Storm clouds, decisions and rats.

I went back to the coast yesterday, back to my coastal walk that has helped me to think clearly so many times in the past.

I went in an attempt to de clutter my mind and find some space. Decisions need room to move around and settle, to try out the fit.

I’m thinking the storm clouds brewing might just say it all.

And the huge rat (I’m talking the size of a small cat) that ran across the path in front of me, what was that all about? I know about black cats but rats?

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The Garden Of Dreams

An oasis of calm amongst the chaos of Kathmandu

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Space is at a premium in the busy streets of Kathmandu but I managed to find a haven of calm amidst the chaos.

I would never have known it was there if someone hadn’t recommended it to me as we were chatting over breakfast at the hotel.

It was a hot, dusty day and I’d spent a couple of hours wandering around Thamel, I’d walked there from the hotel and decided to walk back and, remembering the advice I was given, I checked my map for the Garden of Dreams. I’d walked past it on my way into Thamel but hadn’t noticed it, if I hadn’t particularly looked for it I would have missed it on my way back as well.

The Garden of Dreams is hidden behind a high wall only metres from a very busy intersection and what an oasis it is. You pay a couple of dollars entrance fee but it’s well worth it. It’s a neo classical garden created as a private garden by Field Marshall Kaiser Sumsher Rana in the early 1920s which was restored and opened to the public in 2007.

The ivy clad walls of adjoining buildings create a cooling atmosphere while the meandering footpaths, the green lawns and the lily pond provide a tranquil spot for locals on their lunch break and tourists wanting a bit of a breather. The Kaiser café provides light lunches and I certainly took advantage, the cold Heineken went down well too.

So, if after surviving an exhausting morning in the chaotic streets of Thamel you’re in need of reviving make sure you find that door in the wall that will take you into this amazing Garden of Dreams.

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5 Unique Ways to get from A to B

Inspired by a recent post on Travel with Kat and the comments that ensued I started thinking of all of the modes of transport that I’ve used during my travels. There have been the normal methods of getting from A to B – by plane, train, car and boat but then I started to think of the less conventional ways of travelling.

These are just a few that I’ve come up with, I’m sure there are many more that you’ve all experienced.

1. Pearl Lugger. A sunset cruise on an old Pearl Lugger just off Cable Beach, Broome. A glass of champers and a world famous sunset – what more could you ask for?

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2. Camel – an iconic way of experiencing those world famous sunsets on Cable Beach is from the hump of a camel. It takes a bit of getting used to but definitely a fun way to go.

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3. Monorail  – This one at Beaulieu in Hampshire on the south coast of England  is a mile long and gives you a birds eye view of all the attractions this place has to offer. The National Motor Museum, historic Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House and lots of fun for the whole family.

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4. Tiger Moth – How about this yellow peril, my dad took a flight in this Tiger Moth for his birthday a few years ago. He had a ball!

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5. Helicopter – I may be cheating slightly here as a helicopter is not really a unique way to travel but I’ve included this shot because of where it was. The flight in the helicopter took me 2,800 metres up into the Himalayan mountains and landed me at one of the world’s most dangerous airports – successfully!!

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What are some of the unique ways that you have travelled?

Margaret River: The river

I was visiting the south west of the state again recently and, as usual, had a wonderful time. I always enjoy a wander through the main street of Margaret River when I’m down there and this time was no different.

DSCN1335What was different this time though was that I took particular note of the river itself.

When you mention Margaret River in the south west of Western Australia most people immediately think of the picturesque country town with it’s world class surfing beaches or of the wineries in the region or the gourmet food that the area is renowned for, but nobody really thinks of the river that the town sits on.

So I did a little bit of research. The Margaret River is believed to be named after Margaret Whicher or Whyche who, depending on your source of reference, seems to have been either a friend or a cousin of John Bussell, an early settler and explorer of the area.

The river rises in the Whicher ranges and merges with the Indian Ocean 65km away near Cape Mentelle.

In the summer the picturesque riverbank as you enter the town is teeming with visitors, when I was there a few days ago, with the constant threat of rain and the thunderstorm that had passed over a couple of hours earlier the picnic grounds were rather empty and one lone youngster was playing in playground.

But even in that weather it was a very picturesque spot. It’s also the beginning of the 13.5km rails to trails walking/cycling track that takes you north as far as Cowaramup. It’s on my list for the next time I’m down there.

It’s also worth taking a drive to the mouth of the Margaret river near Prevelly, a beautiful coastline with magnificent surfing beaches where you can watch the waves in contemplation, enjoy a picnic on the beach in the nicer weather or maybe take the dog for a walk up the river.

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Step #1 – Reassessment

DSCN1359From Everest Base Camp to the south west of Western Australia. Three months, family dramas, a dose of redundancy and a reality check later and I think I’ve begun to understand the luxury of being able to do what I wanted to do and the pleasure of being able to enjoy every day.

Today I’ve driven to the mouth of the Margaret River and watched the waves pounding the rocks as the river surged outwards into the Indian Ocean, I’ve bought a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from a boutique winery, I’ve eaten a lunch of mushroom risotto on the balcony of another winery surrounded by the lush greenery that is the south west of this state and now I’m heading off to buy venison sausages.

Is this life not a luxury?

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way back home having had a relaxing and thought provoking few days.

Life, as is its wont, is not prepared to let us rest on our laurels for too long and insists on throwing the odd curve ball our way. When this happens we tend to react instinctively, often retreating into ourselves and possibly making rash decisions. What I’ve learned that we need to do though is to stop, to gather our thoughts and to assess how best to move forward, not to rush in where those proverbial angels fear to tread.

A few days, a few weeks, however long it takes.

Only a matter of weeks ago I was existing on a diet of carbs – pizza, pasta and potatoes, I was pushing myself physically and mentally to achieve my goal and I was walking in the shadow of some of the highest mountains on the planet.

After an amazing and momentous experience life then decided to slap me in the face and I was brought crashing down to earth, reality hit me in all its forms.

These few days away has seen a regrouping, a reassessment of my life. Sometimes what we think we want, what we believe we need, is in reality just a pipe dream. Yes, our fantasy life is appealing but is it what we really want or need?

We all have dreams of what we would like our life to be but if we had all that we wanted, would we be happy? Generally, I think not. Life is not about getting all that we want, life is about making sure that there is always something that we are aiming for.

Our future goals are what make our life worthwhile.

Going Rural

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe small country town of York is about an hour an a half east of Perth and it’s a place that I’ve never been to. Not that there’s much there, but it is a quaint olde worlde town that deserves a stopover.

I was there yesterday, the beginning of the week, but apparently it’s better to visit later in the week or on the weekend when it ‘comes alive.’

A friend has gone rural and settled herself on the outskirts of York on a couple of acres and is in her element. Chickens, geese and a couple of sheep, affectionately named Salt & Pepper (and you’ll see why in the photos), and open paddocks, she’s even bought a ride on mower.

She has room to move and to breath.

Not a bad way to live.

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What a cute chicken house – or should that be coop?

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Meeting Salt & Pepper – not sure I’m an animal person!

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Pepper – posing or threatening?

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Val’s new toy.

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The ‘joys’ of country living – bogged in the fire break!

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They have impressive street corners in York.

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Redundancy Day – Moving On.

Redundancy

Today was the day that has been coming for the last 5 weeks, my last day in gainful employment, until I find another job that is.

So …. what to do next?

Options:

  1. Eke out a meagre living on my savings while sulking and watching daytime television.
  2. Write dozens of applications for jobs that I don’t really want simply because that’s what’s expected.
  3. Do something different and challenging.
  4. Make a plan and move on.

I’m thinking that 1 and 2 would be the easy way out while 3 and 4 are the way to go.

Now to keep up the momentum and work out a plan – suggestions welcome.

Everest Base Camp Trek: The Final Hurdle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe river of mud, yak poo and urine beneath my feet had become a blur some kilometres back, all that mattered now was that my feet were taking me forward, not what they were stepping in.

I began chanting to myself, one … two … three ….

One, two, three, counting my footsteps, counting the steps getting me closer to the end. Every turn on the track spat out more steps upwards, never ending, one, two, three.

One … two … three … Yangjing’s encouraging ‘not far now,’ urging me forward, washed over me as the mud ran under my feet. I’d long since stopped looking for the end point. The late afternoon dampness enveloped me, so far removed from the morning crispness we had set off in some 10 hours ago.

Yangjing, one of our guides - I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

Yangjing, one of our guides – I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

At what point had enthusiasm for the day’s challenge turned into a struggle and then into a determination that blotted out all else? There was no option, I had to keep going, I would reach the end.

Ironic, that as we headed theoretically down the mountain, the track took us upwards to our destination. This was our starting point just over two weeks ago, obviously we set off in a downwards direction but who realised or remembered that this is what we would face at the end. I certainly never thought that one of my biggest struggles would face me on this last day.

The entrance to the Sagamartha National Park, the gate that we’d originally passed through enthusiastically and with a verve that had gone missing in me in recent hours came into view, but still more steps.

Upwards.

One … two … three …

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I walked under that arch, through that entrance way and back into Lukla. That main street didn’t seem so long the last time I walked it. One … two … three ….

One … two … three. The slippery rocks that paved the way needed a watchful eye and careful footwork, the open ditch needed to be crossed, I almost stumbled and needed Yangjing’s steadying hand.

More steps up to the lodge, I grabbed the handrail needing all the help I could get. It was no longer one, two, three but one … one … one …

And then it was over.

I’d done it.

I’d trekked from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and returned. The tears held determinably in check for the last couple of hours erupted, there was no stopping them. The seat that I collapsed onto was so welcome, my legs no longer capable of supporting me.

Others in the group who’d arrived half an hour in front of me shouted their congratulations and high fived me, but all I could do was sob. Anande put a warming cup of hot mango juice in front of me, at least I think it was mango, he accepted my gulp of thanks and refilled the cup as I emptied it.

From my sitting position I unloaded my pack from my back, leant my hiking pole against the wall, leaned back and breathed.

Yep, I’d done it and despite my tears I was grinning inside.

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