Holiday rip off

I’m sick.  Nothing new there, except that I’m on holidays.  The only other thing worse than being sick on holidays is when it rains on holidays.

I’ve had both.  Which is why I’m feeling ripped off.

Its been a tough few months with lots of changes – especially at work – so I was looking forward to a long break, heading back to sunny Perth to catch up with friends.  Natty Nat and I had also booked to do Cape to Cape – a tiny 135km walk over seven days.  A great way to get some exercise, clear my head and soak up the beautiful scenery of Margaret River.

The week started off well.  Natty Nat and I embarked on the first few days of our trek with excitement – and a little trepidation – could we do it?  Would we get through the long 22km days?  Could we finish without stacking it?  (A common occurrence for us both.)

By day four I was feeling elated, proud of what we’d done so far – hiking up and down hills, scaling rocks, walking four hours through scrubland - and looking forward to the next few harder, longer days.   Sure, the red wine and cheese we had that night helped a little, but I was finally relaxing into my holiday.

Then the rain kicked in.   And cold wind.   Walking for 22kms on a beach in freezing gale force winds while being pummeled with hail and rain isn’t a great way to spend six hours.  Suddenly my little adventure wasn’t as much fun as I’d hoped.  Thank God I’d made a last minute purchase for a rain jacket.  $200 and a wet weather policy was never part of my plan. 

Two days later I woke up with a headcold and cough.  Bang, just like that.  What a surprise.

I popped some Codral and packed a stack of tissues and soldiered on.  The rain and wind got worse, but I was determined to finish.  When we finally reached the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, I was tired but happy.  That night I lost my voice.  

We headed back to Perth and I bunkered down in a friend’s apartment spending quality time alone on her couch with a doona.  The cold weather and rain continued.  My strappy tops and short skirts stayed packed away in my suitcase.  My usual black cardigan with thick stockings and boots I frequented in chilly Melbourne became my holiday wardrobe.  Not a ray of sun in sight.

Now I’m back home and the weather still hasn’t realised it’s Spring yet.  I’ve spent more time in bed sleeping than catching up with friends and frankly, I’m a little depressed about it.  Tomorrow I go back to work – and as much as I love my job, going back with a slight chest infection and white pasty skin isn’t exciting me that much.  I’m meant to look happy, healthy and glowing.  I’m not. 

My holiday expectations were way under par – where can I apply for a refund?    


One foot in front of the other 

I hiked 135kms last week.  I’ve never hiked before, but Natty Nat suggested that walking Cape to Cape in Perth would be a good practice run for me as I want to do the 800km Camino trail in Spain.  Smart woman.  So off we went.

Hiking is so much more than just walking through bushland and admiring the scenery.  I thought I was going to wander along pathways seeing birds and wildflowers, soaking up the sun and fresh air.  Get a bit of exercise.  I was wrong.

Our first few days were relatively easy.  17kms covered on walking paths trodden by previous hikers.  The other hikers in our group were friendly and supportive, and we chatted and laughed as we walked up and down low hills, through bushes and trees – pointing out wildflowers and orchids.  As we got closer to the ocean, we spotted pools of dolphins playing in the waves.   Breaks for morning and afternoon tea were spent munching on muesli bars and fruit (hiking makes you hungry) before setting off again.  My feet were sore but I felt good.  I like this hiking thing. 

Day four and shit got real.  We increased our distance to 22kms.  The hills got steeper and longer.  Up AND Down.   The terrain intensified.  We hiked on dirt, sand, sandy dirt …  with tiny rocks jutting out of the ground, ready to trip you up.   In the dense bush, the pathways diminished to almost nothing, so we pushed through the foliage, getting scraped by the spikey leaves as we walked past.  I prayed I wasn’t allergic to anything I brushed past. Totally left my epi-pen at home.

The walk through Boranup Forest was amazing, as we wandered under hundreds of tall trees which provided a canapé from the intermittent sun.  I considered running off into the forest to escape, but knew that I could have another dark chocolate muesli bar in 4kms so I kept going. 

The real hell came two days later when we did long walks along the beach.  Not a romantic, let’s take our shoes off and hold hands as we saunter along the sand, walk.  This was 7kms of trudging in deep sand … often in wind and rain.  Long kilometres where it felt like our end destination would never arrive.   You’d become dizzy trying to keep up with the person ahead of you, placing your feet into their footprints to make it a little easier. It wasn’t. 

Then there was the rock climbing – and descending.  I’ve never been comfortable jumping around on rocks or scaling cliff faces.   On this hike, we did both.  After a long walk up sandy hills, we’d be faced with an expanse of large rocks to climb over.  Slow step by slow step we’d ease ourselves over them, then continue to push ourselves up and down the trails, before we’d hit another patch of rocks. It felt like a tuff mudder course, working my way through the various challenges.  I really hoped there wasn’t an electric fence section coming up.

On day six, I hit a wall.   A headcold took over my body and I felt like death.  Yes, I wanted to stay in bed with my electric blanket on, but the wannabe warrior (stupid, stubborn girl) inside of me dragged my sorry ass off for another 22km day on the sand.   I sniffed and coughed my way through the wind and rain, popping Codral and Nurofen and trying to soak up the views.  Thankfully endless kms of greenery and long blue oceans kept my spirits high, with new panoramas every time I reached the top of yet another hill.

My hands and ears got sunburnt.  I’ve never spent this much time outdoors so I had no thought whatsoever to slip, slop, slap these parts of my body.  They’re now a lovely matching pink colour.

Our final day provided the biggest challenge.  Within 25 minutes of starting out, we were pelted with hail.  Giant frozen raindrops that stung against my new rainproof jacket.  I laughed.  It was all I could do as I contemplated the next six hours of walking.

We scaled more rocks.  Slipping and skidding along plates of slimy moss.  We hiked another long 7kms of beach, smacked in the face with rain and a cold headwind.  As our final destination approached, the track turned into a narrow winding path about 30cm wide.  I tried hard to quell my fear of heights (and dying from falling off a cliff) as I slowly inched along the mud.  Thank God for the hiking pole in my hand – it gave me the confidence I needed to get through every step of that hike.

135kms (and more I’m sure) later and we finally arrived at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.  It had started out as a tiny dot on the horizon at the start of the day – and now we stood in front of this giant white landmark, exhausted but super proud of our achievements.   Hiking is so much more than I expected – every part of my body hurts, but I loved this amazing adventure.   As for doing Camino, I might just think about that for a while.  At least until my ears stop peeling. 


Getting down to business 

I’m writing this from the comfort of my seat at the front of the plane.  That’s me in 4K.  The girl with the smile on her face, grinning at anyone who walks past.  I’m super snug in my little pod, shut out from the world (or at least the passengers in Economy).  Did I pay for this indulgence?  Nope.  My company?  Don’t think so.  My friends at Qantas upgraded me on my flight to Perth, thanks to a whole lot of shopping and Frequent Flyer Points.  Loyalty pays.  I’m at the pointy end of the ship and loving it.

I don’t get to fly Business class very often so I still get a huge kick out of it.   It’s the little things that make a difference.  The cabin crew use my name when they talk to me.  It’s quieter and more private.   Shorter lines for the toilet.  Headphones that ‘cancel’ all the noise around you. The flight just feels more relaxing because I’m in a super comfy seat and not squished in between other people.

Did I mention the food? 

Lunch was amazing.  My chatty hostess (we had a lovely conversation about how awesome my hair is) set up my tray table with a white table cloth, REAL STEEL cutlery and an array of food.   Salad with dressing.  Sourdough bread with proper butter.  Fresh cut fruit.  Then she placed a small plate of chargrilled vegetables in front of me.   It was a good size, but not what I’d call a main meal.  Never mind, I’ll just get a cheese plate later, I thought, as I worked my through the fresh eggplant, zucchini and peppers.

Little Miss Chatty took away my empty plates and I settled back to watch Sing Street – a gorgeous movie that filled me with joy.  It’s about a boy growing up in the 80s in a rough part of Dublin and forming his own band with a bunch of misfit friends.  You really should see it – it’s awesome.

As I was sipping my sparkling cranberry juice (non alcoholic due to feeling a little queasy), Ms Chatty placed a large plate of marinated stir fried tofu, spicy chick peas and basmati rice in front of me.  Unbelievably good.   So much food.  So must deliciousness.  I ate with gusto, making sure I got every piece of that cold silver cutlery dirty.  It was divine.  I was full to the brim with business class joy.

My film ended and as I contemplated what to do next, Ms Chatty offered me a Maggie Beers fancy salted nine year caramel with dusted koala icecream … or a cheese plate.  I was still full from my tofu and chickpea extravaganza but what the hell, I’m on holidays so let’s do it!  I’m planning (hoping) to walk 135kms in the next few days, I’ll work it off.

A cheese plate like the one I demolished would cost you about $35 in a restaurant … In business class, they’re part of the deal.  It even had the right amount of crackers.  In fact, I had too many so I had to also eat the blue cheese to use them all up.  I don’t really like blue cheese, but at the front of the plane everything tastes better.  Honest.

I still have two hours of the flight to go.   What to do?  I could watch another movie.  Start reading my new book.   Do some writing.   Or maybe, I’ll turn my seat into a flat bed and have a nap.  It’s been a crazy, stressful few weeks so I could do with some extra sleep. 

I wonder if Ms Chatty will bring me a pair of Qantas pyjamas to change into.  And another cheese plate for when I wake up.  Too much? 

Please God, let me get upgraded on the flight home too.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope moving back to the hood and using plastic cutlery.  


Unfinished business 

I started writing a book about my dating adventures over two years ago.  I still haven’t finished it.

I started writing a screenplay three years ago.   I’ve done about 30 pages.  It’s still not finished.

In my spare room, I have 23 old frames which I had planned to put photos of friends and family in, and line my hallway with memories of people I love.  I haven’t done one single frame yet.  Not finished. 

I’ve realised recently that there are a few (!) projects that I started and am yet to finish.   I read somewhere that it’s a classic trait of my personality.  I get all excited and start something …. I work on it with gusto for a few weeks or months … then I get bored and drop it.  It happens a lot for me.

Is this something that I’m proud of?  Not really, but it’s also not a trait I’m ashamed of either.  I think it merely highlights that I have a lot of really good ideas … I’m just not good at sticking to stuff.   (Ironic if you look at how long I’ve stuck it out in shitty relationships.)

A few years ago I was bored in my job and looking for some inspiration, so I did a short course with a creative coach.  She was great and put me back on track encouraging me to just write for 30 minutes a week.  I can do that, I thought, and sure enough, I found my writing zen and the pages flowed out of me.  For about two days.

When I explained to my creative coach how I lost my mojo over just one weekend she asked me a tough question, “Why do you need to be the one to write it?  Could you just come up with the idea and delegate the writing to someone else?”

What?!  Was she mental?  Of course I couldn’t get someone else to write MY book.  It’s MY book.  MY creative project.  I don’t want another person to do that.  That’s my job.  My role.

Then I thought about it.  Maybe I can just be the ideas person, and I can surround myself with other creative types and get them to do the heavy lifting.   I can pitch ideas, give directions and let them write according to my brief … and then I proof read, correct and make it my own.  How brilliant is that?  Why had I never considered this before?  I pay people to do stuff for me all the time that I’m not good at – like fix broken toilets, service my car and cut my hair.  Why can’t I pay someone to write my book for me? 

Anyone know a great ghost writer who can channel a single girl who went on a dating rampage for three years and is in the middle of writing her memoirs about 13 of the men she went out with?  Give them my number.  I might have a job for them.   


Rolling with the punches (and ankles)

In a few weeks Natty Nat and I are going hiking.  135kms of coastal joy in sunny Perth.  I can’t wait.  It’s going to be my favourite type of holiday – exercise, adventure and wine. 

The only issue – just a tiny one – is that a few days ago I rolled my ankle.  

I was walking to dinner with T Girl in the hipster part of town.  The area where you can’t get a park unless you own a scooter or a council permit.  After a long search, I found a space down a long sidestreet.  Fine.  I can use the walk to get the steps on my Fitbit up.  Hurrying along the dark street, I didn’t see the pothole  – in my ankle went – rolling onto the cold concrete.  Bang. 

Ouch.  I hobbled for a bit and shook it off.  By the time I sat down at the uber cool Vegan restaurant with T Girl, it felt better.  I’ve done this before.  I’ll be fine. 

After a dinner of Vegan Mac’n’Cheese (a bit powdery), weird potato tortilla (my choice, my bad) and the world’s best bean dip, I headed home to finish some work.  Changing into my PJs and ugg boots (don’t judge me), I sat down and turned on my laptop.

Boom.  An intense pain shot up my leg from my ankle.  I actually yelped.  Moving my foot around I tried to shake off the pain but the throbbing increased.   Holy shit, that really hurts.

I attempted to stand up and nearly fell over.  There was a lot of therapeutic swearing repeated over and over … including F*CK, that hurts, F*ck, that HURTS!   The shooting pain took over my whole foot and most of my leg.  Excruciating.  It felt like someone had taken a carving knife and was stabbing me in the ankle.  I wanted to cry – I was a little girl who wants her Mummy. 

Ice it, my Sports Doctor’s voice told me.  I grabbed my well worn ice pack and raised my ankle covering it in the blue semi frozen liquid.  The pain barely subsided.  It just made my foot cold.   I tried to move it around.  More pain shot up my leg.  F*ck, this is really killing me.

After 20 minutes of icing – and me trying not to cry – nothing seemed to work.  I abandoned my inbox of emails (I’m committed to my job, what can I say?).  All I could think about was my throbbing ankle – and the anxiety of knowing I had a plane to catch the next day.

I popped two pain killers and prayed that my ankle would heal. Hopping up and down trying to get into my PJs was, I’m sure, quite a funny sight, but my sense of humour had long disappeared.  Sliding into the sheets, the fabric felt like sandpaper on my leg.  Wow, this is really bad.  I might have to get it amputated.  No more marathons for me. 

My flatmate Twin Kat came home.  I heard her moving around in the hallway and feebly called out her name.  She didn’t respond.  I tried again but nothing.  My Mum is right.  I will die alone and my cat will eat me.

Throughout the night I tossed and turned, checking on my ankle.  The swelling seemed to be reducing but I was still in a bit of pain.  Come on God, I need to see my kinesiologist tomorrow.  Then catch a plane.  Then do some hiking practice.  PLEASE fix my ankle. 

In the morning I tentatively slid out of bed and put my feet on the floor.  I stood up slowly and only a tiny bit of pain pulsed through my bad ankle.  I took a few steps forward and it felt tender, but okay to walk on.  Hallelujah, it’s a miracle!  I showered – on one leg like an ungraceful flamingo – and felt nervous, but fine.  

An old ankle strap / bandage provided additional support and I jammed my foot into my flat slipper shoes.  No heels for me this weekend.  I was off …

Jess my Kinesiologist did reiki on my leg, warming her hands to move the energy around.  It felt better.  She gave me a bottle of Warrior essence (yes, I’m not joking) and some other exercises which I won’t talk about or you’ll think we’re both insane.  Which we may be, but she fixed my ankle so who cares.    

The flight was fine – I somehow managed to get three seats to myself on a packed plane.   I did consider stretching out and putting my foot on the spare seats, but was worried about being attacked by other passengers.    My foot swelled up a little more but the pain has subsided, now only a dull ache. 

My ankle is still a little tender.  I don’t think I’ve done any permanent damage, but I guess time will tell.  (Or my Osteo when I see her later in the week).  I think the hike is still on.   Going to try out my new boots this weekend.  Wish me luck.   

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