Top Ten Tuesday – 10 tips for planning a trip.

Top Ten Tuesday – I’m sure it’s been done before but I’m doing my version. Hopefully weekly but I’m making no promises. Who knows what’ll get in the way of a regular Tuesday post.

I’m starting with my 10 tips for planning a trip. These are simply my own personal recommendations and I’m sure there are those who would disagree and have their own ideas about what should be on this page. I am under no illusion that my opinions may will differ from those of others and theirs may be more valid but, for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.

1. Time – Give yourself plenty of it when planning anything more than a weekend away. I always find the research and planning stage exciting.

2. Know what type of holiday you’re after – not everyone wants the same thing out of a holiday. There’s a fair bit to decide on, do you want a relaxing around the pool, massage and meditation type holiday, do you want to see the sights or learn about the history of a place or do you want an adventure type holiday? Do you want to stay in one place or do you want to travel around – the area, the country, the continent. If you want to travel around, how? Train, bus, car, motor home? There’s a lot to decide on – refer to item 1, give yourself plenty of time otherwise you may make hasty decisions you’ll later regret.

3. Do your homework – spend night after night trawling the internet, see what’s out there. If you’re passing the local travel agency, pick up some brochures. They may seem a little redundant when you’ve got the internet but I’ve always been a lover of brochures and all their glossy pictures. You can leave them around the house and you’re constantly reminded of the places you want to go.

4. Go somewhere you haven’t been before – be brave! It’s very nice to revisit places you’ve enjoyed and feel comfortable in but you’ll never conquer the world if you stick to one little part.

5. Be realistic – work out your budget, figure out how much you can save before you go. If you can’t afford a month in Paris, then don’t plan a month in Paris. Make it 2 weeks or go somewhere slightly cheaper for a month. There’s nothing worse than standing in front of the Eiffel Tower knowing that you can’t afford the price of going up it or itching to do the white water rafting when you know you really have to eat tonight and you can’t do both.

6. Be flexible – itineraries are great and you need them, or at least an idea of what you want to see and do, but always be open to changing those plans. Often the best memories are made when something unexpected happens.

7. Pack light – or at least as light as you can. I know, this is an age old problem and I’ve bemoaned the fact before, that I hate packing. Packing light makes travelling all the more enjoyable and less stressful though. When you’re struggling up steps or through railway stations with a suitcase stuffed to the seams, a large carry- on bag and maybe a laptop and a winter coat slung over your arm, then you realize you should have left half of it at home. Follow the advice of those travel sites that explain how to coordinate so that you just take a few basics and they all fit together to make several different outfits. I haven’t succeeded in that yet but you may have more luck.

8. Figure out how you’re going to deal with the currency situation – we have options now, so make yourself aware of them. Gone are the days of organizing travelers cheques and banks to cash them in, now we can use credit cards, debit cards, pre loaded currency cards, even cash. Get advice if you’re not a frequent traveler or if you haven’t visited that area or country before, talk to people who’ve been there, figure out what will work best for you.

9. Documentation – make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork – passport, visas, letters of introduction, extra passport size photos, insurance documents, emergency phone numbers – double check and keep copies. It’s also a good idea to leave copies with a relative or friend at home – just in case. Leave an itinerary at home too and a list of places where you can be contacted.

10. Prepare to enjoy –you need to have the right attitude, leave the stresses of life and work behind as soon as you leave your front door. Do NOT plan to check work emails while you’re away, I know – the temptation’s there, but DON’T DO IT!

Train hard, Fight easy.

No, I’m not training for the SAS, although at times I do begin to wonder.

I mentioned recently how well my training was going and hence (don’t you love that word) my decision to extend my trek and go as far as Everest Base Camp next year. My friends, the steps, are gradually succumbing to my constant attempts to defeat them but, each time I get comfortable with the number of times I’m climbing them, my slightly pushy training partner (AKA Yes sir Sergeant Major) decides it’s time to add on a couple more ups and downs. Would you believe we’re up to 14 – yes, 14 times up and 14 times down.

Steps, steps and more steps1

I’ve now also started doing regular weekend hikes, these were initially done with a small (very small) backpack but last weekend I figured it was time to delay no longer and do it with the PROPER daypack. You remember the one, made to fit us ladies, and how excited I was to be buying it.

Hiking with pack

The day pack & I – our first outing together

So, I put a few things into it, including a litre bottle of water (which is quite heavy in itself), and set off on my walk along the Bells Rapids Trail. Unfortunately the steepest part of this trail is at the beginning, before my legs have actually had time to realize what they are meant to be doing and, with the aforementioned training partner striding out on legs rather longer than mine, it’s a struggle to keep up. But, the whole Base Camp Trek thing is not a race, so as long as I get to where I’m going I’m happy.

I must say I coped very well with the larger pack, in fact, if anything, it was more comfortable than the small one. It didn’t feel cumbersome and the straps didn’t rub at all, from now on I’ll gradually be adding weight to it.

Bells Rapids Trail waterfall

Half way up the waterfall – not much water falling I’m afraid.

Not content with the track though we have also taken to climbing. The first week it was up a number of rocky outcrops to find a waterfall. We found it but there wasn’t a lot of water falling from it. We’ve also taken to scrambling up some large boulders for our mid hike break. I must say it’s worth it for the views.

Bells Rapids Trail

The view is worth the climb

Ultimately though all of this hard work will be worth it, I’d rather find it difficult now then when I get to the Himalayas. So, in the immortal words of the SAS I intend to TRAIN HARD, FIGHT EASY.

Challenge for the Girls


Only ten days into the fundraising and already a significant dent has been made in my target. To those who have kickstarted my campaign, a huge thank you.

I think I must be sending out positive vibes into the universe because today, to my great delight, I also received my first corporate donation from Rod at Carbon Footie, a solar panel company here in Perth.

Stay tuned for a sponsor’s page appearing, so if any other companies would like to get in on the act just make a donation of over $250 and I’ll put up a link to your website.

It’s really great to know that people are prepared to back this cause that seeks to empower local communities to enable their children to overcome poverty and achieve their potential through adequate education and training.

Keep the momentum going and if you are able to donate, even just a small amount, hit the donate button above or go to

They’re out there somewhere!

Don’t be fooled – I didn’t take this photo

Exhilarating is what I called it. Most of the other sixty people on that boat thought otherwise.

My grandson’s 13th birthday fell at the beginning of September, I told him that I’d take him and a friend whale watching but that we’d leave it till mid October so that the weather would be better – wroooong!

Last Sunday was probably the worst day weatherwise that we’d had for several weeks – the previous weekend had been sunny, this weekend is gorgeous, but the day I chose – cold, wet and windy.

Nevertheless we set off with an air of optimism, it wouldn’t be too bad, the weather would improve as the morning wore on – wroooong again!

The ocean was rough to say the least, the boat seemed almost vertical at times and it wasn’t long before the laughter that could be heard as we left the shelter of the harbour disappeared and a few green looking faces took its place.

When a boat goes up a boat must come down!

The crew had, very wisely, pointed out where the large pile of sick bags were and had made it very clear that if you were feeling ill you should not go into the cabin area or the toilets. They knew what was coming. Needless to say that the pile of sick bags had diminished somewhat by the time we returned.

But what of the whales? Well, I saw some. Apparently not doing what they normally do, one of the crew explained. In the bad weather they normally do a lot of breaching (for the uninitiated that means jumping high out of the water), but not today, they simply rolled slowly over a wave and disappeared. Can’t say I blame them and just another indication that the day wasn’t exactly going according to plan.

For most of the trip the clear blinds were down on the sides of the boat but when the whales were spotted the crew rolled one side up. Those of us still capable of negotiating the rocking and rolling of the boat and staggering over to that side without landing in someone’s lap actually did get to see about half a dozen whales during that three hour trip. We also got rather wet.

Really, it is a whale – compared to the top picture, not quite what we were expecting 😦

Not that impressive really and the only photo I managed shows a very blurry blob that, if you squint, could be a whale.

I did get a nice picture of a high speed ferry going past though.

Honoured to be honoured.

Today my blog hit a milestone. Now I know that we don’t like to give too much consideration to our stats and the number of followers that we have but really, who are we trying to kid, we all get a slight thrill when we find someone else has signed up to follow us.

My little blog and I hit 100 today – followers that is, and I would sincerely like to thank each and every one of you. This is also my 50th post so I guess there’s some kind of symmetry there.

In honour of the occasion I’m finally getting round to thanking a couple of my on-line friends for bestowing awards upon me.

Jane from Jane’s India Journals and Jennifer from Kaichronicles both saw fit to honour me with The Inspiring Blogger Award. It is always such an honour to be singled out by my on-line friends and I am humbled that they consider my writing worth reading.

In accepting this award I must follow the rules, which are:

1. Thank the person/s who nominated me.

2. Share 7 things about myself.

3.Pass the award on to 15 nominees.

So … My grateful thanks to Jane and Jennifer, without loyal followers like you I would probably have chucked in the whole blog idea a long time ago.

7 things about myself:

1.I’m good at mental arithmetic.

2. I’ve taken part in an archaeological dig on a Roman Palace.

3. I spent my first ex wedding anniversary flying over the Bungle Bungles in an open sided helicopter.

4. I used to make macrame hanging baskets.

5. Thankfully, I am no longer into macrame.

6. For a while, many years ago, I was an Avon Lady.

7. I couldn’t sing in tune to save my life.

On this occasion I pass this award on to the following blogs. I am constantly finding new blogs to read and I am always amazed at the different genres and styles that I come across, all of these sites are worth a visit.

Exciting changes!!

There’s been a few changes around here but I’ll try and make the explanation as concise as possible, I know I tend to get a bit long winded at times.

First, the obvious – there’s a nice new picture up the top there. Just a reminder of where I’m going, I hope you like it.

Everest Base Camp

Second – where am I going? Well, a slight change of plan there. As many of you already know next year, 2013, will see the celebrations for my 60th birthday and also the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. To commemorate these two momentous occasions I made the decision to undertake the 60th anniversary trek to Nepal, run by World Expeditions.

I’ve been rethinking things lately and I’ve made a slight adjustment to my plans. I’ve decided to go further! Originally I was doing the short trek, going as far as Thyangboche Monastery but I’ve now decided to extend it and head for Base Camp. I figure, in for a penny in for a pound. My training is going better than expected (thanks in no small part to a pushy training partner) and, after discussing it with a few people who have done Base Camp, I’m beginning to think I’ll regret it if I don’t do it. I don’t want to get as far as Thyangboche and then decide I should have gone further. More later on my updated itinerary.

And the final change – as I’m now committing myself to pushing my physical and mental endurance to its fullest extent I’ve decided to do it for a good cause. I’m hoping to raise a few dollars (or pounds, or euros or whatever currency you work in) and would really appreciate your support.

The charity that I’ve chosen to support is Plan, one of the oldest and largest children’s development organisations in the world who work in developing countries to empower communities to overcome poverty, and to protect and promote child rights. More specifically I will be donating any money raised to the Because I am a Girl campaign.

With society placing a lower priority on educating girls than on educating boys, one in three girls in the world are denied the education that we take for granted, less than half of girls in developing countries complete primary school.

Girls are more often expected to stay home and help with domestic work and, with financial concerns an issue in poorer communities, it is the boys who take priority when it comes to education.

Over 10 million girls under 18 years old are forced into marriage each year with 1 in 7 married before they are 15, putting an end to any possibility of completing their education.

I have two daughters and two granddaughters who, with myself and all the other girls in my family, have been lucky enough to live in a western country where, generally speaking, girls are not disadvantaged simply because of their gender.

We can afford to live in relative comfort, not only do we have enough to eat but we also have the luxury of occasionally being able to eat out at restaurants and we regularly throw out left over food. We can afford to live in houses or apartments with a washing machine, a dishwasher and a flat screen T.V. We have gadgets and swimming pools and we travel.

We are well educated and encouraged by friends and family to succeed in whatever we choose to do.

And we do have a choice. So many girls in the world don’t.

Your support for this cause would really be appreciated and you can do so by checking out the donate button on my blog header or go straight to

Every little bit helps and it will spur me on my way as I train – quite vigorously I might add – for one of the biggest challenges in my life 🙂

Note: Base Camp photo courtesy of National Geographic.

Because I’m a Girl

Thursday 11th October 2012, is the first ever United Nations International Day of the Girl.

The ‘Because I’m a Girl’ campaign run by Plan, one of the oldest and largest children’s development organisations in the world, has been instrumental in the United Nations establishing this day in order to highlight the need to make girls’ education a priority.

In many parts of the world society places a much lower priority on the education of girls than it does on the education of boys. Through poverty and gender discrimination many girls are denied the basic education that we take for granted.

The reality is though that through poverty, violence and discrimination, one in three girls is denied the education she’s entitled to.

Make this day a celebration, appreciate your daughters and the opportunities they have in life and spare a little time to acknowledge those girls who don’t have the chance to make choices in life. If you feel inclined visit Plan’s website and see how you can get involved.

The link I have provided here will take you to Plan Australia, however, you can also google Plan UK or Plan USA.

Taking a hike… and getting lost!

This weekend it was time to go one step further with the training. It’s all very well that I can climb lots of steps but I now needed to make sure I could last for more than an hour at a time out on a track so it was time to find a bush track to practice a bit of endurance.

When I looked into the options for bushwalking there were plenty, there’s stretches of the Bibbulmum Track I could do, there are several walks in the John Forest National Park and a number of tracks around Mundaring Weir. I chose what I considered was a relatively easy walk but if I’ve learned anything this weekend it’s not to believe what you read or at least not read into it what you want to see.

After much deliberation I decided to do a 9km trek starting from Bells Rapids in the Swan Valley. I printed off directions and instructions and even bought a compass. Not that I’m generally directionally challenged but the directions included compass headings so I figured a compass would come in handy. Let’s put it this way, I would have been lost (pun intended) without it.

I spent Friday evening packing a small backpack (working my way up to the PROPER daypack), making sure I had water, snacks, bandaids, flyspray, camera etc. etc.

Saturday morning I was awake with the birds at the crack of dawn – nothing like a new adventure to get you motivated – and I was at the starting point of the trail by 8.15am.

The walk started at the long bridge over the rapids. There was a clear blue sky but the wind had a certain chill to it. I took a breath and set off over the bridge.

A minute or two later and the idyllic morning turned difficult. To be precise, the terrain turned difficult. I rounded a bend and the track rose vertically in front of me. Well, maybe vertically is a bit of an exaggeration but I think you get the picture. It was a fair incline.

As my legs, used as they are to the steps we normally train on, adjusted to the uneven ground, I must admit that my mind was thinking ‘this is good, I’m likely to encounter this sort of think on THE TREK, I need to be able to cope with it.’ So cope with it I did.

The views on the way up the track and from the top were certainly worth the trouble. Despite the gusting winds on the top of Mt Mambup, I took a seat on a rock, had a swig of water, ate a protein bar and appreciated where I was, literally and figuratively.

Unfortunately though, it was after this relaxing moment that I came unstuck. The aforementioned purchase of the compass had been a godsend up to now and I had navigated my way up the track and across the grassland without too much trouble. Now though I had trouble.

The directions I had printed off from the website gave detailed directional instructions but no distances, just the likes of ‘head initially NNE to cross the grassy summit area and then continue NE-ward down the initial gentle hillside.’ Ok, how far before I go from NNE to NE? ‘Find the gap in the rocks to head eastward more steeply downhill then veer north,’ aaaargh!!!!

It did give GPS points but it also said at the beginning that  a GPS wasn’t essential. Needless to say I don’t have a GPS.

I tried various routes off the top of the hill but when it says things like ‘follow the track back up the hillside,’ and you haven’t actually found the track in the first place, life becomes a little worrying.

After a while I gave up and decided to go back down the way I had come. Not so easy, that didn’t seem to work either. Do you think I could actually find the track I came up on?

Anyway, I set off in the general direction of down, hit a few hurdles, in the way of impassable routes and fences that needed climbing over, but eventually chanced upon a track that looked familiar and was heading in the right direction. I had survived my own little drama.

It was on the way down that I was really able to appreciate the views and the wildflowers. It’s the perfect time of the year to see the wildflowers at their best here in Western Australia. I’m no expert and I haven’t got a clue what they’re called but these looked lovely.

I finally made it back down to the river, none the worse for the experience and quite proud of the fact that I had done it by myself and not panicked. Let’s face it, panic gets us nowhere.


I vaguely mentioned this a few weeks ago, but I figure it’s now time to come clean and explain.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, I figure if I put it out there it’ll be hard to back out. Not impossible mind you, maybe just a tad embarrassing.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. The problem is, I have trouble focusing and the last twelve months have been out and out procrastination, maybe more than twelve months, maybe a lot more.

I was going along quite nicely, writing snippets when the mood took me, which was quite often. Some of the things I wrote were longer than snippets, although how do you define a snippet? Is it a paragraph, a few paragraphs, a few pages? Who knows and I really don’t feel the need to go to a dictionary, on-line or the old fashioned book variety, which I still have by the way, to find the meaning. So, I was producing a few reasonably coherent bits of writing, with an idea forming, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, that I may put them all together one day.

But, as I said, I have a bit of an issue focusing. With these snippets of my past, reflections on my life, I felt that there was no hurry to produce anything publishable. I would just continue as these thoughts popped into my head and maybe one day I might even produce a memoir. It’s a genre I have always enjoyed reading and I even took a workshop on writing memoir. I had a focus.

In between times I tried my hand at fiction. Not an area I have ever been successful in, I tend to start off with a flourish but then run out of steam. I have lots of beginnings, I just have trouble with middles and endings.

It was at this point that I started to come unstuck. To be honest I got lured into the world of technology. It all started with an on line course. I’d decided that maybe it would be good if I could make a bit of money out of writing so I took a course in magazine writing. Then I took another in travel writing because I loved writing and I loved travel. Seemed perfect, I would have a career in travel writing. Enthusiasm was in full swing. I spent a fortune on magazines so that I could figure out angles and pitches to suit the various publications and then I started pitching, but it seems that there are a lot of travel writers out there and it’s a hard industry to break into. I was working full time and I just didn’t have the time that was needed to commit to the constant pitching needed to get anywhere.

Ok, it wasn’t working and my patience was wearing thin. Next option – start a travel blog. Brilliant idea, I could work at my own pace, no deadlines and no publisher accepting or rejecting my ideas. No pay either, but that didn’t matter, I had a full time paid job and writing was just for me. What I failed to realise though was how addictive blogging would become. It’s no exaggeration to say that it consumed my waking hours, it literally took over my life. I even stopped reading in favour of sitting in front of the computer. Now that’s sad and when I realised what had happened I had to do something about it.

Which set me to thinking, first of all I would have a weekend without the internet. No Facebook, no blogging or reading other people’s blogs and certainly no checking my blog stats. I would only use the computer for writing. From Saturday morning to Sunday evening. How hard could it be? Rhetorical question there people, I knew how hard it was going to be.

I managed quite well, mainly I guess because I had a fair bit on that weekend but as a long term solution it would take a bit of coming to terms with.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, I am getting to the point, which is …. after all of those delaying tactics I’ve decided I can delay no longer.

I have seriously committed to writing a memoir !!

I’m writing it to celebrate my 60th birthday which will happen, whether I like it or not, next year. When I looked back over my life my initial reaction was one of ‘I’ve lived a pretty ordinary life really,’ but others seemed to think otherwise. I guess my decision to go trekking in the Himalayas next May to celebrate the aforementioned birthday proved them right.

My intention with the memoir is to combine an account of this coming year with memories taken from my past. Not an A to B autobiography but an intertwining of episodes in my life including my decision in my fortieth year to return to study which culminated in me gaining my PhD in my mid 50s.

It’ll have a little bit of family history, the preparations for the trip, my excitement in this planning stage and how this trip affects me both physically and mentally. This is a leap so far out of my comfort zone that I have no idea how I am going to react to the experience but I’m hoping for a positive outcome as there are already thoughts of future treks floating around inside my head.

Tentatively titled How the Hell did I get here?, I figured someone may just be interested enough to read it.

So, there you have it … a commitment!!