It is with much sadness that I’ve made the decision to discontinue blogging, and am going to cancel my wordpress account. I used to get a lot of pleasure from blogging but that isn’t the case any more. I’ve never seen eye to eye with technology but the frustrations of trying to post blogs over the last few months has been causing far more pain than pleasure.
I’ve tried asking for help from WordPress, but I can’t even begin to explain what the problems are. When I try to explain it to them it’s like I’m speaking in a completely foreign language to the language they speak. The last problem I sorted out with them took literally months. I don’t think it was a difficult problem to fix, the only difficulty was getting them to understand what needed attention. And something at their end did need attention – but like all call centre staff, they listen, not to the full story, but for a key word and then go to their robotic scripting that relates to what they deem to be the key word.
Every time I try to complete a blog there seems to be more changes to the process. I try to add photos the way I added them the last time, and I can’t. So I click all over the place trying to work out the new procedure. I try to break my writing into paragraphs and to place images in the appropriate place between paragraphes. But no, it seems my two paragraphs are inside one block, so images will only go after the second paragraph. I try to change the blocks – but have no idea how to. I keep trying – the image appears irrelevantly at the head of the post. I re-click everywhere and keep trying. Another hour of trying passes. I put the blog aside and decide to try another day.
Another day comes. I try again. Sometimes it works easily, and other times I return to the same frustrations. I can’t get into the flow of it anymore. The blog post has taken me around two hours to write and to do a rough edit. It’s time to add images and getting it formatted for publication. And that’s when the problems start, and it can take me anywhere from one hour to ten hours, or not at all. Today I tried to add the images to a post I completed a few days ago. I tried, and I tried and tried. It was when I almost hurled the computer through the window that I decided this is madness. Enough is enough – the problems I’m encountering have taken all the joy out of blogging, and it’s ceased to be a pleasure.
So this will be my last post. Now all I have to do is work out how to cancel my account….
There is hardly a day goes by that doesn’t have me thinking at some stage, “how lucky am I”, lucky to have a wonderful, healthy family, lucky to have good, solid friendships, lucky to have taken a leap of faith several years ago, and after a few topsy turvy years, very lucky to have landed on my feet approximately 300 metres from gorgeous Geographe Bay. Lucky to be alive! And in this crazy, crazy, Covid world, I am so, so lucky to be not only living in Australia, but to be living in the big, and relatively safe state of Western Australia (touch wood that it stays safe).
The America’s, Europe, Africa, India, and much of Asia are having a terrible time. Their elderly are dying, as are some of their younger folk, hundreds of thousands of them. Their personal livelihoods are decimated, and their economies are in tatters.
The population in Australia is approximately 25 million. We’re not an over populated country. So far we’ve had approximately 27,000 recorded cases of Covid, and thanks to our freely available medical system, most People have recovered. The recorded deaths currently stand at less than 800. Whilst devastating for those directly affected, as far as the country goes we’re not doing to badly.
The State of Victoria is in In the midst of a second wave. There is also a few cases of community transmission going on in Queensland and NSW. Victoria has had to go back into lock down, and state borders have been closed again on the Eastern side of our country. By far, the majority of deaths in this country have occurred in Victoria, with more than 650 recorded. Western Australia, with its borders virtually closed to the remainder of Australia, and to the world, has to date suffered only 9 deaths. We currently only have two active cases, both of which are returned overseas travellers who remain in hotel quarantine.
Mark McGowan, our state‘s premier is responsible for our closed state borders, despite this becoming a bone of contention with our country’s Prime Minister, and with some of our Eastern Staters. I’m sure there are also a few people within WA who would like our borders to be opened, but these people are in the extreme minority. I certainly aren’t amongst that small minority. I’ll show you why:
Look at the size of WA compared to the other states. The bottom of our state experiences four seasons per year, spring, summer, autumn and winter. The top half of the state experiences only two seasons, the wet, and the dry season. The dry season has temperatures around 30°C each day, at the same time as those of us living in the south are freezing our butts off with daily highs of around 15°. Now look at the size of the other states. With the exception of Queensland, the border closures between the states On the East coast prevent the residents in the southern states from freely travelling up to the warm dry season in the top of the country. Queensland, whilst not as big as WA, does have a reasonable seasonal difference between the bottom and the top of their state.
Now let me show you what it means to be living in WA. Let me take you on a six month caravan trip around Western Australia. I promise you good weather, and I promise you there will be plenty of things to see, and plenty of things to do.
We’ll start off in Albany around the 25th April. Autumn is well under way, and the weather while not yet really cold, is getting a little chilly. What better place to remember the brave ANZACS who left our shores early last century to go off and fight the war that was supposed to end all wars. A visit to the National ANZAC centre is a worthwhile place to begin this trip around this wonderful state.
As I said though it’s starting to get a little cold, so with ANZAC day done and dusted it’s time to move a little further north. Exmouth should be perfectly warm by now and the summer winds should be dropping. The whale sharks will be arriving. The month of May is a perfect time to be up in the Exmouth area, and while you are there you could perhaps go snorkelling with these gentle giants of the sea on Ningaloo Reef.
Next stop is Broome. Lots of walks down Cable Beach, and perhaps an iconic sunset camel trip. It’s easy to spend a month or more in Broome, and in June the weather is rather pleasant.
I know, you could happily spend the rest of the dry season here in Broome, a month is barely enough, but there’s still lots more to see. Lets travel a bit further and take a look an those famous Bungle Bungles you’ve heard so much about.
You’re now getting close to the Northern Territory border. Lake Argyle which is very close to that border is an amazing place to spent a few days. Maybe you could take a sunset cruise on the lake, and you’ll definitely want a swim in the infinity pool that overlooks the lake.
It’s now the end of July and only another month before the humidity that precedes the wet season will be on its way. There’s still lots to see so it’s time to start our slow meander back down. If you didn’t stop off at Kununurra on the way to Lake Argyle, you’ll want to stop there on your way back. There’s plenty to see in Kununurra. It’s a big agricultural basin, irrigated by the Ord River. Kununurra supplies much of WAs produce throughout the year. If you’ve never experienced the wonderful flavour of a juicy, ripe, red Pawpaw (sprinkled with fresh lime juice) then this is the place to do it. Forget those insipid, tasteless yellow pawpaws you’ve had the south – there is no comparison. Try it – you’ll be hooked.
A few nights later will see you in Port Hedland and you can see what a real mining town looks like. Take a tour of the harbour, and a minesite. Juxtapose yourself beside one of those massive trucks. There’s a lot to see in the iron ore country of our stunning Pilbara.
No trip to the Pilbara would be complete without a visit to Karijini National Park. It’s easy to spend a week here, hiking the gorges, photographing the most amazing scenery, and swimming in some stunning pools.
Next we’ll be travelling down the Great Northern Highway during August so we’ll be travelling through wild flower countryside at the height of wild flower season. Stunning vistas of amazing colour including fields of glorious everlasting daisies will have you enthralled.
Perhaps there’s time for a trip out to the old gold mining town of Kalgoorlie before you head home for summer. See the ladies of the night at the famous Pink House in Kalgoorlie’s famous Hay Street (I believe tours are now available, mmmm interesting!) or you could test your luck at the only legal Two Up ring, a betting game synonymous with the ANZAC spirit, a game which seemingly kept our World War One heroes amused during their free time when serving in the Middle East. With those two attractions I’m sure you can understand that Kalgoorlie is not your run of the mill type of town! Could be worth a look…..
Down from Kalgoorlie you’ll find the town of Esperance in our far south. The sands, as white as snow, in Cape Le Grand National Park are a sight to behold. And those turquoise waters – wow, wow, wow!
It’s now October. The weather’s warming up again in the south, so it’s a good time to conclude our trip around WA back in Albany.
I’ve now taken you on a reasonably full circuit of Western Australia. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I always do. I have only shown you a brief snap shot of what there is to see. There’s so much more. The horizontal Falls, The Gibb River Road, Coral Bay, Kalbarri, Geraldton, my home town of Busselton, Margaret River – the list of places goes on and on. There’s forests, and oceans, and walk tracks, and vineyards…..And of course there’s the capital of the state – Perth. For me there’s a lifetime of travel and experiences still in front of me without ever having to leave this wonderful big state.
I hope I haven’t upset anyone by bragging about how lucky I am to be within living within the closed borders of Western Australia. I hope you understand why I think I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to be living where I’m living in this insane world. For those of you in less fortunate places, I hope you are making the most of whatever opportunities you can. Keep safe everyone, and do what you can to stay healthy and sane. Thanks for following along – it’s great to be alive!
Having arrived home from our 2020 Broome trip just over two weeks ago, I thought I’d record some of this years highlight.
BEACH WALKS AND FOSSICKING
Broome beckons winter after winter with it’s stunning Cable Beach to walk along in perfect winter temperatures of around 30 degrees almost every day. We walked most days along the beach, sometimes just for a relaxing walk to start the day off, sometimes in the afternoons to do a bit of beach fossicking, sometimes around the rock pools at low tide, and sometimes all three. There’s always something different to see on beautiful Cable Beach.
CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS
We managed to catch up with several friends. Some were staying elsewhere so we caught up often – sunset drinks, fun and frolics on the beach, and meals (some out, and some in). One morning we even drove down the beach and cooked our breakfast. Towards the end of our time in Broome a couple of very special friends from Perth flew up and stayed with us in a tent on our site for 10 beautiful days. We walked on the beach, played cards, swam, fished (notice I didn’t say catched – not a fish to be hooked), went out for meals, ate in, lots of beach drives, sometimes just the four of us, and at other times meeting up with other friends on the beach. We had a great time, generally chatting away, relaxing, and having some down time, as you do when on Broome time.
AND OF COURSE THE FAMOUS BROOME SUNSETS
As always we were very spoilt by some magnificent sunsets. It’s such a unique experience to load your drinks and nibbles into your car and drive up Cable Beach until you find a piece of secluded beach far from the madding crowds, and just sit and watch the sun go down. If there’s a few clouds around the full glory of the sunset appears after the sun disappears over the horizon.
These next ones where taken at Sunset on our last night in Broome for 2020, not on Cable Beach though. For these ones we drove along a dirt track to get to picturesque Riddell Beach. The sunset, as always was gorgeous, but the real beauty was the way the suns setting rays lit up the red cliffs and rock formations on the beach.
My favourite sunset of the trip though was the amazing one that apparently was so photographed that it appeared on both the TV news, and on Sunrise the following morning. So much of Australia’s population have seen this beauty via their TV sets. We were lucky enough to see it for real. It was AMAZING.
And one final sunset to finish off my Broome memories for 2020. Although not taken on our last night, the final photo is of our good friend Brian. It seems a fitting finish to this post, Good-bye Sun – we’ll be back to say hello again next year I’m sure.
Paul tries to play golf at least once a week on Busselton’s Par three golf course. He’s trying to make a habit of playing in the Thursday morning Men’s Comp, and when he can he gets a second practice round in on another day. Two Thursdays ago the weather forecast was for severely wintery weather so he stayed at home in the warmth. The morning was beautiful! Then the next Thursday the forecast was equally as bad, but the skies were clear and blue, so he chanced it.
It was freezing, but apart from one shower of hail he managed to play his round without having to take shelter.
Having the house to myself I enjoyed a couple of hours of pottering around doing a few household chores. A short trip outside had me scurrying back indoors out of the cold. The temperature of around 9°. It felt closer to zero. We had decided we wouldn’t make our annual winter pilgrimage to the top end of Australia this year owing to Covid. However with Western Australia having successfully contained the virus to date, I had to ask myself why we weren’t being more flexible with our plans.
Paul returned from golf, so I posed the question, “remind me again why we’re not going up to Broome this year?” I asked. He informed me he had asked himself that very same question while sheltering from the shower of hail at golf. Needless to say in less than two hours we had made our plans. Commitments and appointments on the home front were either postponed or cancelled, and a booking was secured at the Broome caravan Park. Plans were in place to leave the following Friday, the 26th June.
it’s now Wednesday morning on the 24th June,and I’m snug in bed inside the caravan after waking up on the first morning after day one of our trip. We had the van packed, and could see no point in sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting for Friday, so here we are. We’re booked into the caravan park as of Monday, so, for once we are going to actually do less driving each day. We always plan shorter days but get impatient to get to our destination. It’ll take us a week to get there but it’ll be a more relaxed journey with the shorter driving days. Hopefully the dog won’t get the huff with us from the back seat this time. Mr Tilly won’t even look at us after more than four hours of sitting in the back seat on previous trips.
We use Wiki Camps for our trip planning as you can see below. All planned overnighters are pleasant roadside stops, either completely free or require only a small donation.
In case you’re not sure what the attraction of Broome is during our winter months, just check out the consistent weather. It’s like this day after day, week after week for June, July and August (our winter). The dry season in Broome is actually dry, unlike North Queensland where it can bucket down day after day in their dry. For us the weather is perfect, and that goes a long way towards making it perfect holiday.
And then there’s the beach….. Enough said!
Apologies again for poor photo inserts and alignments – WordPress continues to frustrate!
I started experiencing a few minor frustrations with WordPress last year. The problems coincided with a time when I was ready for a bit of break anyway, so I didn’t do a lot about it at the time.
Fast forward several months and I’m starting to re-kindle my blogging interest. However, the small problems I had been encountering seem to have multiplied. Not being particularly computer literate I find it hard to relate what my problems are. Computer terms that may make it easier to describe the problems allude me. Seeking help via Web chat with the WordPress tech gurus is like asking for help in a foreign language with only a smattering of words in common.
In the past, when I left a comment on someone’s blog I would receive an alert if that blogger responded. As I recall this notification was by way of both email, and the little blue WordPress icon displaying a number which indicated the amount of comments awaiting my attention. The first of the problems was that when this little notification showed up on my desktop, clicking on the blue WordPress icon had stopped taking me anywhere. As I was ready for a bit of a break from blogging at the time I didn’t follow up on this.
I’m aware that in settings I can tick so as to to receive an email alert when comments are placed on a blog I’m following. I tried this with the result that I received hundreds of emails in a day, one for every single comment placed on all of the blogs I follow. I can’t seem filter the comments so as to only receive comments relevant to my own. This means the only way I can now enjoy the blogging conversations I used to enjoy is to continually scroll through everyone’s blog comments looking for the thread relevant to me. So apologies fellow bloggers for my lack of engagement with you all. I have been trying from time to time, but trying to engage with you all is just ridiculously time consuming- not that you aren’t all worth it, but there just aren’t that many hours in the day.
I’ve tried to sort this out via word press. I thought I’d finally managed to get my web chat person to comprehend what I was describing, but they couldn’t offer me a solution. The conversation was left with a promise that I would receive a response via email once they’d looked into it. That was over a week ago now, and nothing more. I guess I’m going to have to chase it up again, but where to start…..
Once I can get get that sorted out maybe I’ll move on to the other problems, and there are many. These include problems loading photos, problems with choosing a category when publishing, problems with inserting a key photo, difficulties doing anything other than a draft on the iPad, the list seems to be endless. I keep putting it off but I shall have to remember, ‘once begun, half done’! Maybe tomorrow I’ll begin…..
“Wanna go for a walk”, the master asks quietly. Mr Tilly, who has been sleeping soundly, jerks his head around so fast it’s a wonder he doesn’t get whiplash. From then on he watches Paul’s every move. He follows him around, only inches from his heels as he patiently waits for him to get ready.
The same happens if we mention the ‘beach’ word. It can take anything up to half an hour from the thought of us going for a walk, or going to the beach, before we actually head out the door. We have to get out of bed, shower or wash, brush teeth, pull clothes on and don shoes before heading out the door. All the while Tills looks on, patiently stretching, watching and waiting.
The same whiplash reaction happens when we mention the ‘bike’ word. “Do you want to go out on the bike”, I ask. He sits to attention watching for signs of preparation. Only he’s not so patient. If we take to long getting ready he starts to whine! Yes, going out on the bike is definitely his favourite outing.
He sits in a basket on the back of Paul’s bike, and Paul rides out in front. The basket is a tad small for him but he doesn’t mind a bit of discomfort. He looks right and left as we ride along the beach path, and constantly checks back to make sure I’m keeping up.
Recently we went for a bike ride with some friends and I wasn’t in my rightful place, behind him, where he could keep an eye on me. Talk about whinge – he wasn’t having a bar of it. A re-group saw him happy again and we could continue our bike ride in peace. As an aside from Tills, what a thrill that was – to phone up friends to arrange an impromptu bike ride. I haven’t done that for well over 50 years – made me feel like a teenager again.
When we first started taking him on the bike we worried that he’d try to jump out when we passed another dog. There’s nothing to worry about there though. He just looks at them as we pedal past with a superior look on his face. He doesn’t know all dogs don’t get to sleep on the big bed with their people, or to snuggle up together as a pack on the couch together as the sun goes down. But there’s no mistaking that look on his face when we pass a dog walking on the beach path. He definitely knows this bike riding gig is something that only ‘canine royalty’ gets to enjoy, he thinks he’s just the bees knees. Perhaps we should change his name from Mr Tilly to King Tilly.
I can’t help thinking the majority of Australians seem to be thinking we’re over this Covid thing, that our government managed to contain it, and that life can get back to normal. Despite the fact that experts are telling us the virus will be part of our lives for a long time yet to come, there’s almost a feeling here in Australia of jubilation and celebration as if the war on this pandemic is over and we, in Australia have emerged victorious.
Personally I think we’re only in the eye of the storm, a storm that’s gathering momentum. We battened down the hatches as the first phase of the storm hit, and here in Australia we did it well. We locked down early enough which prevented our hospitals from becoming over-run. Our health system used that time to re-group, and the amount of ICU beds and ventilators has been increased. We’ve weathered it well to date. But as we’re all well aware there’s a balancing act going on, a balancing act between the economic health of a country, and the physical health of its people. I think this calm sense of security we’re all feeling is because we’re in the eye of the storm and I think more is coming.
Our restrictions are slowly lifting and people are returning to work. Our new cases of Covid are hovering at or below what is considered to be a manageable amount. Here in WA we currently only have three active cases, none of which require hospitalisation. NSW and Victoria aren’t doing quite as well, but compared to much of the world they’re still doing brilliantly. With the restrictions now being lifted I can’t help feeling it’s only a matter of time until we will again be hit with the full fury of this pandemic. All we can do is watch, and wait, and wash our hands, and stick to social distancing. Let’s not get complacent. It’s not over yet, in fact it may have barely yet begun!
Today’s relative affluence compared to the generations before us has perhaps led us into a lifestyle of expectation and almost instant gratification. We don’t need to scrimp and save for several months to purchase anything anymore, we just put it on the ‘card’, or sign up to buy now, pay later, feeling secure that our pay check will be in the bank at the end of the month to pay for it all. However, recent events have shown us that the lifestyles many of us have taken for granted can be lost in the blink of an eye. For many the security of that regular pay cheque has disappeared. Currently the government is bailing many of us out, but what happens if, and when their coffers run dry? It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realise that a second, third, or even mutating continuing waves of this pandemic could see us all back in lock down with no job, and without the government assistance that has been forthcoming in these early days. To put it mildly – we’d really be up the creek without a paddle!
We saw the supermarket shelves get stripped bare within just a few days as the possibility of lock down loomed. Clearly it was to late to begin putting food, and other supplies away for such a drastic change in circumstances such as the change that some of us have experienced recently.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought and putting in time researching ‘stockpiling’. There are extremes at either end of the stockpiling spectrum. There are those that rely on restaurants, cafes and take out for their sustenance, often with maxed out credit cards to pay for it. The supplies in their own cupboards would barely keep them going for a day or two. Then at the other end of the spectrum are the doomsday preppers that have five years of supplies and a bunker in which to lock it, and themselves away in, should the need arise. I wouldn’t be comfortable with either of those scenarios. The first because I just wouldn’t want to be that vulnerable if my circumstances should suffer even a small or short downturn. The second scenario – well if doomsday should come, I think I’d rather be amongst the fallen than be living amongst the crackpots who lived their former lives preparing for doomsday.
I’ve taken stock of what’s in my cupboards. Should anything happen that prevented me from restocking regularly, after about one week I’d be out of some things that I’ve come to rely on. After two weeks I wouldn’t have the makings of a normal meal as I know it. By the end of a month I think my cupboards would be almost completely empty. I don’t feel ok about that anymore, I want more! I’m thinking supplies that Paul and I could live on, eating balanced, and appealing meals for around six months is a reasonable amount to stockpile. But where to start….
It makes sense to build supplies around meals similar to some of the meals that we often eat. Rice, pasta, pasta sauces, canned tomatoes, and canned fish will no doubt form the mainstay of my stockpile. Oats, milk powder, nuts, seeds, dried and canned fruits – supplies we use almost daily anyway, so there’s no harm in keeping a good stock of those too. Then there’s crackers and spreads (peanut paste would be our preferred non refrigerated topping). Some lentils, cans and packets of beans – green beans, kidney and black beans, and and I figure we’re well in the way to a sensible food stockpile.
Having a good idea of what we’d like to be eating should we ever be struck by a disaster of any length of time gives us the opportunity to buy in bulk when products are on special. My recent research has shown me that I can apply filters to search the major supermarket chains so as to find only their 1/2 price specials. I didn’t know I could do that before – bonus! My plan is to build bulk supplies of pantry staples at half price where possible. Then all we have to do is store everything in such a way that makes stock rotation easy in every day life. By having a clear idea on what we’d want to be eating based upon meals that we already eat, by buying in bulk when on special, and by careful rotation of our home supplies, we will be not only putting aside for a rainy day, or for a real crisis, we’ll be saving money in the long run too.
About three years ago I purchased a cute little retro styled bike. I grew up riding a bike with back pedal brake, so when I saw a brand new, replica, retro style bike, complete with back pedal brake, I just had to have one.
I fell off that cute little bike the first time I rode it. Unhurt, I got straight back on, but my confidence never returned. I didn’t know if time and age had taken its toll on my cycling ability, or if it was the bike itself that wasn’t quite right. The bike was the right size for me, but the steering was very twitchy and sensitive. For months at a time the bike would sit unused in the shed before i’d give it another go, and another white knuckled ride would take place. I couldn’t relax riding it, I just didn’t feel safe.
With much trepidation I started browsing second hand bikes. I didn’t want to buy another bike only to discover that no matter how good the bike was, it wasn’t going to be a bike I’d ride. I saw a used bike advertised on Saturday morning that tweaked my interest. Some quick research indicated it could be a good bike for me, so I contacted the seller around 8am. She had listed the cycle for sale only about an hour earlier, but it had already sold. I had heard that cycles had been selling like hot cakes since the beginning of the pandemic. Perhaps now was the time to advertise my own cute little bike.
Paul gave the bike a quick clean and we decided to try our luck. In little more than an hour the bike had found a new owner, and at a price I wouldn’t have thought possible for a three year old bike, no matter how cute it looked.
We decided to look at another new bike. Sunday morning of Mother’s Day we headed to Dunsborough for a walk, calling past the cycle shop with the intentions of seeing if they had any in their window. What a surprise, the shop was open. Apparently they had been so busy lately that the owner had come in on the Sunday to try to get some work done. They had a bike that was the right size for vertically challenged me, a bike that he felt sure would feel stable enough for me to enjoy riding. A quick trial ride, and yes, I think he may be right.
An hour or so later we were home again and cycling up our own beach cycle path, me on my brand new bike. I rode it again the next day, and intend to ride it again today. It feels safe, and I’m not gripping the handlebars for grim death. Will I keep riding it? I think I will! It wasn’t a good feeling to be thinking that I’d become to old to be riding a bike at only 64. Busselton is flat and we have so many wonderful cycle paths. In fact I think it’d be safe to call Busselton a cycling paradise for unfit seniors.
I think I can relate to the the saying “it’s like riding a bike, you never forget how”, only I’ll add a little proviso to that, “ providing the bike you’re riding is the right bike for you.” I think I’ve found a bike that’s right for me – and I can’t tell you how good it feels to know I wasn’t making excuses when I didn’t want to ride that cute little bike. For me, it really wasn’t a safe bike to ride. The new bike that’s, so far, a joy to ride – what a pleasure!