Life - part two in Australia. Having spent the first 39 years of my life in England with two gorgeous children who don't need me so much, a workaholic husband and a head full of stuff waiting to be unleashed, Waking the Wombat is my place to share life's experiences with you.
A very dear friend and fellow blogger has just shared a post on her experience of holidaying on Kangaroo Island just as the bushfire disaster was unfolding. The previous week Rosemary posted about the start of her holiday on the island; it was lovely to read and it made me feel as if I was there with her, experiencing the island first-hand.
We used to live about an hours drive from the ferry terminal that would have taken us over to this paradise island but in the 11 years we were there, we didn’t once make the trip. We always made the excuse that it was too expensive; “we could be spending that money on an overseas trip” we’d say, so Kangaroo Island was just a beautiful destination that stayed at arm’s length. What an oversight that was on our part and now we will never experience the former glory of Flinders Chase National Park now that it has been decimated along with the habitat of a huge proportion of the island’s wildlife.
I am filled with sadness and huge regret that I missed the opportunity to visit one of Australia’s natural wonders in its absolute prime, knowing that it probably won’t recover to it’s former glory for a very long time. I read Rosemary’s last post on the unfolding bushfire wondering the fate of the animals whose path’s she crossed, knowing that it would not be a good outcome.
I wanted to share this poignant post with you, just so you have a sense of what it was like to be on Kangaroo island and to experience some of the wonderful wildlife which called Flinders Chase National Park their home.
Chief has been bitten by the golfing bug – and I mean a serious one. 2019 has seen him have umpteen lessons, purchase new equipment, and take his son on a ten-day golfing holiday to Thailand.
A couple of weeks ago on our way to the Gold Coast for an overnight stay, I was cornered into becoming his caddie for an 18-hole round. The whole experience had been upsold in such a way that I agreed (sucked in!) “The course is lovely. It’s green and lush. There is lots of wildlife and birds; you’ll love it”
‘Okay’ I thought. ‘Great, I love the outdoors’ A lovely walk in nature and spending some time with Chief and an ice-cold beer at the end of it; what could possibly be nicer?
The first hurdle was the heat. T-off was mid-morning but it was already stinking hot and very humid. Thankfully we had a buggy but this meant that my lovely-walk- in-nature became a hang-on-tight-Chief-is-driving-a-buggy-in-nature instead.
The second hurdle was overcoming my toilet anxiety. Are there toilets on the golf course? Would I have to head all the way back to the club house to make use of the facilities? Surely there’d be loos somewhere? I was estimating that maybe somewhere around the half-way point. After all rehydrating was all about self-care and besides, our buggy came equipped with a little coolbox attached so we could keep our water nice and cold – as sure as B follows A, using the loo was all part of the course! When Chief did point out the facilities I can’t remember which hole we were on – by now they had all started to blend into one. I opened the door and was confronted by a swarm of mosquitos; this was going to be tricky I decided. Without going into too much detail, I was quick and resembled a windmill to prevent said mozzies landing on me long enough to bite.
Then there’s the code of silence because we wouldn’t want to put the other golfers off their shot would we…? Apparently I was too loud. Too loud taking photos, too loud counting (okay I was adding up the score out loud and not in my head, doesn’t everyone?) Too loud talking and probably too loud thinking – beacuse I do this out loud too!
I thought I was getting into the swing of things (get it?) when we approached the greens and I knew to putt one needed a putter (I kid you not!) Naturally I was ready with putter in hand so that Chief didn’t have to distract himself by stopping to select the correct club – I was going great guns with this but then the dreaded code-of-silence reared its ugly head again.
By the 18th hole I was done and so looking forward to that cold beer that had been on my mind since leaving the club house over four hours earlier – four hours! Chief then informed me that caddies aren’t allowed in the bar. I wondered if he was pulling my leg but I didn’t care to find out. I had played up just enough not to be asked again.
Since starting this post, Chief has played three rounds of golf and you know what? He informs me that golf is great for networking. How can any networking take place once the code of silence has been enforced? Is it all raised eyebrows or a nod of the head here or a nod there? Does it all happen at the 19th hole? One of life’s little mysteries but I can assure you, it was four hours of my life I won’t get back. I’ll leave you withe some non-golf photos I took during my caddie experience and yes, I did distract Chief taking photos too! Happy new year everyone.
This afternoon on my way home from work, I considered throwing myself in front of the Northgate train as it pulled into platform 3, but even though physics is not my strong point, I knew that the train was moving too slowly to cause my instant death.
I considered having to live with the consequences of such a poor choice, inwardly telling myself to snap out of it. This was not the first time I’d thought about how I would end my life if I made the decision to do so; after watching the recent film A Star is Born, my thoughts turned to our own garage and how easy it would be to rig up the same ending.
Does having these thoughts of ending my life make me suicidal? Don’t we all have a thought like this at some time or another during our lives? What brought me to such thoughts was a concoction of events throughout the last few weeks and an emotional week at work was just the icing on the proverbial.
During a leadership forum I learned of the incredible survival story of a woman who tried to end her own life by jumping off Story Bridge (in Brisbane). It was August 2012, and she was suffering not from mental illness, but from a crisis of confidence which led to her life unravelling in just ten days. She was pulled out of the river by a passing ferry, with five fractured vertebrae, a broken rib and a lacerated liver. Lucky to survive such a fall, she now uses her incredible survival story to coach others on resilience and wellbeing – it was an inspirational story.
Later in the week, I attended a training course and the facilitator recounted her near death experience following the birth of her twins. She nearly bled to death and it was the generosity of blood donors who saved her life. The way she recounted her story, how she could see her healthy new babies but knew she was staring death in the face had us all in tears.
What with one-thing-and-another, it was a terrible week. I’ve been feeling anxious, stressed, sad, miserable, ravenous, worthless, useless, unable to sleep and hot…oh! so hot! Turns out that these are some of the symptoms of perimenopause which have all come to me as a total shock. Why was I not prepared for this transition in my life? As little girls we are prepared for the onslaught of womanhood by our mums (I remember a book), aunties, grandmothers. sisters, school and friends, but when it comes to exiting the other end, it’s all a bit of a hotch potch. Yes I know what it’s all about, and I know what’s happening to me but no one talks about this shit and I’m wondering why. Sure when I mention symptoms to other women my age or older they’ll relate their own experiences, providing me with useful nuggets of information such as ”You’ve got ten years of this” or ”I didn’t even notice it happening”; but no one sat me down like that little girl, no one gave me a book and no one forewarned me of the impact it would have on my life. What I do know is that this transition can be totally different for every woman – there is not one peri-menopause experience the same.
What I have learned is that how you navigate this change is greatly affected by how you have looked after yourself in previous years in terms of diet and fitness, mental health and spiritual health – they all have an impact on the balance of our hormones and depending on how out of kilter they are, determines the impact of perimenopausal symptoms. So for instance, I am a stress head; I’m always worrying and stressing about something – usually completely out of my control and mostly made up in my head. As a result of the stress and anxiety I live with, IT MIGHT BE contributing to the awful hot flushes I’m experiencing.
What is a hot flush? Hot flushes occur due to changes in the body’s thermoregulatory system, which regulates body temperature and maintains it within a certain range. It is thought that hot flushes are triggered by hormonal changes, more specifically, the rapid decline in oestrogen.
So what does the body’s thermoregulatory system look like – IN MY HEAD?
Turn your attention to the adrenal glands for a moment; responsible for producing cortisol, the stress response hormone – it’s what our bodies need for the flight or fight response – which ever category you sit in. Turns out my body is probably constantly producing cortisol, leaving it no time to produce the balancing hormone progesterone. Accodring to a podcast I’ve been listening to, a study a few years ago found that the one intervention which had the greatest impact on a woman’s perimenopause symptoms was meditation. During meditation, our adrenal glands have time to rest, in turn allowing our hormones time to balance out.
Thankfully there is plenty of help available on the internet with podcasts, videos, websites and blogs a-plenty. I have learned several strategies to help with my symptoms and the first one to try is meditation – not something I have ever done before but I’m prepared to give it a go – eliminating stress from my life will certainly make a difference – won’t it?
Donna Thistlethwaite, the woman who survived the jump off Story Bridge, now practices gratitude every day; with her friends, they text each other the three things they are grateful for that day – I can see how that simple practice would set you up with positivity every day.
So with gratitude, meditation, a healthy diet and a hand-held fan, I might just be able to control the hormones who choose to play havock with me – I’ll keep you posted!
And so it
came to pass that the little hairy-nosed wombat emerged from a deep, long slumber.
She sleepily made her way to the mouth of the burrow and blinked in the bright
summer sun; it’s been way too long she thought to herself – time to face the
has been way too long. I started blogging in 2014, initially as a way of
staying connected to family and friends across the world, but then a wonderful
thing happened – I made friends with likeminded bloggers and very quickly I had
a circle of new friends; people I wouldn’t have met face to face. It was a wonderful
community. We wrote about life ‘stuff’ and somehow connected with each other. It
was a hobby and I loved it.
to incorporate photography as my love of the camera started to develop. At the
same time people were encouraging me to write more, they were enjoying what I
wrote. “You should write a book” they said. “Don’t be ridiculous” I thought.
I was researching creative writing courses to undertake but at the same time the creative juices were drying up. Something had changed. And now here I am, crashing into the end of 2019 with only a handful of posts for the whole year, most of which are photography posts.
appear that I have lost my creativity and my blogging direction and wonder if
it’s time for me to retreat into my burrow for good.
The blogging world has changed in the five years that I’ve been online. It’s now a saturated space and many bloggers are turning their hobbies into a way of earning a living and hobby bloggers are slowly disappearing – aren’t they? I think it’s time to reassess what this Wombat is all about and why she’s here. It could be time to change direction, find a new theme, or to go private or disappear altogether.
I’m sure the handful of followers I had have since tired of the silence and turned their attention to a far more meaningful and rewarding space; afterall, we are all searching for maximum satisfaction with the minimum effort. We all change and our needs change with the marching on of the years.
I wanted to call this post ‘Our world is f*cked’ but then several people who know me would find this type of language offensive and besides, it’s not in my usual style to use expletives in my writing. However, this world really IS f*cked. This isn’t about the effects of climate change nor about our war on waste, it’s about the unfairness and the madness of it all.
Earlier this week, Chief and I watched a BBC documentary presented by Simon Reeve. Simon, former journalist now presenter, travels to Burma and Bangladesh. He meets the locals and we learn of the country’s long and troubled history. He also visits the northern area of Rakhine, the state where the Rohingya Muslim minority reside.
Summing up the long and complicated history of Burma; a series of Anglo-Burmese wars, led to British colonial rule which came to an end with the country’s independence in 1948. Since then, the country has been ruled by the military in various guises, and in the process has become one of the least developed nations in the world. It was the military who decided to change the name of the country from Burma to Myanmar, overnight.
Today the Rohingya people have become one of the most persecuted minorities on earth and you can find out why here. In the last two years more than 723,000 Rohingya people have been driven across the border into Bangladesh, seeking refuge from violence, torture and rape.
Simon Reeve visited Kutupalong Camp, the refugee settlement which has grown to become the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 600,000 people living in an area of just 13 square kilometres. The vast majority reaching Bangladesh are women and children, and more than 40 per cent are under age 12. Many others are elderly people requiring additional aid and protection. They have nothing and need everything. (excerpt from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website)
The terrors inflicted on the Rohingya people are captured in one confronting scene in the documentary, when a young boy speaking to Reeve is visibly frightened of the video camera, having confused it for a gun. “It was a deeply upsetting journey to undertake,” says Reeve. “A beautiful country, but the story of what’s happened there is horrifying.”
It was incredibly moving to hear the personal stories of the people Reeve met, especially the children who have nothing and have never known any different, except that now they are in relative safety. It really brought home to me just how fortunate I am to have been dealt such a great and fortunate hand in life. Why was I chosen to live the privileged life I lead and not one of persecution, violence and poverty?
And now let me bring you back into our crazy western society; a couple of days after watching the documentary, I was ordering my morning coffee and I struck up my usual chit-chat with the familiar barista behind the counter. She was just recovering from having her lips injected with filler. I tried to offer her sympathy, but I had no words. I even tried to demonstrate some empathy – at least I should be able to appreciate what she had gone through in order to make her lips look – look, well, fishy couldn’t I? The young girl had also had injections under her eyes because she was fed up with having grey circles under them – she’s in her mid-20s. I looked at the other girls behind the counter wondering if any of them were thinking what I was thinking but I realised one of them had also had her lips plumped and one had eyelash extensions – eyelash extensions – f*ck me!
I couldn’t help but wonder what the Rohingya women in the refugee camp would have made of this. If Simon Reeve had told them that in western society women were having their lips injected with fillers to make themselves look like fish, and eyelash extensions to make themselves look – ridiculous, they wouldn’t have believed him. If he explained to them that women who live a more fortunate life are never satisfied, that they have so much self-doubt and self-loathing that they can’t accept themselves for who they are anymore, they would think us all totally cuckoo and this is what’s so totally f*cked!
At least the people in the refugee camp now have access to clean drinking water and latrines plus several health and nutrition units across the site. Also 50,000 basic shelters have been constructed out of bamboo, rope and tarpaulines. Unfortunately because many refugees arriving from Myanmar have not been vaccinated, diphtheria and other diseases such as cholera, hepatitis E and measles pose a high risk. To top it all, the camp sits in an area prone to flooding and landslides during the monsoon season.
The refugee women would be living from day to day, caring for their children, keeping them safe and trying to prevent them from catching diseases – the last thing on their mind would be lip-plumping and eyelash extensions.
The theme for this week’s lens-artist challenge is Seascapes and/or Lakeshores. I’ve dipped into my favourite shots of Brighton Beach in South Australia – taken some time ago now, my son and friends playing on their skimmer boards in the evening sun. I love the action in it.
This photo is also Brighton Beach shot on a different evening after a sweltering day of heat. The water was as calm as a mill pond.
When you’re well into your seventies? When you reach adulthood? Is it the difference between young and old?
I pondered this question after announcing to my fellow co-workers last Friday morning that I had fallen over the evening before. After their initial concern and sympathy, one of them announced “you’ve had a fall dear!” To which we all had a laugh but it got me thinking. Falling over is all about grazed knees and running home in tears as a child or overpaid footballers faking a tackle, whereas having a fall conjures up zimmer frames and walking sticks.
I’d just finished a follow-up physio appointment – not far from home – no more than a ten minute walk. I needed to pick up some provisions for dinner and I stood on the pavement umming and ahing as to whether to go home and pick the car up first. I decided no, don’t be so lazy, and turned in the opposite direction towards the supermarket. I was mindful that I had to lug everything home but by the time I had gone through the check-out I realised I had two heavy bags of groceries – that’s ok, I am a gym user after-all!
By this time it was nearly 6 o’clock and practically dark. In some places, the pavements aren’t well lit, but that’s okay – eyes down and pay attention to where you are walking, right? I passed a man walking his two aged huskies. We exchanged pleasantries and carried on in opposite directions. I must have looked up to check my way, just at the precise moment the pavement dropped down a couple of centimetres. My foot went over and so did the rest of me. I came to a stop with my head resting on the pavement – fortunately my body had soaked up the impact before my head did. I must have landed on my right hand because that was hurting and so too was my right knee.
The man walking his dogs was heading back towards me, just as I was scraping myself off the pavement and checking the shopping for damage. I had a vision of his dogs bounding up to me and licking me to make sure I was okay but they were so old they just stood there panting at me. The man asked if I was okay and would I like a hand home with the shopping? The dogs gave me a ‘don’t you dare’ look – ‘we just want to go home’. No, I was fine, thank you very much – just a bruised pride. I’m only around the corner, thanks anyway. The dogs looked relieved and turned towards their home before the man did.
I gathered myself up and limped the rest of the way home. To my surprise Chief was already home and waiting for me, so we could shop for dinner. Idiot Luce! He is so rarely home before me that I hadn’t even thought to call him to see if he could come and collect me and the shopping. Mobile phones can be a really useful tool sometimes (note to self).
The damage? A bruised and grazed right knee and a swollen right hand inbetween two of the knuckles. I don’t think there are any broken bones but I’m not sure what’s causing the swelling as there is no bruising.
So there you have it. Did I fall over or have a fall? I certainly didn’t require the assistance of a zimmer frame or stick to get back on my feet, nor the arm of a stranger. I definitely fell over but who knows how long it will be before I have my first fall. I’m off to write to the council.
Considering we have just entered Winter here in Brisbane, some days I just have to pinch myself; Winter in the sub-tropics does not compare to the chilly months I was used to in Adelaide nor the freezing months and months endured in the UK. And just to prove it, last Sunday was a glorious sunny 24 °C. By the end of this week we’ll be seeing 27 °C but that’s beside the point.
I decided to take my camera for a walk in Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mount Coot-tha. Although it was early, the car park was already chockers but parking carma was on my side and a free space was waiting for me.
A couple of Saturdays previously, I had joined the Brisbane Photography Group for a casual meet up in Roma Street Parkland. The topic was taking shots at different angles but the lovely facilitator, Evelyn, was only too happy to have a one-on-one with me to ‘sort my focussing out’. And all I have to do now is practise and that was my priority last Sunday. So without further ado, here’s the pick of my faves. My number one is the water droplets on the leaf. How is my focus doing?
I’ve recently returned from a three-week trip back to the mother country. It’s been two years since my last trip and that was for when Dad was awarded his MBE and, by special invitation, we made the journey to Buckingham Palace. Here’s a little reminder of that (sorry for the poor quality of the photo – it was taken through the picture frame)
I spent the majority of my three weeks staying in Suffolk with mum and dad. We did quite a lot of walking – in bluebell woods, coppice woods, along an old railway line – now a walking track and along the river to see a bevy of swans. During the middle week, Mum and Dad accompanied me on a road trip to Somerset – home to cider, cheddar cheese and the Glastonbury Music Festival. This part of the country was my home for eighteen years.
Mum and Dad moved down to Somerset after my brother died and I followed suit not long after. We felt a sense of connection to the happy times we’d all spent down there on our family holidays.
We lived on the Quantock Hills – designated in 1956 as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and comprising ancient woodland, heath and agricultural land. Our cottage was just a little further up the lane from Alfoxton House where poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived for a short time. Another claim to fame for the Quantocks is that Bryan Adams filmed the video for (Everything I do) I Do It for You, there.
Our family holidays were spent on Exmoor, a National Park of moorlands, valleys and woodland; of red deer and Exmoor ponies and clotted cream teas. Of Minehead, an old shabby seaside town with its pier and amusements, and “Kiss Me Quick” hats and candy floss. As kids we played in the not so crystal clear waters at the beach and lost our pocket money to the one-armed-bandits in the amusement arcade on the pier – Ah! the memories!
And so it seemed fitting that my brother’s ashes were scattered at our special place on Exmoor (no, not Minehead pier!) I hadn’t visited our special place for some time and felt the need to go. It was a damp day but as we parked up just below Dunkery Beacon and donned our wet-weather gear, the rain stopped and the sun tried hard to break through the clouds – Paul was watching over us for sure.
It’s been 34 years since Paul died and our special place has not changed at all in that time. It gives me a sense of calm and peace. It’s a wonderful place to reflect and to remember. I draw comfort knowing it will remain that way for ever and a day and that when I next visit, it will still be untouched and will remain timeless.