Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Dog's Purpose - part 2

Never did find out how or why the free tickets to go and see "A Dog's Purpose" arrived a few days after losing my bubba Lucas.  Finally went and saw it today.  Didn't get great reviews, but we really enjoyed it and yes, we balled our eyes out.  OK, so Bailey is a sweet golden retriever, but he still reminded us of Lucas and the special bond that we have with our beloved fur-babies. 

Did Lucas have a purpose?  He sure did.  He brought us joy, happiness, love, laughter and tears.  Dogs remind us to live for today, to live in the moment, to run and play and lick the ones you love.  Because life is short and one day, they're gone. 

As the films flyer says "Every dog happens for a purpose" although our free tickets card had the words "Some pets stay with you forever". Another mystery that can stay that way.

So this afternoon, with the sun shining we decided that the housework could most definitely wait and that taking Lola to the beach to watch the sunset was far more important. 

And it was.

Have burgers had their day in the sun?  Fried chicken has always been around, but seems to be trying to muscle in on the action as the next big thing.  Gami chicken has been around for a while, but one has just opened in Southland and I've been wanting to try it for a while.  Delish, but there will always be room for a good burger!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The ANZ Gothic Bank

A sunny Friday lunchtime in June.  Nothing much on and fancied a walk so took a look at the list for a bit of inspiration and headed out to visit the ANZ Banking Museum.  Now I've walked past this building on the corner of Queen Street and Collins Street many times and thought to myself it's a beautiful old building, but haven't given it much thought and had never been inside. Time to remedy that.
The ANZ Gothic Bank as it's called (yes really) is made up of two buildings. The former English, Scottish and Australian (ES&A) Bank on the corner and the former Melbourne Stock Exchange.  In 1923 the two buildings were renovated and combined, and became known as the 'Gothic Bank.' Love it. They've since been restored as ANZ World Headquarters. 
So, down the stairs to the slightly tacky ANZ Banking Museum (free).  Old money boxes, a few old adding machines and a bit of money history.  Not that exciting, but the lovely attendant down there (who was looking rather thrilled to have someone visiting) came over for a chat. 
Good thing, because I hadn't thought to actually go into the buildings themselves.
Does your bank branch have ceilings like these
The ground floor is open to the public as it is a functioning branch of the ANZ .  Gorgeous iron columns, wooden benches and beautifully painted ceilings. Really rather special. 

Then into the Cathedral Room in the former Stock Exchange building and wow!  It was originally the main trading room of the Stock Exchange, with six granite columns, carved arched ceilings a  beautiful stained glass window and gorgeous floor tiles.  Not sure if it is used for anything these days as it's empty, but if you've never stuck your
The stunning Cathedral Room
head in for a look - it is well worth it.  
A pleasant way to spend a lunchtime, beats sitting at your desk and a tick off the list!   Happy Days.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Expat Life

You’ve retired. The kids have all left home and you’re sitting inside on a cold, wet winter’s day. All of a sudden memories of swaying palm trees, sunny days by the pool with a cocktail in hand spring to mind. Let’s face it, who hasn’t been somewhere on holiday and daydreamed about what it would be like to sell up, pack up and live overseas?

Warmer climates, a relaxed lifestyle, a lower cost of living and more bang for your buck are some of the reason retirees are choosing the expat lifestyle and moving overseas. However, the decision should not be taken lightly and no matter how attractive that luxurious beach side villa looks, financial reasons should not be the only deciding factor. 

If you don’t have a real desire to experience another culture, a good sense of humour, the ability to fit in and learn new ways and a lot of patience, your dream life, no matter how “cheap” that bungalow cost, may turn into a nightmare.

So what are the most popular destinations for Australian’s and how do you choose which country is right for you? There would certainly appear to be a bias towards our nearest neighbors, Asia. Memories of previous overseas trips, the relatively close proximity to family and friends, warm weather and a cheaper cost of living are certainly attractive to many wanting to live the permanent holiday dream.

For others it’s a call to return to the “home country.” This home country may not even be your own, but of your ancestors and the attraction is still there.

So where to start? Below is a list of places that you may have on your bucket list to consider and are a good place to start your considerations.

Indonesia – In particular Bali
With an already strong expat community, its relative proximity to Australia, fabulous food and a warm tropical climate – what’s not to love?

Another expat hotspot, Thailand offers a wide range of exotic options from big bustling cities, to relaxed island life or the cooler mountainous north. Plenty of activities available, warm and friendly locals and cheap to live. 

A destination offering everything from its busy capital Kuala Lumpur, to lush tropical islands and even mist enshrouded rainforests. As a former British colony, English is widely spoken and this is another inexpensive place to live.

Cheap prices on everything, amazing food and culture and a warm tropical climate have made Vietnam a fast rising popular choice for Australians looking to retire on a budget. 

With life in the Philippines all about family values and so many Filipinos living in Australia, it’s no surprise that many choose to return to this country, of beautiful beaches, great water activities and lower cost of living.  

New Zealand
Near and yet far enough. Similar, but different. New Zealand is proving to be a popular and easy choice for Australians. Just try watching Lord of the Rings and not be swept away by the stunning landscapes. And they wear jandals – that’s thongs to you and I.

Spain, France and Italy
The plethora of books available on living la vida loca, la dolce vita and la belle vie have long attracted retirees to small villages throughout these Mediterranean countries. With beautiful beaches, good health care, a temperate climate and glorious food, it is easy to see the appeal. Although not as cheap as many of the other options, there are still housing bargains to be had away from the populated coast and large cities and the rural grow your own lifestyle certainly evokes a romantic image of bliss.

Where would you choose? What criteria would be the most important? And most importantly, how many pairs of bathers will you need?

Sunday, 4 June 2017

1984 - A (not very good) Review

OK, so read 20 "classic books" is on the list and it is a struggle. I'll admit I struggle to get in to "old" books.  1984 by George Orwell published in 1949 is not on the list, but is a book I read at school.  Did I enjoy it?  I can't remember - give me a break, that was 35 years ago.   It's about a dystopian society (a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. - thank you, my definition would have been a dysfunctional oppressed society) that is at war and its people are controlled politically by "English Socialism".  Independent thinking is a big no-no and the thought police will come and get you.  And then there is all seeing Big Brother, only interested in control and power.

Main character is Winston whose job is to rewrite history and secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother and falls in love with Julia. Blah, blah blah.

Anyway, it's considered a classic and I thought, ok, let's get cultural and go see the play.  Confession, being at the comedy theatre, I thought maybe it might have been "re-done" and a bit funny.  Yeah OK, call me an idiot for not reading the reviews.  Comedy is not a word I would use and neither is musical. But I got cheap tickets and see 3 shows is on the list.

So what was it like?  Loud. Very loud.  Strange use of sound and lighting - bit frightening really.  The story pretty much follows the original, with a few modern twists thrown in that do make you stop and think "is this where we are heading?"  In fact, after Trump was elected, apparently sales of the book rose.  The first half is slow, the second is gruesome as Winston is tortured by the Ministry of Love.   Did we enjoy it?  No, not really. 101 minutes I won't be getting back.  If there had been an intermission, we wouldn't have gone back in.  That and the fact that we were sitting in the front row and felt a bit bad getting up and leaving.

Was it better than Cats, my previous least favourite show?  Maybe, but we didn't stick around to see the end of that one and I was hugely disappointed.

Lesson learnt - stick to my favourite light, funny musicals.  Oh and maybe check the reviews - although they were pretty good, so maybe it was just us.  Maybe we need to go and see Book of Mormon again - more our style. Go to the theatre 3 times in 2017 - tick.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

It's all about me - a special guest post

Minibreak = roadtrip

Arrived well past my dinner time, lucky I had a snack before we left home.  So we’re at the Vibe hotel inMarysville.  My first time in a hotel.  Smells funny.  I rode in an elevator – don’t like them very much.  Lots of doors.  Here we are room number 3.  I have my very own bed, they even left me a toy (I don't do toys) and a chew stick and a bone shaped water and food bowl (empty - what good is that?).  Let’s see, there is a big bed, a couch, TV, table, desk and a bathroom.  Kind of like home, but all closer together.  Mum and Dad left me here.  I was a bit scared, but ate my dinner and watched some TV.  I thought about ordering room service, they bring you food – how good is that? 

My first hotel stay!
I tried to reach the mini bar because I could smell chocolate, but it was too high. 
Phew they came back.  Got to go outside via the back door for a wee and poo.  It’s a bit colder here than at home, but good smells.  Golden Retriever 20 minutes ago, small bitzer like me, I think she had chicken for dinner.  Time for bed.  Appears I have a choice of 2 doggy beds, 1 couch or paws crossed the big bed.  Yay, I got to sleep on the big bed.  Sweet dreams.

Checking out the trout

Next day (Editors note, Saturday 27 May 2017)
Not sure I like these "dead" statue things, they're scary
OMG "dead" dogs in pockets

Cute right?
They call me Lola the explorer.  Early morning stroll, bit chilly, so I didn’t mind going back to bed for a while whilst mum and dad went for breakfast.  They came back with food!  Bacon and sausages, yum, this place gets better and better!  So once we all had full tummies we went for a walk around town and to a nice park.  That park had a stream and it tasted delicious!  I drank lots, the bacon made me thirsty.   
Then we got into the car and went to Steavenson’s Falls.  I had to stay in the car, the sign said no dogs.  No idea why, what do they think I would do, drink all the water? Anyway, had a snooze and waited. Then we went to Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden.  Bruno was nice, he let me in the gallery and then we had a walk through the garden.  Statues and stuff.  People that didn’t move.  I think they were dead, all sorts of weird things.  Not for me, although mummy seemed to love it and kept wanting me to pose with the dead things.  They had nice water there too – still thirsty. 

Yep, that's me with muddy paws after I fell in
Yummy! This stream water is delicious
Back in the car for a drive.  Stopped at lots of places to check out the streams and the trout.  No trout but lots of streams.  Lucas would have been in swimming, so I gave it a go and paddled.  Not bad, a bit cold and I slipped in at one place.  Back to the hotel for a siesta, I was pooped out – I’ve only got little legs!  Another car trip back to the water falls to see them lit up, whatever, I knew the drill I had to wait in the car.  Steak and Guinness pie for dinner and sleep time.  I’m going to dream of bacon.
After a long sleep (Sunday)
Brrr it's chilly.  I just want to stay cuddled up in bed.  But time for a wee.  Grass was wet, but the water wasn't coming down from the sky.  Dreams came true.  I got heaps of bacon and sausages.  Couldn't even eat it all.  Said goodbye to the nice girls here.  They gave me lots of cuddles and said I could come back anytime.  They even knew my name.  I like mini breaks, but there is no place like home.
Love and Licks   
Lola xxxxx

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Golden Gap Years - call of the wild or call of the world?

Gap years, ah yes, all those young backpackers traipsing around South-East Asia, drinking out of buckets, attending full moon parties, staying in hostels and eating 2 minute noodles.  Sounds fun right?  OK well maybe not the 2 minute noodle bit, but who doesn't think about packing it all in and heading off for a year (or 3) at least once a week.  Surely not just me? And how old is too old to take a gap year?  The answer is never. Hello Golden Gap years!

In fact, aren't gap years wasted on the young?  All those amazing places and too hangover to enjoy them.  Oh that's right, been there done that and it was great fun.  I can remember several holidays which included a fair portion of nights out drinking and days recovering before doing it all again.  Wouldn't change a thing, at the time, it was far more appealing than visiting the Louvre.  Although the Louvre is pretty cool.

Machu Picchu - Emi's 50th

30 years ago, I thought I had to travel whilst young because I'd be too old and it would be no fun at all when I got to 40.  And as for 60 - well that only meant one thing, 1 foot in the nursing home door.  But guess what, travel is still exciting!  I still want to go places, see things, do things (maybe not drink out of a bucket, but hey, never say never).  Yep, the style of travel changes.  The passion and excitement doesn't.

So Golden Gap years have become a thing.  Kids have left home, divorce, retrenchment, pissed off with work, whatever and you just want more than a miserly 4 weeks a year (my favourite perk at work, being able to purchase 4 additional weeks of lifestyle leave).  The only question is, to take an extended period of time off and then go back to work, or start off retirement with a couple of years roaming the world?
50th trip to India and the Taj
A major regret that people in old age have is that they didn’t travel enough when they were young and had the energy to. Travel requires time and money, as well as energy and reality just gets in the way which is why I guess we don't get all the travelling that we might like to do when we are in our late teens and twenties done. 

We've met so many amazing people along the way who are well over 50 and are doing so many adventurous things and good on them!  Who can forget the gorgeous Val and dashing Don in Nepal.  They were and continue to be, our inspiration!  And good on Sharon and Rob who have just returned from a second hiking trip to Nepal.  You go guys!

Val and Don in Pokhara Nepal - our inspiration


So when and where to go?  The next few years we are hoping to save, buy our practice caravan (started looking) and do lots of shorter trip around Oz.  But who knows, I did catch myself looking at grey nomad jobs the other day.  That or win lotto. 
Next tattoo maybe?
Bugger. Back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’

‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’  I made this my motto during this year of less is more and my dabbling into minimalism. I discovered that this saying was used during the Great Depression when people were very good at wasting nothing and the trend seems to be now returning.  For some, the priority is saving money, for others, it’s saving the planet. 

Here are a few simple tips that for many, were a way of life and that I'm going to try and adopt in today’s throw-away world.

1.     Fix it – Before rushing out to buy a replacement, can it be fixed?  With so much information out there these days,, you can find how-to’s on just about anything and there is something quiet satisfying about getting that old coffee maker working again (no I haven't tried yet). Can we fix it? Yes we can!

2.     Everything old is new again – A coat of paint, some new upholstery, shiny buttons, using what you already have and giving it a new lease on life is limited only by your imagination.  That and not being so lazy when it comes to sewing on the buttons.

3.     Try second-hand – from Gumtree, EBay, op shops (I found the best pair of Italian shoes for $2) to local buy, swap and sell groups, there are heaps of wonderful bargains out there and who knows, I may even get around to selling my own clutter.

4.     Grow your own – Nothing beats going out to your garden for fresh vegies and they always taste so much better.  Especially when hubby is an expert!
5.     Cook your own – Now that we've grown all those beautiful tomatoes and zucchini, I need to create some magic in the kitchen.  Hmm that mans actually cooking and not just watching MasterChef.  Will start that tomorrow as we had take away kebabs tonight.  Oh and I hate throwing out anything - I love left overs!

6.     Eat out less – Eating out at restaurants used to be a special treat, so I need to cut back and plan nights out to make them special once again. And if I can find a bargain coupon, even better. 

7.     Save up for special things – Everything can be obtained instantly these days with just the swipe of a piece of plastic.  Instead of instant gratification, I'm going to return to the pocket money days and save for something special, or better still, do without!
8.     Think before buying – Is it a need or is it a want?  Can I make do with what I already have?  Do I really need a shiny new toaster when the one I have works perfectly? A bargain is only a bargain if it is something you really need and will be useful.

9.     Compare and Save – With so much competition and information readily available, shop around.  For major purchases ask for a discount and even for minor ones, ask if they are likely to go on sale soon.  They can only say no and you can always walk away and wait. 

   .  The best things in life are free - Not everything worth doing costs money! In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. I've been finding the library is not just a great place to borrow books, but has heaps of free stuff to do.    Or of course checkout WeekendNotes (great articles by that wonderful writer JuliaA) and all of the other what's on websites and newsletter that are out there.   No need to spend a fortune on entertainment or doing stuff!