Up, up and away.

Fancy a cocktail in the bar?

This isn’t before take off. This is IN THE AIR!

We were upgraded. OK, we paid and it is only for the shortest leg. But.

We’re.

In.

Business.

Class!!!

Is it worth it? I will tell you after we do the return flight in the crammed, normal economy seat.

From Sydney to Dubai we travelled with Qantas and booked the extra leg room seat with only two seats in the row, up-stairs where there is only a small section for economy. The leg room is enormous. Totally worth the $180 we paid.

Emirates have the rest of the flights. They don’t do economy upstairs and have only just allowed you to buy the extra leg room seats – for more than Qantas charges. But the seats are next to the toilets or the gallery or the baby bassinet area.

So when I got an email offering a discounted upgrade, straight after I found out my car would be repaired for free, I jumped on the chance. After all, I was expecting to pay thousands for my car.

And here is Mr S. About to dose off for a few hours, LYING DOWN FLAT.

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What else needs doing?

So much to do before I go, list have become my friend. Multiple lists. Main lists, brain dump lists, daily lists, shopping lists.

I had to go to the chemist to get a script filled for my anti-inflammatories and knew there were several others things I needed. I started a list to take to the chemist. I paced around the house in circles; what else was it I needed to buy? I know the list is missing something.

Making a pedi appointment? Yes that must be it.

Walking to the chemist, it came to me. Emery boards. That’s why the pedicure came to me. Close enough.

I’m meant to be doing my rehab exercises every day. No second guessing needed in saying that I didn’t do them the day of the broken down car lemon.

What of the list written a week ago?

  • Order some Euros. Not doing this. Online searching says using the Citibank card at an ATM in the country of destination gives best rate.
  • Check, and maybe change, the end date for our hire car. Checked. Don’t need to change the day. All good.
  • Type up the itinerary of the self-drive part of our trip. Done. Will share this soon.
  • Find my noise cancelling headphones. Done and charged.
  • Pack my bag. (And before that, decide what I want to wear in France.) Done and done.

  • Change over my wallet as the one I’m using is falling apart. Done. Cute little wallet I bought when I’m China last year.

  • Check out if my power plug adaptor is right for Europe. It isn’t. Have bought two. One for me and one for Mr S.
  • Change a night for one of our AirBnB bookings. Can’t do it. It’s a five night minimum.
  • Contact the tour company and see if they are sending any paperwork confirmation for the bus tour. It’s here. With matching caps. Oh we will look like right tourists.!!!! Here it is modelled by my eldest who has dropped home for a few days, just before we fly out.

  • See if I can download my photos from my iPhone and if not get some Apple support. (My desktop has decided it won’t recognise my phone and I can’t download photos or upload music. It’s not just my phone – it’s rejecting my son’s.) No time. This will have to wait until our return.
  • Decide if I’m ordering a SIM card here or buying one at Sydney airport. I’m not risking finding a place in France, given that we are heading straight out to small towns from Charles De Galle airport. Fuck it. Haven’t time to think or research. Might buy one at the airport.
  • Buy some face day cream. Done. The face cream I use is in a glass container. I needed a smaller, plastic tube so I don’t have to worry about weight and breakages. I am fussy with my face cream. Texture and scent are very important. As is country of origin. And cruelty free. This is what I bought.

  • Maybe get a pedicure??? Done and a manicure. But impatient person that I am, I didn’t wait for my nails to dry and stuffed up two before I even left the salon. A friend told me not to get my nails done as she said I’d ruin them in a couple of days. Didn’t even take a couple of minutes.
  • Get my boots reheeled. Done, cobbler did a good job.
  • Go to the hairdresser. Done. My Darling husband drove me. (My hairdresser is an hour’s drive away.)

My god, there’s all manner of little jobs. But today’s the day. Lift off this afternoon.

And in just over 26 hours, drop by for a special mid-air post!!! You won’t be disappointed.

You’ll need a few days before you fly out

Thus spoke a colleague. Wise words indeed. So glad I didn’t work right up to the day before I fly out; instead taking four extra days of leave.

As well as the multiple last minute jobs that needed doing, and the list from my previous post, some critical things popped up.

Firstly, I found out yesterday evening that the rental car company required us to have an international drivers licence. Really, I can’t understand why my government issued licence isn’t enough but the handwritten card issued by a motor company is. But what choice do I have? I can’t risk changing companies as I need an automatic and they’re thin on the ground in France.

The Australian automotive society that does international drivers licences prefers that you apply online but it takes five to seven days to receive them. No good. We’re going in three working days.

Maybe I can pop into a branch and get one? Of course, I couldn’t find out until this morning. So last night I was very stressed.

Getting the licence required getting passport photos. Mr S is still working so I said I’d pop up to the post office first thing and see if we can get it done there. If we could, I’d drive up to his workplace (which is in our suburb – so only a few minutes by car) drive him down to get the photo, then drive him back to work and then drive into the major shopping centre nearby that has a branch of the automotive society to see if we can get the international drivers licence.

Ha! The camera in the post office isn’t working. Anywhere else I can get a passport photo? Try the shoe repair, key cutting man but make sure he takes them properly, he often doesn’t get the proportion of the head in the photo right.

I went and had my photo and then picked up Mr S. I’d emailed him the info on the international drivers licence and wanted it printed off so I could double check the photo requirements. I also got photocopies of our drivers licences as the application required it.

Wouldn’t you know it, while I was waiting for Mr S I put the photocopies down and lost them. Back into the office for more, worrying that some kid would find the other photocopies. See what happens when you’re stressed!!!

Luckily I found the first lot of photocopies.

I took Mr S for his photo, dropped him back to work and headed to the other shopping centre. Which is where I hit the second, even bigger, problem.

At a set of lights, with a big double B truck behind me, my car decided to not go when the lights went green. I jiggled the gear stick and managed to engage the gears. There was no where to stop and as I was at the entrance to the car park, I drove in.

Bugger the car at this point. I need the international drivers licence. That’s my most pressing need.

Turns out, while the company doesn’t want people to apply in person, they can do them and issue them on the spot. And they don’t need the photocopies, nor do they need the signature. I shouldn’t have worried. Issued on the spot.

I returned to my car full of apprehension. Would it go? Would I make it home?

No. And no.

Called the road side assist. No go, it has to be towed. But first it needs to be towed out of the car park with a tow rope attached to the mechanics ute.

Lots of waiting for the tow truck (which was driven by a young woman – such a pleasant surprise to see girls breaking into the industry. Also pleasant surprise as she was polite and articulate.) Anyway, more than three hours of my day wasted.

Luckily I live on a train line, two stops from where my car broke down.

I can say the cup of tea I had, never in the history of cups of tea was a cup of tea more needed.

Frankly I don’t care about my car. I won’t need it for six weeks. It can rot at the mechanic.

So today I got through quite a bit of pre-trip jobs: we have the international drivers licence, we got adaptor plugs at the place we had our photos taken, my boots are in the be re-heeled at (you guessed it) the same man who took our photos.

I also finished a book ( Volume 3 of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novel – don’t bother with it), and went for some waffle fries for dinner at the local pub with a friend. Our healthy dinner included her homemade lemon and coconut cake with a glass of moscato before we went to the pub. But hey! We went for a brisk walk first.

My lemon of a car, with the tow thingy sticking out. Never knew I had this.

How’s this for clean?

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut 8

Maybe it is because my eyes are not as good as they used to be or maybe it is truly amazing.

Look how clean my shower screen is:

IMG_1884.JPG
You can hardly see it, right? If it wasn’t for the knob, you wouldn’t know there was a screen!

Wanna know my secret?

Inside I use cheap shampoo while I am having a shower. Shampoo takes off all the soap scum but it’s gentle on your skin. No worrying about bleach or caustic chemicals. And you can do it while you’re having a shower.

Money saving tip 8: use cheap shampoo to clean shower screens and bathroom basins. You’ll love the scent, sparkle, cost saving and gentleness on your skin.

In a week or two

Time flies!

I mean to do something, some task or other, and before I know it, a week, a month, a year has passed by.

Well, I have much to do and little time to do it in. Much to do for work. And much to do for our trip.

In a week I will be on leave. So whatever I don’t get done for work, will just have to wait.

In just under two weeks we will be jetting away on our trip to France. So I better get a wriggle on with the things that need to be done for the trip.

You know how I love lists? Well here’s some things I need to get cracking on:

  • Order some Euros.
  • Check, and maybe change, the end date for our hire car.
  • Type up the itinerary of the self-drive part of our trip.
  • Find my noise cancelling headphones.
  • Pack my bag. (And before that, decide what I want to wear in France.)
  • Change over my wallet as the one I’m using is falling apart.
  • Check out if my power plug adaptor is right for Europe.
  • Change a night for one of our AirBnB bookings.
  • Contact the tour company and see if they are sending any paperwork confirmation for the bus tour.
  • See if I can download my photos from my iPhone and if not get some Apple support. (My desktop has decided it won’t recognise my phone and I can’t download photos or upload music. It’s not just my phone – it’s rejecting my son’s.)
  • Decide if I’m ordering a SIM card here or buying one at Sydney airport. I’m not risking finding a place in France, given that we are heading straight out to small towns from Charles De Galle airport.
  • Buy some face day cream.
  • Maybe get a pedicure???
  • Get my boots reheeled.
  • Go to the hairdresser.

Getting this all done is going to require a focused attitude. No dithering and no time wasting. Oh dear. I don’t think I’m up to it. No mindless TV. No silly games on my phone.

Add in my physio, masseur and specialist appointments. And daily leg exercises (which the physiologist calls rehab, pffft to that. Call it what it is. Exercise.) I am flat out like the proverbial lizard.

My leg is not perfect. Not even close. But I can walk. Just not for sustained length of time. That’s really having an effect on me as I am not getting my de-stress walk.

Right! Enough dilly dallying. Let’s get moving and tick off those tasks.

Use the power of the sunlight

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 7

The Hills Hoist is among the greatest Aussie domestic appliances. It may not be the most attractive garden item, but I can’t stand it when TV garden make-over shows remove it; on both green and practicality principles. How will families dry their washing?

The sun dries my clothes for free; disinfects and removes stains on white clothes. I think clothes smell much nicer when line dried. Towels are crisper. Sheets straight from the line onto the bed are so crisp and fresh. All round it is a winner. So why would you pay to dry clothes and give up those benefits?

Money saving tip no 7: dry your clothes outside on the line.

We rarely use our clothes dryer. It was bought when we lived in the almost tropical north, 21 years ago when The Dreamer was born. We used cloth nappies, greenies that we were/are. Problem is, it rained for three months, non stop. Nothing dried. So we bought a clothes drier.

Back in much dryer Sydney, we only use our dryer when we have wet spells or, rarely, to finish off the clothes that have mainly dried on the line but are caught out in the dew when we work late.

Delicates and black clothes are dried hanging inside so they don’t perish or fade but for all others I would feel so guilty using the dryer. Paying for something I don’t need to; using energy and adding to carbon emissions for something that can be avoided.

What size scoop? 

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 6

You may have noticed that every Tuesday I have been posting my money saving tips. Our ways to save without impacting on our lifestyle are generally the lazy way out or the easy guide to saving. Little things that don’t take much effort. Things that can become routine and thus don’t involve much thought. They also tend to be environmentally beneficial, which is generally why I put them into place.

So onto my next tip.

I’m not really the world’s best housekeeper. I like a clean and tidy house, I just don’t have time nor inclination to clean much. 

Friends and family say I should get a cleaner. Been there, done that. One did an awesome job. But she got pregnant, damn her. (Only joking!) The others did really bodgy jobs. I resented paying for something not done properly. 

I’m just too tight-arsed now to pay for a cleaner. Even if I could be bothered finding one I was happy with, I’d rather spend my money on travel and our mortgage and clothes and our year off. 

I still sort of keep clean house, well not really, but I am quite fastidious with my clothes. So here’s one of my money saving tips around cleaning clothes. 

Again, this is not a new tip for this year on 80% of our income. Still, it’s one that allows us to save money where it doesn’t make an impact on our life but allows us to spend on things we like. And while it might be pennies, take care of the pennies and … blah blah blah you know the rest.

Tip number 6: Use less detergent than they say on the package to wash your clothes.  

You don’t need a full scoop to clean your clothes. I buy the top quality clothes detergent, mostly when it is on special. I don’t use pre-stain removers, except sometimes on white clothes. I don’t use a full scoop of detergent. Ever. Half a scoop is enough. Three-quarters if the clothes are really dirty.

Having an outstanding brand of washing machine (Miele), the best detergent and drying clothes in the sun means, in the main, stains and marks disappear. (Except for wool but that’s not going to change as you can’t bleach knitted clothes anyway.)

OK, we’re not mechanics or working in environments where are clothes getting really filthy. But then neither do most people. 

Really, you don’t need much of any product to clean anything – sinks, cupboards, door frames, floors. The water and rubbing gets rid of most dirt. Any detergent really does the same job. So buy fewer products all round and use less of it. Most liquid cleaning products are mainly water anyway. And scent. 

If you don’t believe me, here’s what Choice, the Australian Consumer Advocacy group says:

How much laundry detergent should I use?

Depending on which laundry detergent you choose, you may be able to use half (yes, half!) the recommended dose and still get a great wash, saving yourself money and giving the environment a bit of a break. In the past we’ve tested top performing laundry detergents and they performed just as well on all stains at half the recommended dose, while others performed well at half the dose on several types of stains. While we can’t test every dose variation, treat the dosing scoop or cap more like a polite suggestion and experiment with your detergent – you may find you can use a lot less than you think and still get a wash you are happy with.

I can’t stand it when clothes stink (and I use that word with full intent) stink, I say, of detergent scent. Doesn’t smell fresh to me. Smells overly perfumed with cheap artificial scent. If you can smell the detergent after the clothes have dried, you’re using too much. Use less. Dry in fresh air.

And this applies to all products for cleaning all things. Use less than the “recommended” amount on the packaging.

Save money. Save the environment. Chances are you will also get fewer headaches.