Brian and I climbed Le Morne Brabant Mountain independently in spite of people telling us that we needed a guide to get to the summit. We took our chances and soon realised that no guide was necessary. We were so glad to have kept up our determination to get to the summit on our own in particular because when we arrived at the summit we lucked out and had it to ourselves…although only for a short time. The views were breathtaking and worth every minute of the very steep climb.
The more I researched about the history of Le Morne Brabant Mountain, the more I felt compelled to climb it following in the footsteps of the desperate runaway slaves who made the caves and rocky trails of this awesome Mountain their home. We had been in Mauritius for over a week exploring its many attractions, driving around in our little rental car and all the time keeping an eye on the weather forecast to ensure a dry and sunny day for our Mountain climb.
It was a recent conversation with my son James that has inspired me to write this post. We are having a cup of tea in the garden during the recent British August Bank Holiday weekend, one of the warmest ever recorded in the UK. Our mother-son bonding chat goes towards our love of travelling….. when he hits me with this sentence “I don’t like travelling to popular places”… Me: “Are you serious? What do you mean?” He: “when everyone goes travelling to the same place… it puts me off…” So I argue that popular places are popular for a REASON…usually an amazing land mark, beautiful scenery etc.
I am taking voluntary early retirement from a job I love, but so far have no regrets on my decision. I am now working my “notice” and will finish work by the end of October. A scary thought? Not at all, since I have considered this decision very carefully.
I went back to University to study Dietetics later on in life (after working in a soulless job in a Bank) and from the very start of my course, I knew I had finally found something that I was passionate about. For the past 11 years, I have loved the interactions with patients, the camaraderie of working with other health professionals learning from each other, the feeling of being valued, and the rewards of doing something meaningful that can help improve people’s quality of life.
I first downsized my life almost 30 years ago. The impetus of being young and single, a bit of cash in my pocket, a backpack full of dreams and a taste for adventure was all I needed back then. Fast forward a lifetime lived in a first world country full of the trappings of a capitalist society, how easy is it to downsize my current lifestyle? What are the compromises my husband and I are prepared to make to design the future life we want to live?
We have been pondering these questions for some time now, as the clock ticks on eating into minutes, days, months and years; making us realise that a big chunk of our lives is now over and we are not getting any younger. We most certainly have lived more than fifty percent of our life expectancy and no doubt the most healthy years of our lives. A huge chunk of a life spent working, earning money and accumulating stuff that now feels like a pile of clutter and things we no longer need. It is often so ingrained into our brains to believe that progress is directly related to bigger, better…more is more… that downsizing can feel like going backwards.
Sydney requires no introductions, boasting some of the most photographed landmarks in the world. With iconic buildings, beaches and impressive city skyline, it is no wonder this great city is on so many people’s wish list. It has been on our bucket list for years, in fact it is unbelievable that it has taken us so many years to visit this place. To finally be here was another “pinch me” moment like so many we had on our Australian trip.
If you have been following our journey you know that we had to catch a ferry back to Hamilton Island, backtracking ourselves for our flight with Qantas to Sydney via Brisbane. We have again used the Qantas “walkabout pass”, which has been very convenient and it has also saved us money. The pass can only be purchased in conjunction with the international flight, in our case we did a London to Perth flight, and flew back (another big advantage of the pass) from a different city, Sydney. The internal flights around Australia are very easy to book using the excellent Qantas website and all the internal flights were easy to check in using the Quantas phone app, allowing us to board with electronic boarding passes, again saving the faff of checking in at the airport or finding a printer. Isn’t technology great when it works! We have not been sponsored by Qantas to say this, but our experience was excellent, all flights were perfect, comfortable and on time.
Hamilton Island is a little piece of heaven in one of the most beautiful of Australian landscapes …The Whitsundays archipelago, lying just off the coast of Queensland next to the Great Barrier Reef. Its credentials as being in the centre of the action is what puts this gorgeous Island in everyone’s must-visit list.
The island is served by its very own airport, which is small, but perfectly formed. We flew from Brisbane to Hamilton Island on a very small plane, using our Qanta’s “walkabout pass” . The journey was beautiful with views over the Whitsunday Islands and The Great Barrier Reef.
Brian, Yvonne and I boarded the Qantas flight from Perth to Brisbane and after about 5 hours crossing this huge country from West to East we landed in Brisbane, capital of the sunshine state of Queensland, Australia. Cousin Carol (Yvonne’s sister) was waiting at the airport terminal to whisk us to the seaside town of Caloundra, just an hour’s drive away from Brisbane.
We had never met Carol before, but over the following few days we got to know her well since she allowed us a glimpse into her life and entertained us with many stories about their family move to Australia as “ten pound pom” migrants. She is a storyteller with a big personality and a very generous heart, we stayed at her lovely home in Caloundra from Thursday 9th of February to Monday 13th of February.
Brian and I were beyond excited with our three weeks planned trip to Australia, not only because it was a dream trip for us, but also because we were about to reconnect with Brian’s long lost Scottish relatives on a three weeks trip that would take us to Perth, Brisbane, Caloundra, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach and finally to Sydney.
Bleary eyed after a long flight from London to Perth via Dubai with Qantas Airways, we landed in Perth at an unsociable 2 am local time and we were delighted to come out of arrivals straight into the welcoming arms of lovely Yvonne, who kept herself awake with copious amounts of strong coffee to greet us so warmly on our very first trip Down Under….Welcome to Australia!!!
I relish being a tourist in my own backyard and showing off some of my favourite hangouts to visitors. With my sister and brother-in-law visiting from Brazil, I got a chance to give the newly-wed couple a little dose of Dorset and a quick dash across the border into Wiltshire to visit neolithic Stonehenge.
If you have been following this blog, you know that my sister Angelita and her husband Juliano chose Europe as their honeymoon getaway. On my previous posts I wrote about how my other sister Virginia and I gatecrashed their honeymoon and accompanied them to Paris and Amsterdam. On our return from Continental Europe to England we did not lose anytime to get in my car and drive South from London, minus our sister Virginia who had to go back to work the very next day. We arrived at my home in Dorset in the early evening where my husband Brian had cooked us a nice dinner.
“Built on 11 million wooden poles (houten palen) and more than 100 km of canals”…with open mouths we listened to our tour guide “Michael” enthusiastically informing us of how Amsterdam is a city built on a swamp. We chose to do a free walking tour on our first full day exploring the Dutch capital as a way of getting our bearings. Our guided tour started in front of the National Monument in Dam Square where a group of people quickly gathered around Michael, an American guy with an interesting hat and an orange umbrella with a sign saying “free walking tour”. We spent about 2 hrs following him around and learning a great deal about the history and other titbits about this intriguing city.