quite the introvert and even though I do push my own limits and put myself in uncomfortable situations, in terms of my personality only, not safety, I am often racked with invisible anxiety (I am planning on writing a bit about my internal challenges soon).  Upon reflecting on my previous feelings and how I am currently feeling I understand why I wasn’t nervous…when I landed I felt like I was coming home.  My soul is at peace here.

My first day at work went well and I am very much looking forward to the new challenge and fresh start.  A lot of new information and new routines but a shake up is needed and one of the main reasons I decided to do this!

Today is going to be a day full of meeting new people and making new friends (hopefully!)

Hugs and love

Livin’ In A Land Down Under

G’day!!

Well I made it.  After 30 hours of travel time I arrived safely in my new town, new home and I am happy.  The first day and a half have been busy settling in and getting comfy and now the real work begins.  There is still work left at home to complete and tomorrow at this time I will be on my way to my first day at my new school!  I couldn’t be more excited to get the adventure started!

My flight over was quite uneventful.  I didn’t say more than 4 words to the guy who I sat beside for my Toronto to Vancouver flight and then from my Vancouver to Sydney leg I had the complete opposite…Ken…one of those people who really loves to hear themselves talk…you know, they ask you a question and before you can answer they start commenting?!  Ya.  So I “slept” the entire way…and let me tell you I needed it!  After about 3 hours on the 15 hour flight I feel asleep but only for 3 more hours…leaving about 9 hours of flight to try to get back to sleep.  I woke up again just before landing in Sydney feeling very rough but while waiting in line for customs I got my second wind and was feeling fine getting on my flight to Melbourne.  Simon picked me up at the airport and we made our way to Echuca.

We arrived in Echuca and stopped by the house that I will now be calling home and started to get familiar with my surroundings…Simon took me out for a nice welcome dinner and then it was off for my first sleep back in Australia!

My first full day was spent getting groceries, becoming more familiar with the house and enjoying the weather!  I met a few new people and am looking forward to meeting more!  Today is my second full day and I think it’s starting to sink in that I am in, full on, for one whole year!

Tomorrow is the start of the new school year here for me.  The first few days are without students and will be spent learning the ropes and meeting new people.  Very exciting!

You will find in this post my first ever attempt at vlogging!  I am learning and am hoping to do a once a week vlog including all the fun (or even mundane) things I get up to whilst here.  Be kind as I am learning…as I get more comfortable with the editing software I am hoping to make them a bit more interesting!

I will sign off for now and will promise at least a weekly update!  I am hoping to post Wednesdays and Sundays to keep everyone up to date on the goings on and my adventures!

Off for a run and to enjoy the cooler morning before the heat of the afternoon kicks in!

Hugs and love!

Meet Me At The Back Of The Blue Bus

Blogmas Day 31!!!!! – Why do you blog?

Well it has come to the end of my challenge.  I believe I could have done better but Holidays got the better of me for a couple of days.  Thank you for sticking around if you did and thank you to any new followers!  I will try to keep my posts somewhat regular but with all the packing and organizing I have to do in the next little while to get ready for my year away I am not promising anything!

The last topic of the 31 day challenge is to talk about why I blog. I started this as a little project to keep family and friends in the loop as I lived in Australia for six months.  I have been wanting to write a bit more since I returned but have a hard time being creative about what to write about!

I am returning to Australia for a year and plan to update and write about my experiences much more regularly as soon as my trip gets started!   I plan on keeping up with my writing and travel when I get back to Canada!

Again I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my posts!  I’m still so new to this and have a long way to go but I am having fun and really hope to continue in the future!

Wishing all of you a very happy and healthy new year!  See you all in 2014!

Hugs and love!