Singapore Stopover

Singapore Stopover

Day 2 Arrival in Singapore was as would be expected, with eleven tired bodies making their way from the aircraft to the terminal via the air bridge. Those amongst them who are driven by the need to know where they need to be in advance of getting there, stopped at the first available monitor to check the departure gate against the flight number. As luck would have it, we were very close to Gate 7, our gateway to the flight to India. Those who are happy to saunter along and find out where they need to be just in time to be there chose to use the first bathroom along the way, but I quickly caught up with the ‘need to know in advance’ group. Having taken care of one somewhat urgent need, my attention turned to the next one: Coffee! On arrival at our designated gate, and with 2 hours between us and the next flight, the travellers flowed away in different directions like liquid mercury, finally free from the thermometer. Jan and I walked to shake off the stiffness in our bones from being cramped into the frugal confines of the economy seats for the past eight hours. The Duty-Free shops beckoned, with their wares tantalisingly displayed. For me, temptation lay in the Electronics stores while Jan found solace in the cosmetics departments, in search of her favourite mascara. In the process of meandering through the relevant stores, Jan found the ideal camera bag to solve a storage problem and I found the coffee. Two hours disappeared at a rate not found earlier on the long flight. I can’t understand how 120 minutes spent cramped up between the seats on a plane can be so different to the same 120 minutes spent aimlessly wandering through Duty-Free shops and drinking a much-needed shot of caffeine. Perhaps that’s a PhD thesis in the making.

The Koi Garden in Changi Airport

Eleven sleep-deprived bodies anxiously awaiting the moment of arrival in Amritsar, still more than eight hours away have little thought of photography, hence no photos to show for the Singapore interlude. I will attempt to find suitable memories from my time at Changi Airport almost a year ago and supplant them into this blog. We were there, trust me.

Spectacular colour with a Dutch perspective

At the designated time of 1.30am, Singapore time, the weary eleven congregated once more at the departure gate, ready for the next leg of the trip. Again, laptops and iPads were removed, along with little plastic bags containing hand-sanitiser and any other liquid necessity from our carry-on baggage, for the security check.

Scooting off to Singapore anytime soon?

Don’t forget to check out the Sunflowers

Once on board, the weary travellers settled back and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, there was an announcement from the Captain apologising for the delay that the thunderous electrical storm playing out on the outside of the plane was necessitating. No complaints from me. I was more than happy to be viewing the lightning from the reasonable safety of the ground. There’s no way I wanted to see what those flashes look like up close and personal. But then, seemingly seconds after making the announcement, we started the take-off process. I chose not to look in the direction of the window and was very glad I hadn’t been issued a window seat this time. It’s moments like this that the pre-flight safety presentation starts to take on a much more serious meaning. I made a mental calculation of how futile the whole process would be if we actually made contact with one of those bolts from the sky (lightning) and had to make an emergency landing over water. They might just as well hand each of us a big neon sign with a bull’s eye on it as we evacuated the aircraft, saying, ‘here I am, come and get me’. Still, futile or not, I mentally ran through the procedure so at least I’d meet my end with a full capacity of air from the mask that would strategically drop from the overhead. And the life-jacket might help a bit as well – maybe. But to their credit, the Captain and crew got us off the ground and through the storm without any problems. I was very glad I didn’t have to put all that safety stuff into action. When we were safely delivered to the other side of the storm, the meal was served and cleared, and everyone settled down to sleep, including me.  It didn’t seem too long before another meal was served, presumably breakfast, and we were approaching our descent into Delhi. Five hours done and dusted and just one more short flight to our final destination – Amritsar. The Customs experience was much less impersonal than the Brisbane deal. If anything, it was a much more casual affair with some of us being processed at the counter that said ‘Crew and Media’, manned by a human Customs Officer who sent us on our way with a quick wave of the hand towards the exit barrier. On to the carousel to collect the array of luggage accompanying us, and out into the terminal where we were met by officials of the Church group we were to visit. Waiting for us outside the terminal were cars and mini-vans and local people carrying exquisite fresh flower garlands, which were ceremoniously presented to each of us, along with a very warm welcome. We had arrived!  
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
Brisbane to Delhi

Brisbane to Delhi

Travel Day 1 6 am – Wide Awake and ready to start the day and the journey. Coffee, shower, pack the bathroom items, load the car and ready to go. Way too early to be at the airport, but plenty of time for a leisurely stroll around DFO, Brisbane Airport style. Another coffee, light lunch, then time to deliver the car to Portside Parking on Curran St Eagle Farm where it will be taken care of until our return in just over two weeks. Park the car, sign the paperwork, and into the waiting mini-van for the trip to Brisbane International Airport. The journey has begun. Too early to check in, but plenty of time to liaise with the rest of the group who would be my travel buddies through India. Lots of photos taken, helpful travel hints shared, reminders about document requirements (too late now if you don’t have your passport), and then on to check-in. Our group of eleven managed to make it through the queue mostly intact, but somehow some of us ended up at different check-in counters. My utmost praise for Singapore Airlines staff who managed to get us all seated and next to at least one member of the group. The fact that we were scattered throughout the aircraft didn’t really matter; we each had a seat. There were a few funny anecdotes post check-in of two travellers at the same counter, mistakenly taken for ‘a couple’ with the apologetic attendant bending over backwards to try to get them seated together until they explained that they weren’t actually ‘a couple’.

Image from Wikimedia Commons: Credit: Nate Cull

The age of automation has seeped into the travel experience. Apart from a few attendants ushering travellers to the appropriate line to be in, there is no longer a face in the Customs procedure. No-one stamps your passport with the date and name of the city you are leaving behind in search of foreign shores. Now you wait your turn in a line, proceed to a scanner and place your passport on the slide for self-scanning of the photo page, walk up to a pair of footprints strategically placed on the floor, remove hats and/or glasses, and smile for the camera. The trade-off is a much faster trek through Customs, presumably freeing up our very qualified Customs Officers for the more important task of screening incoming passengers, making sure that our country stays safe and secure. That’s it. Done and dusted. You then exit the Customs area straight into the hands of Duty-Free scalpers who think it’s fair game to ask exorbitant prices for everyday items that can be bought in your local supermarket for a fraction of the cost. Travel isn’t what it used to be. With check-in safely behind us, the next hurdle to be overcome was Customs. An hour’s wait – long enough to stock up on snacks for the flight – then boarding at 5 pm. The flight was reasonably full, but boarding was executed quickly and very efficiently. Groups, all six of them, were boarded one group at a time. We were in groups five and six. We seemed to be no sooner settled in our seats than the seatbelt sign illuminated and the plane started pushing back ready for take-off. For an International flight, the departure process seemed incredibly fast. I’m not sure why, but it seemed to be a very quiet flight. The loud-talkers were missing in action, and even the babies seemed to be reasonably settled, with only the occasional murmur. Perhaps the noisy travellers all turned left on entering the plane (otherwise known as Business Class). The movie selection was reasonable and once the meal was dispensed with, most people kicked back to enjoy their choice of latest release or favourite re-run. It was then time for sleep – for those who find sleep comes naturally at 9.30pm Eastern Standard time in Australia. For the rest of us, there were more movies to watch or blogs to write. The night passed uneventfully.  We landed in the city of the Merlion a little before midnight, Singapore time.
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 4 comments
Caffeine Fix(er)

Caffeine Fix(er)

Caffeine Fix in Jeopardy

My morning routine is to put the coffee machine on first, then do all the things that mornings are for, like making the bed, working out what to wear, soaking up the steamy water in a long hot shower, etc.. Then, when all the routine things are out of the way, I make my way back to the kitchen to make the first coffee of the day, and thereby feed my caffeine addiction.  Actually, it’s the only caffeine fix for the day – most of the time. Last Friday morning the routine was no different until I got to the part of priming the coffee machine ready to proceed to the important step of pouring a double shot of caffeine. The double shot that kick-starts my heart and de-fogs my brain, making me ready for whatever the world wants to throw at me over the next 24 hours. But disaster struck!

The water refused to pump through the brew head, or whatever that part of the apparatus is called.

I tried it again – nothing! I waited a few minutes and tried again. Still nothing. As I watched anxiously, awaiting the moment when the golden liquid would pour down into the cup, I kept thinking –  ‘I knew I should have had the machine serviced’. The thought had crossed my mind many times over the past few years and still, I didn’t heed the warning and find someone who could check the machine and make sure that everything was as it should be. And now I was standing before my beautiful Rocket Giotto, waiting, and waiting, and wondering if it would ever work again. After switching everything off, I Googled: Espresso Coffee Machine Repairer Gold Coast/Murwillumbah, and was surprised to find a repairer who serviced machines from Brisbane to Ballina, 7 days a week. Given how heavy and awkward the machine is, the mental calculation of picking it up and taking it to a repair shop was daunting, which is probably why the service idea had never progressed beyond the thought process. I phoned Luke at Universal Espresso Repairs and was surprised to find that he would pick the machine up later that day.

All too easy!

Luke Pretki:  owner of Universal Expresso Repairs

When Luke arrived I had decided that the Grinder needed a service as well (trying to be proactive and not suffer the same fate as the Rocket), so I handed over two of my favourite things in the kitchen. I have to admit that I nervously watched Luke carry the Rocket down the steps and out to his van. Every time I’ve moved house – except for the big move back from Central Queensland (CQ) at the end of 2015 – my Rocket travelled with me.  The removalist would carefully place it in the back of my Santa Fe for the journey, and then lift it out at the other end and place it in its new position in whatever kitchen it happened to be moving to. The move from CQ to the Coast was a different matter and I had to trust that the removalists would get it here in one piece – which they did. Over the next few days, Luke kept me updated on the progress of the repairs. Assuming there was a blockage somewhere, Luke had checked and re-checked but found nothing out of the ordinary, so he serviced the Rocket and the grinder, and had them both back to me on Wednesday evening, having had to wait for a replacement light for the Rocket. The old one died a long time ago, and while it didn’t affect the coffee making process, it did have a built-in safety feature – it blinked when the water level was low, so it was definitely a good idea to replace it.

Customer service from Universal Espresso Repairs is second-to-none.

Luke brought the equipment in, turned the Rocket on, and then spent ages making sure that everything was working perfectly and showing me how to get the best brew from the Rocket. Having owned a cafe for 6 years, Luke knows about brewing coffee. I discovered that my double shots of the past were high in caffeine but not as high in flavour as they could have been. Instead of filling the shot cups almost to the top, Luke only half filled them in the same time as it would normally have taken me to fill them. This is where knowing about the grind comes in handy. By setting the grinder to a much finer setting, the shots pulled much slower than I would have done – in the past. The shots looked and smelled divine! Before he left, Luke suggested that I call him if I had any questions about the process – from grinding to brewing – and he would talk me through it or call in to show me.

The cost of the service for both items was a lot less than I had expected

I was really surprised, considering that the Rocket even came back nice and shiny. It looked like new again. Eager to test out the new settings, I jumped out of bed much earlier than usual the next morning to turn on the Rocket. When I made my double shot, only half filling – instead of filling the shot-cup almost to the top, the taste was amazing! It was so good I decided to make a second coffee later in the day (and did the same the next day!). I’m glad the experts are beginning to realise that coffee is actually good for you because I really can’t start the day without a double shot of caffeine. Oh, and a big apology to Josh at Re Cafe Nate, my local ‘best coffee on the Coast’ cafe. Now that I have my Rocket back I won’t be coming in every day for a coffee – but I will still be there at least once a week because the coffee really is the best on the coast – and anywhere in Australia for that matter. Not that I’ve tasted the coffee everywhere in Australia, but Bean Hunters have and they voted Josh’s coffee the 34th Best Coffee in the nation in 2016. Not bad for a small cafe on top of a hill, away from the (sort-of) busy streets of downtown. Watching Josh ‘free-pour’ coffee art is amazing; check out his Facebook page to see how it’s done. And even better, call in, and Josh will show you how it’s done. Oh, and watch the board on the opposite side of the road for inspiring messages. The latest one is: ‘A wise man said – “I don’t know – I’ll ask my wife’.  Very wise Josh! – that should earn you a few Brownie Points. With the Rocket and Grinder back in their respective spots on the bench in my kitchen, and producing the best coffee ever, all is right with the world here in my little part of paradise.

Life is good!

 
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
Travelling The World

Travelling The World

When I was very young someone made the comment that I would travel because I had a gap between my two top teeth. Back then, living out of town on almost 20 acres of land, with electricity the only modern convenience we had, I thought the 35-mile journey into Sydney was the ultimate travel experience. Oh, how my life has changed! My journey’s since then have taken me to:
  • Europe (twice)
  • Penang – lived there for two years
  • Singapore – can’t remember how many times
  • Vancouver – spent almost a year there (2005) and visited in 2016
  • San Francisco – spent almost a year there (2006) and many visits since
  • China – 2 fabulous weeks; fell in love with the Ancient Water Towns

Zhujiajiao

  • India – 17 amazing days, including seeing the Taj Mahal
All of the journeys have been amazing and hopefully, I will be able to expand on each one through the posts on this site.    
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment
Blogging Along!

Blogging Along!

Learning The Ropes of Blogging-Along

Bear with me as I learn the ropes of Blogging. The pages of this site are so much like the pages of my mind – ‘bits and pieces from here and there, all thrown together with reckless abandon’. If you have any compulsion to see the site organised in a more rational way, and the expertise to make it happen, contact me; I’ll take all the help I can get! Someone once made the comment that I was like a butterfly, flitting from one thing to another. They were so right. And all the memories I’ve made as I’ve flitted along are right here, scattered amongst the pages and posts. You just need to find them.    
Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?

Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?

Sitting at my desk late in the afternoon, trying to sort out why my printer was suddenly being quirky and not cooperating, when suddenly the lights went out. The lights were only on because I had the shades down on the verandah to keep out the last fragments of the sun and heat, which made it too dark inside to see the fine print in the instruction manual. I managed to persevere for a while with the battery power left in my laptop and by seeking solace in the online manual. But when I couldn’t get any further, I found the torch (flashlight), investigated the edible remnants of last week’s shopping that didn’t require electricity (chocolate), and headed for the back verandah to sit in the cool and read Shantaram from the Kindle App on my iPhone (thank God there was enough battery left). While kicking back on my fabulously comfortable outdoor sofa, with the shades now up to let the breeze and last remaining light of day in, I read, while half-hearing conversations drifting around me as my neighbours sought comfort on their verandahs as well. And it was in that half-hearing of conversations that a simple sentence, delivered me smack-bang into a time when I was eighteen years old and living in a very old flat on the south-west side of Brisbane. The line wouldn’t have meant much to the younger generation, but to anyone from my era, it would probably have evoked similar memories and a journey a long way from now. A couple had walked down the path between two buildings nearby, and my friendly neighbour in closer proximity to them than me informed them that the power was off. The couple made a comment, and my neighbour suggested that they “might need to put a shilling in the meter“. That was all it took to transport me to the kitchen in that old flat, all those years ago. The ‘shilling’ by then was in the modern, decimalised form of a 10 cent coin, but it still had the power to remind me of how far we have come. For the purpose of ensuring an ongoing supply of gas for cooking, ten-cent coins were scrounged and saved and stacked high on a shelf near the back door. While the culinary masterpiece was simmering nicely on the ancient gas stove, constant vigilance was needed to make sure the gas supply continued to provide the necessary heat to keep the meal progressing in a forward direction. More often than not, the gas flame would flicker, splutter, and then die. Then, with the speed of a marathon runner, you would sprint across the room, arm yourself with a handful of coins, dash out to the landing and deposit the coins into the hungry jaws of the gas-meter. And then you would reverse the sprint, back into the kitchen, find the lighter and re-ignite the spark that would hopefully see you through to the end of the cooking. Mission Accomplished! I am truly grateful for the progress we’ve made since then. Now I put everything into the Thermomix, set the timer and the temperature and get on with more important things, like writing, or reading the latest novel while my dinner cooks. No more vigilant monitoring of the little blue flame of gas, with coins at the ready to feed the hungry gas-meter.

I love technology…

Except for when the lights go off!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 1 comment
China Trip – The Beginning

China Trip – The Beginning

With all the tripping around I’ve done this year, my blogs are all over the place. The China trip has been fleetingly touched on in other areas but has somehow missed the dedicated space it so truly deserves. So, here it is! In The Beginning img_8867It all started with a conversation with Molly, the sales agent, in July 2015. Settlement on my new unit was due to happen around September – we hoped – but Molly was going to China to visit the Aveo campus in Shanghai and hoped to be back in time for settlement. She wanted to be able to hand over the keys in person when I took ownership of the place I’d call home in my retirement years. As Molly talked about China, my mind went into overdrive with thoughts of potential travel opportunities – but the idea slipped quietly onto the back burner – there were more pressing things that needed my immediate attention, not the least of which was actually buying the unit, packing up my world out in Central Queensland, and making the long haul back to civilisation. Oh, and somewhere amongst all that, actually securing a transfer with my job. Even though I was buying my retirement place, I wasn’t ready to sever my ties with paid employment just yet. I figured I had another 5 years, at least, before I needed to think about hanging up the chalk (whiteboard markers to be politically correct) and close the door on my long teaching career. After all, I still loved my job. So, no more thoughts of China entered my head until I had moved in and was a few months into being settled in the unit. By this time I’d even committed the unthinkable and resigned from my job, but that’s another story. So when I opened the mailbox that cold day in July and found a note about a meeting to discuss a trip to China, for anyone who was interested, I was in. I put the date in my diary and when the big day arrived, armed with my trusty new camera, drove to Robina for the meeting. It all sounded good, and I was pretty sure it was something I really wanted to do, until Suzy, the presenter, mentioned there was a Starbucks right next to where we’d be staying. That was the game-changer for me. My next question was ‘where do I sign?’. I love Starbucks, but again, that’s another chapter, for another time. The plans slowly unfolded. There were emails back and forth between the travel agency and AVEO organiser (Suzy). There were numerous forms to complete, more dreaded passport photos for the Visa and thoughts (a few anyway) about what to pack. Since then, the plans have unfolded, the itinerary is finalised, and the packing is about to start in earnest. With the departure now only days away, the packing is slightly overdue, but I’m confident that I’ll get there. Morning will come a little earlier on Tuesday, with the bus picking me up at 6 am. From Murwillumbah, we’ll travel to Robina to collect the Gold-Coasters, and then it’s on to Brisbane Airport. I’m guessing the day is going to be very long, as we make our way to Hong Kong to meet up with the travellers from Sydney and Melbourne. We will all then board the flight to Shanghai, where we’ll be met by our tour guide for the drive to our accommodation at the Shanghai Campus. From then on it will be full speed ahead, with every day being packed with great things to do. So, back to the packing…
Posted by Maureen in Travel
Vancouver – a trip back in time

Vancouver – a trip back in time

Having spent a year in Vancouver, a long time ago, I have had a yearning to walk along Robson Street again, ride the Seabus to North Vancouver, watch the squirrels in Stanley Park and take the Skyride to Grouse Mountain. Since the cruise I took recently from the UK was ending in Florida, I couldn’t resist the urge to extend my stay and fly to San Francisco and then up to Vancouver, even if only for a few days in each place.

Robson Street – Christmas lights just add to the magic

After the flight from San Francisco, I couldn’t wait to see Robson Street. My decision to book into the Listel Hotel, so close to my old apartment, was definitely a good choice. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was really surprised at the quality of the hotel, the friendliness of the staff and the spaciousness and decor of the room. Add to that, Happy Hour each evening and you have a recipe for the perfect holiday, although Happy Hour was wasted on me because they didn’t have milkshakes. And the location? It just doesn’t get any better than this, which was the basis for booking The Listel in the first place. Right on Robson Street, with my old Starbucks across the street, and an easy walk to everywhere, including Stanley Park at the bottom of the hill. Day 1 – an early morning walk to Hornby Street and back, and then down the hill to Denman St, and a bus ride from half way up the hill to the Robson Gardens stop.  A coffee and wonderful chat (lots of reminiscing) with Dennis, my Landlord from all those years ago, some shopping, then ending with a very quiet day. Just being on that beautiful street again was all I needed to take me back to another time, another life. This is what travelling does to us – it creates the memories that are so powerful when revisited. Day 2 – a bus down to the Sea Wall, a walk along the wall and then through Stanley Park. I was surprised that I had forgotten the basic direction of where we used to walk in the park,

On a cold day in December

but in the process of being a bit lost, the most amazing thing happened – I asked a lady for directions and she suggested we walk together, since she was going that way anyway. As we walked and talked, I found out she had lived in Cairns from when she was 5 until she was 16.  As an adult, her working life had included performing at schools to bring history to life for the children of Canada.  Over a coffee break on Denman Street, we swapped email addresses and websites and intend to keep in touch. You can meet Christine at christinepilgrim.com and I’m sure you’ll be as fascinated by her story as I was.
On the Seabus to North Vancouver - and then just a short trip to the mountain

On the Seabus to North Vancouver – and then just a short trip to the mountain

From Denman Street, I walked down to the Waterfront Center on W. Cordova and boarded the Seabus to North Vancouver. From there I took the bus to the Skyride Station and then up to Grouse Mountain where it was snowing – not a lot, but enough to be really beautiful.

The Skyride – the only way to travel to the top.

And you’ll never guess who I met up there (Hint: Cute, Cuddly and very Christmassy).

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – on Grouse Mountain

Even the reindeer are ready for the big night.

Even the reindeer are ready for the big night.

                 
A hot chocolate and warm soup is a must at the Chalet

Warming up with a hot chocolate and soup at the Chalet before the journey back to Robson Street.

         
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 4 comments
Seeing the world – one port at a time

Seeing the world – one port at a time

Having arrived home late on the 1st November from China, with barely enough time to unpack, there I was on the 7th November at the Gold Coast Airport waiting for a flight to Melbourne, then Abu Dhabi, and on to London. From there, a bus to Southampton for a 2-night stay before boarding the Navigator of the Seas for a 13-night cruise to the US, stopping at Boston, New York, Cape Canaveral and arriving in Miami on the 23rd November. One night in Miami, and then a flight to San Francisco via Atlanta on the 24th (Thanksgiving), and then Vancouver on the 27th. The final leg was a Qantas flight from Vancouver to LA, LA to Sydney, then Sydney to Gold Coast on the 3rd December. Phew! There was a lot to pack in on this trip. My retirement travel plans seemed to be all unfolding at once. The original idea was to pace myself over a few years, working my way through the list of places I want to see, but life has a habit of stepping in and making its own plans, with little regard for any plans you might think you’ve made. And because of this, the comfort zone I’d felt restricted by at the beginning, was slowly expanding, and it was starting to get too easy to just plan and go.

Southampton

Heathrow to Southampton was an easy coach ride – so comfortable in fact, that I slept most of the way. Two nights at the Novotel and then ready to start the sea part of the trip. Embarkation was a very easy process. Having arrived a few hours before my designated time, I took a chance on being able to board early and was actually given preferential treatment by being ushered through the Diamond and Platinum lines, with only two people ahead of me. This saved me from taking a cab to the Titanic Museum to fill in the time; not a good idea when about to sail the same seas as that famous, ill-fated voyage. Every creak I heard on the first night sent flashes of scenes from the three-hour epic movie of the Titanic, shuddering through me. Having a balcony on the cruise may not have been the smartest choice – putting me so much closer to the water’s edge.  

A Skoda Yeti (Jungle Green) in Southampton – gotta love this car

Six Days At Sea

Eat / Read / Eat / Sleep / Eat

You’ve got to love Johnny Rockets…

Boston

The sun rose that morning, as it does every day, but this time I was awake and ready to take it on. I made an early morning dash to the coffee booth on deck 5 and was on my balcony, coffee in hand, as Boston came into view.
Boston, on the horizon
Being the first port of call in the US, we had to clear Customs before disembarking for the day’s excursions. I kid you not, the queue to reach the Customs Officer, started at one end of the ship and ended two hours later, at the other end. Needless to say, the scheduled time for departure for our excursion to Salem, was long gone by the time we reached the front of the terminal. Fortunately for us, the bus had waited. The delay had made the excursion a little rushed, but certainly worthwhile. Seeing Boston in Autumn (or Fall) left me almost speechless. Mother Nature had turned on her charm and splendour, and changed green leaves to red and orange, in every hue imaginable.

New York

At Last! I had wanted to see New York for so long and I was finally there. At night, the Cotton Club was on the agenda. I’m not a big fan of Jazz, but this was of the very mellow variety and I’m glad I didn’t miss it. It felt like such an honour to be there, being entertained by very talented people and in such a fantastic place. While Boston and New York were definitely the highlights, the other ports had their special charm as well, not the least of which was the much warmer climate. I opted to do my own thing in Port Canaveral and Miami and was very glad for the downtime after such a busy schedule. And I have to say the beaches of Miami don’t have much on our Gold Coast beaches. Having once lived within walking distance to the beaches of Surfers Paradise, I feel qualified to make that comparison, but I would welcome your thoughts – maybe I missed something?
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments

Ni Hao China – On My Way

After months of planning, the trip to China officially starts tomorrow. I’ll be up VERY early in the morning, and off to the airport. I’ve even debated the benefit of just staying up all night – but I know I’d live to regret that decision, so I will try to get some sleep – even if it is only a few hours. Have you ever packed for a trip, thought you’d been really careful about not over-packing, zipped up the bag, only to find you can barely lift it? Where did I go wrong? Was it the chocolate biscuits I bought as gifts for my hosts in China? Or the souvenirs I’ve packed to share with my new Chinese friends? Or the two very special gifts I’m taking with me for some very special people? It must be the combination of all those things because it couldn’t possibly be the few clothes I’ve packed. I was really careful not to pack too many – just enough that I won’t have to be washing every other day. I reckon I’ve got enough to last about four days before I have to consider finding the laundry. Oh I’m glad I mentioned laundry – that reminds me – I was going to pack some washing powder. But wait a minute – won’t that make the bag even heavier? Well, perhaps I’ll just have to buy some when I get there. In fact, maybe I should check the bag one more time – perhaps I could leave a few of those extra shirts at home. I’ll let you know soon how the trip eventuated, but for now, I need to think about one last check of the packing and then try to get some sleep.  
Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
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