Four Wheels – Wheely Good!

My Four Wheels

I love driving – in my own four wheels – which is “Wheely Good”.  This post is inspired by the Ultimate Blog Challenge Tips for Day Four.  This is my tale is about my driving history. At least the good stuff. Though reflecting, there’s not much that is not good. I love driving.

My current car is a red Holden Barina – which replaced my favourite car, a Mitsubishi Lancer that I loaned to my son when he was having difficulties.  It was July 1st, 2016, that the Barina came into my life. In some ways, I regret not buying another Lancer, but what is done is done.

In January 2021, I watched as the mileage turned over to 100,000!  On top of this, I have driven around 10,000 in an old Toyota Coaster, so I have had some long drives in that time.

Four Wheels - Wheely Good! 1

My Driving History

I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my mid 20’s.  Around 50 years ago.  We were living in Melbourne, Australia, I was married and a mother of two children. For a while, I had been working occasionally on night duty at a local hospital, and my husband had to drive me and pick me up, which meant we also had to get the children out of bed. My husband did that early in the mornings to pick me up.

There were driving lessons locally, and when I had my licence, my husband bought a car for me.  One Saturday morning, the four of us drove to the other side of Melbourne, and I had to drive home through a city I was not familiar with, with my new (second-hand) car!  Very scary.

How Many Cars have I had?

I’ve lost count, really. But I have had two brand new ones – the Lancer and the Barina.

Until my marriage breakup, I only had second-hand cars, but when my father died in 2011, about a year after I left my husband (who had sold my car not long before, without my permission or knowledge), I had the funds to buy a new car. The Mitsubishi Lancer.

By this time we were living in Brisbane, Queensland. We’d been there for around 25 years.  Each year, at least once but occasionally more often, we would drive from Brisbane to Adelaide, or Melbourne to see our parents, and let the grandchildren see their grandparents. Each trip was around 4000 kms.  My husband drove most of the time. I was the relief driver when he became too tired.  On the occasions we drove through the night, I drove from around 2 or 3 am until around 6 am.

My husband was a typical male in that he didn’t like to stop along the way. Apart from some quick stops, it was from A to B as fast as possible.  This is why I yearned to travel on my own and explore with my camera!

Around Australia

In 2012, I decided to do something that had been on my “bucket list” – I circumnavigated Australia.  Alone.  It was a trip of around 40,000 km with all the off main road travels I did exploring and visiting friends and relatives.  It took me around 5 months.  I often laugh that I took a tent, an inflatable bed, and a range of camping equipment, but returned home with them still in their original packaging . Family members have since used them. I realised that as a lone woman, it was not really safe for me.  I stayed with friends, relatives, and in cabins.

I have done several other long trips – one was from Brisbane to Uluru-Kata Tjuta in the Toyota Coaster (bus/motor home) in 2017, and another year I drove down to Tasmania, and then on to Adelaide and back to Brisbane via Broken Hill.

My Wheely Good Four Wheels

I do feel that I am a wheely good driver, and apart from one event, my four wheels have been good to me. For all my driving I have only once had wheel/tyre problems.  One day not far from home, on my way back from Bribie Island to my home in Beachmere, I had a flat tyre. The only one I have ever had in all my driving.  Luckily I am a member of RACQ – a motoring body and I soon had one of their “rescuers” fixing my problem.  Only a short interruption to my day.

I am grateful for my 4 wheeled vehicles which have helped my safety with my travels in Australia, and Ireland in 2005.  I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to see more of my own country – something that many Aussies will never do.

My Wheely Good Wheels have been good to me.

Photo by Nick Dunne at Unsplash.com

Broome Western Australia

#blogboost,#dihill, #Ultimateblogchallenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Liz.

Farewell Liz – What a Colourful life.

Last Friday I attended the funeral to farewell Liz – a wonderfully colourful lady.  She was quite amazing, and though I didn’t know all about her, I knew much of her story.  We had several connections – my daughter attended the same school where she had been a student for most of her studies and later was the art teacher and Deputy Principal. They were not at the school together.

She was also a member of Zonta International from 1982 to her death a few weeks ago.  But it was her art that initially connected us.  I write for an online magazine, and someone asked me to write about Liz and an upcoming art exhibition where several artists had their works on sale for a fundraiser.

Buddy – her companion.

She lived alone for much of her life, after a short marriage.  Buddy was a cute little dog that loved Liz and when one visited her, Buddy had to be part of the visit.  You’d be welcomed by her little furry friend, and on departure had a farewell with Buddy.  Sadly Buddy was not well and was euthanized just before Christmas 2020.  I didn’t know that until after Liz departed this world, but I am sure she would not have wanted to continue life without him.

Early Life

Liz was an only child and was born with a severe cleft palate – deformity of the mouth, which made it difficult or impossible to eat and speak.  But Liz kept trying and after surgery learned how to do both.  However, all her life she struggled with related health issues.  It didn’t stop her.

With so much time she taught her self to draw – coloured pencils and paper were her friends in early days, and eventually, she started school – two years behind her peers but quickly caught up and surpassed them.  She won many awards for her studies, art, and music.  She learned to play the piano, organ and violin, and was the regular organist for a cathedral in Brisbane city – and of course, won some amazing musical awards.

Science or Art?

When she finished high school, she won several scholarships but chose to study science. At the end of her university days, she worked in the health industry as a microbiologist and later studied teaching before going on to be an art teacher at a variety of high schools around Brisbane and Thursday Island.  In many places, she became Deputy Principal  – though at TI she was School Principal.

In 1996 she retired from teaching and focused on art – silk art in particular.  To see some of her work visit here.

My Friend Liz

Colourful Liz

Beachmere

It was at Beachmere that I met Liz.  I was asked to write an article for Weekend Notes abut an Art Exhibition.  She and her friends often held art exhibitions with profits going to charities.  She raised an awful lot of money.  She was a wonderful crazy lady – so much fun and so much colour in our lives.

 

Beachmere is a little seaside village north of Brisbane.  It’s beautiful, on the edge of the Caboolture River, on Moreton Bay not far from Bribie Island.  There were many talented artists living in the region and the local group BANG held several art exhibitions, and of course, Liz took part too.

I used to call in to see her and Buddy from time to time.  She drove a little car and seemed to have a wonderful life – living mostly on the waterfront.

She really was an inspiration, and I was so sad to hear of her passing, but glad I was able to farewell colourful Liz at St John’s Cathedral last week. I was sad that I learned more about her after she died.

You are a great inspiration to all women.

#BlogBoost #UltimateBlogChallenge

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Why I Do What I Do

Day Two

 The Back Story Why I Do What I Do

Here it is – Day Two and we are asked to explain what we do – what our niche or market is.  This is very difficult for me – I don’t have either niche or market – I just like chatting on a variety of topics and sharing my photos. When I am travelling, there are stories about my travels along with my photographs. I don’t try to sell anything; I don’t promote anything, but tell stories of my life’s experiences.

My First Blog

Way back in 2005, I was invited to travel from Australia to Ireland to do some research about a man who was born there.  Friends and family asked me to write about my travels and send them emails detailing my adventure. That sounded quite complicated, so I investigated and found a platform called TypePad.  I used that as I travelled to detail my story and interact with my friends and family.  I enjoyed doing it, but after returning to Australia, I stopped using it.

Not long after, I discovered other platforms – Blogger and WordPress.

What Do I Do?

I have been on this earth for many years and have had many careers.  Starting with office work in the years after I finished school, training as a nurse and working on and off as a registered nurse or using my nursing qualifications to get interesting work as a medical representative.  I’ve worked in the entertainment, arts and crafts, and beauty industry.

In 2002 I graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Teaching and taught retail, hospitality, and aged care, before teaching English to students from around the world, whose native language was not English.

In 2008 I went to China to teach English at a college, which became a university for the whole year before returning to Australia.  In 2009, I spent several months teaching English Teachers in South Korea at another university.  I was back in China in 2010, but when I returned to Australia, life changed forever for me.

The Bride in China

A week of wedding ceremonies.

Marriage Ends – More Study

My marriage ended – I walked away, never to return.  I won’t go into details.  I had no money, so went house sitting, to an inner city house, and not able to find employment, and rather traumatised, I went back to study.  In 2012, I was in Melbourne for graduation with a Master of Arts, Writing, ready for the next phase of my life.

Me and Writing

Now I had been writing for years – was part of several active writing groups and wrote for magazines, and newsletters.  My great interest was life stories.  Have done a few – mainly just for families. Around that time I also did workshops on blogging, life stories and obituaries.

But more travel was on my bucket list.  I had always wanted to drive around Australia.  I had driven to Adelaide to visit my parents and sister.  But this time I prepared for something longer.  I had a Mitsubishi Lancer, and I thought a tent and an inflatable bed, and some other camping equipment would work.  I set off late in 2012, heading south to Adelaide stopping often, taking photos and doing well.  I had a house sit in Adelaide – one of the worst experiences of house sitting.

Then when that ended, I set off on and on I drove, across the Nullarbor Plain and on to WA.  I stayed with a cousin south of Perth, and friends.  On and on I went up north and on to the Northern Territory and then down inland Queensland and eventually arrived in Brisbane.  It took 5 plus months. I did it.  On my own.  Without any major dramas.  I was so thrilled.

I do talks sometimes encouraging older women to follow their dreams.

So why do I blog?  Just to share stories and photos.  To tell the stories of my travels.
To write.  Have fun.

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The Devils Marbles

I still write for magazines, I still take photos, Covid-19 has clipped my wings, but I plan to travel again soon.  I do what I want to do.  Write, Travel and Have Fun.

Hopefully my book will be finished soon. Would you want to read it?

#blogboost

 

 

 

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I’ve Joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge – Again

Ultimate Blog Challenge

I’ve done it before and I have signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge again.  And I am thrilled to do it again – maybe it is the stimulus that I need at this time of the year.  Yes, I already have too much in my diary, but I am going to be VERY organised.

I am going to focus on Housing – as several projects are close to me. I still experience housing instability and have done for several years and am involved in several groups trying to make a difference for the thousands of senior women who need support.

Safety issues for Seniors. Photo taken by Di Hill

Walkways made of bricks – often uneven and unsafe for older people.

Older Women’s Issues

Over the period of the Blog Challenge I am going to post on some “older women’s issues” – a field in which I am currently very active.  I am a member of the Older Women’s Network Queensland, working mainly in the “housing stress” cohort.

My own story of a marriage breakup, no home and little money is well documented in many places, and though I am not yet in affordable, suitable, safe housing, I am working with a number of organisations to make positive changes.

Loneliness – one of the World’s Big Issues

A few years ago, in the United Kingdom, a Minister for Loneliness was created.

“The Prime Minister confirmed all GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023.

Three quarters of GPs surveyed have said they are seeing between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness, which is linked to a range of damaging health impacts, like heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.”  From the UK Gov website.

In Australia, many people are alone and lonely, but I will focus on senior ladies, the cohort for which I am more familiar.

Housing issues and Loneliness are connected.  So many women are on their own.   Many are widowed, (women tend to live longer than men, so often their husband/partners depart this world first), never married or divorced.  In the older sector, so many of these women relied on their husband/spouse for income/money management, major decision making, house management and maintenance, and don’t manage easily on their own.  As well, women are often discrim9inated against or taken advantage of, due to the lack of knowledge is housing maintenance, motor vehicles and more.

Women live in housing complexes without nearby friends, or with mobility issues that influence their activities, financial issues, and often are intimidated by the men who live nearby.  Often that is the way they try to manage their own loneliness!

Support Services

There is a raft of support services, but it is not always easy to identify them or get the services one requires.  Covid-19 has made it more difficult to access services due to the restrictions, and the fact that many volunteers are in the senior cohort and at more risk of getting the disease.  There are currently fewer volunteers.

As well, in Australia, many local magazines and newspapers ceased, making it more difficult to source appropriate information.

Many seniors do not have a cell-phone, may have a landline, some do not have a television and many do not have computers – again reducing access to appropriate information.

My Focus for the Challenge

So my focus for this Blogging Challenge will be the above – though I hope I am not going to sound like a whinger, but I am very keen for Older People, not just women, to be treated with more dignity and respect.  We need to do more for this cohort!

Dear Reader, have you any ideas or issues?

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Planning – where am I heading?

Where to?

My Planning. Here it is, nearly the end of January 2021, and I am not as organised as I planned to be.  There are several factors that have intervened.  Some health issues and some tests to complete by early NEXT month – I can’t make the plans I wanted until I resolve the health issues.

Housing

That is a big one for me. Housing is so complicated. I moved into this unit just on 10 months ago, and while there are positives and negatives about the place, the continual (until very recently) continued abuse of me by one of the tenants has made me want to move.  And I really don’t fit physically into this unit – it is too small for me in many ways.

In the next week or two I will have a look at some other properties.  I am feeling a little more inclined than previously to consider one where meals are provided.  At a cost of course.  But I realise that lately I have been lazy in the food department. I am not eating as well as I should be.  Anywhere I move to, will mean a big change for me.  Again.

More Meetings?

I have been offered positions on several organisations recently and rejected most.  I am too busy,   I don’t want any more work to do – so I have made a decision to back off, say “no” more, and prepare to really reduce my workload towards the end of 2021.  It’s funny, though in a way, as because I live alone in a complex that has no “community”, I find the interaction with other smart women to be helpful.  Without these meetings I could be lonely – and I am not one to go to morning tea events to socialise all the time.  I don’t mind the occasional one, but I often find these social activities rather boring.  I’m told I’m too “academic”.  Really? I am not sure.

Writing and Reading.

I had planned to do more work on a couple of works that are hidden in my computer.  And I have – but not as much as I had planned to do when I documented my plans for 2021. I have to plan more writing and reading time.  Not easy when I am so busy.

GAB

My GAB course is about to be publicised and I do have people interested in proceeding with the course.  I have updated most of my course material, and ready to rock and roll.  The ever changing rules for Covid-19 make it a little hard to have confidence in the future plans, but I’m ready to proceed and cope with any changes that will be necessary.

GAB? Guided Autobiography.  Created by Dr James Birren in the US back in the 1970’s. Everyone has a story to tell – and I want to help people tell their own story – either just for their family or those with an interesting tale there might be an opportunity to talk with folk about creating another great Aussie movie.

Photography.

I am going to continue with my photography – having recently received some “awards” – from an online photo website that I have submitted a few photos.

There are some interesting photos on a tablet that I have had for many years – am downloading them to a hard drive and will go through and delete the “unwanted” ones and perhaps submit some to one site I support.

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Manly Harbour, Queensland

 

 

Art Class.

My granddaughters gave me a voucher for an art class – I hoped that they could attend with me but finding a time for three of us to be available at the same time.  I will decide about that in the next week or so.  I’d love to do the day’s event, but don’t want to get hooked on doing art.  Not enough time and I don’t think I am good enough to make a late-career of it.

How is your planning for 2021 going?

 

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Panda in Queensland?

Have you seen a Panda in Queensland?

My business card mentions Bamboo – for when I was in China I learned a lot about it.  I am very keen to learn more as over the last few weeks there have been more products created with this amazing plant.  But would I see a Panda in Queensland?  I am proud of this photo for I have been showing it to friends telling them that I took it in this state.

I had my camera with me when I visited a Bamboo Nursery on Mount Tamborine Road, at Wongawallen.  It is a place I have visited before and enjoy exploring to see the wide range of bamboos that are growing there.

When I came across the Panda, I did not realise that it would look so realistic – it does look real, but it is not.

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Panda in the Bamboo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are there Panda’s in Australia?

Yes, but only two.  They are both in the Adelaide Zoo, and I have been there to see them.  The two have been there since 2009, and it has been hoped that they would mate and produce an offspring.  They will be there until 2024, but don’t seem to be enthusiastic about creating a baby.

There’s no news yet on any pending panda baby – but everyone hopes that very soon, the two get their acts together and do the deed.  We would love to see a baby panda in Australia, and certainly the South Australians have high hopes.

Bamboo in Australia

I remember when I became interested in bamboo, especially after my first visit to China in 2008.  It was there that the apartment building in which I lived on the university campus, was surrounded by bamboo and I discovered in local shops a range of products created with bamboo.  I bought my first bamboo towel there and it inspired me to be a great bamboo supporter.

In Australia in those days and before, bamboo had a bad reputation.  Many people had previously experienced negative issues – many people knowing how the running variety took over gardens and was so difficult to eradicate.  Somewhere, somehow, people learned that there were two main varieties of bamboo – the running and clumping plants, and how much easier the clumping varieties were to manage.

Now in 2021, we can see so much of it growing in gardens.  Especially in Queensland where I live.  And around Australia, there are great bamboo nurseries, some of which I visited on my trip around the country a few years ago.

Bamboo Products

There are so many new products being created with bamboo.  Fabrics are used for clothing at many stores, bamboo towels and sheets, and even Ikea has a range of products.  There is so much about – but generally the population does not understand the benefits to our world, as bamboo grows so quickly and is more versatile than timber.  Bamboo increases oxygen in our air.  Go to Google and ask “Does bamboo create oxygen?” and this may be your answer.

Bamboo is a crucial element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A grove of bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. … Bamboo is a wonderful replacement plant for trees with its short growth cycle and a high carbon dioxide exchange rate.

My business card says that I am a “Bamboo Fan”.

(The panda in the photo is NOT a real animal.)  I wonder how many bamboo nurseries around Australia are fortunate enough to have a real-life-looking panda visiting their properties?  I guess that there may be others.  Have you seen any?

What is your experience with bamboo?

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Best Photos of 2020

What are My Best Photos from 2020?

What are my best photos from 2020? When I look back at my photos taken in the last year, I realise how busy I have been with my camera.  I enjoy visiting places, and as an avid traveller I have grown a big collection but in the last 12 months I have done little travelling, thanks to COVID-19.

But I have picked out a few for you to see.  Some feature on the cards I create to sell or give away.

  1.  The Australia Signat the Caboolture  Historical Village (Queensland, Australia).  These and others now on view at the Village, were first on view at Expo 88.  Many of us remember visiting Expo 88 at South Bank during that amazing year.  Following Expo, the signs were at Shaftsbury on Deception Bay Road, which later became Arethusa College.  Eventually, they were refurbished by the volunteers at the Village and then put on display.
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Caboolture Historical Village

2.  Mushrooms

One day, as I was walking on the waterfront at Deception Bay, I was surprised to see a large patch of mushrooms or toadstools.  There were different colours and so many growing after rain.  It reminded me somewhat of my childhood in Adelaide, where in winter we would forage for wild mushrooms in the paddocks around our home, or further out.  We loved going to Uncle Ossy’s as there were always plenty to pick and eat.  I doubt these are edible.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3.  Stones

Again this photo is from Deception Bay.  Fairies inhabited the waterfront near the swampy area, and they would often leave small gifts for anyone.  I found this beautifully painted stone there.  Maybe one day I will paint some stones.

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Stone left by fairies

4.  Steele

This rascal is a member of the Gough Family of Hemmant.  In those days he was THE dog of the household, but recently has been joined by a young crazy pup, Flint.  Steele and Flint are Australian Shepherds.

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Steele

5.  Wynnum Jetty – my very best photo of 2020.

This photo has appeared on many of my cards this year.  The sea was calm and there were several folk on the jetty – made for a great shot!  It is one of my most popular images for 2020.  Wynnum is a suburb of the city of Brisbane, on Moreton Bay, Queensland.

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Wynnum Jetty Queensland

7.  Manly Harbour

Best Photos of 2020 10Right next door to Wynnum is the suburb of Manly.  Often the region is referred to as Wynnum/Manly – with both suburbs overlooking Moreton Bay, and the many islands in the bay.  Manly is known for its large harbour, and the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

Best Photos of 2020 11

Manly Harbour

8.  Scarborough, Queensland.

On Christmas Day 2019 and 2020, I joined family members for the celebration of the season at Scarborough Beach, which is also on the edge of Moreton Bay, but around 40 km north of Wynnum.  When we arrived mid morning, I just had to get my camera out of the car and take a photo before anyone appeared on the waterfront.

I am sure it will be a popular image on my cards in 2021!

Scarborough Qld.

On Christmas Day 2020, the view from Scarborough Beach across to the Glasshouse Mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do I “create” my cards?

I use all my own photographs, which I take with my Olympus camera.  I often drive many kilometres just in search of a good scene to capture.  Occasionally I will collect a series onto a USB stick and head to Officeworks, where I print the cards in colour.  The cost is 10 cents.

The cards and envelopes I purchase from a paper shop at Brendale, just north of Brisbane, called BellaPaperie.   I print information on the back of each card, usually just the place of the photo, my name and link to my website.

Then I use a blue glue stick to paint the back of the chosen photo and attach it to the card.
When dry I insert the envelope and then insert into a cello bag.  All done.

Occasionally I sell them, but often just give them away and ask that they be used to send positive messages to people who need some support.

My Magpie Friend

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Travel Australia

When Will I Travel Australia Again?

Covid 19 has changed things for every one.  It has “clipped our wings” making travel challenging or impossible or just complicated.  At the beginning of 2020, we were all looking forward to a “Happy New Year” but for many it was anything but.

I had rather vague plans – one was to go back to China for my last farewell.  I thought that my future travel plans would be difficult as I had a few health problems and was getting “older and bolder” that I may not enjoy the travel as I had previously done.

 

Katherine, NT

Visiting NT

As well, I thought I’d drive down to Adelaide too, with a detour to the north of South Australia to visit some historic places connected to ancestors.   But it was not to be.

China No Longer Friendly to Aussies

As I write this I am aware of the terrible relationship developing around the world with China.  Australia and the USA are just two of the countries involved in the argie-bargie. Some Chinese don’t feel safe coming to Australia, and I would not feel safe going to China.  So I say goodbye to China electronically.

Only yesterday, walking in Brisbane city, a group of Chinese people approached me, asking me to sign a petition to end the Chinese Communist Party.  The brochure had some rather difficult to read stories about the actions of this “most bloodthirsty terrorist organization in the world.” I certainly have concerns about the behaviour of the Chinese government.  I don’t think a petition in Australia is going to make any changes.  Perhaps only make Australians more aware of some of the disturbing stories.

Anyway, for me, it is Goodbye China.

Will I travel Australia again?

I have a route already mapped out, with mileages (for I will only drive around 300 km a day), and places to stop overnight.  It is around 2000 km if I go via Broken Hill.  If I stick to plan A – it means overnighting about 6 nights.   Doable.  However, I have a plan to drive to Port Augusta from Peterborough and going on to Wilpena Pound.

The Covid 19 restrictions have been lifted, so I can go, though I am not keen to drive in the heat of summer.  It will be a long hot drive.  Maybe I will wait until nearer the end of summer.

Previous Trips

We drove to Adelaide or Melbourne often, especially when our offspring were little.  We used to set off, usually on a Friday afternoon about 3 pm, and I would have made a “pasty pie” which we would eat at Warwick, before settling the little ones down to sleep overnight.  On occasions,w it was in the back of the station wagon.

Ian would drive for most of the night, and I kept awake.  I never liked driving overnight, as I was concerned about hitting a kangaroo or other animal.  We never did. It was my turn to drive from around 3 am.  I loved this time – still wary of animals, but soon I could watch the sunrise.

We’d often do the trip in around 24 hours.

Preparation for a Long Drive.

On reading this article I must acknowledge that we didn’t prepare as much as is recommended.  I thought that with two adults we’d be okay.  But I have made long trips on my own in the last 10 years.  I drove my Mitsubishi Lancer around Australia in 2012/13, and certainly didn’t have a male to help, but all was well.

In 2017 when I drove the Toyota Coaster to Central Australia, I certainly was not well prepared but the only vehicle issues I had, I was in a town.  But I certainly think there is good advice here. 

 

 

 

 

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On Being Tall

Always Tall 

I was always tall.  I remember my days at primary school when we had to form a line, with the short ones at one end and the taller ones at the other.  And guess who was always at the end – always last in line!!  Yep, me!

That was the way it was – always.  Now there were some benefits.  I always laughed that in at a sport or other crowded event, I could see above the crowd.  And I was easy to find in a mass of other people.

But there were negatives.  I really wanted to be in a community of tall people!

I didn’t always like being the tall one.  I wanted to be more like others.  I used to laugh and say it was hard for me to cry on someone’s shoulder.  Not that I cried much, but there were times that I was upset.

My feet were big too, and getting shoes I liked that fitted well has always been a problem.  And on a plane I like more leg room to be comfortable.  On the rare occasion, I was in a hospital bed, my feet hit the end.  I hate single beds because my feet push at the bed end.

Talking about feet, when in my teens and early 20’s high heeled shoes were what my peers wore and so did I.  Sometimes.  I never wanted to be taller.  But it was the fashion and I was someone who liked fashion.  I liked the look of them, but not what they did to me!

On a bunk bed on a train, I have to keep my knees bent, and I hit my head on things that normal people don’t.

wildlife photography sutirta budiman @sutirtab Unsplash.com

There’s always a tall one

Friends

Is my height a bit intimidating for some friends, or would be friends?  Sometimes I think that my friendships with shorter folk are difficult.  I do like my friends to be as tall as me, but it doesn’t always happen.

Because I seem to be forever travelling/on the move, I have many friends, but not many really close friends wherever I “land”.  Still, I do have a pretty busy social life and am not complaining about not having enough friends.

I left home at 18, disconnected with school friends and cousins mostly, and worked and lived in 4 states in Australia.  Also worked overseas, so I am a bit of a wanderer I guess.

The Trouble with Company

I have travelled with friends, and in groups, but I am always causing trouble.  Particularly if I have my camera.  It takes a few minutes to set up a photo, take it, check that it worked properly, and move on.  Often my group has moved on.  Sometimes I can’t find them.  I slow them down for they are often on the lookout for me.  But, as I have mentioned earlier, I was usually easy to spot.

The Tall One in China

When I was teaching in China, I was always the tall one.  It did come with some benefits too.  Tall and with blonde hair, I was easily seen.  Even from a distance.  I remember something that happened in the first few weeks I was there.  I was walking around the West Lake and Hangzhou when I heard someone calling my name.  Dianne.  It was a lass that I had met only a couple of weeks earlier, a student at the university.  She recognised me from a short distance away.  My head was higher than the shorter Chinese.  I met her friends.  It was quite funny.

No Change Expected

I may have shrunk a little, but not a lot.  I am still tall.  Taller than most of the people I mix with.  I don’t expect things will be any different in the years I have left, and when I walk I like to walk tall.  My family are tall.  Including the grandchildren.  That’s Life.

#aussidi

 

 

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China’s Attitude

Thoughts on China’s Current Stance

China is an amazing country, but I find it sad that Australia and China have now got a very complicated relationship.  I am no expert on the situation, but read/listen to, the news in the media and feel a strong sadness.

When I first went there in February 2008, I felt very tentative.  I had not planned to go there, and a late offer to start Semester One at Shaoxing gave me little time to research.  I knew very little about this most interesting country.  So here I was, a tall blonde Aussie in this country where it was unusual for the Chinese to see “foreigners” or “laowai” as we were called.

Of course, I stood out like a “sore thumb”, which meant several things.  Most people were pleasant, and I lost count, very early, of the number of mainly young Chinese people who wanted a photo with me!  But there were other times when (mainly older) Chinese would stand in front of me and shout “laowai” – which sounds like “low way”.

Fortunately, especially in my early days, I was not often alone, so I only felt mildly intimidated by the behaviour.

Silence

When we arrived and attended our first meeting to learn about our new life at the university, we learned that we were forbidden to talk with students about politics, religion, and a few other topics which escape me now.  As it turned out, the subject I was to teach was “The Major English Speaking Countries of the World” which included the United States, UK and Australia.  Some “forbidden topics” were discussed in the textbook given to me.

architectural photograph of lighted city sky Photo by Li Yang of Unsplash.com

Shanghai, China.

I was to learn that the majority of the students had little knowledge of the political history of China, and how it was a taboo subject.  I remember in the early days one student, who wore a t-shirt, with the image of the “tank-man” at the Tiananmen Square massacre on the front, and how he was trying to educate his fellow students of the truth.  I was concerned about him, and soon he disappeared.

Communism

I’m no expert on their political system, but essentially as I know it, it is not a democratic country with elections of politicians like we have, but I know little.  I do know that the Chinese people are very cautious about talking about politics, and their government, for if they say the wrong thing, it is likely that someone would find out and punishment might result.  There are very strict rules on a lot of things, but like any community not all obey the rules.

One of my former students was in Australia a few years ago and found out about the massacre in Beijing which happened years before.  I felt for her and she was able to find out more about it.  She found it unbelievable and phoned her father back in China.  He confirmed that it was true, but told her not to talk about it, and to not speak of it when she returned.

Corruption and Cheating

I saw so much of this when I was in China.  Very high communist folk broke the rules often, especially in business.  I won’t go into details here, but what I learned surprised me.  Even the way cheating was acceptable.  When I failed a student for not attending class nor doing any work, I was in trouble for his father was very generous to the college.

 The Way Power Works

Few people told us that they were members of the Communist Party, but some did, and explained that it offered them many more opportunities.  Employment and travel was high on the list, and we always were curious about the students going to other countries to work, especially Africa.

I learned that money changed hands at high levels.  I learned that some senior Chinese men took advantage of young girls, and I had experience of bullying.  I don’t think Australia has done anything deliberate to upset the Chinese, other than request an inquiry into the way the Covid 19 Virus was handled.  I certainly believe that we (the rest of the world) need to know the truth about how it came to do such damage and where it really came from.

Why does the Chinese government disregard the arrangement that they made a few years ago about Hong Kong.  Australia has not intervened but is not happy with what is happening there. The country I visited is probably almost unrecognisable now, and the people live in fear.

Is that all that Australia has done to upset the Chinese?

Sadly I will not return to China.

Would you visit China now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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