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Everything’s Moving So Fast

Things are moving along very fast at the moment. It seems like the past couple of months have passed in the blink of an eye. We’ve been consumed with Linden’s work and preparing to move. He has been given a release date and will start his new job in mid January. A removalist has been booked for mid January though we are considering coming back the first week of January ahead of the furniture to give us a bit more time to settle in before school and work consume us again.

I have mixed emotions about leaving Tabulam and moving back to the Central Coast. I’ve loved being able to work again and hope that I’ll be able to pick up some casual work with some local schools next year. I’m so grateful to Bonalbo Central School for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to get back into the workforce and training me. I have so many new skills and have been able to put my old skills to good use.

The girls have had a busy few weeks with Lucy turning 11 years old in early October. She wanted to celebrate by having a ‘family’ day so we went out for morning tea to our favourite café in Flock then went Ten Pin Bowling. It was so much fun.

Their school athletics carnival was held and both girls did extremely well, making it through to Zone for various events. Alice really excelled in Long Jump this year. She came first at the school carnival, then 2nd at Zone. After Zone, she competed at Diocese and placed 3rd which enabled her to go to Sydney to compete for a place in the Polding team (all northern NSW catholic schools). The four of us drove down to Sydney and watched her compete at Sydney Olympic Athletics Centre. I think she surprised everyone, including herself when she placed 3rd again. That qualified her for the NSW State Athletics Championships in Sydney which includes all NSW schools (Catholic, Government and Independent schools). She competed against 35 other girls in her age group and came 24th. We were so proud of her and she had an awesome couple of days.

Her school included a beautiful write up in their newsletter for her.

Other than that, we’ve not being doing anything very interesting lately. Just the same things each weekend of gymnastics classes on a Saturday morning and housework on Sundays. The heat and bushfire smoke don’t make it fun to get out and do anything active lately.

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m usually a lot more organized. Thank goodness for online shopping otherwise they girls wouldn’t have any gifts to open.

There’s only 4 more weeks until the end of term and these will fly by with school functions and Christmas catch ups. We are planning a fun Christmas Day this year with a picnic lunch at the beach. Not traditional at all but I think it will be great! Relaxed, fun and family. What more could you ask for?

Until next time.

Almost 3 Years!

School holidays again and Linden and the girls have gone back to the Central Coast to meet up with some tradesmen to get some quotes for work on our house before we move back in. We’re still not sure when that will be but it will be the best time to get the floorboards re sanded and the house painted while there is no furniture in there once our tenant moves out. I can’t remember the last time I was completely on my own for this long, I miss them a lot but it’s also been nice to have no one but the dog to talk to. Not having a car means I’m housebound but I’ve been busy getting lots of jobs done around the house.

It’s hard to believe I started this online diary almost 3 years ago. Next week will mark our 3 year anniversary of arriving in Tabulam and starting our adventure. It’s hard to believe our time is almost up. It will be bittersweet when the time comes to pack up and move back.

I’ll miss a lot of things living here. The wide open spaces, how incredibly quiet it is where some days all I hear are the birds in the trees. I’ll absolutely miss this big old beautiful house – it has been amazing. I’ll miss blueberry season where we can get kilos of fresh blueberries straight from the farm. I’ll miss my job and the girls’ school. I’ll miss being able to walk across the road if I run out of milk or eggs or to buy the girls an icecream or some hot chips. I’ll miss seeing the cows, horses, kangaroos, wedge tailed eagles and all the other animals we are lucky to see in the area (I won’t miss the snakes). I’ll miss ducking over to Byron Bay for the weekend, great coffee shops like Flock in Lismore and Little Cambridge in Mallanganee. I’ll miss the Channon Market. I’ll miss Linden’s commute to work being a walk next door. I’m sure there are plenty of other things I’ll miss.

I’m excited and a little nervous to be moving back to our old neighbourhood. I’m looking forward to being close to family again. I’m looking forward to being close to the beach and good bushwalks and bike trails. I’m looking forward to there being activities and sporting opportunities close by for the girls.

Lots of great memories and lots of great things to look forward to.

Bushfires again!

August was a busy month for the us. Both girls competed at the Zone Athletics carnival and performed very well receiving various placings and ribbons. Alice’s 2nd place in Long Jump and Lucy’s 3rd place in the 800m qualified them both for the Diocese Carnival. This carnival saw them compete against Catholic Primary schools from Tweed Heads down to Port Macquarie and everywhere in between. Lucy didn’t have a very good run and didn’t place in her race. Alice surprised everyone by placing 3rd and earning a spot at the Polding Carnival in Sydney next term. She will be competing for a spot at the NSW State Carnival. We are all very proud of them both for their commitment.

The girls and I have had a few morning tea dates to celebrate various things happening in our lives. Along with their sporting achievements, we learned Alice has been accepted to Kincumber High school next year which we are all pleased about. We’ve heard great things about the school and knew it was hard to gain a spot as we were out of zone so were grateful to receive her acceptance letter.

So far September has been a bit turbulent with another large fire in our community starting late last week. As with most rural areas of Australia, the area surrounding us is so dry and fires can escalate very quickly. There is very little water in the river and our towns are struggling. Damaging winds are making this fire very difficult to control and we are all hoping that it is controlled very soon. It’s a very stressful time as our surrounding community are still trying to recover form the last devastating fire in February.

We had booked a night accommodation on Saturday night in Byron and decided to still go and just keep a watch on the fire from there. It was a nice little escape away from the smoke and wind for a couple of days.

We all have our fingers crossed these fires will be contained soon and we can only hope some much needed rain will come sometime.

September 9, 2019 - 5:47 pm

Joan - Stay safe all of you, hopefully the

September 9, 2019 - 5:50 pm

Joan - Hopefully weather will change soon, stay safe and keep in touch love you all xxx

Travel Diary – Phuket Part 5

Day Eight (Tuesday) – This is finally the end of my travel diary from Phuket. All of the tours we had planned were done and we had a couple of much needed rest days before flying back home.

The girls had been keen to get their hair braided so we left Linden back at the hotel to have some free time and I walked down the street with them to find a place that could do it. It cost around $35 each which I didn’t think was too bad and took around 2 hours. While I waited, I had a lovely hour long full body massage. Afterwards we treated ourselves to a roll up icecream, it was so cool to watch them make it.

Before leaving home, I’d borrowed a Lonely Plant book on Phuket and had heard about a restaurant called ‘The Pad Thai Shop’ that had really good reviews so Linden and I went for a walk to find it. The girls were happy to stay in the room and watch tv while we went out for lunch. We ordered a chicken pad thai to share and it was so fresh and tasty. It only cost around $2.50 for a huge meal. I know why they had rave reviews and why the place is always packed. I’m sure we would have walked straight past the place if we hadn’t known about it. Linden was so impressed, he ended up there for lunch three days in a row!

We had booked the shuttle bus to go back into Patong in the evening for a last look around but it was bucketing down rain and we couldn’t get around without getting soaked through. We ended up wandering around Otop Market and trying to get undercover as much as possible. By the time we got back to the shuttle bus, we were soaked so ended up back at the hotel for dinner.

Day Nine (Wednesday) – The day was spent relaxing and not doing much at all. The morning we stayed at the pool and then walked down to have a look at Kata Beach but by the time we got there the rain had started again and it was very windy so the beach wasn’t as inviting as we’d hoped. We decided to take the girls to the Pad Thai Shop for lunch and see what they thought. It was more crowded than yesterday but we managed to get a table and ordered chicken pad thai, chicken pad see ew and a beef noodle soup. It was all so delicious and the girls tried everything. It would have cost around $12 and that included 2 coconut waters and 3 icecreams! Such great value.

The afternoon was spent back at the hotel where we enjoyed cocktails and smoothies at the swim up bar.

Day Ten (Thursday) – Our last day in Phuket today and it poured rain all day. We’d really been very lucky with the weather. It only raining heavily the last couple of days when we didn’t have any tours booked.

Our airport transfer was booked for 4.30pm so we had most of the day to ourselves. When the rain eased a little, we decided to go out for lunch. The girls and I decided to try a restaurant close by – they felt like burgers and chips and I had a pizza that we shared. Linden decided he wanted to go back to his favourite place for pad thai again.

After lunch the girls and I walked up to the shops and bought a few little souvenirs and some snacks.

The flight home wasn’t until around 8pm and we only had a short stopover at Singapore – enough to change terminals and board the next plane.

It was nice to be back home and sleep in our own beds but it was great to get away and experience another country and culture. We have so many good memories and photos of our holiday. Now to plan the next one!

Travel Diary – Phuket Part 4

Day Seven (Monday) – We had been looking forward to this day for months. My dear friend Renee recommended the John Gray Sea Canoe Hong by Starlight tour and we’d seen many rave reviews online for it. I booked direct with the company online before we left and the service was amazing. Their correspondence and organisation made me feel very relaxed about the trip. I thoroughly recommend them, to see more or to book for yourselves, their website is here. I loved that the company have won many Ecotourism awards, are incredibly safe and serve healthy, chemical free food which is all prepared fresh on the boat. I made a little video of our day if you want to check it out

A driver collected us from our hotel around 10.30am and we collected some other guests at nearby hotels before driving up to the Marina to meet the tour group. There were two boats going out and we were on Boat Two. We all sat upstairs and the kayaks were stacked on the bottom deck. After boarding, we chose a name out of a cup and that would be our paddling guide for the day. Alice and I chose ‘Meen’, a young Thai guy who was lots of fun. His English was really good and he was telling us that he had been a guide for two years, only learning English from the tourists he meets on these trips. Lucy and Linden chose ‘Hunny’, a young Thai girl who had very limited English and must only be new to the company as her paddling skills weren’t great but she was so happy and enthusiastic.

It took about an hour to get to the first destination and while we were onboard a delicious lunch was served. There were vegetarian spring rolls and a noodle salad. It was all so tasty and even Lucy ate about 10 spring rolls.

Phang Nga Bay was stunning, very different to Phi Phi Islands. The kayaks were really stable and easy to get in and out of. We just had to sit, relax and enjoy the scenery while our guide paddled us around. The first cave we went into was the Bat Cave which was home to lots of small insect bats. It was pitch black inside but our guides had headtorches to shine up in the roof so we could see the bats.

At the other end, we had to lay down to get out into the lagoon. It opened up into a beautiful ‘Hong’ (Thai for Room) and we paddled around and then through a little channel into a connecting lagoon. There were a lot of other tour groups paddling around. I was surprised how busy it was. In the second lagoon, we saw a monkey sitting in a tree. Our guide Meen was telling us that John Gray is the only company that doesn’t feed the monkeys which we were really happy to hear. He said they should be eating the fish and crabs, not bananas fed by the other groups. We also saw mudskipper fish in the mangroves. Back into the first lagoon, we were paddling around and saw a dozen or so monkeys jumping off rocks and swimming towards the kayaks. A couple of them climbed onto other kayaks. They were very cute to watch but I’m glad they didn’t climb onto our kayak. I wouldn’t want them getting too close.

We went back through the cave, out into the open water and then paddled around the rocks looking at lots of crabs and stalactites and we even saw a huge white breasted se eagle diving for fish.

Back on board for afternoon tea then to our next destination, Hong Island. We went through the Oyster Cave and inside Hong Island which was picture perfect. We explored around for a while, just admiring the scenery before heading back to the boat. The boat took us to a secluded beach for some free time where we had a go at paddling the kayaks ourselves, swam and the girls did flips off the boat. The guides were surprised at how well Alice could manage the kayak on her own.

Once we were back on board, we spent time making a ‘Kratong’ which is a floral/incense/candle arrangement to be floated later in the evening. Our guides helped us make them out of banana stems and leaves and orchids. They made little birds out of the orchid buds, they were amazing how intricate they were.

Dinner was amazing, the best Tom Yum Soup I’ve ever tasted, chicken cashew nut, vegetarian massaman curry, black/red rice, vegetables, chicken kebabs and prawn kebabs and whole fish. There was so much variety and so tasty. Much better than the buffet dinners we’d been getting at the hotel.

After dinner, we got back into our kayaks and headed back into the Bat Cave to light our kratongs and make a wish. They looked beautiful with candles flickering in the dark. We made sure we took them back to the boat after so they didn’t damage the environment.

Lastly, all the lights were turned off in the cave and our guides showed us the bioluminescent plankton floating in the water.

It really was a magical tour and definitely a highlight of our holiday.

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