cruise

Fall!

Fall!

Here in Australia, we call it Autumn, not Fall. And where I live, there are no extreme differences between any of the seasons. Autumn is recognisable by the array of leaves on the ground, and being able to sleep comfortably at night for the first time in months. And yes, Autumn does signal colder days to come, but nothing like the cold days of the Northern Hemisphere.

An Autumn day in Brisbane

In some parts of Australia, like Central Queensland (CQ), there are seemingly only two seasons: Hot and Cold. But in Melbourne, you can have all four seasons in one day (or, so the saying goes…).

Kids Don’t Feel The Cold!

Out in Central Queensland, it would be hot one day, and then cold the next. That’s how you would know it was winter. Autumn had been by-passed – there was no in-between. Just hot, and cold. I’m not talking – Northern Hemisphere big-heavy-coat-cold, just an extra-layer-of-jumper cold.

When I was teaching in Queensland, the only sign of winter, as demonstrated by most of the students, was the addition of a jumper (sweater) early in the morning. They still wore shorts! Some of them would pass an occasional remark about how cold it was, but didn’t connect wearing shorts, to feeling cold. Long pants seemingly got in the way of running fast at recess. And by lunchtime, the jumper would either be safely stowed in their bag or lost in the playground; usually the latter.

A beautiful Autumn day in Murwillumbah NSW

Cold One Day – Hot The Next

And the reverse occurred at the other end of the season. Cold one day, and hot the next. The only sign of Spring was the emergence of new buds on trees. But temperature-wise? – hot!

Spring has sprung, here in Murwillumbah

I can’t account for other parts of Australia because my experience is limited (mostly) to Queensland and the northern end of New South Wales. However – there are places in Southern parts of our beautiful Australian landscape that apparently have distinct seasons. Trees put on seasonal colours that are seemingly spectacular, and the early morning chill creeps in and warns of colder days to come. Nice places to visit – but I wouldn’t want to live there.

The Beautiful Fall Colours of Boston

Speaking of nice places to visit, one of the most memorable journeys I have taken, was Boston US, in November. I was mesmerised by the beauty of the Fall colours. A travel-buddy that I had met while on the cruise from Southampton UK, shared my enthusiasm. On a bus from the cruise ship, to and from Salem, we must have driven the Fall-hardened passengers crazy. We (two Aussies) darted from one side of the bus to the other, cameras poised, trying to capture every golden leaf along the way. It was spectacular!

This photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the Fall trees in Boston 
Or this one….

Do we have spectacular Autumns (Falls) here in Australia? Yes! But not where I live. Beautiful – yes – but not Boston-type spectacular. Would I swap where I live for a place that has distinct seasons? Probably not. I love the way our seasons just ease gently into each other here in Northern New South Wales.

Oh, and yes, I did turn my heater on last winter – about three times, I think. And only for about an hour each time.

And that’s the way I like it!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 14 comments
The Dawn of a New Tomorrow

The Dawn of a New Tomorrow

The bell signals the end of learning for another day. Students make a rush for the door, and the temptation to join them is overwhelming. You sit down at your desk and dream of the dawn of a new tomorrow. A tomorrow with no bells; no lesson plans; no marking; and no report-writing.

When you are a teacher, the lines between day and night are blurred. Three o’clock signals the end of learning for students, and the start of paperwork for teachers.

It’s going to be another long night. Before you start tomorrow’s planning, today’s marking screams at you. Thoughts are sloshing around your head – and they need to find their way into the books to be marked, before they settle into a pool of useless, random words. Leaving the marking until later never ends well. So you open the first book, pick up your pen – and start.

Image from Pixabay.com

And Lunch?

Image from Pixabay.com

Your stomach reminds you that playground duty kept you from the staffroom, for yet another lunch break.  Along with the empty feeling in your stomach, you crave coffee. Another one of life’s simple pleasures that eludes you in your teaching day. Hot coffee and students don’t mix – Workplace Health & Safety posters adorn the staffroom walls.  No chance of forgetting. You make a mental note to stop by the coffee shop on your way home.

When is Enough, Enough?

The teaching weeks roll into teaching months. Before you know it, you’re beyond retirement age, but you are still on the treadmill. Love for your job, and dedication to it, are no consolation for the tiredness you feel. That weariness that chases you down at the end of each long day. Your non-teaching friends are in bed at a reasonable hour – you are up late, planning and writing reports. It takes its toll. Your health starts to flash warning signs – Enough is Enough!

And one day it all comes to a grinding halt. The plans you made to keep working until your seventies, not that you are too far from that magic number, disappear. You wake up one morning and think “I can’t do this anymore”. And that’s the day the resignation papers fall out of your pocket – onto the Principal’s desk.

The dawn of a new tomorrow

When I closed the classroom door for the last time, I didn’t have time to think about it too much. As soon as I made the decision to fill in the retirement-forms – I booked a cruise. I needed something to separate my working-life from my new retirement-life. And I needed something to console me in the raw days following my departure from the world that had absorbed me for more than half my life.

I poured myself into planning for the cruise from Sydney to Singapore. That trip was to close the door on my working life – sealed shut – never to be reopened; and it worked! I came home refreshed, renewed and excited about settling down into a normal life. 

Or, So I Thought!

The years of getting by on less than eight hours sleep had become stuck somewhere in my Body-Clock, and it wouldn’t budge. I found myself unable to put my head on the pillow before midnight – but I was still waking up at five or six in the morning. The problem was, there was no planning or report-writing to fill the evenings. I subscribed to paid television – but that didn’t work; there never seemed to be anything worth watching. 

I started writing. I had always loved writing and promised myself that one day I would write a book. Perhaps that ‘one day’ had arrived.

The website I dabbled in, while still teaching, suddenly had meaning. It had been sitting there, half-baked, for years. Now it was time to get it into the oven. 

And the idea of a Blog started to gel. I’d been hearing about, and reading blogs, for a long time. 

Writing; Website; Blogging

The three started to overlap, then merge, until it was only natural that they would become one. And from the ashes, my Phoenix arose.

MaureenDurney.com emerged.

My humble musings from the early days are often painful to revisit. But put into perspective, they are a yardstick by which to measure the distance I have travelled. I can see the improvement in my writing, in my website management, and therefore in my blogging.

What has had the most impact?

The Ultimate Blog Challenge!

Writing within a time-frame and to a specific topic has reined in my verbosity. The challenge dictates a blog-a-day for thirty-one days. You can’t allow yourself the luxury of extra words when the clock is ticking away beside you. Well theoretically, anyway. I still need to work on the length of my blogs. And that is a work-in-progress.

MaureenDurney.com is keeping me focused. It is absorbing me – drawing out the passion that I used to pour into my teaching. It is my new life. Learning new skills is exercising my brain, just as Professional Development did in my teaching days. 

And The Book?

The book is another work-in-progress. And the Ultimate Blog Challenge is pre-requisite learning before launching full-on into it. With my long teaching days behind me, and with the dawn of my new tomorrow, I can now devote my life to Blogging. 

MaureenDurney.com is alive and well!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 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?

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments