It seems like forever since I have blogged, and of course looking back it is a long time ago. I am not quite sure why this is, it is either that I don't have much to say (yes I know hard to believe), or not sure if what we are doing is all that inspiring. We have been trying to live a more simple life this year.
It's not that we have been boring or lacking for things to do, but maybe I feel they are just a little more routine - something we haven't been since we have retired. There is nothing wrong I suppose with routine, it is just harder to write about. It did make me think though what have we been doing and this year has been the year of short trips - this is primarily due to us now doing Volunteer Marine Rescue 2 days a week and not wanting to let the team down by being away and like all volunteering the more you can do the more you get lumbered with - not that we mind but you do have to be strong sometimes and say NO or otherwise it can take over your life, we learnt this lesson during the year.
The beginning of the year seemed to be hectic with us doing our ESS (Essential Shipboard Safety) weekend - mid January and stinking hot this took a lot out of us but we did thoroughly enjoy it. It meant we could finally participate in VMR at a higher level - it was a big weekend of theory and practical involvement - learning how to fight fires, flare handling, getting life rafts up etc.
This was quickly followed by a few days in Melbourne for The Australian Open, I love my tennis and had always wanted to go to the Aussie Open - what a great time to go and discover Melbourne - while I had probably been to Melbourne 100 times during my working life I never really had the time to discover all it has to offer. It was great to catch up with friends but it also showed us how good it is to go somewhere when there is a specific event on as they are usually held at a time when the weather is good and there is lots of activities on making your stay a little more enjoyable as everyone is out and about enjoying the festivities. So we learnt to start doing shorter trips to places where events are on - this month we are off to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers as they have some great events on at the same time so it gives you more to do in some towns that you may just drive through - more on that when we come back.
We have also boarded 2 cruises this year - one in early March which to be honest was horrible, and we found ourselves getting off the cruise after 2 nights of a 14 night cruise in Noumea. I am not going to go into why we got off, but lets say I fell into the trap of trying P&O from Brisbane - to try and avoid airports and large amounts of air travel but I think once you have done Princess or Holland American cruises P&O leaves a lot to be desired. It wasn't a total waste though because we discovered Noumea - what a beautiful place this is and we had a lovely time enjoying fantastic French cuisine in a place where the Bonjour was more than just a greeting, everyone here was happy, helpful and more importantly unlike France itself cheerful, in a beautiful clean and pristine environment. So we ended up doing airports and flying back from Noumea - c'est la vie. See below for some more of the beautiful foods we consumed and all at very reasonable prices.
When I booked the cruise from hell above, I also booked a family 4 day cruise - which we did and while still P&O the short cruise and especially with the whole family is a fun way to all get together and enjoy each others company.
We did something we haven't done for years and drove to Sydney to catch up with some of our oldest friends - WOW the roads now are so good, just about dual carriage way the whole way which made the drive only 9 hours and enjoyable. We both love Sydney having met there, getting married there and building our first home there so it was a lovely couple of days full of all things Sydney as well as catching up with friends.
We discovered a perfect get away at Byron Bay earlier in the year as well - staying in a cabin at the beachfront caravan park - we miss our camping adventures and chats with vanners - people are not so chatty in motels so this helps us to connect with people travelling around while being in a great place right on one of the worlds iconic beach fronts, and of course there is always something to do at Byron - Derek keeps busy with his metal detecting, I get long beach walks followed by some great sun baking, reading and of course just a little retail therapy. We have enjoyed just looking at the weather forecast and saying lets go for 2 or 3 nights something we have done a few times this year.
We have recently just returned from Hervey Bay where we celebrated Dereks 60th staying at the Mantra - I went via booking.com and got a fabulous room for just $90 a night - right on the water front and in a nice active area. We did something we have never done before and did a day trip to Fraser Island. I had always wanted to go to Fraser so it was a great way to discover it. The 4 wheel drive bus ride certainly was a great way to see all it has to offer, then as we are driving up the 70 miles of beach we came across one of only 4 beach front airports so decided to do a scenic flight which was truly spectacular.
Derek was studying hard over June and July and finally got his 2nd Stripe. This along with fund raising events etc seemed to make it like we never left VMR over these months - like I said earlier it can consume you life if you let it!
We still continue to participate in life here in our community, albeit not as heavily as we did in the early days - but when the weather is great we still love to take the boats out, beat everyone at Bocci which is a fun Sunday afternoon event we have here, go to events like Christmas in July, Chinese New Year etc and enjoy our facilities - yes even using the gym grrrr - no matter what I do I cannot seem to loose weight but at least the body is moving I suppose.
We have started back on our being a tourist in our own back yard again, doing Whale Watching Tours and other touristy things prior to the influx of the late spring and summer visitors. We live in one of the biggest tourist regions of the world and it's nice to sit with people from other countries/areas and see things we take for granted through their eyes and thoughts as they experience our world.
Shove in the stock standard family events and it really seems like the year so far has gone just way too fast - it has been nice making a change to the way we live this year so far and while maybe not as exotic as past years it means we are doing something every week. month rather than 1 or 2 big events a year.
On reflection living in an over 50's community and volunteering can take up most of your days without even really trying and I suppose that is what it was all about - living a simpler life where there is always something to do, but at the same time you have to get away as well otherwise you can be consumed by it all, so the short breaks and event travelling has worked well for us this year.