Category Archives: Habits

Motivation can come from an unexpected angle!

When you move overseas it is pretty normal to expect to lose a bit of motivation and to have moments of doubts, regrets and maybe even anxiety. I am sure I have it all but I have set myself some rules.

Rule number one is that I don’t allow myself to have any expectations and anticipations. This may sound hard to do but so far I am quite good at it. Every time I feel I get a moment of ‘WTF’ did I do that for, I think of that rule. And believe me the moment just goes…

Rule number two is NOT to blame the new surroundings for anything. A simple example is the weather. We all know or can imagine that the climate of Brisbane where we used to live is close to perfection. Mark my words as I say ‘close’ to perfection! It is certainly not perfect as the summer months can be a hard slug.

If someone tells you differently, do not believe them! They may talk about a one-off mild summer, not about the average steamy one. The Brisbane summer is hot, humid, sweaty and long….. I lived through 17 of them so I consider myself to have an informed opinion.

False expectation and motivation

We arrived in Limoux, South of France and ‘expected’ to get a bit of a ‘late summer’, something like an Indian summer. Well so far, I hardly had to wear my summer clothes and am struggling to find suitable warm items to wear.

motivation, weather, South of france

Dark skies, cool temperatures and possible rain in nearby Esperaza

motivation, Limoux, weather, autumn

Breezy weather due to an active Tramontana wind from the mountains

The locals say it is not normal for the time of the year. Looking at the last two summers it is indeed not the same. So the weather is a bit disappointing and off course the following happens immediately. That nasty little monster called doubt sticks up his head and points out what I have left behind – beautiful almost perfect Brisbane weather.

Not allowed, as I said! It is not the mistake of Limoux that the Indian summer has skipped the town this year. It is what it is! I saw with a hint of sarcasm that Brisbane had already temperatures of over 30 during August and forecast is a long hot wet summer. OMG am I happy not to be there!

An ‘painful’ source of motivation

The other day something happened that stirred up quite some emotions within me. My daughter who is still in Brisbane saw that our family doctor of 17 years had passed away. Quite a shock as he was only 52. Apparently he felt unwell and just died – could have been an aneurysm. Who knows….

It made me realise that life is fragile. We have only one shot at it and it can be taken away so easily. Thinking about my GP made me realise that we need to live life when it is there. We have decided to change our lifestyle because we feel we have another adventure in us. We made the choice after years of ‘umming and erring’ and we will take every consequence that comes with it.

Even a less than perfect Limoux after-summer 😎 .

motivation, Limoux, walking, hiking, hills

At the top and feeling on top of things are great for motivation!

I am really sad about my GP. He has been absolutely brilliant on several occasions that I had a bit of a health scare. This doctor rang me at home on a Sunday night to tell me that I was resistant to the antibiotics he had prescribed. He personally changed bandages for 2 weeks after I had a skin craft as a result of a skin cancer. And he was the one who enquired about my pain management when he found I had a huge white blood cell count due to an infection.

Strangely his sudden death has given me new motivation to make the most out of this new adventure in Limoux or wherever we end up. His passing away makes me realise how easy things can turn. I am shocked and sad about it but it also gives me a boost to take this opportunity with both hands and live it to the fullest.

I just needed to get this of my chest!

See you next time to show off some ‘gems’ in the immediate surroundings….

 

 

 

 

First observations and impressions of a traveler in Europe

After only 2 weeks in the UK I have made some interesting observations. Although I was in London, rather the out skirts, I have not been once into the center of London. I did not feel like it and wanted to spend the time to catch up with family and some friends. The ones who live in the East of London 🙂

Observations of English gardens

I am no stranger to London after all I lived there twice for a couple of years. So no, I have not headed to the many attractions that London offers. Instead I have had my first experience to garden in this climatic zone. The job waiting me was to trim and clear a rather overgrown part of a well established cottage garden.

observations, English garden, lush garden, flowers

A typical English garden during the summer. Lush, green and colourful and I was allowed to make my mark!

In Australia I have come across some nasty vegetation. The kind that can tear your clothes or cut through your garden gloves. A bougainvillea thorn can cause infection as I have found out several times. Some garden companies refuse to handle Bougainvillea for that reason.

As I found out the English garden can compete! Roses, Pyracanta and Berberis to name a few. All with thorns that can mutilate you!

This would not be so bad if the local council would provide adequate means to get rid of the garden waste. They think they have come up with a ‘fantastic’ solution. They charge 50 pounds for 50 bags that you can fill up and they pick them up on a regular base. Sounds like it could work.

Well just have a look at the picture below and judge for yourself! The only good thing about these bags is that the plastic used is environmentally friendly. It apparently breaks down easily….!

observations, garden waste, garden bags

Flimsy garden bags not suited for normal garden waste, let alone those with thorns!

More people obviously are not impressed – hence the article in the local paper 😯

Anyway, apart from flimsy bags my time in London was pleasant. Before I change the subject however I have noticed something else that I like to mention.

Observations of London street scenes

A while back I was discussing prices with my friend Greg in Brisbane. He said that he was very happy to pay a bit more in Australia. He pointed out that Australia was a very clean country and public services work well. I had never considered it in that way but after being in London for a couple of days I noticed how right he was.

London is rather dirty. The streets are dirty, the street signs are often so polluted that you can barely read them. Many public bins are full to the brim and people leave house hold and garden waste on the street for days.

observations, garden waste, council services

Garden waste that is left out for days for the council to pick up is a common sight

It is probably an accepted sight for Londoners but for me coming from a cleaner country, it was very noticeable. So dear friend in Brisbane, you have a fair point!

A family reunion in The Netherlands

My next stop will be Amsterdam or actually the smaller city of Haarlem very close to the capital. I assume you all know that Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. Quite often people assume wrongly that the capital is The Hague as that is where the government resides already since 1588. Amsterdam is the place where the inauguration of kings and queens take place – it is the royal city.

The reason I am going to Haarlem is a family reunion. Family in the way of cousins and cousines. We had a spontaneous reunion a  couple of years ago and we decided then that the next one would be after my return to Europe. Last time my sister hosted it and this time one of my cousins will open his house for the invasion.

It was special to catch up with all these cousins. There are no more aunties and uncles so apart from memories and old pictures we have no means to find out about our past. One of my cousins created a file with pictures dating back to the late 1800’s. Quite special.

One of my Brisbane friends lent me once a book about a Dutch watch maker family who helped Jewish people during WW2 the nazi holocaust. Their house is in Haarlem and is now a museum. My friend has asked me the favour to check it out for her and take some pictures for her to see. I will gladly do this and I am even taking along some of my family who lives in Haarlem but never have been to the house themselves.

A bit of nostalgia

It seems that my tour around Europe so far is full with nostalgia. It feels like that and it will be nice to pass some of this on to my kids who grew up without strong links to the Netherlands. Although one of them has decided that The Netherlands is the place where she wants to study! She is a Dutch citizen, but does not speak Dutch – so far. She has assured me that this will be different by the end of the year  😆

I’m looking forward to arriving in Haarlem and go a bit down memory lane with cousins and second cousins. Goodbye to London for now until later this year when we have a wedding of a London cousin. The first wedding we can go to since we emigrated to Australia 25 years ago. So quite special!

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observations, relaxation, feeling at ease

 

 

 

A sense of ‘unease’ is slowly creeping upon me!

For the first time since planning our emigration to Europe I am aware of a growing sense of ‘unease’. I don’t think it has to do with doubt or regret about our emigration plans. It actually started the other night when I received an email regarding a planned future activity. It made me clear that sometimes plans are not that ‘set in stone’ as you may think.

At the same time my husband read an article in the Guardian about some consequences of Brexit. Apparently several Dutch people who live in UK were asked to leave the UK. Despite the fact they are married to British citizens and have lived in the UK for up to 30 years. New legislation for Brexit has not even started but already now this seems to have started to happen. In the meantime it has turned out that this article was incorrect, but still…..

Add to that that I may loose my permanent residency for Australia. I am not registered in the Netherlands as a citizen as I officially left the country. I may not be welcome in the UK despite my British husband and I escaped a narrow possibility not to be able to live in France in the near future. Looking at all this together I think I may have found the cause of this unease….

What country is my home?

With all this in mind I have not only to decide where we like to live but also where we can live. I am getting this fleeting thought of how incredible ‘uneasy’ a refugee must feel. Not that you can compare my status to those people but I can imagine how this feeling of unease can have its toll and affects your sense of belonging.

I know I have the right to live in the Netherlands but at the moment I am not planning to do so. Australia permanent residency gives me the right to live in Australia although my choice is to leave this country for now. The consequence may be that Australia could withdraw my permanent residency. After having lived there for 25 years, that feels uneasy!

I guess that is exactly how these Dutch people in the UK would have felt. I am leaving Australia out of free choice but the UK was forcing them to leave. They may not have the option of becoming a British citizen, I assume. Lucky for me is that I still have the option to become an Australian citizen. Until I leave this country I qualify.

wedding, Noosa

The setting for our wedding ceremony at Little Cove Beach at Noosa

Several people including two of our friends who are immigration lawyers, recommend that I should apply for it. It feels crazy to get citizenship at this stage. I have never done it because I could lose my Dutch nationality. Since I married an Australian in 2011, I now have the right to remain Dutch while having Australian citizenship.

I don’t know if this sense of unease would disappear if I would decide to do the latter. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t.

The emotional impact of emigration

So far planning this emigration has been a whirlwind of action with very little time for emotion. We have to sell everything, we need to organise our admin, our house needs an end of lease clean, my business will cease to exist and so on. It all is ‘kind of’ under control and there even seems to be light at the end of the action tunnel.

So maybe now the emotional ‘unease’ is slowly sticking up its head. If there are any doubts or regrets, its time to play a role could be at this stage. To be honest I don’t really feel doubt but the feelings I have are hard to bring home.

What I have become aware off is the habit how we take so many things for granted. It seems that everything I do regularly suddenly has got a label of ‘last time soon’! And it gives me this little pang of ache.

Some of the things that I will miss

coffee

Enjoying a coffee at our local cafe ‘Briki’. This cafe has been instrumental for our social life during the last 5 years

The loud Australian birds I hear screeching every day, the sound of the Kookaburra, the gym where I go several times per week, the friends I have made there, the coffee I have at the local cafe everyday with other gym and kick boxing fans, the abundance of colourful subtropical flowers everywhere, the gardens I look after, their owners who have become more than clients, the Brisbane river walks so nearby, the cosy 100 Acre bar across the road, the gorgeous but expensive avocados and the huge choice of international ingredients for food.

Just to name a few…..

curlews, birds

Local birds such as the stately Curlews may not be a common sight in Europe

They are all going to be thousands of kilo meters away from where I will be. And furthermore I am leaving behind my oldest daughter, for a short while the youngest and possibly my husband as well depending on his work contract.

I suppose I can expect a larger sense of unease and a few more little pangs of ache to come my way. I suppose I have to take it as it comes…

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What is your reason to NOT declutter?

Every time when I write about decluttering or clearing it seems to hit a nerve with many people. I wonder why that is. I suppose one reason could be that all of them have an enormous amount of clutter. They know they SHOULD do something about it but find ALWAYS excuses not to do so.

The reason why or why not….

I notice it when I tell people that I have been clearing a lot. I see their eyes go dark, their minds racing while thinking that it is something they really ought to do as well. Maybe people need a big reason to start this clearing process. Something like a move, down sizing after kids leave, selling a house or clearing a house after someone died.

The latter is an experience I went through myself. My mum died when I was just 21 and we had to empty our family home. I can recall at the time that I was not particular motivated. My sister and I just took the things we needed and the rest went either to ‘motivated’ helpers or a skip.

There are some things that disappeared in either the skip or someone else’s house that I regret not to have claimed but I have accepted that. I don’t know the reason for my ignorance, I was after all only 21 and obviously naif.

And at the moment I am going again through this declutter process. Not just decluttering but emptying a house totally. I have about 6 weeks left and although it is looking emptier, there are still many, many things to sell, give away or dump.

Timing it right…..

The trickiest thing will be to hang on to things we need as long as possible but being able to sell them before we need to move out. It feels a bit like a puzzle game. I sell a table and replace it with another one I have. I realise I can sell that one as well as I have another one in my daughter’s room. She just moved to Melbourne and does not want that one.

My husband fears that one day he will come home and there are no chairs anymore to sit on. If the deal is brilliant it might just go like that!

Our outdoor area has gone through a major down size. See below for yourself.

From here

outdoor table, declutter

The original setting of al fresco dining in our house – the table went to a dear friend

To here

outdoor table setting

Back to the IKEA stage – did not last long, sold within 10 minutes

To here

The last stage and this one will come with us to Europe

It shows we possessed a fair few tables and chairs and I haven’t even shown all of them. Australia is an ‘outdoor’ country and there are many spots to enjoy sitting outside. I like to create little scenes everywhere and I did collect table settings accordingly. They have all gone to different homes by now.

Sense of loss and finality

To be honest I expected to experience more emotions when parting with possessions we have owned and used for years. Funnily I hardly care. One thing after the other disappears through our front door and I am totally fine with it. When people I care about or like buy our things I do feel a sense of satisfaction and warmth because I know our stuff goes to a good home.

But I don’t feel a sense of loss when it goes. The only thing that is slowly creeping upon me is a sense of finality. We have officially given notice to our real estate agent. We are really doing this move. It is really happening!

We are selling everything and we will end up with a few cubic meter of possessions that represent a life of 25 years in Australia. Some of the stuff actually came from Europe. We will leave this country with a couple of suitcases each, countless memories and a one way ticket to different horizons.

Even writing this gives me a heavy feeling in my chest. I don’t know the reason for it. I am pretty sure that I have no doubts but the whole thing does start freak me out a bit to say the least.

I will leave it to that and keep you posted….. 🙂

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reason, moving, letting go

 

 

 

 

 

 

My time in Australia is slowly running out!

This morning I realised I have less than two months in Australia. Time is going fast and until now I have felt in control. Since a couple of days though I have this niggle in my stomach.

Decluttering takes time!

Not so much as a result of stress but more due to the fact that I feel I am running out of time. I had planned to be way ahead of the preparations and we ‘kind off’ are to be honest. We only have the minimal furniture left and the cupboards and the garage are almost empty.

Still I feel that for every drawer I empty, for every area I sort, there appears to be more clutter. I can’t believe how much clutter there is. How many things that are there for no reason as I can’t remember I had them. Why do we do that to our selves?

Nothing what I discovered would ever come in handy as I can barely remember what all the little bits and pieces are for. I suppose we are not even the worst of hoarders. But I have sworn to myself that I never want to get into a similar situation. I only buy what I need and will use it for the purpose I need it for when I need it. Not in a year’s time…

Selling stuff takes time and patience!

Selling our furniture has been and still is an adventure. Some things sells extremely fast while others sit there for weeks. It does not matter what price you set on it, people always ask if you would take less.

A couple of things about selling stuff online annoys me. About half of the people who are interested in items for sale, do not follow up after they say they want to buy it.  Also a fair amount do not pick it up. I am thinking of ‘effective’ ways to let them know not to waste my time.

It goes like this:

Hey, just wondering if this bedside table is still available? Yes, it is still available. Are you interested? Yes, would you take $(lower amount). No problem, when would you like to pick up? Five hours later: Any more thoughts…. 8 hours later: Hi can you confirm you like to buy the item?

No freaking answer…..!

This is happening about half of the time.

Another one!

Saturday morning: I would like to buy for $40. That’s great. When would you like to pick up? We are at home this weekend. 4 hours later: can you confirm you like the book case? I have several others wanting it. 8 hours later: If you are serious about wanting to buy, can you get back to me?

Tuesday morning: can I pick up today? 

Can you see why time is slipping away. I have to admit that I am an organised person and that I like to get things done and dusted without too much hassle. This haphazard way of communication is Aussie laid-back to the extreme.

I also get questions about the size. Understandable as people need to know if things fit in their car. Usually I specify sizes in the ad. Still they ask me if it will fit in a Honda Civic or a Toyota. How do I know. You, car owner, know the measurements of your car better than me.

Clearing a house is a job!

It is fun to clear a house. Even cleansing comes to mind. The amazing thing is that so far not one thing that left the house gave me a sense of regret. The first thing that did was a Jade plant that I grew from a cutting. I had put it in a nice pot that I painted myself in a trendy colour.

The plant and several others went to a friend who will enjoy them. That is a great feeling to know things go to people who appreciate them.

Our outdoor table setting was bought by one of my first friends in Australia. We worked together in the Opera house in Sydney. He now lives in Brisbane and will be sipping wine with friends from our old table. The one I recycled, upgraded and painted myself. A sweet memory.

time, outdoor table, declutter

Our outdoor table that I restored and painted has always been a favourite for meals

So between now and the beginning of July when we have to leave this house, there is still quite a bit to get rid off. Planning is starting to get crucial. Yes, I like to sell my dining chairs, but could I please keep them until the end of June. The same goes for beds, the washing machine and the fridge.

One friend who moved back to Belgium made an art out of the timing. She managed to keep the essentials until the end so my hopes are high. We had a group of people over one evening last week and during the night I managed to sell our bar stools, a butler tray and a little side table. And I am allowed to keep them until the end. I actually did not ask, I assume…

What to take – what not to take…

It will be all fun and games. I am really surprised how little I am attached to our furniture. Even the things we had for 25 years… I am happy to shed them.

I have decided to take one piece of furniture – my mosaic wrought iron outdoor setting. A unique piece that I designed myself, I made the mosaic and I local artist created the table base and chairs. That would hurt if I had to sell it.

time, mosaic table, design, wrought iron table

One of my mosaic projects – a wrought iron table setting with a a modern mosaic design

What we do take as well are personal items. We have always bought local art and we have a fair amount to take, there is a Zimbabwean sculpture, a didgeridoo ( how can I not) and some rugs from Shiraz. Photo albums, books that represent memories and things from our kids.

We have set a maximum budget that we will spend for shipping. If it goes over that, I have to start culling again. Will I have time….

Even if you are not moving overseas, it is a cleansing exercise to declutter. It is amazing to empty drawers and create order. Have only the things you USE and NEED regularly. Not once a year but every week at least.

Have a go at it…….! 🙂

time, easydone, blog, limoux, happy up-cycling

 

 

Kerbside collections can be a fun way to recycle – up to a point!

Once every year the Brisbane council facilitates kerbside collections in every suburb. During this collection you can dump large items you don’t want on your kerb. All the bits and pieces you have in your garage, cellar, under house, in your cupboards etc that are too big for the wheelie bins, can be put on the roadside.

 

kerbside collections, kerbside, council

During council kerbside collections large items can be put on the street for collection.

When it is the turn of your suburb you see an interesting phenomenon happening. One that has even been called an ‘Aussie tradition’!

This is what happens during kerb side collections?

Out come the scavengers and the crawlers who drive around in Utes, station wagons and small pick up trucks to rummage through your unwanted goods. They hope to find treasures they can re-use or sell.

There was a time when I was part of this trend. Only last year I started a new hobby business to upgrade old furniture with chalk paints and milk paints. I found several items on the street side that I have turned into little treasures.

This year however I am the one who throws out the stuff we don’t want anymore. It has been an amazing couple of days watching from our living room on the first floor to see what people take. Literally everything apart from some old planks that I put out before the weekend has disappeared.

They took an old timber sun lounger with broken slats and a rotted side. They cut off a plug from an little electrical heater but left the heater it self…?? It is amazing to see what stuff people pick up. I did not ‘get’ the plug. Is this to stop others from ever using the item again…?

When I researched this kerbside activity I found a news article published in 2015 where a Sydney council wanted to discourage scavengers from rummaging through other people’s rubbish. Apparently as soon as the rubbish is on the kerb, it becomes the property of the council. So from that point of view the council could stop someone from taking stuff and even fine them.

Who is liable for the unwanted goods?

A ridiculous thought as the idea of people picking up stuff promotes recycling of unwanted things. Your trash becomes my treasure – an idea I really like. From the article I got the impression that the council wants to safeguard themselves against liability. If they claim that the stuff on the kerbside is their property, it becomes indeed their responsibility.

So typical Australian, this liability issue. During the last 25 years this country has gone from being relaxed and easy-going to preventing schools from having a good old fashioned play ground. All probably because some kid broke his arm while playing. To my opinion that is part of growing up, but no we have to mollycoddle children to stop them them from getting a scratch!

Bondi beach, first steps, beach, Australia

Bondi Beach where the council apparently is responsible for the of location sand banks

My worst example is an adult swimmer at Bondi Beach, Sydney who sued the council for being dumped on a sandbank and broke his neck consequently. He actually won and the council had to pay him millions in compensation. He swam between the flags and the council was accused of being negligent as there was a sand bank in a flagged area.

Who rummages on the kerbside?

Okay, getting back to the kerbside. I suppose there are two kind of people who rummage and collect. There are the dealers who pick up with the purpose to sell. These are the people who cut of the plug, break the glass of the table to get the frame or take parts of equipment. All really happened by the way.

And they are also the people who couldn’t give a sh….! They make a mess of your carefully stacked pile so that it becomes dangerous for pedestrians who walk past. And the liability issue rears its ugly head again…….!

The other type are the people like me who look for items to upgrade for themselves or as part of a business. They are the students who collect bits of furniture because they don’t have much money. And they are those who support recycling and like to reduce our landfill and stop wasting goods.

work in progress, makeover

In the process of giving this table a make-over. Since then sold successfully!

While I am writing this I am just witnessing two students putting my old work table in their car. They had to take the chairs out of their car to make it fit! My table was a recycle project in itself. I made it from an old door and a pair of table stands that I bought in good old Bunnings. The whole thing makes me smile!

What did not make me smile is what happened to me next. I unloaded my garden equipment on the kerb right next to the garden where I would be working for the morning. While I am clearing out a section unfortunately hidden behind a palm tree, some ‘innocent’ crawler took my crow bar.

The thing I use the most and certainly do not want to have to buy again for my last couple of months in Australia. I suppose he reckoned it was up for grabs….! Tough luck.

Have a good week and see you next time! ➡

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easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling

 

 

 

 

 

Why a weekend to Hobart is worth your time and money!

Many, many years ago I spent 3 weeks backpacking through Tasmania. As I haven’t been since and my husband has never set foot on the island, we chose Hobart as the destination for our 30th anniversary trip this year.

A weekend to Hobart

Harbour of Hobart, historical, water views

Harbour of Hobart with its historical buildings that have been turned into trendy upmarket hotels and restaurants

The opinions about Hobart tend to be diverse. Some pull their nose up and others have fallen in love with it. For those whose geography knowledge is poor.  Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, an island south of mainland Australia and it is one of the states of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Abel Tasman discovered the island in the 17th century and gave it the name ‘Van Diemen’.  The English renamed the colony in 1856 to honour its original finder, Abel Tasman. As a Dutch person I am often curious what Australia would be like if the Dutch would have taking ownership. They discovered Australia but left it for what it was.

Anyway enough history!

So what did we discover in Hobart that is worth writing about?  When I was there many years ago in 1987 I found Hobart had the most charm off all Australian cities and I still do now.

Salamanca Market and Battery Point – historical Hobart

When I mentioned Hobart to people, most of them knew about the well known markets on Saturday morning called Salamanca Markets. They were already there in 1987 when I was in Hobart, have over 300 stall holders and are still going strong. They are definitely worth exploring.

Salamanca markets, Hobart, life music, good food

Salamanca Markets have been around for decades. Over 300 stalls with everything you can dream of…

From the markets you can climb some steep stairs up to Kelly street and this will lead you in to Battery Point, the birthplace of Hollywood actor Errol Flynn. Battery point, ‘The Rocks’ of Hobart, is well preserved and is lovely to wander through.

Make sure you make a stop at a wonderful bakery that is open every day. We googled cafes that were open early on Sunday morning and the result was none according the online info.

Hobart, coffee, cafe, french pastries

Jackman and Ross, baker of French style pastries and yummy breakfasts open at 7 am in the morning!!

Well, we found this little treasure called Jackman and McRoss.  It was open fully stocked with yummy pastries, breads and an appetising breakfast menu from 7 am, even on a Sunday. Its little ‘sister’ in the city of Hobart is open early throughout the week but closed in the weekend.

Mount Wellington, Hobart

We were dying for a hot coffee around 7 am on Sunday as we had just returned from a trip up to Mt. Wellington, 1271 meters high. This excursion was a rather spontaneous once we saw that the weather would be clear on Sunday morning. The views therefore promised to be spectacular.

Mt Wellington, Hobart, sunrise

Sunrise over Hobart from the top of Mount Wellington on a clear but fresh, 9 degrees, day

Be aware of the changing micro climate on the top of the mountain, though. One moment it can be clear and before know you are surrounded by a layer of thick fog. It was rather fresh and it was only autumn so prepare well for the colder winter month.

We concocted that it could be worthwhile to rent a car on Saturday afternoon so we could drive up to Mt Wellington to see the sunrise. It seemed a bit tricky to do without transport and taxis would cost a fortune. So would any organised excursion!

Hiring a car from Saturday afternoon 4 pm for 1 day was around $35. We chose an agency that had a drop off point at the airport so we could avoid a taxi fare of almost $60 back to the airport. In the end we saw Mt Wellington, historical village Richmond and got ourselves to the airport for a total of $65. Worth considering…

Richmond bridge, Hobart, Richmond, heritage

Richmond Bridge – Australia’s oldest known large stone arch bridge completed in 1825 and spanning the Coal river

Mona – Hobart’s pride

Then the MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Located upstream on the Derwent river it is worth taking a boat trip to this interesting and very different art gallery. Now there are boat trips and luxury boat trips. We enjoyed the trip to the museum while sipping on a glass of sparkling and sampling a variety of tapas. Very classy!

The museum itself is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all its founder and owner seems to be a character in itself. Do your own research!

 

MgONA, setting, Hobart, Derwent river, review

The setting of MONA is quite special. You have no idea about its hidden secrets.

Secondly the building is amazing, built into rocks and a maze of levels, corridors and rooms all underground it seems.

Thirdly you can finish off the experience by a wine tasting at Moorilla Estate situated right next to the museum. All in all an amazing experience and a must when visiting Hobart.

MONA, museum, collection, Hobart, review

Quite an amazing object. A carpet that seem to go fluid. It is huge and impressive!

The collection is a compilation of old and new as the name suggest. You should keep in mind that the museum is based on a private collection of the owner and founder. So if you are after Rembrandts, Monets and Van Gogh’s you may not find them.

A day trip to Port Arthur

As we were 5 days in Hobart we wanted to include Port Arthur, a huge former convict settlement with over 30 buildings built in the 18th & 19th century. We found an excursion that combined a visit to Port Arthur and a boat trip along the outside coast line of the Tasman Peninsula. Probably a bit pricey for some but oh so worth every dollar.

Tasman peninsula, near Hobart, coast line

Spectacular coastline with scenes suitable for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit

The swells on the ocean are not for the faint hearted and everyone gets a tablet against seasickness. Also you must wear a type of rain/wind coat that covers you from top till toe. The boat trip takes 3 hours and the views of the coast line are ‘in one word’ spectacular.

They certainly can compete with the much more famous ‘Great Ocean Road’ in Victoria. There are many chances to take pictures and admire the dozens of seals sunbathing on the rocks.

seals, Tasman Islands, near Hobart

Dozens of seals sunbathing on the rocks of Tasman Island

Port Arthur is an amazing site. There is a lot to explore and it is easy to while away half a day. You can do tours including ‘ghost’ tours at night.

Port Arthur, Hobart, review

The main building at Port Arthur. The site is much more than a prison for convicts.

What else I liked in Hobart

  • Other things I liked in Hobart are the good quality food, seafood, beers, whiskeys and wine. Sometimes a bit pricey, but…
  • The fact that waiters can be over forty and professional. So European as it happens to be a career over there….
  • The visit to the Cascade Brewery and the 3 km walk back to Hobart centre along the pretty rivulet.
  • I love the fresh air, the ability to enjoy a twilight of over an hour surrounded by beautiful skies, NO mozzies nor humidity. I live in Queensland so such things are a novelty for us.
  • The Friday night food markets, right in the middle of town. If we would have known, we would have made sure to be hungry that day!

All in all, Hobart is a very pleasant place to be. It offers enough for foodies, lovers of wine, beer and whiskey tastings, art, history and stunning natural beauty.

So I challenge the negative opinions and the naysayers.  I believe you either did not look around you or you were blinded by pre-conceived opinions. In either case you missed the boat and the opportunity to have a wonderful experience.

So next time, make sure you read the reviews!

As a parent when are you ever ready to let your child go?

Our oldest child Yasmin announced yesterday that she has bought a ticket to Melbourne. Not for a trip but a one-way ticket to go and live there. Yasmin has been talking about it for a while but her buying this ticket seems so much more definite.

Melbourne, centre

A nice day in Melbourne. The city famous for having 4 seasons on one day.

She has been sorting her belongings for weeks now. She is browsing through our house to see what she can take to her new abode. Her age is right for moving out, she has the maturity and she needs to start her own life.

Yet, I feel as if someone has cut my arm off. If it would be the right arm, the one with the bursitis and the tendonitis, it could be a god sent. However I will miss her heaps.

Her plan is to live a couple of years in Melbourne either working as a graduate in some firm or if things do not work out that way, she may opt for a Masters degree. Either way will give her 2-3 years in Melbourne.

Melbourne

Melbourne has lots little lanes that are worth exploring for cool cafes, bars and shops

It means that we will leave behind one of our kids on the other side of the world. Our plan is to move to Europe in a couple of months. Familiar feelings come to mind as we did the same to our families when we moved to Australia some 25 years ago.

I believe when you have emigrated once or twice, have travelled the distance back to the home country for visits, it becomes less of a BIG thing. Some of my friends would find it hard to move 100 km away while I take an overseas move in my stride as if it is only 100 km away.

Leaving a child behind…

I am a bit more aware of it at the moment. To leave a child behind or have a child moving to the other side of the world is different. In my immediate Australian environment I have a client whose daughter lives in London. A friend whose daughter studies for a Masters in York, England and another who has a son in the USA and a daughter in England.

It seems common enough and it all causes us mums and dads to have extra worries and fears about what could go wrong. It think that is where the problem lies. What could go wrong and our inability to pop over to check it out. It requires at least a 24 hours flight and a couple of thousand dollars. Not so straight forward!

Child, China, hangzhou, international student, learning Chinese

Yasmin enjoying the beauty and serenity of Westlake in Hangzhou

It is not Yasmin’s first move. She has studied at a university in Hangzhou, China for 6 months. She went by herself and sorted it all out independently. We visited her and were for a week or so witness of her independent life over there. I fell in love with China, against expectations by the way.

A little secret is that in the same city where she studied, we have a friend. Our first homestay student ever was from the exact town where Yasmin ended studying in. That was a tremendous peace of mind because she could be there for emergencies and support when Yasmin arrived.

Letting a child go….

Groningen, shopping street, child

Folkingestraat, Groningen, in 2015 awarded as the most fun shopping street in the city

Our youngest daughter, Zoe wants to study in Groningen, the Netherlands. As she has the Dutch nationality, she can go to university there as a Dutch citizen. No international University fees for us!

We are going in the same direction but I have to admit that I would not be able to let her go by herself to Europe at the age of 18. I would really draw the line there. First of all she does not speak any Dutch and secondly she is inexperienced when it comes to settling in a different environment. Point blank!

stroop wafels, child, Groningen, Dutch speciality

Who does not know stroopwafels? You have to be Dutch though to get them freshly made…

We are actually not going to live in the Netherlands so eventually she will be by herself. The fact is that I can fly less than an hour and I will be where she is. Also there is family nearby and other connections.

Something to think about….

You could ask if I would leave her in Brisbane by herself? What if she would decide to study at UQ and live in a share house? Would we still be able to leave to go to Europe. Between you an me I am glad I don’t have to answer that question….

limoux, grand cafe, terrace, square

Grand Cafe on La Place de la Republique – one of my regular hang outs in Limoux where we have a house.

Just imagine though. Would you sacrifice your dreams and stay in a country for your child? We have been living with the plan to move back to Europe for 5 years now. We even bought a house in the South of France. Would we forsake on that plan if the Zoe wanted to stay in Australia?

She is only 17 at the moment. How much is age a determination? When is someone mature enough to be independent? My sister was 18 when she became an orphan, I was 20. Maybe it is because of that that I would have my doubts.

We were so young, I would have loved to have some advice from an older person at the time. I am sure we made some crazy choices. We may have thought at the time it was totally cool but in the end it was very likely not so sensible at all.

So in a couple of months our little family unit will have fallen apart. Yasmin is moving to Melbourne in May and our homestay student needs to find another Brisbane host before we move out in July. I will fly to London in July and my husband and youngest daughter will follow in the beginning of September.

Shoreditch

Around Shoreditch, East London. Grunchy and full of surprises

The beginning of another era…

Please feel free to write about your experiences or to comment on mine. I was told that commenting on my blog was a pain however after a thorough search I found a box to un-tick. It seems easier now. Let me know as I only will know if you tell me.

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easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling

This is why I seem to have unleashed a beast

By writing about a health dilemma I am facing and publishing it online, I seem to have ‘unleashed a beast’.

My last article got a fair amount of reactions and they were all saying the same thing. Basically I have to face up to the fact that I have a shoulder injury and that working in my garden business is not going to facilitate the healing process.

unleashed the beast

As I am not exactly stupid I am quite aware of that. I just do not want to take ownership of this ‘unleashed evil’  because I hate the decision I seem to have to make.

I can think of many reasons why I don’t like to give up my garden business. One of the most obvious is that I love my little enterprise, I love the kind of clients I attract and I enjoy the work itself.

Therefore I am not yet ready to call it quits and I like to talk to my GP. Not that I trust it to make much difference as online research shows that the type of injury I have, needs rest. So that is very likely what my doctor will tell me to do. I only hope deep down that he may say that a couple of garden sessions per week won’t do any harm.

 

Am I kidding myself here or could there be a chance of reprieve? After all the shoulder does not hurt while I am gardening. It is painful when I take off a shirt, wash my hair or sleep on it. These things are not going to stop with rest. Do you see the same little glimmer of hope I see…..?

I have to be honest with you. It is not only the fact that I may have to stop gardening. There is a bit more to it than that. And it is a bit of a sensitive subject but I might as well let go of that demon as well.

How it all started….

I have build up this garden business from a simple hobby. About 10 years ago I started transforming our hilly garden in Chapel Hill from boring soulless slope into a lush garden. This led to my first client and from there word spread around.  Slowly but steady over years I have built up a pool of clients.

unleashing a beast, tropical garden, hilly slope

Making something attractive out of a difficult sloping garden

My garden business is the first thing in Australia that I have been successful at. Not that I did not try other avenues. I tried many but most just did not work. It started with a Dutch degree in Social Work that was not accepted. Then I added an Australian degree in Psychology that I could not finish because the entry for the honours year was too competitive.

My visa entry in Australia was successful because of skill migration. I scored all the points for hospitality management.  I never was able to find a job in the industry apart from waitress in the Bennelong Restaurant in the Opera House and a short assistant manager stint in the Virgin Video Cafe in Sydney.

During the first year of my new life in Sydney I saw many restaurants from the inside but none of them offered me a proper job. I have a CV full of Swiss hotel and restaurant experience and was three years a manager of a buzzy London Fish restaurant and Wine bar.

But that was not good enough for the Aussies and you know why? It was 1991 and Australia had given birth to a new foodie trend called the Modern Australian Cuisine. The reason for not employing me was that I had no experience with this new Australian food craze. As if I was going to be the chef…..

Another factor was the recession in 1991. In contrary to the eighties when having European hospitality experience in Australia was a big asset, in 1991 it was rejected in order to protect the Australians. As if any Australian sees hospitality as a career opportunity…..

These attitudes and the apparent rule that belly button piercings were higher regarded than experience and a ‘higher certificate in wine and spirits’, have killed my love for hospitality. Anyway the path of rejection continued and many things I tried were not hugely successful. Until now!

Another demon unleashed

So there is my fiend! In my last years in Australia I have build up a small successful business. If I would stay here I would think of hiring assistance and buying Utes! So to be beaten by a stupid shoulder problem is a bit of a blow to say the least.

I would have to give it up anyway in a couple of months when I move to Europe, but that would be completely on my terms. I feel frustrated that it is not my choice and timing.

Some of my clients have become close and some are even friends who I socialise with. I also am a bit like the hairdresser who gets to hear about the customers issues. As the gardener with the ‘non-valid’ Social Work and Psychology degrees, I am the natural target of all kind of secrets. And I even can say I know how to deal with them.

unleashing the beast, interaction with clients, gardening

Part of my business is the interaction with my clients. Some ‘work’ with me…

So, yes I am frustrated, annoyed and also slightly angry. But there is no one to blame. I just have to accept whatever is the best to get that shoulder fixed. And I will but it feels damn good to have a bit of a rant!

I am also aware that there are worse health problems. Several people in my immediate environment during the last year have been the target of cancer, stroke, aneurysm, Motor Neurone Disease and even death.

So as I have unleashed my demon, I will allow myself to rant and rave for a while. In the end though I am grateful that it is only a frozen shoulder, bursitis or tendonitis.

If my rant speaks to you and you like to find out more, feel free to leave your name and email in the box below and I will make the next episode lands in your mail box.

Speak to you soon!unleashed, easydone, blog, limoux, gardening

 

 

 

 

How to control ‘moving’ stress and enjoy the ride!

I feel as if I am in control of a stressful ride. On the one hand I am in the middle of a hectic process to emigrate to Europe and on the other it feels like I am coasting.

The good thing is that we seem to be on schedule with our moving plans. We are finalising paperwork with care and thought. Our social life is well planned ahead to make sure we ‘do it all’.

Slowly we are selling our belongings and the house gets emptier and emptier. By the end of April I expect to be without clutter. The liberating sense of ‘clutter freedom‘ is creeping upon us.

In control of the clutter

It is a nice feeling to know where things are – the necessary things that you really need. Even better it is great to open a cupboard and be able to find something immediately.

A week ago I had a garage sale. A friend and I combined efforts and we held a large sale at her house. It was very successful for her and average for me. She was selling beautiful items from the Middle East where she lived for years. I on the other hand was selling lower end stuff.

Still I got rid of quite a bit and the best thing was that she had lined up a charity to take everything that had not sold off our hands. That meant that I did not have to take things back home.

Unfortunately this charity did not take books and well you guess it right. I was left with a large amount of books and I had to take them all back home. In the end I wondered whether having a garage sale somewhere else had been worth all this effort.

control, clutter, books for sale,

Books, books and more books. People just don’t seem to like books anymore……

I suppose all small actions make a difference and we may have some other ways of shifting these books. Books are not very popular it seems. At least not amongst the type of people that frequents garage sales.

How to control garage sale fans

They are a hilarious lot. Bargaining a $2 item down to $1. When they started counting out their saved 5 and 10 cent pieces, I stopped them there and then. Only gold coins! For the non-Australians, gold coins are $1 and $2 coins.

Nevertheless, a garage sale with my friend T. is always fun as we both love chatting to people and make friends easily. T. is a very good sales person and flocks literally anything. She sold all kind of things from her garage that were actually not for sale. Like sports items belonging to her kids and a bag with bottles of wine.

The person who was after these wines for a very cheap price almost ripped my arm off when I expressed interest for one of the bottles. He yelled: ‘I was there first’ and felt that he therefore had the right to all bottles. I had to withdraw myself to not say something rude or slap him in the face.

Am I moving permanently?

I have slightly confused feelings about moving. It is not, that I don’t want to go but I am slowly starting to realise the ‘finite‘ off it. I notice cars with the word ‘Australian’ that are driving past. I see everywhere ‘made in Australia’. Funny as before we thought everything here is made in China.

control, made in Australia,

Proudly made in Australia. Some things still are….

Many people are asking me if I leave for good. How do I know that? Things change and people change plans all the times. Years ago we were going to move to Perth and ended up living in Brisbane after first two years in London. Talk about being in control….

Plans change and that is fine. I already mentioned before that I am the only one who is actually leaving on the planned date. The others are leaving months later. Does it matter? No, not really. It would if they would not follow me….

Fortunately I am rather flexible and know how to adapt to changes without much of a problem. I just get on with it. I am not someone who indulges in ‘wallowing’ and to be honest I have an issue when others do that.

Sitting it out in style

At the moment it is only the beginning of March, I am working more than ever in my garden business and our house is slowly getting empty. We are totally on track, in control and nothing seems to be hasty.

control, friends, relationships

Making the most of friends. This group covers the primary school and high school years of our youngest off-spring!

My plan is to enjoy Australia as much as I can. Explore the city, go to the beach, see friends, hang out in cafes and be aware of it, so I have good closure. On other occasions I did occasionally rush when leaving somewhere and it just does not feel ‘finished’.

This time I want to do it right. When I leave I want to have the feeling not to have left a stone unturned and I feel I am on the right track.

Please feel free to follow closely what I am up to. Put your name and email in the box below and I’ll keep you posted!

change, emigration, Australia, France