Archive | March 2019

I celebrate diversity

I was invited to the VIP tent for the opening evening of a local major community event. A celebration of multiculturalism, Parramasala’s name draws on the name of the city, Parramatta.

Yummy morsels were offered in the VIP tent with a front row view of the colourful parade.

The strong, broad Aussie, Westie even, accents coming from people in traditional costume was funny and heartening. No matter the clothes and music and skin colour, if they’re not all Aussies, their children will be.

Despite the colour and sound and celebration, tears welled up. I couldn’t help but think of Christchurch. How someone cannot see the common humanity of others – their love of children, families, partners; their desire to seek safety and freedom, to practice religious worship.

New Zealand is the last place anyone would think there’d be a terrorist attack, a mass shooting.

It is so peaceful. Kiwis are so friendly. It’s a much nicer place than Australia. With the total population of NZ being less than Sydney, it’s like it just doesn’t suffer from the effects of crowding people together. There’s a deep feeling of civic pride. And much less consumerism and avarice that exists in Sydney.

Of course the shooter had to be an Australian. Just further proves we are growing more hatred and racism and intolerance here.

The enemy isn’t Muslim immigration, it’s extreme right-wing fascists, and mad men.

By artist Rebel Challenger on Instagram

#SydneyStorms

When I was a kid I loved Sydney summer storms. Lightening. Thunder. Hail. Torrential rain.

Now I’m a responsible house owner, not so much.

But still, they are thrilling.

Except I think climate change hasn’t just affected temperature. I think the frequency and timing of our storms has changed.

I’m under the black

And this is what gutters look like under the black. They can’t cope.

Before the rain came the hail.

Neighbours were running out to put blankets on their cars. We have a special silver padded cover. Meant to provide hail protection. I think it works.

Chance of a thunderstorm again this afternoon. May have to put the cover back on.

Planning my itinerary: places I definitely want to go in Germany, but what about…???

I have a sort of set way I go about planning my itinerary.

I borrow travel books and look at guided tours for ideas of places and trips and read blog entries and online pieces, like this one.

After booking the flights on any of our long travels, I roughly plot out the trip.

This trip to Germany MUST include a visit to my step-father’s family in Koblenz, several days in my mother’s town of birth, Bremen, and a tour around my grandmother’s birth place, Ostfriesland. We also have to visit a friend who is working in Switzerland – one, because we want to catch up with him as he is a great friend and two, we will be able to stay with him, making Switzerland affordable for us.

Places I want to visit are put in around the must dos. After calculating distances and travel times between the places, I refine the itinerary. Drop places off, add more in. More places are thrown in the mix – should we pop up to Prague, what about Berlin, Bruges? Why are we only going for 6 weeks? We need months!

I don’t want to spend more than 5 hours on a train in any one day. And we don’t want to be on the move every day or even every second day. I drop some places from an overnight stay to a day trip.

Originally, we had planned to finish in Italy, walking the Cinque Terre before my knees succumb to arthritis. But the time spent travelling between places is wasted time for me. I’d rather stay longer in a few places. We had looked at adding internal flights or flying back to Australia from Florence. But I’d rather minimise time spent in airports.

So what’s locked in?

Six nights in Koblenz.

At this stage, that’s it.

Koblenz, where the Rhein and Moselle meet

I picked a place on AirBnB. Close to the main train station, right in a busy part of town.

There will be family time, a Moselle day cruise, visit to Burg Eltz and some wineries and a day trip to Trier. Trier is a MUST do for us. All those Roman ruins.

Äachen will be our next stop. Haven’t booked any accommodation yet. I want to see Charlemagne’s cathedral and the Medieval English crown. One night? Two nights? Three? No idea. Maybe two and on the way there we could stop off in Köln for a quick walk around the Dom and the old city?

The plan was to head to Bremen as the next stop – but I want to visit the Harz mountain area and a few villages there. And Hamelin on the trail of the Pied Piper. And if I’m there, why not visit Hannover? Or Hannover Munden? But then do we really need to see dozens of old towns and half-timbered houses? Would it be better to see a couple and sit a while in fewer towns, wander around, visit parks, sit in bars and cafes?

If we could jump on a day trip with locals, that’d be great. I know they do plenty for all the Germany retirees. I once went on a day coach trip with one of my mother’s cousins. But her son was with us (at my age, so in our 20s) and it was decided it would be more fun for us to head off on our own, rather than stick with the oldies, so we jumped off the coach and struck out on our own for the day. (Gotta love how German relatives decide what’s best for you. One of my step-cousins has made contact to say he will plan my upcoming trip for me. Mmm, no thanks. This is half the fun.)

Next step: lock in Äachen. Then I will work out travel times to Bremen compared with Bremen via Harz area and Bremen to Baden Baden via Harz. Not forgetting that from Bremen, I want to visit Ostfriesland but it is so rural and will take too long without a car to visit the little villages of my mother’s childhood. Do I risk hiring a car and reliving my trauma of driving in France? So much to consider; so much to decide.

And Mr S’s role in this? To nod and confirm my plans sound great and to to tell me how clever I am to work all this out.

Any thoughts? How do you plan your travel? What should I see? Risk hiring the car?

No to downward dog*

*post in which Lucinda rants against the aforementioned exercise

I’ve always enjoyed yoga-type stretches. I’ve done different types of yoga on and off for many years.

But I’ve never enjoyed the downward dog.

Rest position, they say. “Let’s return to the downward dog, pause and rest here.”

Pfft. Not restful at all.

Painful. Hard to hold. And makes me lightheaded. And sometimes nauseous.

Don’t bother commenting if you’re going to say all I need to do is persevere or if I practise more, it’ll become restful.

My hips don’t like it. My hamstrings don’t like it. My head doesn’t like it and my chest doesn’t like it. (The messages of dislike come in that order. I did, at one stage or more, lots of yoga and exercises.)

I’m about to start yoga classes again.

Down with Downward Dog, I say.

Planning for the long haul

I plan to travel biennially to Europe. But the flights!!! They’re so looong!!!!!

I’ve ummed and ahhhed about our flights this year. We are going to Frankfurt as we will mainly be touring around Germany. Mr S only wants to fly with Qantas. You can imagine his distress that they share with Emirates and you may not be on a Qantas flight with Qantas crew. He wants us to go on the direct flight from Perth to London. He doesn’t want to change in Dubai. But that involves a flight to Perth and a flight from London to Frankfurt. Similarly, if fly with Qantas/Emirates from Sydney to Frankfurt but not via Perth, we’d have to change in London as well as Dubai.

A work colleague has repeatedly told me I should go premier economy at least. He flies business class – he and his wife are very tall and big and they have no kids. The other reason to think about upping our class is Mr S whinges about the thought of being cramped. And he is a Wippsteert (a word my mother uses which she got from her father’s local dialect – Bremen slang – and which means someone who fidgets around and can’t sit still).

A bloody long way

On our last trip, we were offered an upgrade to business for one leg at reduced cost. It was great. Mr S was ill so slept the whole leg.

So I’ve compared cost and length of trip and number of transfers and seat measurements. I’ve read reviews. I’ve spoken with friends.

Oh, and the airline has to be one of the top in terms of safety. No discount line. Mr S will absolutely not travel with airlines from certain countries.

I narrowed it down to Lufthansa/Singapore (they code share) via Singapore and Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. Both premier economy.

The winner is: Cathay Pacific. Amazingly quick trip.

On the outbound journey, we are going to spend 15 hours in Hong Kong. This isn’t an enforced delay. I’ve chosen to have a stopover. We arrive at 6 in the morning and our next flight leaves just after midnight. I figure we can run madly around Hong Kong for the day, shower in the airport, hop on the next flight and then sleep through the whole leg, exhausted. We’ll arrive in Frankfurt the next morning.

The return flight is only just over 22 hours long.

And the cost? $8,400 for the two of us. (No more looking at flight prices. I think it just came down. There will be ups and downs but it is what it is. I’ve paid and the hunt for prices is over.)

Now to firm our itinerary and book accommodation and internal travel.

Have you been to Germany? What are you must see places? Your must do things?

Disposing of paint

The previous owners of our house left gallons of paint. I thought the paint would be useful. To do touch ups. To refresh the walls.

In our first year of living here, we had the boys’ rooms repainted. They were in pink. Not what teenage boys like. But we didn’t use any of the paint left behind. The boys picked their own colours.

Then when we had one of our bathrooms renovated, the ceilings and woodwork needed new paint. I wanted new colours.

I plan on getting the whole of the outside of the house repainted in a few years. But in different colours.

Needless to say, we haven’t done touch ups. Work and life just got too busy.

To top it off, paint doesn’t last.

No guesses where the old paint is stored. In the garage with all the other junk.

My local council accepts old paint. So slowly I have, and will continue to, take tins of paint to the community recycling centre.

The council says to combine paint if the same type so tins are filled, take the tins with paint to the recycling depot and put empty, dried-out tins into the regular bin for collection.

On what will be my first of several visits to the recycling depot, I took 6 one litre tins of paint. All were nearly full already – so no decanting needed and no empty tins for the bin.

When I got to the recycling centre and opened my boot, the fellow said that I didn’t have much. I wonder how much other people bring?!? I did tell him this was just the start and I would be bringing more.

Sad to say, you wouldn’t even notice I took out these tins. The garage is such a mess. I am not doing any before photos – I am much to embarrassed.

Footnote: I don’t know what they do with the paint.

But wait! There’s more Richards

I’m still reading around my latest obsession: Wars of the Roses. (And still finding it unnatural to say Wars.)

Digging for Richard III by Mike Pitts, gives us another Richard! On page 1!!! The chief archeologist is a Richard. And there was another Richard on the team.

Pitts sums up the really confusing nature of tracking and remembering the “characters”. It’s not just that there are so many with the same names – he writes RICHARD III in capitals to clarify when writing about that Richard – but that family tree is a thicket. He provides a tree to help.

It did help. Better than any of the simplified ones provided in other books. Except the font is so small I had to use a magnifying glass.

Still, as Pitt says, it’s a mess genealogically.

I really enjoyed this book. It explained the science behind archaeology in a way I understood without being too simplistic and didn’t treat the reader with condescension. Just as Pitt doesn’t give a simplified family tree, he doesn’t brush over scientific details, nor the historiography of Richard III.

OK, we know it was Richard III that was uncovered but this book is compelling reading, and informative.

I’m putting Leicester on the “to be visited list” for 2021.

My husband, the hoarder

My husband hates throwing things away.

He believes things may be useful in the future. So he puts them under the house and in the garage.

If things have been kept for a long time, he believes that alone gives them worth and they have to stay. So he puts them under the house and in the garage.

Even if he doesn’t value something or it hasn’t been around for a long time, he doesn’t like making a decision as to what to do with it. So, under the house or in the garage it goes.

The garage actually can’t hold any more things.

The garage is also called “The place I won’t go”.

This year and next I had planned to slowly, and surreptitiously, declutter the garage.

But surprise, surprise. I don’t have to do it as surreptitiously.

Mr S has recently had to move his mother into aged care. And that means he had to look through her house for clothes and for important paper work. Hard to find amongst all the junk. Her house has several skip bins’ worth of stuff only suitable for landfill.

He doesn’t want his kids to have to have to deal with the same.

I know I will still have to be surreptitious about some things. I am sure his automatic stress-response will kick in, so I will have to answer a defensive-aggressive, “What are you doing with that?” And I know I will have to work on him to release some things; I will have to wear him down. (Or, from a different perspective, build him up to enable him to let things go.)

But in the meantime, I’m not taking the KonMari method. No, total putting out of everything and quickly ripping off the band-aid. Slowly, slowly.

First thing out: many years ago, maybe a decade, maybe more, I bought wall brackets for a TV and a DVD player. Never used. Who has fat TVs now? And separate DVD players? Our bedroom flat screen TV which is hardly used, has a built in DVD player. Our sons have gaming consoles.

Not really worth donating to an op shop. No one has cathode ray TVs. It would just be passing on the garbage disposal costs to the charity.

Sorry, into landfill via our bin.

Wardrobe diet

After all the unnecessary, but very happy to have and still admired, clothes I bought in January, I said I would go on a wardrobe diet until winter; a mini-challenge I forgot about and really should have included on the post about mini-challenges. (As an aside, I really love long sentences, and semicolons; it’s how I talk, with lots of asides and internal footnotes.)

So, with February over, how have I gone thus far?

Well, it was not an absolute zero purchase month. I bought one item: a jacket.

When I say I bought it, I am not being totally accurate. A friend sent me a text; she’d found me a beautiful jacket, one that was just me, and on special! “Should I get it and bring it to you tomorrow?” (We were travelling to a meeting the next day.)

As chance would have it, the jacket was the style I had recently admired on a newsreader. Split sleeves, so it is part jacket, part cape.

Wanted, heavily reduced, my size. Yes, yes, yes. Get it.

“What about this skirt?”

No, I don’t really want it. And I am not meant to be buying any clothes.

“But it’s you. And reduced. I’ll bring it too. We can return it.”

No, be strong, Lucinda. No, don’t bring it. Anyway, I’m doing a wear dresses to work challenge. When would I wear it?

So one item at $120. Worn twice. Earned lots of admiring glances and comments. [OK, I did twirl around and if the response wasn’t immediate or enough, I fished deeper for compliments.]