Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goodbye 2015 - Welcome to 2016

How fast do the years fly by, it just feels like yesterday that I was welcoming in the New Year and here it is all over again, right at the moment days, weeks and months seem to come and go in flurry and I seem to always be trying to catch up.

I generally try not to make New Years Resolutions instead try to give the year a theme for us - but I am not really sure what it is this year because I feel there is something awaiting us, so maybe it the year of surprises.  I also just want to be a better person generally.

We didn't know what 2015 had in store for us but we knew we wanted to just settle down for a while, but it ended up being a truly fantastic year with us finding many new friends from both our new community, and more importantly from our volunteering. As I had written previously one of the things we missed about working was camaraderie and we were hoping to find that by moving into our new home (and we did), but it is the camaraderie of our fellow crew mates that has been fantastic - thank you Purple A team it is great to work around a group of older people who have so much life and such a sense of purpose - these guys are true inspirations of get up and go, get up and move, get up and get things done now - not just when they are at VMR but what they do for the rest of the week, like paint the house, make incredible things like little caravans, write books and the list goes on and on, sometimes I get tired just listening to all the things they each achieved throughout the week when we have our catch up on Monday mornings. They are like a breath of fresh air, and unlike some in our community live life to the fullest everyday, don't complain, never stop and give so much to so many.  So in line with my being a better Mother I am generally trying to be a better person because of them, give more and take less, do more for others and expect less back in return, help those who need help and try harder to make those around me happier.  I learnt that this really is the secret to a great retirement and while living in our new community provides many activities I realised that so many of them are just selfish pursuits, like happy hours, going out to lunches and or dinners - primarily so people feel like they are doing something but they are mindless pursuits generally and don't give a purpose of real achievement.  Yes of course many in here do these things as well and of course they are similar to our wonderful Purple A crew members, but unfortunately many really don't have a lot going on in their lives and somehow seem to expect others to entertain them, and I am still out on if this is the way to retire.  

We also learnt to get rid of things that aggravated us and we learnt to walk away without complaint (well sometimes), and I want to extend that more this year.  Its funny the things that can aggravate you - communications is one of them these days - honestly I don't have a need to answer the phone anymore, I will get around to it, I don't need to be online all day every day, I am participating in life, not watching it through others posts etc.  I rid myself of many of my Facebook friends this year, you know the type those that always seem to know what you have done, but can't seem to bring themselves to like anything, but when they post they expect everyone to comment etc, I like to call them stalkers because in some respects they are - also those who only share other peoples stuff - nothing personal about themselves - these things where annoying me because a)  I missed important posts from people who actually have a life because of all the crap they were posting and b) I got sick of being cut short on a story I might have been telling about something we did only to be told "yes I read that on Facebook" but how would I have known when they make no comments or like anything - now my circle is smaller but way more intimate.

I feel renewed in these last few months - learning new things, studying, exams and being active to the extend of exhaustion and I feel there is something new around the corner for us - not sure what that is, but our selfish life of travel and indulgences which is good when you first retire because you need to have a break and just learn to live again is over for the time being, but after 3 years of its all about me,  its nice to be useful, helping others,and with real purpose, not just making someone rich and I feel there is something new and exciting out there just waiting for us - because our eyes are once again open to new and wonderful things and we are invigorated.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve and more importantly I hope you all have a fantastic 2016 and that it gives you everything you are wanting in life - enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

Hoping everyone has a beautiful, relaxing and joyous Christmas.

Friday, September 11, 2015

When did we ever get time to work?

This month marks our 3rd anniversary of our retirement journey, when I look back I wonder how did we ever get the time to go to work.

Are we bored yet?  Short and sweet answer to that is NO.  Sorry to all you doubting Thomas's who went you are too young to retire, you will get bored, you will run out of money etc (the list of things everyone said is way too long to put them all here, but I am sure you get the picture).

Anniversaries are a good thing to sit back and reflect on things and if you have spent your time wisely, and achieved the goals you set out to.  I don't know if we had a plan ,in fact I know we really didn't have a plan as such - yes there was travel we wanted to do, yes we knew at some point we would want to downsize, we knew we wanted to do something more meaningful in our lives - not just make the man richer but help the community - although we didn't know in which form that would take, we knew we wanted to be with like minded people - how all of those things transpired was the fine tuning of life the suck it and see type thing, but no real plans as such.

Those 3 years have gone by so fast and outside of the years of having babies and staying home to look after my beautiful little girls,  these last 3 years have probably been the most enjoyable days of my life.  Sure there are days where we are a little bored, but its those days that make you take stock and make you re-evaluate things - without them you may miss something new and exciting to do, see, participate in, but generally these days have been few and far between.

We have been in our new home now for 9 months - this time last year we were still away eagerly awaiting the completion of our home, now we are truly settled in with a long term plan for living here.  We always knew we would sell our last home - it was the when and where would we go that we didn't know so some days it was hard to settle down because you where always looking for the next move opportunity, watching the real estate market etc - so its nice to be somewhere without that cloud over your head.  Its also nice not to have a mortgage and heaps of bucks in the bank - it helps you to really plan ahead better.  We live somewhere where there is always someone to talk to, people to do things with so those days when you have nothing on your plate can be filled in easily by taking a stroll around, sitting in the boat shed and chatting to others.

Buying our caravan provides with a quick, cheap way of holidaying when we feel we need to get out or away and even though we have only had it since April, we have been away 4 times now taking up about 7 weeks of our time - sometimes you just have to get away, but heading off overseas is expensive and we have been lucky enough over our time to have traveled extensively so right now we are happy with the lets go now and travel in our van.  We have had some great times away and our last trip to North and Central Queensland was heaps of fun, very relaxing, we saw things we haven't seen before - like the Undara Lava Tubes (where I had my birthday) what an incredible place, we caught up with friends in Port Douglas, we hired a mini moke at Magnetic Island, and caught up with the Crocs in Cairns - all paid for by Dereks metal detecting, it was a good way of escaping the cold. 

We still look for other holiday options as well, and recently took advantage of a standby rate for a house boat for a week - just like camping but on the water, we hadn't realised how much we had missed a week long boating trip - but with our use of our free boats here, and the standby rates for the houseboat, it is significantly cheaper than owing a boat.  We try to use the boats here at least once a week for a days escape to the beach and we love it.

With our new found freedoms, our new found lifestyle we have also now been able to decide how we volunteer, something we had wanted to do since we retired - give back to the community, do something for others, be less selfish - so we are now Marine Rescue on Monday and Tuesdays from 6am to 6pm, those first days where tiring but now we have gotten our energy back, have learnt to wake up earlier again and its great to be learning new things, getting new skills and being apart of yet another group of like minded people and be a part of team.  Yes it is tiring, yes it really takes it out of you, but it is so rewarding when you rescue someone who is in trouble, and learning true boating skills is exhilarating.  It took us a while to find the exact right thing for us, we don't spend any money on these days, the week just seems to fly by now and we feel like we are being useful in a way that is interesting for us.  Volunteering was always in the long term plan, but the first 2 1/2 years just didn't fit in, now it does in the exact right way for us.

I  now also doing Tai Chi on Wednesday and we both do a walking group on Thursdays so our week is fully booked up and it all goes too fast, so we now have a routine that provides us with a good array of things to do, keep fit physically and mentally as well as enjoying the company of fantastic new found friends.  

Not so long ago someone said to me "You haven't really done much since you retired", and it got me to thinking about what we have done, so with our 3 year anniversary here are our stats (of the things I can think of - no doubt have left something out), but I am not sure if we really could have fitted more in to be honest.

Days Retired:  1095
Days spent travelling:  440 (and they are the ones I can remember) 80 days overseas 14 countries, domestic about 300 days (including our around Australia camping trip) and about 60 days on boating holidays
Moving:  180 days - 90 days moving out, and about the same moving in (by the time you go out and buy new stuff, rearrange things and really settle in) 
Day trips/lunches etc: about 100 from the things I can remember - but probably more

Yes there would have been other things, but that accounts for about 65% of our retired life so far, at some point you have to be home and attend to the mundane as well as recuperate so overall I feel we have not really stopped.  It will change now for us a bit, as we do our volunteering and have set things that are done regularly each week - but that is also good, and a stage we were wanting to get to.  We are already planning our next camping trip for after the school hols and I must admit, I am hanging for a nice cruise holiday so I doubt the next 12 months will be boring as we look forward to some more new adventures.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A camping we will go

Just 3 short years ago if you had said that I would find pleasure in camping, or that as a part of our retirement journey I would be camping I probably would have laughed and said "you have to be joking".  I hadn't had a lot of experience with camping in my life except the school trips and the really cheap tent experience in my late teens, and to be honest I hated each and every one I went on. I had made it my life's ambition never to camp - to me 3 days in a 5 star resort was more of a holiday than 3 weeks camping.

So it's a strange feeling in my mind that here I am less than 3 years into retirement and I find I love the camping experience and now look forward to our next trip and spending money on being able to camp in a better environment.

We did start our retirement with a relocation van (looking for cheaper ways to travel - and this sort of set the ball rolling)  if you missed my blog on that here's the link  The Relocation Van Blog, at first I thought I enjoyed it so much because it provided just so much freedom and given we had only just retired it was such a great feeling to just be on the road, no plans other than to be in Cairns in 7 days and travelling with very little - just shorts, t's and thongs - it felt so good after years of constraints.

Now being settled in the new home and after our big trip around Australia  we started thinking about what we really want to do, yes we love the overseas travel and we love our cruising holidays, but you can't do this type of travel on our sort of self funded retirement money all the time - and we want to be able to pack up and go when the desire strikes, not planning for something in 3 months time, be more spontaneous in our adventures and to be able to do things more regularly.  So you have guessed it, we have bought ourselves a new pop top camper van.

Our first set up - well nearly setup!
Given we have limited space in our new house to store a van we had to be quite succinct in what we wanted ie:  we only have a limited width and a limited height we can go to - in our travels the most common van we saw were the Jayco Pop Tops - more than any other type, brand or style and those that had them seemed to have the best of all worlds - not too big, but with the convenience of internal sinks, beds, lounge areas and dining areas,off the ground, easy to tow and easy to setup.  So a few months ago we started on the journey of looking for our new home away from home.

Like all buying decisions these days, we try hard to take our time and do our homework - looking at as many possible options we can see - to ensure we are getting the best bang for our buck - so given we knew exactly what we were after (we hired one for a weekend first to make sure we did like them) and also to ensure it would fit into the limited space we have, and yes it was for us.  We searched for second hand ones to begin with and then soon found that most of these where of a similar price to a brand new one, so we did elect to buy a newbie (beautiful).

We have spent the last 2 months now just packing and going when the weather appears to be good (although that really hasn't worked out so well given our current weather patterns of late), but this hasn't fazed us at all, because one of the reasons we wanted a pop top caravan was so we were not limited by rain like we were on the soft floor/roof camper and it would appear we could possibly hire ourselves out as drought busters.

So yes we have experienced a lot of rain (in 3 trips over 300mm), but at the same time we have been comfortable when it was raining, we have had the luxury of being able to get inside and keep dry as well as be off the ground (which was a great thing in these types of situations).  We have been learning how to get the van up and down quickly, getting everything in its rightful place and establishing our living while away - so while the weather hasn't always been on our side (although in some places it was perfect), we have learnt about our new van which has been great, and so far we love the thought and of course the doing of just going - lets go!.

Our first trip was to South West Rocks - about half way between Brisbane and Sydney and we had a great camp site on the mouth of the river - it was a fantastic camp site with a ensuite (we always try to get an ensuited site if we can), on large sites and in a beautiful environment.  It took us a bit longer to setup than we originally anticipated that first time as we had to remember how to do everything and of course it was all new - but we got there and the first day was magnificent - sunny and warm and just so lovely to be sitting under our annex in the shade having a chat to people feeling pretty chuffed, but that night the heavens opened to 140mm of rain - but guess what - we didn't care and not one drop of water in the van and the site was still dry around us because of the annex (the things we didn't have before).  Overall it was a great first trip and we really enjoyed ourselves.  We did only have 3 days here though because of the rain - but that is what this is about, we don't have to be away for weeks now, more regular trips for shorter periods of time.  Derek of course continued on his winning way in the metal detecting stakes and had a fantastic time.

Next we decided to head into country NSW at this time of the year the Armidale area is so beautiful with its Autumn leaves and we had another lovely camp spot and after a few lovely days here we headed for Stanthorpe - I love Standthorpe and there is so much to do there at this time of year with the wineries, lovely town center, bush walks etc (check out my Stanthorpe Blog for more info on this area).  We headed to Storm King Dam rather than the town parks because we wanted a more bush camp site and the caravan park here didn't disappoint, with exceptionally large sites complete with fire pits (absolutely necessary in Stanthorpe this time of year as the days are beautiful, but boy can the nights get cold), right on the dam and boats, bikes etc to hire - we will be going back here again.  Once again our trip was cut short by RAIN another 200mm in 2 days so it was a wet pack up which was also good to experience.

A few weeks back home - still getting things in their rightful places in the van so each time we go out the experience gets just that bit better, more organised and easier to setup, then we headed off to Rainbow Beach (I haven't been there for probably 35 years), again the Rainbow Beach caravan park is fabulous with views to die for, the weather was glorious for the 3 days we were here - but unfortunately we had to pack and go because we hadn't booked and on the 4th day we were told they where fully booked - bugger.  Headed up to Bigara Beach just of Bundaberg for a few days there (probably wouldn't go back here again, really not much to do and no beach as such so a little disappointing), but again we got to do the pack up and set up in one day and this is so helpful in learning how to use your van so we were not really all that upset.

We are now getting ready to take off for the Winter though, heading North for the sun and hope to be away for 4-6 weeks (this is sort of what we want to do, short trips during the year and then 1 longer trip in the Winter months).  We feel we now have everything in the right spot in the van, have all the things we need for a comfortable trip and we feel confident in the setup and pack up process.  At this point in time we feel this has provided us with a lot more travelling opportunities at a more affordable price and while we love where we live it is still nice to get away.

We are loving the Jayco Eagle, it suites us to a tee, it has all the comforts of a big van (sink, stove, fridge, lounge, dining and 2 beds - one queen and one double as well as an electric awning - we are hopeless with annex setup so with a push of a button we have our awning up and out with no fuss). Its easy to tow and you can still do the normal speed limits and now we have setup a few times we are doing this in about an hour from pull in to sitting down having a coffee under the annex, we could probably do it faster but we like to get everything out properly first up.  We are enjoying our small jaunts when we get the urge to move which is good, and yes we have been taking Teddy (but he really doesn't enjoy himself all that much - but we can take him if we want to so that is nice as well).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life in the over 50's lane

WOW how fast time flies, we have been in our new home now for over 3 months, and I really can't believe it.

So how is it going you may well ask?

It is a totally different experience living in an over 50's village, and so far so good.  While we have had some teething issues that are always associated with a new estate, generally the move has provided us with everything we were looking for.

As in previous posts on the move, we were looking to up size the bank account so we could enjoy more things over a longer period of time, have less expenses and spend less time on chores like gardening, maintenance etc, but at the same time, have more camaraderie around us, and be somewhere where we could share with like minded people.

It was hard at first but those of us who moved in together on the first day are now well entrenched as  we all got to know each other, and now we get new neighbours every week, which is exciting - its nice to see the community taking shape, and we get to do lots of nice things with each other using the community facilities (which are not totally finished as yet), but when they all are, I believe we get a great bang for our buck.

Teddy is loving it here as well, which is nice, I was a bit worried about him and his sometimes cranky attitude but he enjoys going out and saying hello to everyone on his daily walk, so all good on that front.

So while we have now settled in it is time for us to begin a new journey where we can do more travel with less worries as we leave, so have bought ourselves a new camper trailer (hard top, off ground and easy to put up) and are looking forward to being able to just jump in and go off whenever the urge arrives.

We don't seem to have stopped though since moving here, and with our new found friends and companions in our community we have been off doing heaps of lovely day trips, having drinks and nibbles and generally getting to know each other so its been a fun way to settle in and get to know everyone while moving in and getting things done, and getting to know your new environment.

So what have we done since moving in you ask, lets see if I can remember all the wonderful things that have made the last 3 months fly by.

A lovely dinner at The Black Angus at Sanctuary Cove- a wonderful way to meet everyone and get to know each other and being picked up in a Limo with champers for the trip up the road, while we were all tired having only moved in for 2 days and all of still unpacking it was nice to find some good clothes out of the boxes and go and relax.  Dinner was yum and I think a great night was had by all.

A day at the Brisbane International Tennis - in the Corporate Box no less but being driven to Brissy and enjoying something new and exciting with a great vantage point, I know I had a ripper day and thoroughly enjoyed it - I will be going back next year albeit paying for myself this time, but it introduced me to something I had not done before and I loved it.

Taking our new community boat over to Tipplers Resort for lunch - it was a hot day, but being on the boat with the cool breezes blowing, then having a wonderful lunch when we arrived was just so nice.  Derek taught some of the others the art of metal 
detecting - it is these things that have helped to fill in the days, give you something to look forward to and in the early days of settling in gave some reprieve from decorating, unpacking etc

Australia Day at South Straddie, with great games, you can't beat thong throwing and frizby throwing competitions, and then the mandatory egg and spoon race, follow all of this activity with a BBQ lunch, nice walks and generally getting to know not just the people who already live here, but those expecting to move in in the near future.

Everyone getting their boat inductions and bus inductions so you can take them out whenever you want filled in a few days as well.

Another great Chinese New Year night with Dragons and general fun, and of course great food.

The boys had a boating day where they stopped at Curan Cove for coffee and then at the spit for a fish and chip lunch.

Us all taking the bus, with Derek as the driver out to the Fox and Hound - a beautiful old English Pub, that was bought out piece by piece from England and rebuilt at the bottom of Tamborine Mountain, with good English food, and generally quaint in this beach environment.

Too many happy hours to remember (every Friday night) usually involving Pizza, a Susage Sizzle or similar so a nice way to finish off each week.

And this week we are having a Pot Luck night where everyone brings a plate to share - looking forward to some yummy foods and then it will be off to St Paddies Day on Tuesday to be sure to be sure.

So there has been no rest for us wicked retirees with something happening just about every week, but that isn't enough for us, this week we bought our new camper and take delivery of it on Monday (no doubt there will be a blog about it) as we make ready for more jaunts out into our beautiful country on a more regular basis, while we are being kept busy here we are now getting itchy bums to travel again, and given we enjoyed our camping trip around the country, we decided this was a perfect way for us to go away more regularly and with less costs overall - to make those retirement dollars stretch , take Teddy with us and see and experience other places in this great land that we didn't do on the last trip.

So as you can see we are keeping busy, put this in with a happy hour every week, still going out and buying things for the house, then the normal mundane things it has gone by too quickly, but it has been fun and its nice to be surrounded by fun people in a similar age bracket to us, and yes there are always going to be things that annoy you when you live in a new estate (noise, dirt etc), these are short lived and easily forgotten when you are having fun.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Silly Season is Over

For the last few years we have missed the majority of the pre-silly-season by being away somewhere incredible, but this year we eagerly awaited the 15th December - in a caravan park for the move into our new home.

We awoke very early that morning and were extremely keen to finally have a home again, it was a great day with the Vision team providing us with a lovely breakfast followed by a bike ride and then lots and lots of lovely gifts.  We had arrived, and we were now keen to unpack as quickly as possible, so we could prepare for Christmas.  It was a hectic week though with Vision taking us out to dinner, a street Christmas party and generally an air of excitement from everyone.

After not having a home for so long, it was just so fantastic to have the new home completed and to be moving in before Christmas.  It was such a great way to end the year and make the new house into our new home - having everyone here, cooking up meals, preparing Julies Yummy Corner, getting the Christmas decorations out and up again (finding them new homes for the years celebrations), makes that new house into the new home even if it was all a little hectic. 

I love my Christmas, and I love having everyone over for 48 hours or so and each year I am so thankful that we are once again lucky enough to have everyone here - even if after they go I give a sigh of relief - to me this s what life is about, being with the ones you love and the ones that make a difference in your life. 

So far we are loving it, and when the estate (or community as it's called) is finished, we will really be in a fantastic environment to enjoy all the great things of living on the Gold Coast Broadwater, with our own marina, boats, pavilions, pools etc - these are not yet constructed and that's what comes from being a trail blazer and buying off the plan and being the first in - but we have not been forgotten and for 12 months we have been given membership to Sanctuary Cove Country Club so we can use similar type facilities.

We have been here 6 weeks now and the time has gone so fast, with unpacking, continuing to buy new furniture, repack things again and again just to ensure its all in the right spot for the long term, parties, boating, catching up with friends, off to the tennis, Australia Day,  I feel exhausted but the silly season is now officially over and everyone has gone back to school, so we can go back to going places and doing things we avoid during the peak holiday season, so I hope we are now able to get into some sort of routine again, because this has been hard over the last 6 weeks with the heat, the wet, the move, the events, the unpacking etc  so today we get back on track - the new house is now a home, things are where they should be, and I am getting back into a routine of paying bills, checking the mail - all the things we didn't need to do for 6 months - so they came hard in the first few weeks.

Teddy is really enjoying it as well, he has a few girl friends in the estate, and he loves to go for a walk and say hello to everyone morning and night - for a dog that you couldn't get to go walkies, now that's all he wants to do, so he is becoming more social as well and that is important for us.

What will 2015 bring, we have no plans so far - unusual for us however right now I have another 11 months to work it out and today we begin that journey.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dereks Metal Detecting Finds 2014

So I have tried in my blogs to show the photos of Dereks Finds - but thought I would do one small blog with all the photos he got.

Now we all know he loves his metal detecting and this year with a new pin pointer has made his finds significantly more and easier to come by, he had a great time while we traveled around Australia detecting, and to be honest must have found at least $2000 on the way - it was a significant contributor to laundry money and meals out.

On our return he has been busy around the Gold Coast as well and again is doing so much better now than he use to as he really works out the best areas to detect as well as using all his new tools of the trade.

He is now in the throws of polishing all his bits and pieces up and making a collection in his garage cupboard.

While probably not a photo of absolutely everything he has found this year, its not a bad collection of photos and worthy of its own blog