Eating in or eating out

What is your favourite thing to do – eating in or eating out? When I eat out it is not only about the food but about the ambience. In the winter I enjoy sitting near a fireplace and eating a meal. There are not many cafe’s or restaurants that have a fireplace. I do know of two in Toowoomba and when possible I like to dine near the fireplace. That is why so often in the winter I find we eat at home, near our fireplace.

A few years back I made this cauliflower pizza. It was a lot of fun and I must do it again sometime.

Eating out is popular with all age groups but there is an increase in the number of Millennials (those reaching young adulthood early in the 21st century) dining out. They have been referred as the Smashed Avocado generation, spending their money on eating out and not putting it aside to buy a house. Tim Gurner a young real estate tycoon has some advice for those in this position. When I was in my 30’s I went to university and studied for four years (my undergraduate degree) so that I could get a better income to buy a house. The income alone though is not the answer. It is what you do with your income once it ends up in your bank account. By not spending too big on eating out over the last 20 years my estimation is that we saved $50,000. We still enjoyed eating out though, a picnic in the park or a BBQ in a tranquil bush setting and the occasional eating out in a restaurant or cafe. When we were on holidays in Tasmania last year I did not cook for 11 days! My favourite place to eat out in Tasmania has to be the Point Revolving Restaurant, Wrest Point Casino. The food, service and view was exceptional.

We had such a great time at the Point Revolving Restaurant. It was worth every dollar we had saved!

Tasmanian oysters to start with – delicious!

The views at dusk were spectacular.

There is nothing wrong with spending money on eating out as long as you don’t spend the money that could have been better used elsewhere, such as a new car or paying off a mortgage or that personal loan. Five years ago I spoke to a young woman who was getting married about the new home the couple had purchased. The topic turned to furniture and she told me they had just spent $50,000 on new furniture. She said what is another $50,000 added to several hundred of thousands of dollars of debt. My thought – lots! Lots of debt and lots of stress for years to come. There are places, including Lifeline and Gumtree, where you can buy good quality second-hand furniture if you don’t have the savings to buy new furniture.

If you budget well and allocate money for eating out – great! Eating out helps spread the dollars around to those who go into the restaurant/cafe business. The benefits to eating out is that there is no preparation, no waiting on others and no cleaning up. Just time to sit and relax and enjoy the company of friends and family.When we eat at home we know where our food comes from, how it is prepared and cooked. There are no additives and preservatives, just good home cooking. That is why we enjoy eating at home, more than eating out.

This type of food is easily prepared at home. This is what I cooked a few years back at The Tamarind Cooking School, Maleny.

Later this year I am planning a few dining out experiences. I am looking forward though to the opening of the Grand Central Dining Precinct in the Toowoomba CBD opening later in the year. It flows out onto a grassed civic area. It is sure to be popular in the warmer months. I am also looking forward to the opening of the Burke & Wills Hotel later this year. The hotel is undergoing a $10 million refurbishment and will have two restaurants that will be worthwhile checking out. I worked in the reception of the hotel back in the 1960’s when it was Lennon’s Hotel. My sister (now deceased) and her husband to be had drinks with family and friends in the bar of the hotel the night before their wedding in 1973 and then in 2006 my One&Only launched his book “George Essex Evans – His Life & Family” in one of the functions rooms. The event was attended by the Mayor of Toowoomba, Di Thorley, who did the official launch. The hotel holds great memories for me and I am looking forward to eating out in one or both restaurants when they open for business.

Last night we had one of my favourite – Tray Baked Chicken. Based on the Jamie Oliver recipe. The garlic, smokey paprika and balsamic vinegar gives the dish a wonderful flavour.

Tonight it could be a night of eating out for us. I have just found this Indian restaurant with great reviews. Eating out tonight won’t put too much burden on the budget. We can then bring the food home and sit by the fire. Buon Appetito!

Farmers’ Markets

Yesterday we were at the Farmers’ Markets held in the grounds of the iconic Empire Theatre, Toowoomba. It is held every Thursday from 12 noon to 6pm. It was our first time at this Market. We arrived early and not all the stallholders had set up. This was due to a recent change of the starting time from 3pm to 12noon.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Toowoomba, perfect for being outdoors. We enjoyed our walk to the Markets and then having a look at the different stalls. We bought some fresh made pasta from Angelo. We found out that Angelo was the founder of Angelo’s House Restaurant, 210 Herries Street, Toowoomba, opposite Laurel Bank Park. The restaurant has recently re-branded and is now called the Urban Grounds Cafe. There is a growing cafe culture in Toowoomba. Gone are the days when the local cafe served up milk shakes, chips and paddle pops. Barista’s (those who make coffee) are popping up everywhere in the city. Barista’s are skilled in making a range of specialised coffee’s and are trained in the art of being a barista. Not that this is of significance to me as I am not a coffee drinker. I am fine to have the occasionally coffee but for me my preference is for tea. Most markets whether these be art & craft or produce & food you will usually find a barista!

Angelo with his fresh home-made pasta – buonissima (very good!)

Looking at all of Angelo’s pasta, made from Semolina, I had to take some home. We are having the pasta tonight with a rich Italian bolognese sauce. These days I make up extra and freeze one to two extra meals. It gives me a night off on another occasion. Better than getting a take-away! We know what is in the food and the hygiene practices that are followed in its preparation. Leaving Angelo we found a stall of organic herbs. I am fully stocked at the moment with herbs, 30 jars in all. Next we went on to the olive stall. Olives of different flavours made by Bunnyconnellen, Crows Nest. Tasting was welcomed and we enjoyed tasting three varieties before we made our selection of two. These will be great to add to our Mediterranean diet.

We did not buy any fresh produce today as we are stocked up on fruit and vegetables. Not long after we came home we wandered out to our veggie garden and picked fresh snow peas for dinner. I don’t think I have ever tasted a snow pea so good. This is life, day by day, at our place. My One&Only (O&O) is recovering from his shoulder surgery and diligently doing his exercises, set by the physiotherapist, three times a day. Life is challenging with only one arm, however we have moved into the rhythm of managing all that has to be done day by day. Fresh veggie’s home grown and our home grown eggs…this is the good life!

Bunnyconnellen olives – delicious!

Snow peas – from our garden to the table. We can’t get fresher than that!

Enjoy your weekend. Maybe you too, will find yourself in a farmers market this weekend.

We love our eggs

We love our eggs. People all over the world, including Australia love their eggs. In Australia, people are eating more eggs. On average in Australia adults eat 5.77 eggs per week.

Since we settled in Toowoomba 20 months ago we have not found an egg to match our Princess Eggs. This is what I called the eggs laid by our chickens at our previous home in Maleny. Our chickens got only the best, the royal treatment. It was only right that I gave them the title of Princess Chickens. When we moved we had to say goodbye to these Princess Chickens that consistently did their royal duty, laying eggs for us each day. They were rehoused. It was far too complicated for them to move with us. Now in Toowoomba we buy free range eggs but still they do not hold their structure well. If you take notice when you next crack an egg for breakfast (from the supermarket) more than likely you will find that the white of the egg spreads all over the pan. Very little substance to the egg. We have driven all around Toowoomba looking for good quality eggs. When we think we have found what looks like good quality eggs, we buy another dozen. After 20 months of this behaviour it was time to grow our own!

Early on, I did not think it was possible for us to have chickens in our urban garden. However, after we put up a privacy screen and enclosed our vegetable garden we found we had the perfect space for a chicken coop. The project of growing our own eggs, that is, caring for chickens, began several months ago with a flat pack chicken coop. Next came painting (two coats) and modifications to make the chicken coop a suitable home for Princess Chickens. The project went on for 2 months, though it seemed like four months! As we love our eggs this provided good motivation to keep going to finish the project that was interrupted with rain and time away! The week finally came when we were ready for chicken shopping. However, to find Princess Chickens, ones that were willing to live at our place, we had to go to another rural municipality.

We went on the long journey and our young Princess Chickens, happily sitting in boxes in the back seat of our car, arrived one week ago today. On the second day they arrived, we unexpectedly got our first egg. Just as well the nesting box was ready and waiting. The first egg was not laid in the nesting box but by the second day Princess Lucy had found the proper place, the nesting box.

Enjoy the photos that tell the story of our “we love our eggs” journey that turned into us welcoming four lovely Princess Chickens (pure breeds).

The project begins. MY O&O measuring up after we had put together a few panels of the coop.

 

The chicken coop is almost finished. It included a wire floor (a modification). The bamboo blinds (another modification) on each side are to keep out the rain and heat. Only needs straw and feeders.

This is Princess Lucy, a Plymouth Rock (origin USA)

Princess Sophia, a Light Sussex (origin England)

Princess Carmella, a Buff Sussex (origin England)

Princess Lulu – she is the youngest and also a Plymouth Rock like Lucy.

The Princesses settling in and keeping busy

This is the privacy curtain on the nesting box I made from a burlap bag.I was surprised the day after the Princesses arrived we had our first egg! On the second day Princess Lucy found her way into the nesting box.

At last, two days after the Princess Chickens arrived we enjoyed our first two eggs for breakfast. And yes, we love our eggs!

 

Living life with one arm in a sling

For two weeks, my “One & Only” (O&O) has lived life with one arm in a sling. Most of us who are able-bodied and have two arms working don’t think too much about the importance of two arms working together simultaneously. Just like me, on my keyboard writing this post, I am using both arms/hands. It is a very difficult situation when suddenly one arm/hand is not functioning.

We take so much for granted when we have two arms working together. We need this for the basics such as showering, getting dressed, tying up shoelaces, cutting up food and much more. No driving the car for months for my O&O. He now has a chauffeur who will take him wherever he pleases!

One advantage is that my O&O is right-handed and it is his left arm that is in a sling. But this is not only a sling, it has a support behind the sling that holds the arm in the right position to heal. Sleeping with this sling and support can interfere with your sleeping. It can be very difficult to find a comfortable position. Then there are the exercises x 3 times per day and a constant pill taking regime to keep the pain under control.

A shoulder replacement is a very technical operation and through friends we found a specialist at the Brisbane Hand and Upper Limb Clinic. It is one of the largest clinics in the Southern Hemisphere where surgeons specialise in hand and upper limb disorders and injuries.

Fortunately, for my O&O in a few months he will fully regain the use of his left arm. Not like some others who are permanently disabled and only have the use of one arm. One of these people is Jennifer, a young American woman who was born with only one arm. Read here about how she overcame her disability to live a full and successful life with the aid of a prosthesis. Jennifer likes to keep positive and as is reported in her story, if life gives you lemons then it is time to make lemonade.

It is very challenging living life with one arm in a sling. But it seems many are prepared to do this to relieve the pain and like my O&O gain back the full function of his arm without pain. In USA 4.5 million people each year seek medical care for shoulder pain and 250,000 have rotator cuff surgery.

This is a photo of the artificial joint that is now in my O&O’s shoulder. There are more photos but one I am sure is more than enough!

If you have wondered why I have not been blogging lately it is because we have spent months working on a project (I will share this in a later post). Weeks before my O&O’s surgery we were preparing for the time post his operation when he was incapacitated. He spent time cutting wood for the fire, gardening and a plethora of other activities. What we have found is that it is difficult to be fully prepared for such a situation and the length of time it takes to recuperate. But we will get there and yes, it will be worth it!

And by the way, this week my email was corrupted and that took some time to sort out. Then, the tablet that controls our ducted air-conditioning malfunctioned. On the bright side, I have learnt how to use our self-propelled mower and for the first time in decades made up and poisoned weeds in the garden. Where do they all come from? There is great satisfaction in mowing the lawn and then sitting back and looking at it! Not too much sitting around though there are leaves that must be raked from our deciduous trees and other chores to be done. Life is never uninteresting at our place, even if one of us has one arm is in a sling.

When in this situation it is time to “sit and stare” – time to enjoy the fire.

A wood fire is very relaxing and good for the soul.

The Garden

I really like the garden at this time of the year – Winter. We live 691 metres above sea level and with this comes cooler weather in the winter. Also, we are able to enjoy the changing of the seasons – the deciduous trees lose their leaves creating a carpet of colour. There is also the opportunity to walk through Queen’s Park or Queen’s Park Botanic Garden and shuffle through the pile of leaves covering the pathways. Yes, I really like the garden at this time of the year.

We have this beautiful tree in our front garden. It is a Maidenhair Tree – Ginkgo Biloba. It comes from China. The foliage is very distinctive, yellow in autumn/winter and lime in spring. There are a number of great specimens of Ginkgo Biloba in Australia. There is a 100 year old tree in Kingston Terrace and another in Medole Court at the University of Adelaide.  I don’t know of any notable specimens in Queensland. Though in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, probably due to the colder weather have street and park Ginkgo specimens. In Weston Park, Canberra there is a beautiful male Ginkgo in the grounds of Hobday’s Cottage (Yarralumla Gallery and The Oaks Brasserie) where you can sit under it and enjoy lunch. We can also do this at our place. Maybe we should!

The Ginkgo Biloba is our front garden

Even though our climate is colder than places closer to the coast we can still grow tomatoes all year around. Our enclosed veggie garden is proving very successful. All the wild life, including birds, possums, brush turkeys, cats and bandicoots are no longer able to venture into our veggie patch. Recently through one of our windows I saw a cat get a surprise when it wandered up to our privacy screen (inside our boundary) to find a barrier. It wandered around for a while and then put its nose up to the timber boards and peered through. That was as much as it could do and then take a new path back to where it came from.

The Veggie garden is thriving now that the wildlife are prohibited from entering

My “One & Only” (O&O) tending the plants. Once we had the veggie garden enclosed he got very enthusiastic. We have heaps of tomatoes growing, capsicum, chilli, peas, beans, garlic, carrots and lettuce. Even in a small space we can grow some of our own food. We moved most of the herbs to an open area of our garden. The wildlife are not as interested in herbs. This created more space for the veggie’s.

It is very satisfying growing your own veggies and herbs. It does not take too much effort. If you mulch it cuts down on having to deal with the weeds. Then there is the watering. My O&O installed a watering system above the garden. See this black tube in both photos. After that all we have to do is watch out for the random bug, that manages to get in and munch on our veggies, before we do! Happy gardening everyone.

The case of the disappearing pen

I am on the case of the disappearing pen. We can buy a pack of twenty and before long we have trouble finding one. Then there is the matter of the 750 wheelie bins that went missing from the town of Lismore because of the rain event from Cyclone Debbie. Only 50 bins were found. Where did the other 700 wheelie bins end up? What about all the socks that disappear? Where do all the missing items go?

Then the other day my “One & Only” (O&O) could not find his keys on our return home (via the remote control into the garage). All was well, we found them in a door with the door wide open. Nothing in the house had disappeared, thankfully. A few days before my O&O could not find his car key. We searched high and low. I thought we should have a break and think on it for a while – it just can’t disappear! Finally, I found the key, safely tucked away in one of my jacket pockets. I wonder who put it there? Sometimes, it is not so easy for things to disappear in our house. But there still is the matter of the disappearing pens. Is it worth thinking about? The missing pen cost less than twenty cents from the supermarket but that gold-plated pen that was a gift must be hiding somewhere! It was the same when I worked in an office. We would buy 50 pens and before long everyone was looking for that elusive pen!

Hold on to your pen or it may disappear!

Do pens disappear to the bottom of a handbag or a briefcase? Certainly, not to the bottom of my handbag. I always have difficulty finding one there! My O&O usually comes to the rescue with a pen from his pocket. Should I ask how many he has hidden in his pockets? Is that where all the pens go? No, not there either!

The missing pen phenomenon also happen with teaspoons. A research team at the Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health in Melbourne placed 70 numbered teaspoons in various tea-rooms across the Institute and tracked these for 5 months. Eighty percent of them disappeared for good! Read more about their research here. It is a fact that pens, spoons, socks, ribbons, hair pins, combs, brushes and now wheelie bins, all disappear after a while and there is nothing we can do about it. Replace and forget that is my motto! What about you? What goes missing at your place?

Making money

Most of us are out and about making money. If we are not working or unable to work then we need to work out how we can make the most of the money we have. It is easy enough to spend money. It is wise though if we do not spend more than we make! Once June (the month) arrived my thoughts turned to our yearly budget.

Earlier in the week I prepared our 2017-18 budget. It did not take long as it is a habit that happens every year. All I need to do is examine our expenditure from the previous financial year and see where adjustments are to be made. For example, our electricity went down this past year when mostly I hear that people are paying more for electricity. Our electricity costs went down because we replaced a 250-litre hot water system with an instantaneous gas system.

I also adjusted my behaviour to get the most out of our solar system. Every evening our dishwasher would go on. I changed this to the early afternoon to use our solar and minimise the use of electricity. As we are retired and at home we can do this. If you are out of the home working and have solar it is best to put the dishwasher on just before you leave for work, not in the evening, unless you have battery storage. Our electricity bill is now half of what it used to be. Our gas bill is not high as we have natural gas and only heat our water.

There are other ways we can be kept busy making money, but it all starts and ends with a budget.

Making money at the supermarket

When grocery shopping we can all make money by:

  • Planning our meals
  • Writing a shopping list
  • Not shopping when we are hungry

Some people think that you should leave the kids at home when you shop. This might be okay on some occasions and when they are younger. Once they are older it is good to involve children in helping write the shopping list. They can also get involved in comparing the cost of items on the supermarket shelf. Supermarket shopping is also a great opportunity to teach children/grandchildren about money and budgeting.

Do you use cash or card when supermarket shopping? Earlier this year I experimented with shopping with a card. To keep within our budget, I kept the receipts to keep a record. Most fortnights we were spending more than our allocated amount for groceries. We went back to paying by cash and now at the end of each fortnight we have unspent money. What is the psychology behind looking in your “grocery” wallet to see how much cash you have left for the fortnight? When you use a card, it is as though your spending power has no limits. Therefore, you spend more. Paying with cash though gives the check-out operator a surprise as most people today shop with a card. Will we move to a completely cashless society? I don’t think so. Even though technology has taken over with e-books, computers and kindles, many of us still like the feel of a book in our hands. Books, like cash will remain popular. Yet I hear that some businesses are considering a “no cash” policy. Is this to reduce the risk of theft? The only problem with a “no cash” policy is when there are technical issues and/or the power goes off. Everything comes to a halt and no card transactions can take place. In this case, it looks like all the diners who are leaving to go home will have to leave an IOU.

Writing down ideas for this year’s budget

Making money by giving gifts

When we give a gift, we do not have to go shopping. It is possible to make gifts at home. We can do this through cooking, sewing, knitting, art and crafts. I am not good at doing this and it is an area I could improve on. On the odd occasion, I have been creative and given a gift that I made myself, it is very rewarding.

Buy a crock-pot

Crock-pots reduce cooking costs. You can also buy cheaper cuts of meat to make a delicious home-made meal. If you are out making money put the crock-pot on before you leave for work and when at home relax – dinner is ready!

Having a budget means I am on target with managing my money

Gaining momentum for making money

When you are saving money, you are making money. I like to make my money work and I do this by knowing where my money ends up. Hopefully, not always in someone else’s pocket! Making money matters and it matters more the less you have.

It is not easy to make money when we leave it in the custody of the bank. Interest is low and money grows slow. Making money with money is difficult these days. Many families and retiree’s find that they are dipping into their savings. Making money by reducing expenditure is the common-sense approach.

Making money does not happen if you earn less than you spend. When you are doing your budget for 2017-18 think about, as I do, what makes you happy? Are people happier without debt? I know that I am happier if I have no debt and no money worries. What about you?

There are things that money cannot buy, like love or friendship. If we have these, and a little bit of cash to go with it and the right attitude to “making money” then we will have a good life!

Make your dreams happen

How do we make our dreams happen? Is there a formula if we follow the rules? Will this cause us to find success in life?

My last post was titled “rules rule” and it was about rules and what rules do we keep and what rules can we break? Then this week I read an article by Gail Forrer, Editor, Seniors Newspaper, Toowoomba & Darling Downs. It was titled “Disrupt the rules and do it your way”. At once, she had my interest. She went on to write about Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame. He is a very clever man, not only through his business success but also that his Australian home is in Queensland, Noosa (Makepeace Island).

I begin to think about Richard and his achievements and that he, like the rest of us, is getting older. Richard will be 67 years old this July. He does not look like slowing down. Then what causes others, like me, to slow down? The answers could be as many as the hairs on our head. So, for now, I will leave you, as the reader, to contemplate that for yourself.

Richard is an inspirational and innovative leader. He likes to see people not only accept the status quo, but to challenge and rethink why the rules exist. Only in that environment can change be created. I went and had a look at his website and ended up taking the quiz about what type of leader I am? A traditional or modern leader? My result is that I am a modern leader. But then, I may have the attributes to be a modern leader, but then I have no one to lead. The next question, is do I want to be a leader or just quietly retire on my terms? My choices in retirement, my rules, my way! You can take the leadership quiz here.

Is ageing a good enough excuse for retirement? All my working life I looked forward to retirement. Being the CEO of my life, making my own rules and doing it my way. But then, what do we, as older people, with all the knowledge and skills we accumulated throughout life? If we do not continue in the workplace or volunteer where we may influence others, our talents and experience can disappear into the ether.

Once we reach a certain age we don’t stop dreaming or having goals for our life. Reaching 60 years is not an occasion to put up the STOP sign. Old age is making us younger. Once we reach 70 years old this is now the new middle age. We still have 30 years or more, all going well with our health. What then do we do in those 30 years or more?

I can’t spend all my time watching the bird life – I have to make my dreams happen!

Pale headed rosellas enjoying a drink in our garden

To find inspiration for my life I went to Sir Richard Branson. He said that he never was one to follow the rules or listen to naysayers. He went about turning his dreams into reality. His advice to others is – make it happen!

Here are his 10 top quotes for what sets change-makers apart from dreamers. Note: he does not start from 1 but starts at 10. He goes backwards, or is that forwards? I could not put the numbers in starting with 10 and ending at 1. The formatting is set and it kept replacing 9 with 11 and so on. The rule can’t be broken. Therefore, I left out the numbers.

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope.”  – Bradley Whitford

“Immerse yourself in the energy of what you desire.” – Hiro Boga

“Three components make an entrepreneur: the person, the idea and the resources to make it happen.” – Anita Roddick

“Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” – Wayne Huizenga

“Good things come to those who initiate.” – Susan RoAne

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” – Diana Ross

“In a start-up, absolutely nothing happens unless you make it happen.” – Marc Andreessen

“I follow my own head. And if I’m determined to do something, then I’ll make sure that I make it happen.” – Laura Dekker

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

What is your favourite quote from the 10 listed here? My favourite is number 2 (second last) – von Goethe. It fits nicely with the message below by Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut. My sister Christine sent me this gem. It is titled “Have you worked toward your dream today”?

The most important quality I have noticed in successful people is that they have a dream. They want to be someone or something. They want to have something. They want to go somewhere. They think and work toward that dream every day.

I often ask people who tell me their dream, “What did you do today to move closer to your dream?” Eighty-five percent didn’t do anything. They are planning to do something next week; they’re just too busy today. These 85% will probably never see their dream come true.

Ask yourself the same question: “What have I done today to make my dream come true?” If the answer is nothing specific, then you will never make it unless you change your ways.’

It is time to change my ways and make my dreams come true – it is solely up to me and time for me to wake and make my dreams happen, begin it now. What about you?

Rules rule

Why do we have to have rules? We have rules to guide and shape our beliefs and behaviour. As a rule, rules come from laws, but some rules standalone, such as the ones we make for ourselves or our household.

The “rule of law” is a concept that the government and citizens know the law and follow it. Laws and rules establish standards, they protect people, they enforce rights and resolve conflicts. Without rules, we would have anarchy in society. Yet again, are there some rules that can be broken? Is it okay to break rules? I believe it is okay to break rules, if you make them yourself, for yourself. But what about rules that other people make and expect you to follow? Are some rules unnecessary? In fact, rules can cause people to disobey the very rules that were meant to make them behave in a certain way. Think about it for a minute.

In the 1800s in many states in the USA there were laws that prevented African-Americans (then called Blacks) from learning to read or write. This ruling was because of fears that, if educated, the slave system would be undermined. Such laws were punitive and unjust, yet citizens were expected to follow the rule of law. Those that thought these rules were wrong and educated “slaves” were severely punished, if found out! Rules such as preventing people from an education is not right. But back then, people thought it was right. We now look back in history and know that such treatment was wrong, it was discriminatory.

Subservience or denying people equal rights and equal opportunities is prejudicial. As it happens, there were social reformers, known as abolitionists, who recognised the injustices of the slave system and protested it. Eventually, after an Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on 1st January 1831, slavery was official abolished in the USA by the Thirteenth Amendment, which took effect of 18th December 1865.

Why am I writing about rules? Because when we went away recently for a mid-week break (a retiree’s weekend) the cottage we stayed at had rules. The hosts (female & male) walked through the cottage with us on our arrival. The woman pointed out the rules “what we should do” and “what we shouldn’t do”. It was overwhelming and we had not encountered anything like it before. We have travelled the world several times and stayed in hotels, motels, apartments, cabins, houses and cottages. Never have our hosts felt they needed to point out the rules, so poignantly. Usually, when you book into a hotel or self-contained apartment you will find your way around. There is usually information that will guide your stay, such as how to use a television or DVD player. Perhaps also a request about respecting the property, cleaning any dishes, emptying rubbish and paying for any damages.

We just arrived in time to enjoy the wood-fire. Once when away in December for a one-night getaway we lit the fire! I am pleased they did not have a time-frame restriction. It was a cool night and created a wonderful ambience.

A fireplace rules!

The focus on rules at our cottage stay was so formidable it took us almost 24 hours to recover! There were signs in different places telling us how to behave. I understand the need for a “few” rules as people are different and not everyone cares for another’s property the way they should. But when it is someone else’s property, even if paying for its use for a short while, we are careful and respect our hosts wishes. This is when you worry about spilling a glass of red wine on a beige rug! Too many rules can cause anxiety and when you are apprehensive the thing you did not want to happen, can happen! Fortunately for us on this occasion we had no mishaps!

One thing I found unusual, given that the cottage and the property relied on rainwater tanks, there were no rules about water conservation. That is one rule I would have expected. While most people today are conscious of being water wise, some still need a reminder. Therefore, I would have welcomed a rule about water conservation. Following are more signs we were greeted with!

We always enjoy cooking on our BBQ. When we go away on holidays this is something we like to do. The rules for using the BBQ at the Cottage were that we had to leave it in the very exact state it was. This was not only cleaning the BBQ plates, but the space below. Not put off, we decided to use the BBQ to cook our eye fillets for dinner the first evening and bacon and egg breakfast the following morning. What we did not understand is that the BBQ, an older model, got very messy under the grill. Oh my, oh my….my O&O (One & Only) started cleaning the BBQ after our relaxing breakfast and then I took over to finish the cleaning chore. And a chore it was! It took several hours between the both of us to clean!

We worked for several hours to clean the BBQ as we had to clean it properly, being an extra special item!

I wanted to suggest to our hosts that they upgrade their BBQ, maybe a Weber Q, one that is easier to clean or at least leave some BBQ wipes to make cleaning easier. My O&O preferred not to say anything, just to leave “sleeping dogs lie”. I agreed and we went away without giving any feedback.

Rules rule, but the “cottage rules” did not rule us for long. We left after a couple of days and emphasised the positive: the views, the reading material, the comfortable bed and the wood fire (enjoyed with our wood allocation).

There are Queensland Government and Local Council rules for those who provide rental accommodation. Did our hosts follow all these rules? By law, to receive protection under the law, operators of such establishment must display a notice their accommodation is licensed. I must have missed that one, when I was busily taking photos of all the other cottage household rules!!

Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) said “right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” We went away after our cottage stay, not fully comfortable with all the rules, but knowing we did the right thing. We were respectful of our hosts rules and grateful for the comfort they provided for us on our mid-week getaway. Should we return? Nah!

P.S. Apologies for the poor quality of the photos!

Driving Deviations

Driving deviations not only happen when we are in the car driving. They can also happen as we walk along the track of life. We get taken to places where we never thought we would go or even end up. Does this sound cryptic? It will become clearer as I go on.

My life lately seems to be very busy, busy all the time. I need to reflect more on what I am doing with my time! Yes, it is time to take account, take some down-time and reassess what I am doing day by day.

Just before the Mother’s Day weekend I headed off to the Gold Coast to spend several days with my mother. It was great once I was there, but the getting there caused me to experience several driving deviations. I have a late-model car with a GPS but that does not always work. You cannot trust that voice that speaks to you from the dashboard, at unexpected moments, causing you to jump in your seat. This is not so good as I am driving on the M2 and then the M1. I suspect that the “M” stands for motorway but my experiences tell me that “M” stands for marathon. Once on the M2 and then the M1 there is no time to be complacent. Cars shifting lanes, cars moving on the highway faster than “a speeding bullet”. These drivers must think they are superhuman. They move in and out of lanes and cars with the tiniest of spaces and above the speed limit.

Is it because I am getting older that I do not like the driving marathon on four, five or six lane motorways? What I do like these days is that all the exits are numbered. No longer do we have to look for a street or suburb exit; a number is all it takes. It simplifies the driving marathon when many drivers, including myself, need guidance.

The guidance from the GPS on the other hand is not entirely reliable. Traffic lights have taken the place of roundabouts and taking the “second on the left” suddenly is a lottery draw. I have taken the path to my mother’s new residence several times but all the road work on the Gold Coast changes the landscape into a confusing mass of choices. I did get to my mother’s place eventually, but only after a few driving deviations and a quick look at the new Gold Coast University Hospital.

Once in the basement car space of my mother’s place I did not want to venture out. But then, there was the Mother’s Day High Tea where I was meeting my sister, about 30 minutes away. I faithfully followed the directions of the GPS. Would we get to our destination? I had no clue where I was going but eventually we got there thanks to the GPS. Although, that was not the end of it. After the High Tea, we decided to pay a visit to my other sister who recently moved into her new home at Springbrook.

This is when “driving deviations” came to the fore. I could not take the Mudgeeraba exit as the road was closed, due to the weather event following Cyclone Debbie. I thought I had driven far enough before I took the other Springbrook exit. My mother as passenger and I spent the next 30 minutes driving off the M1 and back around and onto the M1 again. Even though I phoned my sister she was not able to guide me through the driving deviations that was heightening my inner stress levels. I appeared calm, for my mother’s sake and we drove back to her place where we were, along with the car, ensconced and safe in the basement car park. The next time to venture out was to travel the motorway marathon of the M1 and M2 back home (a 2-hour drive away).

Queensland has some amazing scenery. It takes my breath away and causes me to relax.

The country life is great and even better when we find ourselves on a country road and off the busy motorways.

But that was not the end of my driving marathons. One day later my “One & Only” (O&O) went away for a mid-week break – a country cottage. We meandered our way, I was driving, my O&O and the GPS provided the guidance. Another 2-hour drive and we arrived at the gates of the cottage property. The driveway was gravel and it was long and parts of it were steep. Yet, we made it to discover that the covered car space at the cottage was about 300 metres away and the car access to the cottage was across an undulating grassed area. Now, this was all okay and we enjoyed our time, the solitude and scenery of the place, until we heard about the rain event that was to hit the south-east Thursday night until Friday evening. Would the car slip and slide across the grass and would we get out of the place safely without a four-wheel drive! The morning of our departure we both awoke at 4.30am and it was raining. Our anxiety levels were raised, the two earlier days of our relaxing adventure thwarted by the weather. What should we do? We could not sleep so we got up, packed our bags and tidied the cottage (more about this another time). My O&O walked in the dark to the car-port and carefully drove the car to the cottage. Slowly we drove down the gravel hill as though we were stealthily leaving without paying our account. This is the advantage of paying when you arrive, you can leave anytime you like.

Then we still had to face the 2-hour drive home. We had the choice of a few different ways home and our driving deviations took us the shortest and safest way home – no unsealed roads. It was an eerie drive as we travelled country roads in the dark with no street lights and rain falling. We also had to watch out for kangaroos or a koala taking a slow early morning walk – on the highway.

Is it just me, as I get older, who dislikes travelling on busy roads and motorways? I am convinced that more government foresight and a better road network infrastructure decades ago, would have lessened my driving deviations and stress.

Whiling away the time and enjoying nature is a great past-time.

In Australia there is an over reliance on road transport to shift goods and vehicles to take us from “A” to “B” – mostly one person in a vehicle. The traffic is clogging our roads and causing road rage and stress. The second range crossing is underway and will take heavy vehicles around Toowoomba, and not through it. Then there is the inland rail project. It will provide a high-capacity freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane. The project will give jobs and reduce the number of B-doubles on our roads and motorways. Dare I say, about time!

I like the idea of going on a train journey. Sitting on a train, enjoying the scenery and on a track that does not take deviations. Finally, after several relaxing hours or days, we arrive on time at our destination. Anyone for a trip on The Ghan?