Tag Archives: Holiday of a Lifetime

Damn You, Kazza!

Wineglass Bay is considered to be the most beautiful bay  / beach in the world so visiting it during our stay in Tasmania was an absolute must.

IMG_4645 My first blog post from Australia was entitled: Not a Kazza in Sight! That turned out to not exactly be true. Kazza definitely came along for the ride. We managed to keep her in abeyance a lot of the time but we couldn’t help her coming to the fore from time to time.

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You see climbing up a mountain(ish) pass (to Wineglass Bay Lookout) and down the other side (to the beach itself) is hard work for a girl with a breathing problem but even worse for a girl with a competition problem. I constantly compete with myself (and some would say others too) and consequently get quite frankly pissed off with myself if I can’t do things. Which we all know is of course ridiculous!

IMG_4674So getting upset that I struggled to walk up a steep hill when I could barely walk to the end of the road this time last year is crazy. Getting upset because I was exhausted at the end of an 11km walk is also ridiculous but I just can’t stand to fail. I can’t stand to admit that I am not invincible which of course is how we got into this stupid mess, September 2013!

Australia was spectacular and was without doubt a holiday of a lifetime – I will always remember pretty much everything we did over those three incredible weeks. Every day brought a new adventure and a new sight that was unforgettable.

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The consequence of this incredible holiday from a health perspective however is that I returned exhausted. My week off to recover afterwards barely touch the sides of my exhaustion (largely because I filled it with activity everyday!). My week off rather than constituting doing nothing, constituted doing lots just not running! That, I convinced myself was a week off.

I had begun to recover and had even done a successful yoga class when our shipment arrived. This involved two solid days of hard work lifting and carrying and packing of boxes. Without leaving my house, I managed to accrue the guts of 20,000 steps a day and burned about 4000 calories! This was not what my body needed. We won’t even get into the psychological impact of lots of wedding presents getting smashed!

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Of course mixed into all of this was more issues with our washing machine which I of course had to deal with while still trying to direct hundreds of boxes to vaguely correct rooms around the house! Exhausting both physically and mentally.

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Note water gushing over the top!

Of course that washing machine repair failed (shock horror) and so it required, a few days later, another fight with a plumber over the course of three hours that water shouldn’t be dripping out of the hose pipe that, unlike what he claimed,- this was not ‘normal’. Every failed attempt to get me to agree that the leaking hose was fixed led to a phone call to his boss and every conversation started with him in Marathi / Hindi explaining that, ‘mam says there is a leak but there is no leak’ quickly followed by my saying (in English), ‘don’t say there is no leak when there is a leak!’ His boss seemed to inform him each time to fix it again! We got there in the end but it did take three hours! Once again, mentally exhausting.

Now that little adventure was followed by my deciding I would get a guy in to clean my windows inside and out. They were beyond filthy – still covered in the construction dust from when they were built a year ago. In places, it was difficult to even see out the window! I agreed to a price and when he would come. I didn’t on the other hand grasp the fact that it would take about 6 guys and about 9 hours of work (over two days) inside in the house and another 2 days to clean the outside of the apartment (on ropes from the roof!). Why would I ever have considered that it would take this long?! Sure our apartment is big but good lord it’s not that big!

While the guys are here, you have to hang around – I can’t exactly leave them unsupervised but it means you can’t really rest. I feel too uncomfortable with having people in to do such jobs to lie on the sofa and watch TV or with them moving around the whole time – go to bed for a few hours. So I continue to potter about, convincing myself that unpacking those boxes or carrying that heavy load is ok when really I am doing exactly the thing I shouldn’t be doing!

These adventures of course are unusual. They are in addition to the everyday challenges that you are faced with here. Where can I buy fruit? Where can I buy vegetables? Where can I buy meat? When will these places be open? When will I have the car to go and get them? What price am I willing to buy the rickshaw driver who is trying to rip me off? Where can I get big black bags for the dustbin when all I can find are little ones? Where do I find cat litter that isn’t vile and disgusting because the cats are hating what I got for them!? Where? When? How?

Over the last week therefore I can categorically say I have begun to feel again the way I did 18 months ago. I am reminded again about the difference between fatigue and tiredness. I am not really tired, I am seriously fatigued. A blog, many months ago now, talked about how I had to walk the tight rope between doing too little and doing too much. Too little and I would make myself too physically unfit to deal with my illness and psychologically do damage by isolating myself from the world but equally doing too much would make me physically more ill and make it harder for me to psychologically deal with my illness (my brain gets tired just like my body does).

cropped-20140318-0801571.jpgThe tightrope is back and once again nobody has given me any safety ropes. While I feel I am in a much better position than I was back then, it does without question scare me. This feels like the worst relapse I have had since I seemed at least on the outside ‘to be better’. Just like I coped before I can cope again.

And here, far more than back in the UK, will help me recover. Here, I have lovely Maggie who comes and cleans my house. The weather is warm and that always helps. I don’t have the pressure of trying to return to work. I can cheat and buy my meat from a 5 star hotel and order my vegetables online (even if the price and quality isn’t the same as buying them elsewhere). I have a driver so I don’t have to worry about not being able to drive or getting the energy together to use public transport. There is also an incredibly supportive group of people here that will help me to look after myself (just like I had back in the UK).

So, rather than seeing my current state has something traumatic and worrying, I see it rather more as a warning, a reminder of where I have come from and where with very little trouble I can go back to if I am not careful. So I will be careful (well, I will at least try).

I didn’t write this blog to worry people but more as my way of saying – ‘Please, those who have been on Karen Duty in the past, can you return to your posts’ and ‘those who are new to Karen Duty, can you please look out for me and be bossy and tell me off for doing too much and understand if I don’t do as much as I was.’

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Great Ocean Road

This blog is now over a week old. For most of the last week we have had no internet connection, inherently not a bad thing! I haven’t  changed it however so for those of you following our adventure via Facebook / iPhoto – panic not! 

My loving husband, Chris, can in many ways escapes the jagged edges of my criticism. If you were to meet him, you would find him kind, caring, highly intelligent and funny. If you were to observe him from a distance when he little realises that he is being watched, you would also find him silly in a really great fun way.

There is one area however that Chris is difficult and that is time keeping! Now, he is never late for anything – in fact the very opposite, he is always early for anything he does. Now, I’m never on time either, you can always guarantee that I will want to leave for somewhere far too early also.

There is one location however that his earliness is always a little testing even for me: the airport. So today, I find myself in Melbourne Airport, ‘patiently’ waiting the three hours required for our flight to Hobart. At least it gives me time (lots of time) to catch up on my blog that I have had little time to touch in the last five days! Silver-linings and all!

IMG_4280The last five nights have been spent travelling overland from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. A friend in India has asked me to advise her on what to do on her upcoming trip to Australia she is trying to plan. Now, I am definitely no Australia expert but including the Great Ocean Road on her itinerary to me now seems obvious.

Year in, year out, Chris and I end up going on holidays to places at, shall we say, the least traditional times of year. Seville in mid-August where afternoon temperatures ranged into the 40s, Stockholm in the summer (well is it ever really warm there?!), Iceland in July (so chilly but no snow) and now Australia in the winter. Time after time on this trip, people have been astounded that we have chosen to come to Australia – ‘you did realise it’s winter here didn’t you?’ ‘You did realise it isn’t hot in Australia all year round, didn’t you??” Well yes we did but we live in India so … which as you can imagine sends the conversation off on a completely different track!

The Great Ocean Road therefore in winter is an experience, an incredible experience. One compounded by the fact that a storm swept along the coast while IMG_4279we were driving it. 120 km/hour winds were reported at various stages. We were able to reliably depend upon the fact that as soon as we arrived at a lookout, we
would see beautiful blue skies. By the time, we reached the furthest possible distance from the car however we could guarantee the arrival of the same black, black cloud (seriously it was very black!) giving us just about enough time to say ‘Wow, look at the view!’, snap a few photos and then have to run headlong to the car while being pursued and regular caught by torrential rain or even hailstones or sleet!

IMG_4317The weather resulted in three major outcomes. Firstly, amazing photos – wow! Even those taken by a simple iPhone were spectacular. Secondly, ridiculous wet coats, hats and scarfs! Finally, lots and lots of fun. Fighting your way onto some of the viewing platforms against winds that threatened to fling your backwards; clinging onto railings while trying to move along a lookout path; watching women’s hair streaming backwards in near horzontal lines; even getting wet over and over again was simply fun! Exhausting but fun!

IMG_4311The Great Ocean Road wasn’t quite what I expected. In my head, we would travel for mile upon mile along a road that probably twisted and turned along the edge ofthe coast. Reality was that that was the reality from Apollo Bay to near Geelong however the first few days were IMG_4337spent on roads that twisted up and down mountains; through coastal rainforest; and through barren heathland. At times, the sea was only metres away but not visible through the trees. Somehow therefore when you emerged from the rainforest or heathland and saw the sea it dramatically increased the impact of the view.

When I lived in Warsaw, Poland, I used to always say that Warsaw was more beautiful than Krakow. Unlike Krakow, Warsaw’s stunningly beautiful buildings were interspersed with ugly communist blocks but that this allowed you to see just how beautiful the buildings were because you had something to compare them to. The same goes for the Great Ocean Road coastline. As a result of not always being able to see the beauty of the coastline, it was more shockingly beautiful when you could. On the other hand, what we did drive through was also stunningly beautiful just different from expectations! Unlike, of course, the ugly communist blocks of Warsaw! IMG_4275

By the time we had reached the end of the Great Ocean Road, the term ‘holiday of a lifetime’ had gained currency and greater clarity of meaning. I had never really believed in the concept of a ‘holiday of a lifetime’. Surely that was a very sad concept, a bit like how your wedding is ‘the happiest day of your life’. Well if this holiday is the best it is ever going to get then that is a very depressing thought.

I now understand what it really means. It means a holiday that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A holiday that little things that you see and do into your long-term future will fleetingly remind you of that great three weeks of your life. it is a holiday that has more meaning than the average one, that has had more impact than the average holiday. Australia has become our ‘holiday of a lifetime.’  A ‘holiday of a lifetime’ that we can be assured will never be diminished by the other ‘holidays of a lifetime’ we will have in our future.