We’ll always have Paris…

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We’ve been home 8 weeks today.

And for every day of those last 8 weeks we have both reminisced about how fabulous our trip was and how blessed we were to be able to do it together.  Not many people get the chance to do what we were able to do and we know how incredibly lucky we were to experience everything we saw during our ‘Around the world in 90 days’.

One thing I know for sure is this:

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We have returned very humbled and with more appreciation for our life, each other, the things we saw and the experiences we shared.  During our trip we learnt a lot about each other, as we needed to be patient, tolerant and understanding of each other’s wants and needs over the 90 days we lived in each other’s pockets to make the trip a success. But the main thing I believe we bought home was an immense understanding of how grateful we are to have been able to have shared this whole experience together and how blessed our life is compared to many others which we saw on our travels.

I finally have a few not so busy weekends coming up to try and sort through the plethora of photos we both took and organise into albums as well as make some photo books.  I have begun to sort them into each place we visited, but inevitably get sidetracked into reminiscing as I remember the smells, taste and feelings of each and every  photo…because, of course, there is a story, a laugh, a cry or a chuckle behind each one and then we both start remembering and talking about it all over again….I think its going to take a while to sort through 🙂

It’s Father’s Day this weekend in Australia, and I especially wanted to thank my husband for being an amazing father and helping raise our children together but now for giving me a lifetime of memories of us both travelling around the world on a trip I had nearly given up on ever happening, and in particular, the joy I felt, having him by my side this time, is something I will cherish forever.

I have had a love for travel ever since my first trip to Bali as a young 19-year-old and still have a few more countries I want to explore but until that time comes I will have a lot of fun, recalling that I had a front seat in watching my hubby experience the biggest trip of his lifetime and know that no matter whatever else comes our way that,

We will

always

have

Paris xx

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Just before we go…

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As I sit here tonight and try to calm my excited nerves in anticipation for what I know will be one of the most spectacular times of our life, I am feeling very humbled and grateful that the universe synchronized everything together for us to finally take this trip by perfectly aligning the time, the way and the means. I am also feeling that last minute stress of have I done everything? I am appreciating more and more that we have a long cruise  first where we can wind right down before the madness begins!

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For those of you reading this, Bill and I were first met in April of 1988 which means this year, we have been together for just on 30 years and will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary later in the year. Not long before meeting Bill, I had just returned from my first trip to Europe and each and every year after that I relayed to him the stories of that trip and dreamt about one day being able to travel together. Sometimes we spoke about it as a far away plan, but as life became full and busy with children, education and moving around in the early days with the Dept of Defence, it just never eventuated and after a while that dream began to slowly fade as we began to realise due to a deteriorating back and fused neck that Bill just wasn’t able to travel the long distance required from Australia to reach the other side of the world. Until finally we just stopped talking about travelling together, that was, until an old family friend invited us on a cruise last year to celebrate her birthday, we then realised perhaps there was another way we could make this happen…

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So, on the eve of this most exciting and very special trip, I want to express my gratitude in this post to my husband, and to tell him, ‘I am so glad you never did give up that wish of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge‘ as that dream right there is the foundation of what this trip is based upon. I want to wish him the most amazing time and to say, ‘see, you can dream big and somehow, someway, make it happen, you just have to believe hard enough and be flexible enough to try unconventional methods, look at all other options...and once you start doing that, once you meet the universe half way, it will provide the rest’. So honey, before we head off tomorrow, I just wanted to tell you I love you to the moon and back and am beyond excited that you’re the one sitting next to me this time 🙂

 

So, this is for my special man,  

who is venturing

out tomorrow

on his very first overseas trip.

There will be joy,

and no doubt,

a few tears

will fall,

at

pivotal moments

as we tick off each other’s

bucket list items.

There

will be moments

of utter

amazement,

and 

overwhelming magnificence

where you will

just

want to

pinch yourself

and can’t quite believe

you are standing where you are.

There will also be days of exhaustion,

stress and frustration

with 

overtired expectations,

as your adrenalin pumped body

tries to fight sleep

or

you’ll

find you just cant sleep

because everything is so different or noisy.

(You have NO idea how noisy NYC can be!)

But mostly,

we will be so busy

having the time of our lives,

knowing that

we have been given this gift,

this amazing opportunity,

right here, 

right now,

to have such

incredible

exciting fun

as we

travel

the

world

without a care

or worry

just for a little while…

long enough

to

build memories

that will

last a lifetime

and

celebrate

that

along the

way of creating a life,

we remembered

to live it too,

and my secret wish is that

you will return home

happy, healthy, content & amazed

and wonder

why it ever took you so long…

Are you ready?

The Brooklyn Bridge is waiting for you xx

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The space in between…

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There is a space in between things we ask for in this life, and it coming to fruition or the manifestation of those things.  The time lag it takes between thought, requesting it, believing you can have it and the actual manifestation is sometimes known as ‘the space in between

I am in that space, right now.

Something so important

to me

is about to happen…

It’s something I have thought about for what seems forever,

a dream which I thought

just wasn’t meant

to be

fullfilled…

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I know its on its way

I know I cant rush it

I know I have to be patient.

and I know it will be here soon enough.

but it can be the hardest little space in the whole world to live in

when you are waiting for something

so special and exciting!

My hubby often tells me to not wish my life away, but the next 5 weeks can just whiz by as quick as ever,

I wont miss them really.

Ok, I will admit,

I am BEYOND

excited!

We both don’t know what part of this trip is going to be the most spectacular, what part is going to steal our hearts or which moments are literally going to take our breath away!

My guess is that all of it will be one thrill after the other.  Watching it unfold each and every day and watching Bill experience all of this for the first time is going to be my favourite thing. We have both listened to each other talking about these dreams now for 29 years. To finally be able to add both of our dreams into this trip of a lifetime and merge them into one is a blessing.

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Everything is done, everything is organised, cases packed, comfy shoes sourced and worn in, new clothes packed away, budget set, things we both really want to do discussed, music downloaded, movies put on ipads for long waits at airports or long days at sea. What else, now its just the finer details I am filling in my spare time researching.

For me, now, its just a waiting game. I have lived with this trip in my mind all planned out for the past year but dreamt about it for the last three decades.  I have rewritten it in my head over and over, changed it, edited it, researched it, booked it. I can tell you exactly where we will be at any date, any day for each month.  Of course though that’s where the planning ends. The magic will be when we are there, in each new city or town, finding our way around, exploring it from top to bottom and doing what takes our fancy.

Ok, can we get going now?

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A time for everything…

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Oh My Goodness! I know that in my heart I have spent 30 years dreaming of our upcoming trip but the truth be known, I had almost given up dreaming of ever travelling far & wide with my husband. As the years wore on there just never seemed to be any real money to do a trip properly among our busy lives of early army days of moving around and bringing up children, then buying a house, caring for aging parents or a house full of pets and as Bill got older with a few more aches and pains, travelling seemed to be something he thought he just couldn’t do, and I thought I would just keep dreaming about it forever…

But its true what they say, everything has a season, and our season is almost here. And its also true, no matter how far fetched a dream may seem, or how far away it may appear right now, hold on to it tight and never let it go because life has a way of making our deepest desires a reality as long as we keep that burning desire flickering away, that dream will eventually find you…

When I last stood on European soil, I was a young 22 year old, who had an amazing experience of turning 23 in Monaco on a rather wild contiki tour, a birthday memory which has stayed with me all these years as it was an incredible experience celebrating it in another land, however one other memory sticks with me even clearer; somewhere near the Colosseum on that trip in 1987 I remember standing on a bridge in Rome and gazing across at the magnificence that was in front of me and whispered very quietly to myself that as long as I lived, I didn’t care how long it would take but I vowed that:

‘I will come back again

one day

and see it all properly’

And even though Italy has been scratched from our amazing itinerary, I have a plan to still do Italy properly in a few years from now as it really does need more than a fleeting visit, but right here now, in front of me, lies 10 more weeks of waiting until I get to travel again to finally see the western side of the USA (a trip I had just started saving for soon after I returned on my first overseas trip 30 years ago) but was distracted by a young soldier who walked into my life, fell in love, married and had two children and now after all this time I get to share with Bill some of the wonder I have already seen through parts of Europe and also experience of brand new places for both of us. This trip will be so more sweeter as we travel around the world in 90 days making a big dint in both of our bucket lists.

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We all talk about our bucket lists and jokingly say ‘thats on my bucket list’ but its one thing to have something on there and another to actually see and feel the magic of ticking off those items/locations/feelings/experiences on that list.  It’s brave and courageous and sometimes scary to begin the process of ticking off each of those items as some take a little effort, most require a bit of planning and many take time to get to them.

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But if what is on your list is continually pops into your head, then you will reach it, its not a matter of maybe one day, its a matter of when can you do this whatever it may be.

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So, my planning is all just about done.  I have swapped some of the booked accommodation to airbnb places so we can have a bit of space, somewhere to stretch and wash some clothes and am excited about experiencing living like a local on some of our visits.  I love the whole Airbnb philosophy and the community is refreshing, most hosts are travelers themselves who understand what is important particularly on a big trip like ours, good beds, a washing machine, a bit of room for both of us to really relax at night and a good shower were high on my list when I was searching for the perfect accommodations.

Our very first Airbnb will be in Hollywood, in a little Californian bungalow a few streets down from Melrose Drive & Sunset Blv but hopefully far enough away to be a bit quieter. I found it a better option than some of the hotels in that area which didnt seem to quite make the mark, and we need to be within walking distance to most things, so this will be very interesting.  After finding this, I then decided to explore airbnb options in New York as I had spent weeks contemplating a suitable hotel.  Finally, I settled on an apartment not in Manhattan, but across the Hudson river in a place called Weehawken in New Jersey so we will commute across the Hudson by ferry or under the river via the Lincoln tunnel by bus each day. This itself should be fun and give Bill plenty of opportunities to capture the perfect New York skyline from across the river. I particularly love the look of that unit, it looks stunning! Next I went for a small apartment in London, just down from London Bridge. Again, the hotels were either too small or too expensive. Following this, I have found a unit in a beautiful old building within the ancient walls of York city and then again in Edinburgh on the Royal Mile so right in the thick of things and lastly after months of searching for the perfect hotel in Paris, I have booked an apartment within a beautiful old Parisian building described as having stunning views over Parisian rooftops and few streets away from the Eiffel Tower – this one I can hardly wait for!!

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So, accommodation just about all sorted, cases decided upon (we opted out of carry-on a few weeks ago and upgraded to middle size cases and check in), both sporting some new clothes and comfortable shoes packed, cats living arrangements settled upon, my passport renewed and paid for yesterday, both losing weight so we are fitter and leaner for this journey and nothing else major to decide upon, work towards or still need to purchase.

All I need to do now is get through the next ten weeks of work, that may just be the hardest ten weeks of my life…

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Goodbye 2017…Hello 2018…

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Goodness, I’ll bet that you agree with me that this year was the quickest I have ever felt a year go by! As years go, for us, it certainly had its painful points but overall I would still call it a very good year.

As the year started out, we became empty nesters for the first time in 27 years and learned together to find our new rhythm in a much quieter household. Early January saw Matt pack up to leave our little country abode to live in the big city where he belongs.  Unbeknownst to him at the time, this move turned into 4 moves in one year with Matt learning a huge lesson in resilience and staying strong  in the face of adversity when life showed him that it doesn’t always go the way you had planned it, but in the end, the universe will manage to find a way (not always pleasant either) to guide you to where you need to be.  I am so proud of the way Matt has handled everything thrown at him this year. It has been a huge learning curve for him and he has handled it with far more maturity than some people showed him and it tested his patience and resolve while he worked out the best way to deal with changing situations and my wish for him is a much more smoother year in 2018 (he deserves that much).

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Mel, has gone from strength to strength this year, having her debut album ‘Take my Lymph’s released on both vinyl and digital formats and made two 2017 compilation lists on Utility Fog on FBi radio and Various Marks of Provenance 11 http://www.provenancerecords.com/release-pr014-various-marks-provenance-ii/ .  What a wonderful effort to be signed and released with the eclectic Melbourne record label (Provenance) among some amazing new young talent on the Australian digital music scene, so very proud of her!! Aside from this accolade, she also successfully completed  her degree in Fine Arts at Monash University.  I only wish her continued success in both fields in 2018 as she seeks to find a balance with doing what she loves and earning a living at the same time.  If anyone can do this its Mel 🙂

arrom

 

TAKE MY LYMPHS
Available on all music sharing platforms

http://www.provenancerecords.com/release-pr012-arrom-take-lymphs/

https://arrom.bandcamp.com/album/take-my-lymphs

Artwork by Caitlin Dennis

Bre also has had a soul searching year where she discovered that working in a stressful environment is not all its cracked up to be and there just has to be more to life than this. This year has shown her what her real priorities are and that is her children first for now.  I am often inspired with Bre’s attitude and her take on the world, that she wont be moulded into what society says you should be but knows how to follow her true path and do what makes her happy, knowing that the rest will all fall into place when its meant to. Always proud of you and your successes Bre and I believe you will continue to create the life and balance you crave.

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Each New Years Eve, I love to sit and contemplate the year behind us and work out my priorities for the coming year.  Some might think this a boring thing to do on New Years Eve, however my best party days are behind me, I cant drink more than 2 wines in a row and cant think of anything worse than waking up on New Years day without a spring in my step 🙂

Every year I like to look back and think, was it a good one, could I have done anything better? Did I acknowledge enough just how blessed I am and focus on what is really important? I think the answer to all of that is yes.

One little soul who wont be joining us in the new year is our sweet Tammy, put to rest 12 weeks ago after having been diagnosed with lymphoma.  Oh, what a loss that little girl has been in my life, the house just hasn’t felt the same without her in it to welcome me back home each day, eagerly waiting to be allowed to come inside with her tail wagging and big smile she would give just for us. I miss that look we had for each other when it was time for her to sit beside me at night where I sat, with her in her spot, right next to me…

A vet had told us last year that even though she was a good age, she still had plenty left in her. Looking back I took that to mean at least a few more years.  Not once did I imagine I would be ending this year without her! The quickness of her diagnosis and us having to decide to not let her suffer all happened very quickly and unexpected and that decision was such a hard one to make which still brings tears every time I think of it or her for that matter, she was by far the best little friend anyone could have had and I know I am blessed that she spent a good 15+ years with us.  Here is one of my favorite pictures of her, it says it all, just how happy she was being part of our little group. (Thanks Mel for giving us this pic) xx

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We are blessed to live with 2 very special cats which keep us company and we love them immensely but they are still different to a dog.  I have been toying with the idea of perhaps having another dog in the household, another little one, not to replace Tammy but to love and cherish, maybe even a rescue dog who needs a home, as this little heart still has room to love a dog.

As a family, we have collectively had a big year. One major change in our life was Bill retiring from the workforce this October.  He is coping with this change and actually wonders how he ever found the time to work.  We have had a nice three months adjusting, getting some things sorted and have been busy working out new health priorities and doing very well on this front but the next thing I need to put all of my focus on is our upcoming amazing big trip around the world. We toyed with the idea of renovating the house or going on a trip of a lifetime and decided that for once, throw caution to the wind, set sail (literally) and live out our dreams for none of us know how our lives will look like in 10 years time or even 5, so with Bill retiring and my long service leave next year, the universe has perfectly aligned everything for us to take the time, do it properly and together and its the perfect solution to ticking off some of those long awaited bucket list items.

I cant believe how quickly time is flying and as of tomorrow, we have 12 weeks to go!! I am busily spending all my spare time, working on accommodation and ticking off what we still need to do or get.  I have been booking a few airbnb places along the way so we can have some space and useful things you need on a big trip like washing machines and dryers. It has been tiring and all time consuming but so much fun planning this trip and if you know me at all, I am not one to leave things to chance so I am making sure I cover everything I need to. The last time I planned a trip to Europe was 30 years ago and I had no internet or apps to help assist then, there is so much help online now at the touch of a button you can plan to go anywhere you want!

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So while I am busy with my own plans, I wish only the very best for you too.  If you haven’t been able to do something you really would like to, how about use the New Year as a good excuse to do it, go somewhere you have never been, do something you have always wanted to do or begin to create the life you really crave for.  Anything you want is available to you, all it takes is a plan, a big dollop of belief that you can have it and determination to not let anyone stop you or talk you out of it. We are all here to create the best life we can, so what’s on your list to begin doing from tomorrow?

Have a safe,

beautiful and amazing

2018!!

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How much is enough…

As I was cleaning the bathroom sink this morning my eyes were drawn to a hand cream sitting in the corner on the bench.  ‘Wellness‘ it read, by Natio, an Australian product with rich natural Vitamin E and anioxidant Promagranate which has sat there for over a year now hardly touched as I am either too busy in the mornings to even think about applying cream to my hands or I reach for one of the other many handcreams I have, lying around, in my bedroom, in my handbag and one or two at work where it is probably most likely to reach the back of my hands.

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So I took that handcream and placed it on the kitchen bench. ‘Lets see if you get a bit more noticed here’ I thought as I packed the dishwasher, wiped the bench then proceeded to apply this rich, fragrant cream to the back of my hands. While doing this it made me think, just how many different handcreams do I  have and how many of these do I need?  Do I ever even finish them before buying another? How many multiple of anything do we really need and why do we persist in grabbing more ‘stuff’ when we know we still have more of the same back at home? Its the same with any beautifully wrapped product on the shelves, or shiny sparkling jewelry or pretty summer tops to add to the other twenty already hanging in our wardrobes..

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Unlcuttering, downsizing and ‘living with less’ has been on my mind a lot lately since Bill has retired, many discussions on if we really need two cars, how many channels of paid TV do we really need etc etc

As you know, we are planning a world trip next year and we are currently tossing around the idea of just taking carry on luggage because aside from the inconvenience of having to find your checked luggage at every airport, there is a very real chance that those cases could go missing for a day or three as well as the added heavy lugging around the world which we really just dont want the hassle of.

Many people are adapting to this idea now, packing lightly and just buying what you need along the way and disposing what is not necessary or was cheap enough for you not to care. If you have done this yourself, travelled internationally with just carry on, would love to hear tips and advice from others on the how’s, the struggles and what worked well and what didnt. 🙂

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Its really just a mindset.  Of getting used to being with ‘less’ and of not being too precious if you have to throw something out or just buy what you need when you need it, not bring everything you own with you ‘just in case’.  In fact I think I am going to have a lot of fun in the next few months scouting out a ‘few small essentials‘ for my luggage and not looking for another until that one is totally used.

Oh well, with less than 150 days to go now, I better get hold of a carry on case to start practicing to see what I really do not need to go into it…:)

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Chasing dreams…

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My very talented daughter released her first EP last week.  Our girl has been singing for as long as she has been talking. All the years she grew up in front of me were filled with her beautiful voice just singing anything she could around the house. Around the time she was 14 she picked up a guitar and taught herself how to play, then began writing songs and singing them to friends, at school and anyone who would listen. She was a member of the Australian girls choir as well as pursued singing, music & drama lessons all through high school and is just completing her third year Bachelor degree in Fine Arts. Always creative, I knew that there would be no peace in her life if she did not follow her passions of art or singing so I am thrilled that she has listened to those nudges, the universal voices in our heads which make us feel whole and alive when we are doing what we came here to do.

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For Mel, that has always been to create, whether that be art, music, or other genres she may connect with along the way, my smile tonight cannot be wide enough, my heart filled with pride and yes, there has been tears, while I sat at home and listened to all the songs on her first album which showcase her talent in the combination of deeply written lyrics along with her beautiful vocals with the incredibly creative and technical production of electronic vibes out into the big wide world.

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Arrom, as she is known in the music industry has just become a part of a unique group of new Australian talent under the wings of the Provenance Music label http://www.provenancerecords.com/

Arrom’s debut record launch will be held in Melbourne, Australia this coming December.  You can find details on this event from the Provenance page above.

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Its a beautiful sight when you see the dreams which live inside us all, begin to emerge in reality and not just remain as wishful thinking. Chasing dreams is brave, stretching out of your comfort zone to pursue them can often be terrifying, but what is worse is a life of regret.  I cannot wait to be at Arrom’s album launch next month and I also cannot wait to watch this new Australian talent grow and unfold before our very eyes.

So incredibly proud

of you Mel,

my heart is singing right there along with you xx

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http://www.provenancerecords.com/

https://arrom.bandcamp.com/album/take-my-lymphs

https://www.facebook.com/Arrommusic/

 

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There’s something missing…

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I’ve been wondering if I will ever feel brave enough to write down these words but seeing as this blog tells the story of our lives, it must include the sadness when it comes among the triumphs and lessons that make up the whole of it. This one is a lesson of love, unconditionally given by a little four legged girl who, all she wanted was to love and be loved and I hope that for 15 and a bit years, that we did that for her. For what she gave to us as a family over that time, were innumerable moments of love in return, happiness in spades and a loyalty you cannot find elsewhere. In particular during some dark days in our lives, she was always there, providing comfort and a knowing that no matter what, she would always be there…

Four weeks have now passed without the sounds of her little pitter patter across the kitchen floor, her incessant bark when we let her in the back door saying hi when we came home from work, four weeks since we heard the familiar sound of snoring coming from down beside my chair where she would follow me into the lounge room carrying the blanket which meant she could come and rest her head beside me each every night and four weeks since we said goodbye to her for the very last time…

Its so quiet sitting here without you,

I still go to reach down to pat you even though I know you’re not here,

and I never realised that the damn dog next door

sounds just like you used to,

so much so,

that it catches my breath

each time I hear it…

You were such a sweetheart

&

an every day part of my life Tammy girl,

always just here besides me

along with my thoughts,

always with a smile at the end of a long day

always under my feet,

and never far away…

that

I forgot to realise

that someday

this would not always be…

 

Tomorrow, your ashes are coming home

and we will place you in your special garden

at the back door

where you sat

 I will buy a special chair,

with a plaque called

~ Tammy’s garden ~

and it can be a special place

where  we can sit and remember…

Thankyou for your sweetest love.

My beautiful Tammy girl xx

We named her Tammy, I named her actually when we bought her home after going on a family expedition to a shopping plaza to buy a slow cooker with absolutely, no intention of coming home with a puppy for Mel. As a family at the time, we were struggling to understand the unfairness of losing my mother and brother in the same year and needed some much injected happiness into the household after we had tried a few optional animals, hamsters and a bird I sadly managed to kill one frosty morning.

However, that special day over 15 years ago lead us past a pet shop in the days when puppies were still sold from them and on this particular day, found us all looking lovingly at a little brown runt with the cutest little black face shying in the corner of the window. Within half an hour of us walking into that shop, Tammy came home to live with us.

From that moment on Tammy became a very much loved new member of our family. The kids were 9 and 10 years old at the time and a perfect age to welcome this new little member into our household. Tammy was a real family dog, she belonged to us all.

When we first bought her home, Little black face…

 

With all the moves we had over the years and the kids growing up out of primary school, into secondary then becoming adults themselves, Tammy was the one constant in our lives, who just never seemed to change or get any older until this year.  No matter if we were happy or sad, Tammy was always just a part of all the celebrations, all the events with extended family members, she loved mixing with a crowd, happy to sit and join in with games in the back yard. She loved it when the yard was full of all of the kids friends and lounged around with them when they all became teenagers. They all loved Tammy too and were happy to let her hang with them whatever they were doing…

Here she is enjoying one of our backyard parties…

 

Tammy with Mel, the love is so pure…and utterly adorable…

Tammy had two mummy’s, both Mel and I took honour of that title and when we moved away from Melbourne, Tammy stayed with Mel as it was the only home she knew so Mel began taking full care of her for a few years before she came back home to us in her later years.  I believe she helped Matt a lot at home just keeping him company when he was unwell with chronic fatigue. She would sit with him outside and ease some bad days or help him get moving with a bit of exercise throwing her plastic chicken toy around the yard. She had many names as well because we all made up our own fond versions, but she didn’t mind, as long as she was being involved, she would answer to all of them. A few of those versions were: Tammy, Tammy girl, The Tampster, Tammy whammy, buddy old yak, and old lady Tammy was her most recent new name as she became older and grayer in her later years…

Tammy keeping Matt company…never far away…

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Family pets teach families about a lot of things, responsibility, empathy, love for animals and unconditional love, but mostly what Tammy gave to me was her friendship and the knowing that I was her ‘go to’ person.

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But sadly, our pets cannot stay with us forever and there comes a time which came for us on the 29th September that we had to make a decision to let her go – a decision which was made because we loved her. We were told a week before that she had advanced Lymphoma and was in pain and because of her age, any treatment was futile. Timing is never good but poor Bill was planning on spending a lot more time with Tammy once he retired, sadly that just wasn’t to be…

I believe Tammy knew on that last day that we were taking her to a place where the pain would soon end. This was her last smile to us, and it says a thousand words…

 

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farewell my Tammy girl,

you will be in my heart forever you special soul…

 

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On the eve of your Retirement…

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I have a very special post to share tonight, its a thankyou note to my husband who will be starting a new phase of his life at the close of business tomorrow. October 6th 2017 will mark the end of Bill’s working life after leaving school and first entering the workforce as a young 13 year old in 1973 to help support his family almost 46 years ago. In those days, you could walk into a job right off the street and Bill’s very first job as that young teenager was working as a car detailer at a dealership called McLean Tetof Motors in Preston.

Bill worked at McLean Tetof for two years helping his family out and then after working at a few local industries, he joined the Victorian Railways as a railway officer and worked at Bell, Reservoir and Regent stations finishing his railway days at West Richmond Station.  He still talks about those days and often reminisces about getting up to lots of tricks with his old mates and brother Soapy, John Lowden, Wolfie & Bunny.  I have heard many fond stories of those days, of the pranks and great times he shared with this group, which for Bill, were among the most memorable in his early working life.

After leaving the ‘The Railways’ and working at some local factories, Bill then joined the Australian Army in September 1984 and it was in this capacity, as a soldier, serving our country that I met and fell in love with him four years later, and after a very short time we were engaged, then married a year later with big dreams and plans to add to our family which already included Bre who was nine at the time. Pregnant with our firstborn son, we made the decision that an army life as a family and living away from Bre was not ideal so Bill requested to be discharged from the army and soon found work within the building industry working for Skilled Engineering Group as a builders labourer until 1990.

Bills’s Army days and memories of life as a soldier :

Day 1 Kapooka Haircut Sep 84

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5 PL Alpha Coy 1RTB Sep 84

Super Soldier 1 RTB Oct 84

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Route March 1 RTB Oct 84

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A well earned rest 1 RTB Oct 84

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The Graduates – Brett, Windows, Bill & BP Visco

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Privates Baldock & Vallence Dec 84

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After Graduation with my beautiful Beazley & Scotty Baldock Dec 84

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Down from Pucka for the weekend with Geoff Young & Bre 85

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After Graduation with Bre

Bill working  for Skilled Engineering on the Broady Station upgrade

and overpass in 1988/89

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As a builder’s labourer Bill relished coming home to me with stories of swinging in the wind on very tall scaffolding in between some pretty high Melbourne builds which his group was working on and often when we would drive through the city of Melbourne, Bill proudly pointed out  which buildings and what floors he had been up on putting in glass walls or floors and would love describing in great detail and much to my horror, which floors way up above, he had been hanging out of!!!

Then suddenly, it seemed, the building industry came crashing to a halt and there just was no continuing work as Bill explained to me one day in hospital while nursing our 3 day old newest member of the family, Matthew. So, after much discussion on what we were going to do for money, it was decided that Bill would relist into the Army. At least we figured, it was a regular pay cheque and we would have somewhere to live.

No sooner had I got out of hospital and was trying to learn how to be a new mum, Bill announced that the Army was sending us to country Victoria in Bendigo where he would take on the position of Travel and Payroll clerk at The Army Survey Regiment. This posting was in an ideal setting within the grounds of the beautiful old mansion known as ‘Fortuna’ (See pic below). This stunning building was at one stage, the largest home in Victoria, an opulent 19th century mansion ‘eccentrically decorated’ during the height of the Goldrush era by the original owner, wealthy prospector George Lansell, who purchased the building in 1871. Fortuna was later appropriated by the military during World War 11 in 1942 and acquired as a base for mapping activities.

Bill spent many sunny lunch breaks walking around the gardens admiring the beauty of this old historic building and we knew he was very lucky to work in such a grand old place. I would often visit Bill with our two children in tow, as I did not work during this period with Matt only just walking and Melissa being born around this time at the Bendigo Base Hospital. We would sit in the grounds on the grass with our picnic lunches and let the kids crawl and roll around while we chatted about our days as a young family with two little ones.  It was very much a carefree time in our lives when our focus was simply on the day to day activities of nappies, baths and feeding two children 15 months apart.

It was the biggest house in Australia, an opulent 19th century mansion eccentrically decorated by a man with unbridled wealth and questionable taste.

After a while we were missing our families and of course Bre in Melbourne so we asked for a posting back home and lived for a while in new army accommodation West of Melb then secured an army house in the married quarters patch near Simpson Barracks and Bill travelled into town to Victoria Barracks working at SCMA but it was during this stint that Melissa was diagnosed as asthmatic and after several months of all night visits to the Austin and Children’s Hospital with a very sick little girl we were advised to seek a warmer climate if she was to get healthier and stronger.

SCMA 1990 with Phil Sforcina

Mel’s weak immune system was the catalyst for our next adventure, a posting interstate to Wacol, South West of Brisbane. So we packed up shortly after that diagnosis and headed off with two young children to live in a totally different climate in a different state. What I loved about Bill was he always made it seem like an adventure, wherever we went. Others may not think it ideal, but I found it exciting and fun to pack up and move every two years. It was the start of a little saying we have said to each other fondly for years,

I go where you go….  

We absolutely loved spending our weekends with the kids up in Brisbane in their double pram, exploring our new environment, walking in parks, catching the ferries across the river, visiting any market we could find and window shopping while we learned our way around our new environment. There was much to love about our Brisbane posting and quite honestly the kids were at their absolute most cutest. I always hope one day we’ll take a trip back there to reminisce on those happy times, where the sun always shone and the days seemed easy, and yes the weather healed our daughter, enough for us to venture back to Melbourne a couple of years later which was timely as shortly after arriving back home, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Bill with Matt & Mel in our front garden in Brisbane, happy days…

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Our return back to Melbourne in 1995 was quite unexpected and then turned very stressful after Bill began to experience pain in his neck and arms. The army sent him for tests which revealed a spur dangerously protruding onto his spinal column and with any hit or blow to his neck had the very real potential to sever his spinal chord resulting in paraplegia.  Here we were, a young family far away from home, with no other support being told that Bill most probably would be medically discharged immediately and would have to leave his full time career. Well, we kicked up our heels about that arrangement and told them they had to get us back home which they did oblige and Bill’s position was transferred to Victoria Barracks while he undertook neck surgery to fuse his neck within weeks of arriving back home at St Vincent’s in Melbourne.

Unable to work after surgery then forced Bill to take a medical discharge which he was deeply saddened to do, leaving the career he loved and being told by the medical industry that he would never work again. Unable to support his family, recovering from painful surgery and a long frustrating rehabilitation took us through some very dark times over the next five years.

However, over a period of time, even though he did not choose it, Bill shifted into one of his most important career roles and officially became “House husband” And boy, was he great at it, once he began to realise how valuable this role was both in my eyes and the kids he took it all in his stride and had the house immaculate when I came home each night to happy children, along with all the other school kids in the house playing together and dinner prepared each night.  For five years Bill kept our family organised and while I took on the role of sole breadwinner, Bill became the ‘favourite’ parent on excursions, the parent every child wanted to do their reading with and the best cricket coach the local cricket club ever had!

It was around a time when Bill was back in hospital having a second operation that our old neighbor and colleague of Bill’s came around looking to see if Bill was able to work for a couple of hours a week at Simpson Barracks, Watsonia. After accepting this new lease of life for a short period, those couple of hours became a couple of days per week and after a while doing this he was offered a full time position again in 2001.  After 5 years on one income it was like having Christmas every fortnight!! We went on a shopping spree for the first month buying the  kids lots of new clothes and toys and new things for the house, then I began to put Bill’s salary away and after 12 months of hard savings along with the first home owner’s grant of $7,000 we had accumulated a deposit of $22,000 and were able to buy our very first home, a home I never imagined I would have. That decision right there helped pave the way twelve years later to enable us to move down to the beautiful life where we live today on the Bellarine…

So how did we get to where we are?

Bill was 54 years old when he decided the job he was in was no longer fulfilling after he returned from three months of Long Service Leave and the Dept of Defence had moved his travel role to Canberra. He had a short stint at The School of Languages which he loved, working with Bob and Mark who have both become lifetime mates however he was not able to stay in that position and didn’t want to go back to his old job which was no longer the same. It was then he decided he wanted a better life for himself and the family.  On a weekend trip down the coast to visit Bre and the Grandchildren, I questioned Bill on the way back if he were to live anywhere in the world what would that look like, his response was exactly ‘where we had just been’.

And so on our return of that same weekend, we began looking for our little slice of paradise which then in turn began the serendipitous events of one of Bill’s supervisor’s confidentially informing him of an opportunity opening up which led us here and Bill’s final working place at another beautiful historic building owned by the Dept of Defence, Fort Queenscliff.

Bill at Fort Queenscliff just before he began working there. Pretty impressed with the view he was about to have everyday for the next 4 years…

There is a group of very special people who, if you are reading this, will know who you are, who helped bring Bill out of his shell and helped him to enjoy work like no other time in his working life (both Defence Archives Point Cook and Defence Archives Queenscliff).  It makes it so much harder for Bill to walk out tomorrow saying goodbye to you all as you were instrumental in making this move for Bill and subsequently me, so seamless. For Bill to make the change to Point Cook and Queenscliff in the later stages of his working life was incredibly hard for him but you all made it such an easy transition and he absolutely loved going to work, and loved working with everybody there and I am quite sure would have stayed longer if his body had not had enough.

2nd last day with the Fort Queenscliff gang DAC-FQ, 5th October 2017

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Working in the most idyllic location, Bill has spent many an afternoon over the past 4 years meandering home with his camera and stopping at all the beautiful scenery on his way which really is his happy place. Here’s a few of these beautiful shots from his album I just wanted to share.  This was a typical work day for Bill after he had clocked off at 3.30pm each night.  I used to wonder why on earth he would get up at 5.30 am each morning but it was to finish early and head off to these views…

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When I look back at the last 28 years with my husband by my side, I am so very proud of his work ethic and know without a doubt, that he worked very hard for us, and never gave in even when life threw us some painful challenges, all so that we could have a comfortable life.

So, to my amazing husband who I am proud of every single day, I wanted to write this post to thank you from the bottom of my heart for every morning you got up for us, even when I know some days it was so damn hard for you and particularly the past 4 years, the last of your career life when the injuries sustained during your army days just would not hold up anymore, you have fought through the pain long enough to see the kids grow up and leave home and now with just the two of us, its now time to hang up your work boots.

Thankyou for having the vision of our retirement life

and the courage to believe in it

because

its just perfect for us

and I love  it

as much

as

you do.  

Tomorrow,  when you walk out of the Fort for the last time as an employee, I want you to know that I have never been prouder of you as I am right now, for giving us the life we have here at mybeachretreat and for providing for us for the last 28 years.

You did good love,

you did good

xx

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4 weeks to go…

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If there is one thing in life which is a constant its change.  Even if you try to avoid it, you will experience it throughout your life.  I have found that the key to change is to go with it, dont fight it as it usually arrives to get you moving, shake you up a bit or take you on a new path in your life you may have not ventured by yourself.

Our newest change is now only 4 weeks away.  Soon, we will stop being DINKS (Double income no kids) – even though for us we only experienced this episode for about 8 months and become a single income family.  That’s ok, we are old hands at it having had a big chunk of this experience when Bill was discharged medically from the Australian Army, deemed by the medical profession to never to work again before courageously going against the grain and getting himself back to work after 5 years of recovery .

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That was 17 years ago and with true grit and determination Bill made his way back into the workplace and was able to work another 17 years to support his family.

If not for his strong will and work ethic, I know that our lives would look very different right now. For starters, we would not be living where we are now in our beautiful surrounds that we cherish and love. And that is all on Bill, who wanted something different and somewhere different to spend his retirement years. For me, never being one who loved the fast pace, our slower life we are now accustomed to could not have been more perfect and to know that this is where we will hang up our hats makes me smile.

In four weeks we will need to begin the process of thinking a bit differently, spending a bit differently and living a bit differently but mostly appreciating that we have been most fortunate to have been able to mold our life to this end place, and face this new chapter together. It has arrived a bit earlier than we expected it to but health issues and taking care of them are paramount if we want to live out the rest of our dreams. Bill is retiring just shortly after our 28th wedding anniversary and during these years we have experienced much change, a lot of it planned but also unwanted change thrown at us at times which was not always convenient and with each challenge we met it head on and simply adjusted the sails, just like we will do once again…one of my favourite quotes which always held true in those times and I will keep with me close by as we face this new chapter together is:

“You cant always direct the winds,

but you can

learn

to

adjust the sails”

 

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