It feels really strange to celebrate Xmas in 30 degree heat with clear blue skies from a roof top terrace with views out over the beach at Bribie Island. We had a slow start to the day with bacon butties and coffee in bed courtesy of Scott.
By midday, we had witnessed the arrival/whirlwind that was Scott’s niece and nephew arriving (2 and 6 respectively). Furious present opening followed.
Lunch was a cold meat and salad affair served with a generous helping of Australian Sauvignon Blanc. Guitar playing and sunbathing on the roof completed the afternoon’s entertainment. I’ve started to learn some Bob Dylan, which is pretty cool, and am perfecting Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Sweet.
This year’s Xmas presents were – by necessity – all very practical. Scuba diving course paid for by mum and dad (thanks muchly), sun lotion and insect repellent from Mary and Bruce, bubbles from Donna and Brett, and a solar powered phone charger from Dan and Scott (very useful). Plus a beautiful Australia calendar from Justin.
We just enjoyed a sunset stroll along the beach, and saw a dog swimming out to collect a ball which seemed to have been thrown at least 5 miles out to sea. I also had the chance to cuddle a 15 week old puppy. Happy Xmas indeed.
i am without wifi on my own tablet, so a flurry of photos will follow when I get back to Sydney in a couple of days’ time…
After a very fun and very late night on the town in Cairns to celebrate qualifying as a scuba diver, I forced myself out of bed to catch a flight to Brisbane. With the added benefit of post-sailing sea legs (weird feeling), it was quite a start to the day.
The boys aka Dr Dan and Scotty picked me up at the airport and transferred me to the Roberts’ Christmas base on Bribie Island, just off the coast of Brisbane. With a huge roof terrace with a sea view, there is nowhere I would rather be for Christmas. Much seafood and many Coronas have flowed since I arrived, plus giggles galore.
Today we had the pleasure of the company of Mr/Dr Matthew O’ Sullivan aka mistermos. Hoping to catch up with him again when he gets back from Rio and before I leave Australia.
Presents are now wrapped, the prawns are on chill. All set for Christmas Aussie-style!
Something beginning with NQSD – newly qualified scuba diver!!
In less than an hour’s time, I’ll be heading out for my first dive without an instructor… Let’s hope my buddy, Kristie, is on her usual good form.
There are very few times that I willingly set my alarm BEFORE the time I need to wake up, but this morning was one of them. We were due to be woken by Eric the skipper at 6.45am so I set my alarm for 6.30am to beat the crowds at the toilets and make sure I was in my scuba gear with time to spare.
It really was worth it. I’ve been struggling with bouyancy – I even floated back to the surface on my last dive yesterday. I did it again this morning from 6 metres, but relaxed and put everything I had learned into practice and managed to get back down and stay there.
We went as deep as 17.5 metres this morning – our limit was 11.2 metres but I overshot slightly. The pressure down there is something else. We saw some great stuff – highlight for me was swimming through a school of fish. Amazing.
Can’t wait for our next dive today. And tonight we are doing a night dive. Apparently, we jump into the water surrounded by sharks. Our trusty instructor, Nick, assures us that they won’t bite. If there are no further posts on this blog, you’ll know he was wrong…
Ooh aargh, me harties!!
Headed off on the boat a couple of hours ago – in an hour we’ll reach the reef and will head down for our first dive. Completely amazing weather conditions so hopefully no sea sickness to follow. To say I am excited is a MASSIVE understatement!!!
Updates to follow…
So it’s day 2 of the quartergapyear, and what a great start. After what was actually a rather pleasant flight to Sydney (you get what you pay for), I almost missed my flight to Cairns on account of 2 factors – 1) deciding to make a change of clothes to transform myself into a genuine traveller type (linen trousers, etc), and making the mistake of flying Jetstar (makes Easyjet look classy and has queues to die for – literally). Anyway, tragedy averted, and I got to Cairns by lunchtime yesterday.
Cairns – from what I have seen of it – is no Rome. But it’s by the water, and that’s good enough for me. I spent a happy couple of hours on the Esplanade reading and people watching.
Last night I managed to locate an open mic night, so me and the guitar had a hot date in Giligans. I played 2 songs – Somewhere Only We Know by Keane and Abandon Ship by The Sorry Kisses. The crowd asked for a 3rd, but I decided less was more and remembered someone once telling me that you should leave people wanting more.
So, it seems, they did.The organisers asked me to come along to another tonight, and someone who owns the local blues bar asked if I would come along on Wednesday night to play a short set before the band comes on. I didn’t come away looking for a change of career, but…
Today I started the scuba diving course – hooked! (No aqua-related pun intended). We started in the classroom (not seen one of them in a long time) and the afternoon in the pool. It felt wierd to start with, but I soon got the hang of things. And not that I am competitive or anything, but I had the most oxygen left at the end…
And so another night, another open mic. This is my kind of quartergapyear. I’m just wondering why I didn’t do this sooner. And when I get to cash in the other 9 months that I am owed.
RIght, time for some guitar practice before I take to the stage.
British Airways lounge at Heathrow…
So, it is T minus 1. Just a few more hours to get ready and Operation: Packing has commenced. I just hope it all fits into my back pack.. And that I manage to carry it all around Australia and SE Asia without doing myself a mischief.
The birthday celebrations started early with lunch with Anna in Borough Market. She added to my burden but has injected a bit of glamour to the trip by giving me a beautiful travel make up kit – it needn’t be all sandals, fleeces and tie dye t shirts.
And so the celebrations will start again shortly with a last supper with the girls – Teresa, Louise, Alice and Katherine. We’ll be setting a place and leaving an empty chair for Mel aka Pru. But she’s joining us via Facetime at 11pm prompt. She’s never one to miss a party entirely. I’m just hoping Alice doesn’t drag me into any nocturnal adventures, as per her normal behaviour. Ah… I’ll miss those when I am away…
So, it’s now just 5 days until I leave for my quarter gap year. TIme to panic? Absolutely not. The shopping list is done. The passport is returned, complete with Thai and Burmese visas (see exhibits 1 and 2). And I’ve even managed to line up a last minute flat sitter to keep Pru Towers safe in my absence. May my dancefloor not lie empty while I am gone.
Speaking of which, Pru Towers dancefloor needed a thorough hoover after my bon voyage party last weekend. The final groovesters were seen to hang up their dance shoes at 5am.
My wonderful but completely bonkers friends also did a spot of colouring in during the party (those who know my friends might say this represents advanced skills for them). They left me with a wonderful piece of art work that will be framed on my return (but will no doubt sit unhung along with the rest of my art collection for many years to come). Exhibit 3.
And finally, a mere month after buying it, I have worked out how to connect my camera to my tablet, hence the addition of photos to the blog. Old dogs and new tricks…
Next stop: BA lounge at Heathrow.