A Travellerspoint blog

Blisters on blisters

Well, Sunday presented me with a real DUH!!! moment when I finally unpacked my entire suitcase for the first time and discovered that I had left my walking shoes in Portsmouth. No, I can't believe it either, I mean it's not as if my walking shoes are an optional extra in my wardrobe. Unlike my high heels which are and which I did bring with me. The weather has been hot enough until now for me to use my walking sandals, another reason why I didn't miss my shoes, but these will definitely not be any good for winter in New Zealand. So I am now waiting on despatches from home in order to get myself properly kitted out for what I like to do best. What a dummy!
Meanwhile my schedule has got busier and yesterday (Tuesday) I took myself off for a long hike (in sandals) did my daily three hours of study, which I know is good for me and which I am enjoying very much, and then got the train to meet Tom for an early dinner with his boss and wife before going to a film festival. 182ECEC7973EB5764CE5AC35748FA4BC.jpg
The festival was a series of nine shorts including films about surfing in the arctic and in various 'mega wave' hotspots (this was truly edge of the seat viewing), Hanli Pinsloo, a free diving record breaker, diving with sharks, fascinating cave diving sequences and one film about a South African man, Bruno, who relearned to surf big waves despite being paralysed from the waist down in a car jacking gone wrong. 182FD1D7CE9F018D647FD6F4E82DD6B0.jpg It was amazing stuff and well worth an evening of anyone's time. The only downside to the evening was that I wore my (not quite worn in enough) Sperrys to walk to the station. Bad mistake! By the time I got home my heels had burst blisters and I had other raw areas on both feet. For all the walking I have done I have not had blisters on my feet since I did the Isle of Wight coastal path with Deb and I honestly can't remember how many years ago that was. This was a real concern because I had already arranged a half day hike through the Royal National Park with a friend of T and B's for today.
So, this morning, and me and my Compede covered feet set off in stalwart fashion with nothing to fortify us except some sandwiches and water. I did suggest to Mariet that we take a bottle of cider each to have with our picnic lunch but she politely declined so, of course, I felt that I had to follow her good example. It was a decision she regretted as soon as we sat on a rock and unpacked our food! The walk was brilliant as we first trekked through quite dense Forest 182C5AEBA6F03E7F9E7CDC8CA7D98EE3.jpgand then came out onto the cliff tops with stunning views in front of us. 182DDFB0B32C830E42DED22BA3199DBF.jpg182A73FDC4DAAF858D007EB6F2713B77.jpg I was a bit perplexed at one point when I could feel something soft and squidgy inside my left sandal and I wondered if a caterpiller or something had got into it. When I stopped to have a look my little toe was bleeding ((???) and my sandal was full of blood so it was this I had been squishing along in. No idea what happened because I felt no pain but fortunately we were close enough to the beach for me to do a wade through salt water and resourceful Mariet had a spare plaster in her bag.
The surf was too high for a swim on that beach but at the end of the walk we drove back to Cronulla and took a dip in one of the sea pools close to home. It was wonderful! Despite the lack of cider and the bleeding foot it has been a perfect day and I got back in time to put some study hours in before T&B get back from work.
I may have to wear socks with my sandals for while, a look that I have always thought was particularly hideous, but if needs must... and I don't think there are any fashion police amongst the hiking fraternity.

Posted by busyboots 22:33 Comments (4)

Time for some brain exercise

One of the nice things about lengthy house sits (and mine vary from three weeks to two months) is that there is no imperative to rush about exploring every day and you can relax and enjoy the local neighbourhood. I will be doing much more exploring when I get to my next house sit in Brisbane as it is a city I haven't been to before and the dog I will be looking after there is used to being left alone for longer periods. This sit has been very quiet and relaxing for both of us 4947CA9DF79F26F995354B9B8F02F725.jpg but, having had two weeks of relative inactivity, I decided it was time to at least get my brain back into gear. I have signed up for a free online Spanish language course with 'Duolingo' and so far it is proving to be both entertaining and educational so thank you Andrew for the recommendation. Hopefully the next time I go to Spain I will be able to say a lot more than just "Dos cervezas por favor".
I have also registered for two online courses with 'FutureLearn', one on Forensic Psychology (run by the Open University) and the other on Irish history between 1912 and 1923 (run by Trinity College Dublin). I have just finished the first week of both and they are absolutely fascinating and should keep me intellectually busy and stimulated during the next few weeks. As with all the FutureLearn courses (of which there are many and on very diverse subjects) they are completely free and can be undertaken at your own speed. I did one last year on Hadrians Wall as a frontier of the Roman Empire and it was really interesting and very informative. These two are so good that I'm finding it hard to disengage with either of them and I'm putting in far more hours than specified. Just as well I've got plenty of time on my hands.
I have just come to the end of my first house sit and can't believe I have been here for three weeks already. Viv and Chris came back from Tasmania on Friday and we spent the afternoon and evening quaffing wine and chatting like old friends. I spent Friday night in the cosy cabin again and they drove me over to Cronulla yesterday afternoon in time for a bbq dinner with Tom and Becky, three of their friends and Becky's parents. Great food, plenty of wine and a couple of board games. It was a lovely evening.
David and Maura left to return to Ireland around midday and I had a relaxing afternoon with Tom and Becky before she and I went for a walk along the prom leaving Tom to his X Box. 8617FA3A061DBEFD8FAA8EBC564F1B1E.jpg861AEA289C0A353FDC5CA30DA2100A80.jpg
It was sad to say goodbye to Josie 866190E6F422659B1B1B07A3969219CE.jpg and I'm sure that if I lived here Viv and Cris would become firm friends but it is good to back in Cronulla 8619A2C8FB8D97B2E203C14C582FF610.jpg and I will make the most of Tom and Becky's company before I fly off to Brisbane next wekend.

Posted by busyboots 03:15 Comments (1)

It's a tough life.

Well, two weeks in and total r and r. Josie and I walk for two hours a day and I am now on my seventh library book so you can tell how hard things are. The temperatures have been in the upper 20s for most of the last fortnight and it has been quite humid so not conducive to physical exercise (that's my excuse) but I have become very familiar with the local area and I'm learning rather a lot about NSW politics.
Last Sunday I took the train to Cronulla to spend an hour with Tom and Becky on their return from New York. They operate a great travel scheme here whereby if you use an Opal card (equivalent to an Oyster card in the UK) every journey on a Sunday costs only $2.50. I had an hour and a half train ride each way for the equivalent of £1.30 ish. That is REAL value for money! It was quite a long journey for just an hour with them but when you haven't had a live hug with your son for a year it was well worth it.
On Wednesday I caught the bus to the 'must go to' Macquarie Shopping Centre (why????) and I can absolutely confirm that a mall is a mall is a mall. The Centre is right across the road from Macquarie University and, at lunchtime, every one of it's 38 cafes and restaurants was rammed and the noise was horrendous. At least my rapid exit meant that I didn't have a chance to spend money on things I didn't need. I did get my nails done whilst I was there, a vanity I know but I have got standards to maintain, and it was cheaper than at home so I'm not going to feel bad about it.
Wednesday night we had the most enormous storm which knocked out power lines in some parts of the city although fortunately not here. Things changed literally by the minute and went from a clear sky to very big black clouds, thunder, lightning and monsoon rain during the course of a skype call to the UK. I had only watered the garden a couple of hours earlier on the basis of my weather app which is obviously rubbish and needs changing. Josie was terrified and felt she needed to sit on my lap, I don't know how much she weighs but she is big, solid and very heavy, I compromised by sitting on the floor and cuddling her and fortunately it only lasted a couple of hours.
Yesterday I went into the city to meet Tom, Becky and Becky's parents to watch the one day England/Afghanistan cricket match at the SCG. CE896DF2EAAD3CC79E706DEE4136BA04.jpgCDCD8749DF34B183B6C5C672BB837EAC.jpg England won the toss and put Afghanistan in to bat first and it was a slow start and apart from a couple of '4's the most exciting thing happening were the shooting flames each time a player was called 'out'.CDCBBB4DA3CE02A4FA554FFDED7D3FF3.jpgCDCC89D3D6FB4F67AD86D94B9BBF7F7F.jpg Rain stopped play a couple of times and unfortunately I had to leave way before the end so I didn't get to see England batting but I understand the game went on until 10pm and England won by 9 wickets. Hopefully the ground filled up a with the after work crowd and the atmosphere became a bit more enthusiastic.
My homeowners are back next Friday and I shall probably stay overnight here before going to Cronulla on Saturday. There is a 10.5k bush walk that I would really like to do sometime next week if there is a cooler day and the temperatures look set to be lower during the early part of the week so that could present an opportunity. That, mind you, is according to my weather app so who knows? I wonder if it was produced by Michael Fish.

Posted by busyboots 11:38 Comments (1)

2015 and the adventure 'down under' resumes

Life's too short to work full time!

Well, the best laid plans...and all that. As my tendon injury pretty much put paid to a summer of camping and hiking in the UK I did actually return to work in April last year. A new job and I was sold on the promise of company expansion and the increased responsibility that comes with a developing role. The vision was great! Unfortunately not all the board members were sharing the same one and after several months of long (and unacknowledged) hours I decided to stop beating my head against the wall and return to experiencing the real 'meaning of life'
So, here I am, back in Sydney and with plans for an extended stay that will allow me to visit those places not managed last year and to explore further the ones I particularly liked during my last visit. I have joined an online house sitting agency 'Trusted Housesitters.com' and have already lined up some pretty special assignments during the next few months. These are unpaid but in return for house and pet sitting the accommodation is free. If, as a traveller, you are not already aware of this site take a look there are some amazing opportunities all over the world.
Those of you who read my blog last year will know that I have family near Sydney so I will be able to visit them regularly, between house sits, without over staying my welcome and encroaching on their space for too long.
I arrived in Sydney on 28th February and came straight to a three week house sit in Eastwood in the northern suburbs of the city. My homeowners are great and made me feel welcome with emails and photos before I got here and even more so when I arrived. Fortunately they were around for a couple of days after my arrival because I had serious jet lag and sleep deprivation and a very bad cough (don't you just love all that re-cycled air). I spent my first two nights 'glamping' in the air conditioned cabin in the garden and enjoying all mod cons including wi-fi, sound system and tea/coffee making facilities. I also had my own (almost en suite) loo and was very grateful for the peace and quiet and privacy.7106166EFD31B6EF2D5260E00FE31A0B.jpg
My homeowners flew off to Tasmania on 1st March leaving me in charge of their lovely house 7123E3C2F9F488029306FC728E73E523.jpg and their even more lovely dog Josie. 7124EECEF4B64E07E6FA6F802B21899D.jpg Eastwood is pretty much a 'strip mall' town with a high proportion of Chinese and Korean people among the population and this is reflected in the shops and restaurants of which there are many. 715F534292DC03AAE636FAC56B12EE14.jpg71604B089D54ECCC1398113BA5830573.jpg
When you walk down the main shopping street the smells are delicious!
There is a small library, that I am making good use of, and a station from which trains take you directly into the city for just a few dollars. The house I am staying in is a five minute walk from the centre and is also on a bus route so getting around is extremely easy. My homeowners have left me the keys to their car but Josie and I are having far too much fun exploring the local area on foot to make use of it up to now.
This part of Eastwood has a real variety of housing stock from large, brick built, modern properties to lovely colonial bungalows with rap around verandahs and corrugated tin roofs. What all the properties have in common are big and really well maintained gardens and grass verges (nature strips) that, apparently, are the responsibility of the homeowners to keep tidy. There are stunning views over the city from many of our walking routes 71D0EBE0A21B16042E1EFC20008519DD.jpg and the whole area feels very safe with friendly neighbours who have time for "good morning, how are you"
I am told the bus will take me to Macquarie Shopping Centre, a well known and 'unmissable' shopping experience. I have not yet felt bored enough to pursue this suggestion and as my suitcase is already fully loaded I don't think I need to add to it. Realistically I probably couldn't get anything else into it and still move it but I did have to plan for all seasons during this trip and chocolate is very weighty! The latter is not for me, I hasten to add, so I suppose I will have some spare capacity once I have made my first visit to Cronulla.
If I had hoped to get away from all the pre-election posturing going on in the UK I haven't been fortunate because NSW is in the throes of it's own and the various supporters are out in force. 7299CA5CD0FCC9A54358A0218C04133A.jpg729BBAB1F3CE64BCE1D8EC477C448A99.jpg Interestingly the rival parties seem to set up their stalls right next to each other and, from what I have experienced so far, it all seems quite good natured. I haven't seen a party election broadcast on TV yet but there are lots of 'sound bite' messages (mostly about the sale, or not, of the electricity supplier) and I did watch a rather good programme, 'Question and Answer', the other night. Same issues, different politicians, oh well.....
Until next time.

Posted by busyboots 17:39 Comments (3)

...and finally

My visit to the fracture clinic at the local hospital was painless and productive. A very approachable doctor discussed options with me and we decided on 'conservative treatment' which basically means no operation and letting the tendon heal itself. My lower leg was put in a very fetching cast 90_55FFB2B22219AC681734AC0C62A03611.jpg which I wore for a week and then this was taken off and I was strapped into this 90_560076B12219AC6817A5FEB201B2F0D4.jpg which I shall wear for nine weeks. It has to be worn at all times, so sleeping is interesting, but I do take it off, very carefully, to clean my leg/foot and change the sock each day. The boot has three wedges inside to keep my heel elevated at the correct level and every three weeks a visit to the fracture clinic will result in the removal of one of the wedges to gradually stretch the tendon so that I can get my foot flat again. With the boot on I can weight bear on my injured foot and balance without crutches making daily tasks a little easier. I have bought a pair of wedge sandals to bring my other foot up close to the same level and that has taken a lot of strain off my back and I am able to walk for reasonable distances with the crutches to help. This means that I can slowly get around my local park, which is lovely at this time of year, and to enjoy the good weather we are currently experiencing.
The sight of my 'wasted' calf muscle is quite disconcerting but I shall build it back up as soon as I can without risking a proper recovery. It seems that it will be at least 6 months before I can do any really long hikes (if anyone out there has suffered this injury and can offer any comments here I would appreciate it) and 12 months before my tendon has fully recovered.
I just received some photographs from Veronica, who was in the abseil group, and when I looked through them I remembered how thrilling it was. 55FF093A2219AC6817C37ECDEF6E047A.jpgIn my entire trip this was probably the activity that sent my adrenaline levels rocketing the most and I would definitely do it again although, obviously, not for a while yet. I suspect the fear factor will be even higher the next time I go over the edge but I'm with Dylan Thomas on this one and shall 'not go gentle into that good night'.
As a very good friend of mine recently put it to me 'scars are tattoos with more interesting stories' ?

Posted by busyboots 02:26 Comments (0)

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