??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness

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Back at work

Back at school and holidays seem so far away. I have a year 2 this year. I have to keep remembering to use ‘little words’ . I asked one little girl , “Did you have a great vacation?” to which she replied , “What’s a vacation?”

I had to laugh when I had them write about themselves for me, telling them I wanted to get to know them better. I told them after they wrote their stories I would answer questions about myself for them. The questions started with questions about my pets, favourite foods, if I had children and then how old they were, favourite colours then one asked, “Whats your real name?” So tempted to reply some famous name haha! Then one asked how old I was. I replied I was 52 . One little girl said, “You are almost as old as my dad , he is 54” while another said, “I thought you would be as old as my mum , she is 38” . Yes, that little girl will have a FABULOUS year in my class hahaha.
It should be a good year πŸ™‚

Not so good a day though for Sheldon the pup.
Poor Sheldon was desexed, had his hernia repaired and had two baby teeth removed that had yet to fall out. today 😦 He was a little lethargic when I got home and the vet had told Tim that was normal for about 12-24 hours . It’s 10 pm now and by 7pm he had eaten his first meal hungrily and w are taking turns to try and keep him sitting still…exhausting stuff!!
However, while he recovered fast from the operation , he was instinctively scratching at the sites every time he awoke through the afternoon. So, on getting home at 5pm I drove into the vets to get him an Elizabethan collar. They recommended a 10 cm wide one . Putting it on him it looked short for his snout but he went back to sleep so it was hard to tell. Of course he woke up at 7 pm to eat…then began licking and biting, corresponding with the closure of his vet and the one Ally takes Blacky to. Rang some pet shops in the local shopping centre as it is Thursday late night shopping. Only one had a collar and it was the same 10cm wide one we had. Then I remembered the after hours vet. Took a gamble calling them and it paid off. An hour later, many failed attempts then the watching of a you tube ( honestly is there anything not on that site???? Lol) we had the new collar on correctly. Much more suitable size finally. He can eat and drink with it, chew toys but can’t scratch :))

He has to be kept quiet and not do a lot of movement for 10 days…that will be far from an easy task. πŸ™‚

Time to make lunches now for tomorrow .


Collar One


Better fit collar and a far from impressed Sheldon :))


Last day of summer holidays

This post should have been made yesterday..I’m back at work now πŸ™‚

Today was cool, windy and the rain , rather than letting up , has just intensified throughout the day. We all watched the hardship others were facing north of us and across the border. Having once had our home flood , nowhere near as high as these people but enough to have to have had carpets lifted and removed and low lying electronics destroyed I feel for them. What I don’t understand though, are those that stay until the last minute then need rescuing endangering even more lives. Possessions can be replaced. I know it’s hard to walk away from them but lives a so much of true value. When there is warning of rising levels in my opinion it’s best to go to the higher area.

My family and I did a drive by past our local beach this evening to watch the waves. A normally calm beach with small waves had become a wave monster. The next headland , a short walk away wasn’t visible in the rain and sea mist. A lone buoy bobbed flashing its red light. We drove then around to See the area known as The Haven. Here the water is usually flat , with sailing boats moored to buoys. Tonight just a few boats were here ( I suppose many may have been moved to potentially safer moorings) , being tossed by the magnificent strength of the waves. Waves crashed high over the rock platform the foam creeping over rocks that never feel the spray of high tide. The worst was expected at around 10 pm marking high tide and the rain moving here. We heard it at home but remained safe indoors. Spectacular display of nature’s anger as it probably was, it wasn’t worth the potential danger of debris over wet roads .

These photos don’t do the real scene justice…


The swimming beach area. Normally little waves break here.


This rock platform usually has exposed rocks even at high tide.


This is a sheltered cove where waves are non existent unless they are the wash from a boat. There are usually more boats moored here.

Today I felt I should begin preparing for the school term. I have been receiving emails from colleagues of work plans and I’m beginning to feel like I should start contributing. I guess I was too busy before relaxing and getting my self refreshed and ready for a new year. Holidays are a chance to rejuvenate. If I spend time in the break doing work when would I relax? Anyway I have begun a Smart Notebook file about the circus, which my grade will be using as the term one theme. It’s looking pretty awesome even if I say so myself. I love doing the units using this program but I tend to get ‘lost’ time wise tracking down great resources.

This unit will set me yet another challenge in my life. I must have the biggest list of phobias and this one’s called Coulrophobia…fear of clowns. I have never liked clowns because I don’t like masks or their heavily made up faces ( ironic because I always wear makeup haha) . I love going to the circus and even went to one during the holidays. But , seeing the clown walking around the ring , toting balloons was enough to have my palms begin sweating and I started hyperventilating. I can control these symptoms but hate the feeling of the rush when they first start , moments after seeing the clown. I have worked out they sense my fear and are more likely than not, to try interacting. Fears must be conquered so with clowns I have worked out the eye contact ratio that seems to keep them at bay. Ally my daughter isn’t impressed by clowns either so the two of us have mastered the eye contact ratio together :))

I think 2013 is to be my year of personal challenges in many ways .


Day 3 Coca Cola free

It’s only early days but I’m sure I have the strength to do this πŸ™‚

It’s been three long days. It’s like all my family are drinking Coke all day long…or am I just very much more alert to that soft fizz as the bottle opens.

At dinner last night I watched the beads of condensation build on the outside of the bottle . Then I was absorbed by the mesmerising dribble as a drop collected others on its trip to the bottom of the bottle. Small bubbles rose like floating helium balloons , weaving their way to the top of the glasses filled with this nectar. My glass was brim filled with a clear cold liquid known as water. I don’t need as many glasses of this as I did Coke. I do have a little headache ( probably missing the caffeine and sugar maybe).

Today was so hot. Perfect weather for an ice cold thirst quenching glass or 4 of Coke. I was tempted to just have a mouthful but instead I had a glass of iced water and some grapes. Then, I look over and there’s Ally swigging the last dribble from a bottle. A slice of watermelon and I coped ok. My family think I’m a bit angry…but I’m not , it’s just they aren’t being kind ha ha ha couldn’t be me…NOOOOOO !!

Dinner tonight was pizza. This would normally be accompanied by a few large glasses of that delicious beverage. But, there in my glass was water. Brian had two glasses of coke….yes lol I was counting.

Now it’s our regular Friday night watching TV consuming dips and chips washed down with at least 2 more glasses of coke for me. I’m foregoing the dips cause I’m not yet able to do it on water only. My treat was a Cadbury Favourites flake. Enjoyed it immensely and can still taste it in my mouth :)) Yes there is still some sugar in that chocolate 4g but a 600ml bottle of Coke has 65 g and on a Friday I’d drink conservatively a litre SCARY THOUGHT after this research !!

I know this will be a positive thing for me πŸ™‚


Coca Cola addiction.

My strange addiction

Well it’s not all that strange…I love coke. I have been watching all the recent tv stories about the sugar content of coke. Conservatively I would drink 3 glasses of coke each day.

That’s 323 calories per day ( source Calorie king).
Doing the sums , 7 x 323= 2261 calories per week.
2261 x52 (weeks in a year) = 117 521 calories per year .
3500 calories reduces 1 kg . So …
117 521 divided by 3500 = approx 33 kg in year!

I’m going to put his to the test. I am going to give up Coca Cola…for one month… starting today. It’s not going to be easy. I’m addicted to it. But, I’ll give it a go!

I’ll keep you posted how I go. Already , just 1 day into it I’m craving it. I’m trying to drink water to replace it…no substitute lol .. But I WILL get used to it – I hope. πŸ™‚

Wish me luck as I start my journey . I think I’ll need it πŸ™‚


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Raindrops… or tears??

Th sky obviously felt as I did today, about leaving this peaceful terrain. Grey skies shed their tears on me as I pushed in the chairs into place around the outdoor setting. First it was just a slow rolling tear then a heavy splattering, creating splash patterns on the glass of the table top.
Brian loaded the car with our belongings while I tidied up inside ( the lesser of two evils ).not letting the rain dampen our spirits ( just our clothes as we raced to the car) we planned our day , before heading home.

We travelled to Tea Gardens , a coastal town on the opposite side of the bay to where we had stayed. The drive took about an hour including a top at Baskins and Robbins ice cream store in Nelson Bay. Ally loves the chocolate and peanut butter ice cream there but it wasn’t available while she was up here. So, we bought her a large tub to take home with us for her. This meant some carful packing as we had forgotten a chiller bag or esky on this trip. Luckily I had a large strong carry bag with a heavy plastic liner . We filled this with ice with the ice cream fully entombed in the ice.amazingly when we got home about 4 hours later the ice cream had only softened a little and the ice was still in shape with a little defrosting!! Good air conditioning in the car and the cool outside temperature was in our favour (and Ally’s).

At Tea Gardens we visited Nicole’s Gallery and cafe. These photos don’t do justice to Tea Gardens nor the gallery.




As we were leaving Tea Gardens we saw a house with a collection of boat floats and fishing nets decorating it.


Tried googling it for information but so far no luck. I’ll keep on it though.

It was great to be home ,around two hours later. As we were driving home on the freeway we passed one of my friends Wendy and her husband . Not sure where hey had been but will find out when we catch up soon. It was amazing because the traffic was quite heavy , to coincidentally see a friend on the freeway.

Tim was just leaving for work when we arrived home so we only had the chance to say hello before he drove off. Ally was out so we were glad to have the pets at home :)) it’s great to be home. I love travelling but home is so special. Brian unpacked and loaded the washing machine and I headed out to Woolworths to organise food for he next few day. The fridge wasn’t empty tho. The kids had lots of fresh fruits and cheeses. I actually cooked dinner this evening, chicken schnitzels, salad and chips. I enjoyed doing it having had so much restaurant and take away foods not just in this week away but during my whole holiday period ( except for Christmas). I probably won’t be enjoying it by this time next week hahaha!


Last day of holiday

The morning was perfect, blue sky and a pleasant temperature. The winds of last night were gone. A smoky smell met my nose, obviously blown from the Cessnock fires far, far away. I took a ‘selfie’ of the morning scene.


After breakfast the mercury was soaring so we headed to the beach. The water was not too cold and I had a ‘technical ‘ swim as I did lift my feet from the ground for a few seconds and splashed my arms momentarily. That’s more than I usually do at the beach these days. The area was similar to a scene from Jaws and that unnerves me. The sky was blue but on the horizon past the opposite side of the bay, a series of puffy white clouds lay i n perfect d’Hollywood’ style. Colourful beach umbrellas covered the sand, children paddled boards and floats, squealing with delight. In the middle of the bay a paraglider had a bird’s eye view as its passenger flew behind the fast speed boat to which they were attached. Dolphin cruise boats circled searching for dolphins . The familiar drone of jet skis was absent today. In my mind I could hear the tune …”do -do, do-do-do-do do-do,” and in my mind too, a shark was creating that sound. Yes, I have a vivid imagination πŸ™‚ I chose instead to sit on the waters edge, the cool waves washing lightly ( and some not so kindly as the tide was coming in haha) over my legs. At the time I didn’t know,but arriving back in the apartment I realised the sand of the bay was now very depleted with most caught in my swimmers …lol.

We had a late lunch around 2 pm and it was now really hot. We stayed indoors in the air con instead of being out on the balcony. I kindly let Brian use my ipad to watch some videos from the Sydney Morning Herald website. I napped and on waking an hour later he was still watching them. By the time I got my ipad back I had just 268mb of my 1 GB of data I had just laded in the morning!! Looks like I will be recharging to finish off the holiday. I don’t use 3G only on holidays away. I mostly tap into my home wifi or hotspot it with my phone ‘s data. Lucky Brian wasn’t using my phone data.. That would have been a costly event haha.

I logged onto Facebook when I got my iPad back and felt extremely bad for my kids and pets who were sweltering it out in 45C temp , no air con ! Couldn’t get in touch with them then because they had headed to work ( kids not pets) .Eventually heard from my daughter and offered them to go to a local hotel for the night but she said it wasn’t too extreme now and both pets were running around chasing and playing. The tiles on the back family area floors do tend to keep fairly cool. We must remedy the air conditioning situation!

Ate fish and chips for dinner. A very hot wind was blowing making the walk down less than enjoyable. The beach front was packed despite the sun going down and black clouds coating the sky. People were swimming , while others ate and drank on the sand in the non-existent cool breeze, despite the proximity to the water.


Right now lightning is decorating the sky and thunder is loudly rumbling…so loud it is audible over the TV and Brian has it loud AND the glass doors have been soundproof to traffic. I like watching a good storm. It’s sad packing up as it’s been a relaxing week. It will be good though to be home as there really is no place like home.. Said tapping my black thongs together at the heels πŸ™‚

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Sun, sun, sun, here it comes!

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes!

Another beautiful sunny day. I could easily get used to living in this apartment, spending lazy days watching the waves bob boats, seagulls cruising in large swirling swoops, dolphin watch cruise boats sailing along, to the accompaniment of the drone of jetskis spurting up spray in their wake.

Today after a lazy start to the day we did a drive around the area. We visited the Port Stephens Community Art Centre first. The gardens outside had gravel walking paths weaving amongst pretty gardens. Inside the air conditioned building we looked through the art exhibited by local artists. Brian is after a Shoal Bay painting to add to his collection of art works depicting many of he landscapes we have experienced in our Australian travels. None appealed to us so we will ate a trip through Tea Gardens on Saturday before we head home. There are few galleries there we have been to before and might have something for us.

Then we drove around, looking a beaches, admiring the views some homes have. The sand up here is incredibly white, not unlike that of around the Whitsundays. The water is varying shades of turquoise , the white sand edged by green trees.

Arriving home we snacked on som fruit then Brian headed off to have a swim while I sat back watching mindless tv . The wind had picked up quite strong by now so much so that it blew the umbrella off its pole. Luckily it just ended up ( still open) on our balcony and hadn’t blown over the edge which could have had disastrous results for those on the path below.

Had Italian food for dinner at a restaurant called Gianni’s just a few doors down from our apartment. While looking up the phone number online , to book a table ( its always busy and you need to book) I read through so new reviews about the restaurant. We have always enjoyed it but many of the more current reviews were quite negative. We decided to take a gamble and we weren’t disappointed. The dishes we had were served piping hot and were delicious. Brian had spaccatelle ( short curved pasta) with Italian sausage and Neapolitan sauce. I had spinach and ricotta cannelloni also topped with a Neapolitan sauce. For dessert I had tiramisu . The slice was huge and while I usually ask for extra cream I’m so glad I I didn’t in this instance . Brian had mint choc chip and chocolate gelato which he assured me tasted great. I must admit I think my tiramisu was the best choice!



Walking back a crescent moon shone down on us as the sky began to turn to black. I tried to capture it but the iPad wasn’t adequate. Now we are back at the apartment feet up , being lazy again , something we are both extremely good at. Tomorrow marks our last day here, Saturday we head home. The week has disappeared so quickly and we have been extremely lucky with the weather.



Nothing but blue skies…smiling at me

The usual grey cloud morning was nowhere to be seen this morning. Instead I was greeted by an azure sky with just a few wispy curls of transparent white clouds. The boats bobbed on the tiny waves as the tide came in. At the headland, entrance to the ocean , large waves crashed on the rocks, spraying white bubbles up so high they were visible from here.
This is definitely the way to enjoy another leisurely breakfast. I am going to miss having time to linger over breakfast when I return to work.

We headed over to the beach around 11am. I lathered on the block out cause I was still wearing red hues from yesterday’s sunshine. My skin must burn in seconds. I wear a good coating of 30 + sunblock but 30 minutes can see me quite burnt. Today I used my sarong as a cape …the best block out. Brian swam while I waded , still not willing to dive in . At 22C the water s still a bit cool for this wuss! I still had my magazine to read too.

I watched families zip around on their jet skis, kids making sandcastles quickly gobbled by the incoming tide, and cautiously watched a seagull that circled overhead ( didn’t want him to leave a calling card on my head hahaa) . I gazed at the boats , I’d love one to sail around in. The peaceful scene was broken only by a boat, towing a donut rider, racing at a ‘rate of knots ‘ ( appropriate term here lol) within the swimming zone. It’s carefully signposted by a series of yellow buoys. Some people think rules are for others I think. It created some waves -literally- and the kids near me lost their castle , built dangerously close to the water’s edge.

Around 2pm we left the beach, strolled to the bakery for one bread rolls for lunch. Brian was tempted by a cheese, tomato and beef pie. I found myself nodding off after lunch in the warm day , under our beach umbrella on the balcony, after having checked my Facebook and read a little of a new ebook.

Brian took off for a walk later in the afternoon and I read a little this time my eyes weren’t so heavy πŸ™‚

For dinner we went to the Jumbo Palace Chinese restaurant in Nelson Bay. We have dined there once in every holiday w have ad in Shoal Bay. An anonymous writer penned this review on the Menufeast website …
“If you want the real traditional Chinese food that you used to eat back in your early childhood then this is the place to come. The wonderful old style Chinese cusine where the vegetables and meats are big and chunky and very tastyey. [sic] ”

This is so true. When I was a little girl , on Fridays of school holidays , my mum , nanna, my two sisters and I would go shopping to a local shopping centre. At lunchtime we would eat at the Chinese Restaurant. We would always order chicken chow mien, sweet and sour chicken and fried rice. I don’t know if we ordered other things too, for these were my favourites and they stayed in my mind. We also drank orange cordial with our lunch , and I remember my nanna always encouraged us to ave a second cordial. We didn’t get cordial much ( I remember milk being served more much to my dismay) so this was part of the treat. I also remember two little girls around my age used to sit in a corner of the restaurant while their family served and cooked. When I started high school I became friends with one of those little girls. we were in the same class in first year ( as it was known in those days… Now year 7). But, I digress for what I wanted to write was the sweet and sour chicken and fried rice at the Jumbo Palace has always reminded me of those childhood meals…but the orange credal is no where to be seen replaced by soft drinks.

We brought home the left over food , the meals were reminiscent of the size of yesteryears and so were the prices.

TV here is not the greatest. I have my iPad to play with so I don’t mind. Brian loves tv and finds the channels somewhat disappointing, so much so he has resorted to one of the DVDs provided about Jesse James. I might let him play on my iPad when I finish this and I’ll complete some of the puzzles in his Sydney Morning Herald .


Room with a view – and what a view it is!


Monday afternoon after the kids went home it was very quiet . I enjoyed having all the family together.

After the kids left we headed to the beach. The water was crisp and a pretty aqua colour, a reflection of the fine white sand beneath the water. Watched Brian submerge himself , I was only able to wade waist deep. Sunburnt shoulders are difficult to slide under the cool waves. Enjoyed the quiet time reading aTake 5 magazine full of lightweight stories and puzzles. I hadn’t noticed though when purchasing it, it contained a very gross section ” Back to School Special” . Oh no! Can it really be that in just two weeks I will be back at work??? I quickly flicked over that section with averted eyes. If I don’t see it it might not be true ha ha ! !

Late Monday afternoon the clouds rolled in with a light sprinkle of rain producing a beautiful rainbow over the bay. Tried capturing it on the iPad camera but as always with rainbows they are much better viewed direct through the eyes. This one had its pot of gold in the water so I guess there is a lucky dolphin swimming around now πŸ™‚


Dinner was a meat pizza from the Pizzeria next door. We had some garlic and herb bread as well. As we consumed our pizza we watched what we think must be a local running group, go for a run. It’s odd fun to watch such an event from the luxury of a balcony consuming junk food! On their return they gathered for conversation, food and drinks laid out on a park table. There were a lot of glass bottles crashing into the park’s recycle bin. Seems a bit odd for a fitness group , maybe it wasn’t ‘that type of glass’ they had πŸ™‚



Slept in Tuesday morning until around 9am , waking to blue sky appearing as the fluffy white clouds burnt off in the increasing heat. Seems as far back as I can remember ( and we have been coming here in January for many years) this is quite the norm ( for white clouds, not the gloomy grey ones though). Sat out on the balcony eating breakfast. Check out the view!!


We took a long time over breakfast , stretching it out reading. We were going to head to the water but by around 12pm ( yes a VERY long breakfast , book and paper reading) the wind had whipped up and white caps rolled on the usually near still water. Decided to instead spend our time on the balcony in the sun, somewhat sheltered from the winds. I even prepared us a fruit platter as a treat.


Around 4pm the winds increased and we moved indoors. We watched some old tv…Cheers , Family Ties, Happy Days and the Brady Bunch. I even got through an ebook today….speed reading hahaha. I have to learn to relax!!

For dinner we strolled to the Shoal Bay Hotel. Brian had an Hawaiian schnitzel . It was a golden crispy crumbed chicken schnitzel. A pineapple ring was hidden under soft melted cheese that was sprinkled with chunky ham. Accompanying it were thin chips and a small side salad with a balsamic dressing. I had creamy garlic prawns. Eight juicy prawns sat atop a bed of fettuccine. Finely diced basil leaves were sprinkled atop with shaved parmesan.The sauce was delicious! Mine was served in a large flat white bowl and Brian’s on a large square while plate. Had to describe these for you as I forgot to take photos prior to eating ha ha .

We blew back to our apartment aided by strong winds from behind. This made walking faster but I was blindfolded by my hair πŸ™‚ Tonight we will be tv watchers and I’ll try reading another ebook. Out on the balcony the wind is making the sun umbrella sing a song of flapping . Tomorrow the weather predictions are for a warm day with a light breeze. Sounds like a beach day !


Photoshop / wide lens angle – fun or deception?

As you all know I love a good photoshop. I love ‘ attending ‘royal weddings, ‘planking’ Telstra Tower, ‘seeing’ Oprah ( thanks Holly) , wearing slinky dresses and bikinis ( thanks Ally) and I just know when that royal baby is born I’ll be there cooing with the best of them πŸ™‚ but are wide lens angles a bit of fun when they feature on websites to advertise accommodation?

That’s a question to ponder. Ok I don’t do housework on holidays ( I’m not particularly interested in it at home either to be honest haha, so ignore the mess) but let’s have a look at a few photos.


Ok that’s from the website. Here’s my version.


You might notice the beautiful rug is now missing . Called the real estate about it and was told it was put away cause some tenants bring sand into the apartment and its hard work for the cleaners to clean it…hmmmmm


This shows the really beautiful view and, from the verandah where nature has neither photoshop at its fingertips and needs no wide angle as it already is, it’s a magnificent view I must say!
And, here’s my recreation from approximately the same photo spot…


Ok it’s night time and the view isn’t as great but take a look at the room.

Ha ha this place has shrunk considerably πŸ˜‰

While I was ringing about the missing mat , I also asked about the “Television, Multiple TVs, Big Screen TV, Video Player: In second bedroom” this to me suggested at least two if not more to be multiples and that one video player was in the second room. Real estate first asked had I checked all the cupboards cause maybe it was put away ( hmmm is it hard to clean like a sandy mat? Haha). Assuring her this wasn’t the case she said its new owners of the apartment so the previous owners had probably taken it with them πŸ™‚

Inside I must say its spotless and the linen is crisp and white and towels white, soft and fluffy. The veranda has a six seater table with umbrella ( that works) and two sun lounges. It has a BBQ. but with restaurants less than 50 metres away it will stay covered πŸ™‚ With the beach right across the street the view is spectacular.

Then we get to the funny windows . In the lounge if the apartment next door had tenants we would look straight onto heir veranda from the lounge room. But, good blinds ( and no tenants) mean this isn’t an issue. Then in our bedroom one of our long ceiling to floor windows faces the next unit’s veranda ( which had tenants I found out after an awkward…”hello” hahaha…) awkward by the way just cause I was opening the blinds when we arrived and was staring not realising It wasn’t our veranda lol. I applied this knowledge and quickly told everyone to keep the bathroom windows closed hahahahahahahahaha

After a few laughs Brian and I headed to Salamander Bay to stock up on groceries while Ally, Tim and Rachel headed to the beach.
Dinner was at Aussie Bob’s fish and chips take away store where you can eat in .. well eat out under over. We have been coming here for years and the food is always delicious with crisp noun greasy batter on fish and great chips. The kids finished off with deep fried Oreos but Brian and I declined.

It’s great having all the family here on a holiday.