In the Van

I’m in the van for a couple of weeks, learning bit by bit about how to live in it.  I had hoped to be more practiced by now, but an opportunity to do some house sitting changed that.  I have (thanks to my son-in-law) changed the bed configuration, which I am much happier about.  More comfortable.

The sheepskin mattress topper is working well too.  Quite comfy and does not take up as much space as the alternatives I was looking at.

I’ve managed to reduce the number of things in the van – but I had “extra’s” because of my moving around.  I have extra’s of food, cleaning items, and other bits and pieces that I will either use in the next few weeks or put in the shipping container.

There is still a long list of things to do – things to learn, but I am confident that I will be pretty much competent by the time I head to Alice Springs.

One of the big items on my agenda at the moment is my work for co-housing for Senior Solo Women.  You can read more about it at this website.

There is a lot happening with a lot of information coming from overseas, and within Australia.  It took the London and France projects some 15 – 16 years to reach success with their projects so I hope I don’t have to wait that long.

So, am I trying to do to much at once?  Yes, but that is typically what I do.

So between now and the end of July, I will work on the SOSEW project, getting up to speed for my journey to the Red Centre, and house sitting on the Gold Coast for two weeks.

So much to do, but so much fun and high hopes of success.

Watch this space.

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Past NetWorking

Bayside Women in Business – BWIB

Bayside Women in Business – a networking group that I was instrumental in starting quite a few years ago, contacted me.  They were after some history and I did my best to help them.  It seems a long time ago.  Then they invited me to on of their events.  I was unable to go until yesterday.  It was held in the Tides Wine Bar and Restaurant at Manly, and luckily I am living not too far away, so was able to go.

I wondered if I would know anyone there – but as it turns out there were a couple of folks that I knew.  Plus a lovely group of very interesting ladies.

I loved Tides too – it is situated on the William Gunn Jetty – in once very familiar territory for me when I lived in Wynnum West.

Certainly, it brought back many memories for me.  The waterfront was a popular spot for me – to walk, to take photos, to meet friends.

The ladies, and there were probably 30 who attended, are regulars at networking events in the area.  Mostly they are home based business women who like to get out and promote their businesses.  I was interested in the different types of businesses they run.

Networking Guru

I’ve long been an advocate of networking.  In fact, I was a great follower of Robyn Henderson, who is well known for many things – especially her ideas on networking.  I was so impressed with her book, which I recall she wrote over one long weekend on a dodgy typewriter, with one faulty letter.

Champagne at Tides Wine Bar

Champagne for me

I must try and catch up with her one day.  She lives at Lismore in Northern New South Wales, so perhaps a journey in my Coaster, down to that area should be on my calendar for later in the year.

Lunch with Friends

On Sunday I am lunching with 3 friends who were regulars at networking events I arranged – going back nearly 20 years.  We’ve not met up for a long time, but will be at South Bank at a restaurant.

I am still a regular networking, but not quite as formally as I did before.

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Things Don’t Always go to Plan.

Leaving Beachmere

When I departed my home of 4 years at Beachmere, I expected to be living in my van.  The Toyota Coaster, that I have owned for several months, and still probably not driven much more than 100 kms.  I’m house sitting at Clayfield.  This opportunity “came out of the blue” just days before the removalist came.  A friend was going overseas, and she hadn’t found anyone to house sit and keep an eye on ageing pussy cat Lulu.    As it turned out, I was available, so Plan A became Plan C.

It did create a challenge or two.  I had packed my things with the view of living in Myrtle.  I had to change all that.  On top of that, I was not happy with the way my belongings were put in the storage at Caboolture, so I chose to move after my first month was up.  I negotiated to hire a shipping container and negotiated with my daughter and family to leave it on their property.  That is where the Coaster is too.  No doubt it is feeling very neglected.

It was a chaotic day when all was removed from the storage unit to the shipping container.  But all is well now.  I hope.

Meanwhile, I had minor surgery, and then the incident at a shopping centre which damaged my car.  Both have required extra time on my behalf, but there is progress.  At least the wound has healed.  I am hoping for resolution of the car event soon.

Ah, the Coaster

As my days at Clayfield are coming to an end, with the return of the home owner/friend on Sunday, I will move into the van.  Hopefully, by then, I will have sorted out the bed.  There are two very narrow “single” beds on either side of the bus.

Too constricting for me, so I have plans to create a double bed.  I have sourced the “mattress”, and the wool mattress topper, so all should be fine.

As well, my granddaughter is completing the new curtains.  Hopefully, they will be finished by next week too.

I will stay in the van for around two weeks, before heading south to the Gold Coast to house sit for my son.  That ends around 1st August.

Ready to go to Alice Springs?

Then all the plans are full steam ahead for the event in Alice Springs.   I am hoping that by then, I will have become more familiar with the Coaster.  I will have spent more nights in it, so should know more of its capabilities.

Around August 10th, I will head inland to Dalby, where hopefully I will meet up with other Rollers heading for Alice Springs.  The Red Centre.

I was in The Alice a few years ago, and I found the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame, and after I had left I did some research on one of the exhibits.   Marion Bell was regarded as the first woman to drive around Australia.  I found that there was someone else also claiming to be the first women to drive around Australia.  Catherine Gregson came from Tenterfield in northern New South Wales, but when I contacted their historical society, they knew nothing about it.  I contacted the Hall of Fame and gave them the information that I had.  We did correspond for a short while after that.  A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the Hall of Fame – updating me on the information they had gained.

How wonderful, that I am headed that way in a couple of months.  I look forward to visiting again.

Now, I am hoping that despite things not going to plan over the past month or so, that all is well with my journey into the Red Centre.  Am excited, but just a little hesitant about it all.  What if????  I keep second guessing, but hopefully all well be well.  At least I will be with friends – most of whom I don’t know yet.



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Eeek!!! No Internet!!

Eeek.  No Internet coverage. Well, it has been a busy week in more ways than one.  Crazy really as I have been unable to get on the Internet which made life more difficult.  Even going to Macca’s, or the local library to use their Wifi didn’t work.  Just had to breathe….  Anyway, back on now.

Monday was interesting.  I had an appointment with an Ophthalmologist – some suspicion that a lump on my eye was cancerous.  (It isn’t!), and I met a friend for lunch before the appointment.  It was on leaving that I had some drama.  The exit of the car park at Westfield has no instructions.  One is supposed to know how to get out safely.  I didn’t do it right, so the boom gate came down on my car, smashing the bonnet.  It is a long, long story, but I am endeavouring to get Westfield to admit liability because there was no instructions – not one word – about safely departing from the park.  My battle will continue at least for a while.

I had expected to have some writing time during the week – and did a little, but not what I had planned.  I have spent some time on the phone to insurance companies, crash repairers, etc. and the shopping centre trying to solve the problem of my damaged car.

Also, I had to pick HIH up from hospital on two occasions. On the Friday, after picking him up, we went to the Gold Coast to see our son.  Later on, we were to see the performance of Fame by the Southport High School, and our grandson was one of the cast.  It was an awesome performance by some very talented kids.

I have to confess that, though I know some of the songs, I had never seen the film or the show.  (Clearly, it is not the Southport team at work in the video below, and I am sure you know the song.  Enjoy).

On top of that, my Helo arrived.    I had been waiting a few months for this amazing tool to arrive.  What is a Helo?  Check it out.  If you want more information about it let me know.  Send me a message at di  at or via the contact page.   Click here for a quick overview.

It took me a little while to get it going – in part because there is tiny writing in the instructions, but all is well now.

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City Living – It’s Not For Me

Clayfield – Memories of the Past

City Living – here I am house sitting at Clayfield, a suburb I know well, though it has changed over the years.  Clayfield is an “old” suburb, around 7 kms from the centre of Brisbane.  My daughter started school here many years ago – attending Clayfield College which is only a short walk from where I am house sitting.

It is a lovely suburb in many ways, with many older style timber homes, many built around the mid-1900’s.  They are classic Queenslanders, though many modernised.

From around 1978 when taking Janet to and from school, I’d often drive around the suburbs admiring the homes. It is a rather upmarket suburb with many wealthy residents – adjacent to many other upmarket properties around Ascot etc.  Over the years though, many properties have sold and unit complexes have been built.

Around 1974 Gavin had his tonsils out at the old Turrawan Hospital, which was opposite Clayfield College.  These days the College owns the old Heritage Listed hospital as well as many other properties on Sandgate Road, beside and opposite the College.  The College has done well, since those early days.

Increased Housing and Traffic

High rise residential buildings are common in these parts of Brisbane, making it interesting.  Some of the older homes are surrounded by these multi-storied buildings.  Driving around the suburbs to see how it has changed also shows up one of the results of this bulk housing – there are inadequate car parking spaces on many properties and cars are parked almost bumper to bumper along both sides of many streets.

I note that even driving out of this property my vision of traffic on the street is blocked by parked cars – making it a bit challenging to safely exit the driveway.


Traffic congestion is a big problem in the area – the roads are packed at peak hours.  I try and keep clear at these times.  I hate the massive traffic in the cities, which is why I’d prefer to live right out of the city.

A question I ask is why so many high-rises are being built in the near city area when there are clearly issues with parking and traffic congestion, and also the fact that so many units are vacant.  Landlords/agents are having trouble getting tenants and reducing the prices – and they continue to build more.  What a nonsense!!

Surprisingly it is very quiet in the street where I am now residing – though several times a day I hear the loud roaring of some stupid individual racing his loud car through the streets.  His?  You might ask how I know it is a male?  Of course, I don’t, KNOW, but there are few women who would do such a thing.  It’s mostly guys who like to roar the engine of their car.

Across the Road

Early morning fog from the back yard

I am here for the next few weeks and will take advantage of being close to the city.


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Time Flies Even When It is Not Fun

It is hard to believe that I have a month has passed since I posted here.  Yes, a lot has happened and it has not all been fun.  How time flies.

Moving is No Fun

I had decided to move out of my unit at Beachmere.  There were several issues – with no good neighbours I felt isolated.  The rent was going up and up, and affordability was an issue.  I bought a campervan to live and travel in while I worked out my future.  Then I (along with thousands of other Aussies), was troubled by a cold.  I was only feeling sick for a few days, but a dry cough lingered and I felt lethargic.

Twice I attempted to go away in the van, and both times had mechanical problems.  Nothing big, but big enough to stop me reaching my destination.  Repairs were done – thankfully not expensive ones, but I am yet to learn how to manage the van.

I was planning to live in the van but was asked at the last minute to house sit at Clayfield (inner city Brisbane), which I enthusiastically accepted.  A place I was familiar with.  With a cranky cat.  A story for another time.

There was a Writers Festival, and then some other events – I was committed for photography and other duties.

Packing up was hard to do.  I gave away many items and sold quite a bit too.  I felt in a state of chaos throughout.  On the day of the move, it was more than chaos as I wasn’t quite ready.  I thought I was, but there were still things to do.

The removalists were good at getting things out of the house, but I wasn’t impressed when I saw what they did in the storage shed.  Even though it was nearly 3 weeks ago, I have not been able to access some important things.  They put the bed in the front of the shed – preventing access to things behind.

My Mother’s Day Flowers

Mother’s Day and More

Mothers Day, daughter’s birthday, ex-husband’s visits to hospital and doctors and catching up with friends, meetings and writing.

This weekend I can catch up a little.  I am well behind with writing.    Slowly though, things are working out.

I’m still unsure where I will be living in the future, but I have a house sit for a few weeks until mid-June, and another in July on the Gold Coast, and all being well I head off for Alice Springs on August 1st.



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A Little Bit of Tree Bark

I often spend time looking at the patterns on the bark of trees – for some have amazing patterns on them.  Occasionally I take some photos of them.  When I attended the Anzac Service at Beachmere on Tuesday (April 25th) I saw a tree with interesting bark.  I went back later in the day to get some images.  I don’t know what the trees are – but they are in Clayton Park, Beachmere.

Tree Bark Patterns

One tree that has wonderful patterns on the trunk is a “Scribbly Gum” and there are a lot around this region, though not in the park.  I am not sure what I am going to do with the images, but happy to share them here until I work it out.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 2 is quite black on the tree. It is hard to tell if it has been the victim of fire in the past, but I don’t think so.

Image 3

Image 4

Image 4 is the B & W version of Image 1.  I do like Black and White photography and remember the days when that is all our little Kodak cameras would product.  Now we can take a photo in Colour and then enhance the image.

There are many programs that one can use to enhance photographs – and for this exercise I have used Picasa. ( which enables me to do quite a lot with my images.  There are many programs and many far more  sophisticated.

Image 6

Image 5

Image 7

Image 7 is really fascinating – and hard to believe that it resulted from Image 1.  All I had to do was click on a button and hey presto, all is revealed.

I like to use PicMonkey for some of the work I do – especially when I have a lot of photos to put in an article and can create a collage.

There’s a photography competition coming up – a local one.  Will look at doing something and entering.  Will see what happens.

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Lest We Forget the Anzacs

Anzac Day, April 25th is the day Australians and others remember the day that Australian and New Zealand forces landed at Gallipoli during World War 1.  It was April 25th, 1915.


As a child, I don’t recall being involved in any major events on Anzac Day, though I clearly remember the ceremonies.  I am sure there were big celebrations in the city of Adelaide at the time. My memory doesn’t serve me well for this.

My parents were both ex-service personnel but they didn’t speak much of it.  Dad had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his Army life – he had wanted to go overseas, but worked out of Alice Springs with the US Military and became very sick.  Later he told the story that food was brought into the camp on a truck that also took out the human waste.  He believed there was contamination – and that many soldiers caught a type of dysentery.  My father was so sick he was transported to Heidelberg Hospital in Melbourne, which was a military hospital at the time.  He was medically discharged from the Army after the illness, but rejoined the army a few days later, but was not permitted to do overseas service due to his supposed health problems.  He was always angry about the whole event.

In later years, I know he attended RSL services at Brighton in South Australia. My sister and her family attended with him and my mother.  I wasn’t even aware of their attendance at these events to many years later.

Attending Anzac Events

I can’t recall how many years I have been attending regular Anzac Services – have been into the big march in Brisbane city on several occasions, and the march at Wynnum, and for the last four years the event at Beachmere.  It was the Beachmere event that I attended yesterday.  I am so pleased to see that each year there are many more people in attendance.  Perhaps it has more significance to people now that the world is not the happy place it has been.  With threats in some areas and wars and unrest in others, there is uncertainty.

I drove down to the park where the ceremony was being held but stopped off at the beachfront as the sun rose.

Dawn, Anzac Day, 2017

Heading the Procession



Here come the drums

RSL Members

It wasn’t a long wait for the marches.  They started on time at 6.45 am, and headed for the corner of Moreton Terrace, where the memorials to fallen servicemen are displayed.  There were many at the ceremony.  Later I took some photos of the wreaths – I had not seen them earlier.


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And the Easter Bunny Came

I spend a lot of time reminiscing – and the celebration of Easter is one of those occasions when my mind wanders to my childhood.  I can’t help comparing it to life today.

Easter starts at Christmas now – as apparently, Boxing Day is the day that Hot Cross Buns appear in the shops.  I love Hot Cross buns, but refuse to buy them until closer to Easter.  A few weeks later the retail army decides it is time to indulge in chocolate – eggs, rabbits, and more. I didn’t see a Bilby this year.  Perhaps I would have bought one if I had seen one early.  I did provide Easter Eggs/Rabbits for grandchildren but was not with them over the Easter weekend.  Still, I did my bit.

In my younger days, I would have been to church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  My relationship with the church is not good these days.

It is interesting to see how many people “embrace” the festivities of Easter and I doubt too many would pay any notice of the religious significance.  While I do think many people have come to have doubts about the whole religious story, I do think there should be much more acknowledgement of the Easter story.

I wonder too, if somehow, someone in the future will be able to give more information on the true story of Jesus and Christ.  Do we really believe that Jesus mother Mary, were really a virgin?  Or that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified?   I love the religious stories and the lessons that can be learned from the stories.  I even consider the Ten Commandments to be of great value and would like to see a modern version.

Still, my biggest issue is that our retailers make so much of it and that so many parents allow their children to over indulge.  I saw photos of children holding piles of chocolate eggs and rabbits.  Is there any need for so much gluttony?

I did get a chocolate egg and a very special candy egg.  The latter is one thing that I love at Easter – though so hard to find in shops these days such is the popularity of chocolate!   Bit by bit I am eating mine.  Thank you Jill.

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Blue Toilets and Memories

At a local community function, there were two blue toilets on site – for those folk who needed to go.  I watched as children played in and out of one of the “cubicles” – clearly seeing the facility as a toy!  It made me smile.

I remembered my childhood where such facilities were not provided at local parks.  I think we learned to “hold on” or duck behind a tree.

Modern Facility for my Van

Strangely, in several completely unconnected conversations this week, toilet facilities have been discussed.  I know one resulted from my comment about going to buy a new “potti” for my campervan.  I was thrilled to be able to purchase a van with a toilet and shower on board, but no so thrilled to learn that to empty said toilet I needed to crawl under the van, connect a huge hose, all while being near a “dump point”.  The idea of crawling under a van had no appeal.  So I decided to part with a few extra dollars, and get a new system with a much more user-friendly system.  Even at BCF I had some hilarious conversations with staff as I explored my options.  It seems that almost everything one says, when talking about toilets has a double meaning.

Another conversation came as a result of visiting a public toilet and finding loo paper on the toilet seat.  It is something that Asian women do in Australian toilets, as they still like to squat and they can stand on the toilet seat, squat and do what they have to do. There followed a discussion about travelling in Asia and the various facilities that one has to use.

One of the ladies had come from South Africa, where her home had indoor toilets, and when she came to Australia in around the 1960’s and 70’s was horrified to learn that Australians were still using outdoor toilets.  I know modern homes at the time had indoor toilets but certainly many country folk still had to endure the challenges of the long drop or other outside toilet facilities.

Hopefully, the coming week’s conversations will be a bit more enlightening, but I must say, that many of the conversations mentioned above had a lot of hilarity!!



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