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A Hump Day Funny

First of all, some of you may not know what ‘hump day’ is so by way of an explainer, it’s a Wednesday, the halfway point of a typical working week.

I thought I’d let you into a little funny incident that took place in the gym a couple of weeks ago. Those of you who have been following this Wombat for a while will know that I am a gym junkie. Actually, I have no idea what qualifies a gym junkie but I go four to five times a week which I think is pretty good. The reason why I can do this often is that the gym is only a two-minute walk from my office and I have programmed myself to walk towards the gym rather than towards the station at the end of each day. The gym is right in the city centre and everyone is really friendly (staff and members alike). We smile encouragement to each other and work through our routines relatively uninterrupted. At this stage, I will point out that this gym does not have a Tasman Rower you’ll be pleased to know!

Note: This is not me!

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CATHY PHAM

A couple of weeks ago, I was exercising in the free-weights area which is a popular space for male users. I was in the middle of a set of one arm row repetitions (as pictured above) – I’m leaning over a bench with a 9kg dumbbell in my hand which I pull up to chest level using my back and arm muscles. I’m just changing sides when suddenly I’m tapped on the shoulder. ‘Yes!’ I think – someone is about to tell me that I’ve still ‘got it’. I turn around to face a young girl – I’ve been trying to make a connection with her for some time – girls together and all that. Every time our eyes meet I smile but she has already turned away and I’m smiling to myself which might look a bit odd to an onlooker. Now face to face, I smile and say “hi”. She returns my smile and then in a thick eastern European accent she says, “I don’t know if you intended to do it but your gym pants are inside out!” Gasp, shock, horror! By this time I’ve been working out for about 30 minutes which means EVERYONE would know that my gym pants are on inside out with all the labels and coloured gusset uppermost! Oh! the shame! Of course, I laugh out loud and thank Eastern European Lady very much, before making a hasty retreat to the changing rooms to right my pants.

Now when she sees me we share a knowing smile or it could be a smirk on her part – perhaps, I’m still trying to work it out. My lesson learned is to always check my gym pants are the right way round when I take them off the line – later! 🙂

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Hop it!

FeaturedHop it!
Munching their way through our garden

The extent of our garden is slowly being devoured by these little critters. I found them on a small clump of drought-tolerant grass located down the side of the house which is gravel path and fence and no other plants. It’s funny how they sniffed the only greenery out. There was a whole family of grasshoppers actually – Mum, Dad, and several youngsters. They look so comical, don’t they?

Big mouthfuls and baby mouthfuls!

Bluebottles, divorce & other ramblings

FeaturedBluebottles, divorce & other ramblings

I’ve neglected my blog and WordPress for the last few weeks. Life got really busy – as I’m sure you can all appreciate – and then the mad preparations for the festive season followed by the need for us to transform ourselves into the ‘new us for the new year’.

Christmas was wonderful and exhausting at the same time; the offspring and their partners came to stay. We entertained every day either with friends at home or out on the town. The cocktail shaker was dusted off and the espresso martinis were free-flowing together with the Aperol spritzes. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than having our house full of family – just like it used to be – the long hair blocking the sink, the makeup strewn around the bathroom, the endless piles of washing, the phone and laptop chargers snaking from every available wall socket, the stacks of sunglasses and heaps of swimming towels – it was brilliant! And the laughter, oh! the glorious laughter.

We traveled a couple of hours north to our favourite spot on the Sunshine Coast for a day on the beach. Chief was stung on the foot by a Bluebottle jellyfish while walking along the shoreline. By the time we were home, the story had morphed into “I was swimming a mile out and was bitten by a shark!”

Over the last few weeks, there has been an invasion of Bluebottle jellyfish, with thousands being blown to the shores of Queensland beaches. Last weekend alone, there were over 2,500 beachgoers treated for stings. The little critters wrap their tentacles around limbs and release their sting which I’m told is very painful. Fortunately, the surf lifesavers were on hand with bags of ice and advice. We’ll probably be giving the beach a miss for a couple of weeks.

Bluebottle (Portuguese Man ‘o War)

And then on the 2nd January, the house fell silent. The offspring headed back to Adelaide and Chief and me back to work. The tree has been ‘undecorated’ and packed away for another year, the beds stripped and the cocktail shaker back in the cupboard – for a while at least. About that – I’ve discovered a great online community, Hello Sunday Morning, which has become the largest online movement for alcohol behaviour change in the world. There is a great app Daybreak, which offers professional support and tools together with an online community supporting each other.

I’m feeling a bit flat, to be honest, but have lots of things to look forward to this year, none more so than our 30th wedding anniversary in June – I know, right! Where have the years gone? We will be celebrating by taking a short break in Hong Kong later in the year. I’m pleased to say that we have survived what is being dubbed as Divorce Day, January 8th, the most popular day for couples to commence legal divorce proceedings, according to lawyers (a UK study). After the pressures of trying to achieve the perfect ‘chocolate box’ Christmas, it’s enough to send any rocky marriage over the edge. They wait for the kids to go back to school and then – bang!

Dad update: By the time you read this, my dad will have had a pacemaker fitted which is the result of all the shenanigans in Dubai way back in October. Hopefully, that will be it and a return to full fitness is on the cards. All the best for a full recovery Dad x.

So that’s my round up for the start of the new year as I start to plan my trip to the UK in April, I’ll leave you with some images of our time over Christmas – happy new year everyone and may your 2019 be one full of good health, happiness and laughter – you have to laugh every day!

Chucking a Fast-Food Birthday Sickie

Chucking a Fast-Food Birthday Sickie

This week at work we celebrated a team member’s birthday with the obligatory afternoon tea. It was a lovely spread; a cheese platter, savoury nibbles, and a lovely passionfruit butter cake. A speech was made and our rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ had heads turning with jealous looks from fellow co-workers. We shared some jokes and wished the birthday boy all the best for his year ahead.

The conversation turned to who was next on the birthday list and it so happens to be the boss followed by me in June. The team can’t wait for my birthday because they are going to make a KFC birthday cake – yes, you read that correctly people – a Kentucky Fried Chicken birthday cake, and I will be chucking a sickie that day. You see, I have never EVER eaten KFC which sends my co-workers into a frenzy of disbelief. They’d be more accepting of me eating a kilo of witchetty grubs! How could I have reached my fine old age without stepping foot inside a KFC joint? They are in wonderment and treat me like I am missing a leg or some other body part.

Now my workmates are on a mission to force feed me a KFC before the year is out and I can tell you (and them) it ain’t gonna happen! It’s not like I’ve never eaten fast food before, because I have. When I was a little girl, I can remember a family day out to London which included my first McDonald’s experience. Fast food was a relatively new dining experience in the ’70s, with the first McDonald’s opening in London in 1974. I can remember standing in front of the counter. I craned my neck to view the picture boards of offerings, which I would have found overwhelming and I’m sure a grownup intervened and made the decision for me. I do remember eating a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate triple thick milkshake – no happy meals back then – it was a treat and a whole new divine dining experience.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Because a trip to McDonald’s was considered a treat back then, we didn’t eat it very often. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by fabulous cooks and in a world of hospitality, and I soon realised that there were far better food choices available to me than the Big Mac. Once Chief, a chef with a passion for fine dining and first-class ingredients came into my life, I didn’t have to go far for treats anymore.

Needless to say, our offspring weren’t exposed to the fast-food culture, the result of which meant our daughter recently had to add a disclaimer to her Uni exam paper. Whoever set the questions had made the assumption that everyone would know what the interior of a McDonald’s would look like – and she doesn’t!

I can’t say the same for our son who, under pressure from his peers no doubt, has been exposed to the joys of the burger and the nugget, which did lead to my first experience of a drive-in (or is it drive-through?) McDonald’s a few years ago. I ‘d picked him up from somewhere – I can’t remember if it was work, a night on the town or sports event – anyway, he was starving and ‘pleeease Mum, could we stop’. I went to park up. “No Mum, use the drive-through” (or is it drive-in?). ” You’ll have to show me what to do Tom”. The panic was already setting in.

Firstly the menu board (it would have made more sense in hieroglyphics). I think at this stage I pushed the intercom thingy to place the order. Tom had to lean over from the passenger’s side to do the talking – a conversation ensued and I could tell he was well-versed in this practice. We then proceeded to the payment window, and finally on to the collection hatch where his order was already waiting for us. “Wow! that was quick!” I exclaimed. “That’s why it’s called fast food Mum”. He patiently replied; his eyes towards the night sky. It was a revelation! We drove home in silence; Tom made his way through his ‘food-stuff’ while I opened the window to let the stench out.

So as you can see, I AM experienced in fast-food culture but really it’s not what I call ‘proper food’, let’s face it, it’s shit, and once you’ve read Fast Food Nation, you’ll never want to touch a string-fry or suck your cheeks in to a triple-thick milkshake ever again.

You can imagine my fear of being presented with a lovingly team-constructed KFC birthday cake, so if you have any tips on how I can avoid my fate in June, your advice will be greatly appreciated! Bon Appetit!

Wombat Update

Wombat Update

Several of you have inquired how my Dad is doing after his unscheduled stop in Dubai.  In case you’ve missed the news, Mum and Dad were flying home from Australia and Dad was taken ill on the flight, and rather than just the two-hour stopover expected, they ended up staying for three weeks. Paramedics were on the plane before the Captain had applied the handbrake, and following preliminary tests, Dad was taken to the medical centre at Dubai airport.

Plane

Extensive tests revealed a ‘problem’ heartbeat, and for a time it was looking like a pacemaker would be required.  Instead, Dad was fitted with a total of three stents and following a period of recuperation in a hotel, was given the all clear to continue the journey home to England – exactly three weeks later.

We have all learned something from this experience and in no particular order:

  • Travel insurance is a very good thing.
  • Dubai is a great place to be taken ill.
  • That Filipino health care professionals don’t stop smiling and treated ‘Mr. Richard’ like one of the family.
  • Skype is not permitted in the UAE; thank heavens for WhatsApp.
  • None of us should be flying for longer than 8 hours before having a break (at least one overnight stop).
  • If anyone questions why you are spending so much money on flying business class and decide to travel ‘cattle class’ – totally ignore them, especially if it’s your daughter.
  • Most importantly learn to do EVERYTHING, so when your ‘rock’  isn’t with you, and you have to deal with life’s unexpected challenges, you’ve got this.
  • When you really have to step up to the plate and take over the reins you (or Mum) can actually surprise yourself and do it
  • My Mum doesn’t know this but she is totally one of life’s true Amazon Warriors.

So that’s it, some lessons learned and some takeaways for us all. And Dad?  He’s gaining fitness and pleased to be home even if he does have a mountain of insurance papers to sift through – let Mum do them!

What about you, have you experienced an unexpected travel stop?

Good Morning Mr Magpie

One of the first cyclist I encountered in Adelaide had zip-ties attached to their helmet, making them look like……, I don’t know – silly I guess. Over the course of time, I noticed several cyclist with the same spikey adornments. I was going to have to investigate!  It turns out that they are a protection against swooping magpies.

Swooping MagpieDuring nesting season, the male magpie is naturally protective of his offspring and will turn aggressive if he thinks they are in danger from anyone or any thing, including people cycling by and walking through his patch.

When we moved to Brisbane, I noticed cyclist using heavy duty zip-ties; was there a species of magpie I didn’t know about up here? Some cyclist had eyes stuck to the helmet to fool the magpies into thinking they were being watched back.

I naively assumed that cyclist were way more at risk of being attacked than someone on foot – so imagine my surprise when it happened to me.

I was wandering around the neighbourhood a couple of Sundays ago with my camera and macro lens. I had stopped by the local sports field and was taking particular notice of the detail in the bark of a eucalyptus tree, when all of a sudden something grabbed the top of my left ear. My immediate reaction was to flap my arms about, wondering what on earth had just happened. As I turned around to see what it was, I realised it was a magpie and he was coming back for another go.  I flapped around like a woman possessed  which made the magpie even flappier! I ran as fast as my legs would take me until I was out of his territory. By this time my ear was throbbing and I realised that blood had been drawn – two puncture wounds.

The advice to protect yourself from possible attack is to wear a wide-brimmed hat or carry an umbrella. I was wearing a baseball cap so the tops of my little ears were sticking up and easy bait for the upset maggie. The other advice is don’t run and certainly don’t flap around like a woman possessed.  I did both.

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Australian Magpie

At work on Monday morning, I was reciting my experience to the gathered crowd and was expecting sympathy (yes, really!) when instead I’ve been welcomed into the ‘you are almost a true Aussie club’. Apparently I’m half way there and all that remains is for me to hit a kangaroo whilst driving  and I’m in!

Keep safe people – just remember to look out for the Drop Bears too!

Wombat’s Vacation

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me; I’ve had visitors and trips away and life was busy for a time.

I met my parents in Adelaide, who were there to catch up with their grandchildren.  We spent a few days at Deep Creek Conservation Park on the Fleurieu Peninsula which lies a couple of hours south of Adelaide. The park is the largest remaining block of wildlife habitat on the Fleurieu Peninsula and is home to an array of native wildlife. Immerse yourself in nature says the guide. We certainly did; our accommodation was set in four acres of peaceful natural bushland. Kangaroos came up to the house, feeding out of the birdseed dish every afternoon. Honeyeaters, blackbirds and galas splashed about in the birdbath and the little Fairywren busily darted from one plant to another – it was bliss!

Seven of us had made the trip to Deep Creek as well as Ziggy and Polly,  two Kelpie/border collies – they had great fun trying to outrun the kangaroos (they stood no chance) and playing with Freyer, the whippet on the next door property. From the property we hiked down the cliff path to Blowhole Beach. The view across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island was stunning with blue shimmering sea and azure blue skies; one of those ‘life is good’ moments.

Once the youngsters and dogs had departed for civilisation and the internet, the three ‘grown ups’ were left to soak up the peace and the away-from-it-all vibes; life’s stresses washed away and it really was a moment to recharge the batteries. One of our walks was through Stringybark Forest. The trees were magnificent. Because we were relatively late in the day doing the walk, the majority of birds had flown off for the day – we just had to look a little harder for the wildlife.

I brought Mum and Dad back to Brisbane with me to spend some time with us before their flight back to the UK. In the meantime, Chief and I attended our son’s engagement party in Adelaide. We had a super weekend and the weather gods were shining on the outdoor party while at the same time, Mum and Dad were experiencing torrential rain back in Brisbane. As you can see, we’ve been here, there and everywhere.

And now life has made a cruel twist – Dad was taken ill on their flight from Brisbane to Dubai last Wednesday and has been in a Dubai hospital undergoing extensive tests ever since. A ‘problem’ heartbeat has been detected and he may have to be fitted with a pacemaker before being given the all clear to carry on with their journey home. The Dubai health care is second to none thankfully, and we hope it won’t be too much longer before he is granted permission to travel home.

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A moment of dry by the Story Bridge, Brisbane

So as you can see, it’s all been a hectic time and this week Chief is preparing for a three-week work trip, leaving Thursday morning. I’ll be in touch soon – until then!