Driving Mrs Crazy!

I was terrified!   I was in a new country, in the country and I was sitting behind the steering wheel of a car for the very first time. I had no idea what I was doing or if I actually wanted to do it but I knew it was important. It was important to my brand spanking new husband and therefore to me.

Driving, was some place that no woman in my family had ever gone before. It hadn’t been necessary – Dad was a Taxi driver and my friends could drive and there were buses and walking from where I came from. But here I was, in the Outback of Queensland, Australia, having my very first driving lesson!

That first time, is etched in my mind with such clarity, that even though it took place 30 years ago, the fear is recalled easily. I was on a red dirt road with no lanes or lines and certainly no other traffic. It was flat. It was straight. It was sunny. The person I trusted most in the world was sitting beside me and I was still terrified!

I was certain I would crash … into a tree or another car or a person or a kangaroo. My husband assured me that none of the above was going to happen and so I placed my hands on the steering wheel, gripping it so tightly that my knuckles turned white, and whispered that I was ready. I listened intently to the instructions about relaxing my grip, checking my mirrors, putting in the clutch and finding the gear. As I eased my foot off the brake, I felt the car inch slowly forward. It was about this time that a large kangaroo decided to bound across the red dirt road in front of me and into the scrub on the other side of the track. What happened next is a blur but I know that the driving lesson ceased and there was a lot of “I told you so” and “I’m never driving again” and “Take me home, NOW!!”


It took a long time to get me back behind the wheel of a car again.   I did resume lessons and I did eventually get my license but it took many hours of patient coaxing, a visit to a psychiatrist and a bag or three of chips!   As well as anxiety, I am what I call directionally challenged.  My left and right get confused and I have been known to indicate left and turn right ….. which I did during my driving test with the policeman in my car.  It turned out okay, though, because my husband was also in the car when I took my test, as I refused to drive without him being there.  This was lucky as he was able to explain to the cop that sometimes I got a little confused but mostly I was good and he promised him that I would only be driving in straight lines at the beginning!  The country cop gave me a pass and suggested that my husband take me for driving practise as much as possible BUT to always inform the said cop when I would be on the road, so that he could take a coffee break at the precise time!

My driving improved with practise, a bag of chips to munch as I drove and the purchase of an automatic car!  I still had trouble with overtaking for a long time, especially the trucks and road trains that used to frequent the country highways.  I can remember, many times that Adrian and I would swap seats when we caught up to a large vehicle and he would do the overtake and then put enough distance between the truck and our car, for me to jump back in and drive the long straight road until we caught up with another one!


And today, 30 years later, I am a confident, competent driver, who can do her own overtaking.  I am forever grateful to that policeman and my husband for keeping me driving.  Driving has given me a freedom and independence that I would never have known.  It meant that when my husband died, I was still able to maintain many of my activities and lifestyle.  For the last 25 years I have lived in the city, which means driving in busy traffic conditions but not so many road trains and trucks. For that I am grateful.  I do, however, live in close proximity to Pooh Corner, which is home to one of, if not the last population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Brisbane.  Each time I come across a Roo or a Wallaby, my mind returns to my first ever driving lesson in Outback Queensland, Australia and think about how far I have come!

Still Looking For My Season.

It was with much excitement that I got ready for bed last night.  After all this time, Autumn / Winter was arriving!  I knew this because my weather station on my phone had told me it was to be.

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See …. Tuesday overnight low of 11ºC!!  That meant I needed to put a blanket on my bed for the first time in 2015.  I’ll start with a cotton blanket to begin with but I would put my quilt nearby – just in case it was needed.  Winter pj’s – nah, a little too risky for this menopausal hot stuff!  Now to hang my fluffy dressing gown on the back of the bedroom door.  Everything was ready – I would hunt up some slippers tomorrow!

As I snuggled into bed, it wasn’t long before FurBaby was there to share the warmth.  Right under my chin!  She’s been slowly moving closer and closer but I hadn’t really been interested – tonight I was.  She could stay.  The next thing I knew, it was 6 am!  Do you know how long it is since I have slept past 4 am these past few warm months?  Heaps!  I couldn’t believe it.  I had slept, all night, without really moving!  Blanket still in place, as was previously mentioned FurBaby.  I lay there for a moment and took in the cold around my shoulders and considered adding the quilt.  Decided against adding the warmth because today is a work day and I just may feel like staying in my cocoon – all day.

So after a few more minutes stretching in bed, I sat up and felt the cold envelop me.  As my feet hit the wood floor, I cursed myself for not finding some slippers last night.  My thongs would have to do, as I moved towards my snuggly dressing gown, hanging on the door, readied the night before.  As I slipped it on, the familiarity and comfort felt great.  My season was here – better late than never!

So I began my morning as usual, with bathroom, breakfast preparation and cat service!   Though not necessarily in that order!  By the time I had renewed the cat litter tray, I was already too hot and sat down to eat breakfast with a light cardigan over my summer pj’s – snuggly dressing gown thrown over the end of my bed!

Well that went well!

At first I was a little disappointed, as we only really have cooler weather for about a month or two in Queensland. During those two months, the weather is just about always clear and sunny and you usually get to strip down to short sleeves during some part of the day!  I think I still miss the cold wet New Zealand Autumn / Winter’s …. but then I got thinking back to Friday, the week before.  I had been kidnapped by some friends, on our day off and taken to beautiful Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast.  I thought about how the sound of the sea, the smell of the ocean, the sight of the clear blue sky and feel of the waves on my feet soothed my weary heart and mind.  The blessing of still needing to apply sunscreen and find a shady spot to eat our picnic.  The joy of sitting with my friends, still able to fully appreciate the Eye Candy as it jogged by!

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Yes I love Autumn – the colours, the temperatures, the clothes, the leaves and  I can find a place for these things on Pinterest and photos from the internet or family in New Zealand.

Autumn-Wallpaper-autumn-35867786-1280-800BUT I can only find the warm sunny Autumn / Winter days in Queensland!   Where I can still go to the football at night in tee shirts and sandles.  Where I can watch the children play in the water and swim, way after Easter.  Where I can still sleep with only one cotton blanket and the windows wide open until the end of April!  You know what?

There is no place I’d rather be!

Mandy’s G20 Spa Update: Conclusion.

The G20 in Brisbane is over.  Vlad left early!  Barack wowed the Uni Students!  Tones … well Tones was just Tones!  Most of the road closures will be slowly getting back to normal but the weekend was anything but normal!  We had days of this –

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It was ridiculously hot which meant any Spa activities that needed me to leave the house and the air conditioning, were well and truly forgotten!  It was actually too hot to walk the 100 metres to our Community pool, remove the cover, swim, replace the cover, then walk the 100 metres back to the house!  So, the weekend of pampering and relaxation of myself changed quite a lot.

I was amazed to notice that the minute I announced the fact of having a pampering weekend and gave myself permission to have a relaxing weekend – I became revitalized and energetic.  Ploughing into those tasks that have previously been beyond me.  Tasks like tackling Mt Washmore!  Like organising my wardrobe and packing away my Winter woollens.  I washed and packed away winter bedding. Of course, because of the weather, it was a nightmare to hang out the washing but it did dry in a heartbeat!

You know, I never did slather, smooth, pluck or exfoliate anything but I really don’t mind.  My mind was fed and nourished with the beauty of music and words.  And I achieved many satisfying outcomes within my home.  No, my home is not picture perfect nor sparkling from top to bottom.  But it is a more serene and organised place in which to feel calm and motivated.  I wanted to give myself a hug and I did!  And it felt good!

Here are some photos of other things that made me feel relaxed, calm and motivated on the G20 weekend.

A Kookaburra and a Peewee dropped in for a well needed drink.
A Kookaburra and a Peewee dropped in for a well needed drink.
The All Blacks had a narrow win against Scotland.
The All Blacks had a narrow win against Scotland.
Mettwurst, cheese & crackers for lunch.
Mettwurst, cheese & crackers for lunch.
Mango season is well and truly here.
Mango season is well and truly here.
My bedroom minus Mt Washmore!
My bedroom minus Mt Washmore!

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful I feel with all those clothes having been sorted, folded and packed away.  Yes, there is ironing to be done but next weekend I will receive a whirlwind visit from my New Zealand nephew and seeing as he is my Sister’s son – I’m hoping that her love of ironing has been passed down the generation!  I am not holding my breath, though!

The other soul nourishment from my G20 Spa Weekend, came from Glennon Doyle Melton and her wonderfully down to earth blog,  Momastery. Her blog and her book, Carry On Warrior are continued sources of encouragement and laughter in my daily life.  I would love you to discover for yourself her inspirational words.  Here are a couple of snippets to whet your appetite.

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You are not a mess

So, what do you find nourishing and uplifting?  Maybe you will be surprised to discover that relaxation and pampering can come from the most unexpected places e.g my conquering of Mt Washmore!

Mandy’s G20 Spa Update:1

Hmm, it hasn’t quite gone as I expected, but it began well, waking up early and hanging the first load of washing before 7am!  Next, while eating a healthy breakfast, I logged on to see what wonderful offerings had arrived in my inbox and sure enough my tribe had not failed me.

The first offering was a link sent to me by someone who knows my heart well.  It was a link to a blog by Ashley Hackshaw.  It so nurtured my soul this morning that I am hoping Ashley aka Lil Blue Boo doesn’t mind me sharing it here?


I especially loved the quote she shared from Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tues with Morrie quote

Next I had a laugh provided by Jimmy Fallon & Channing Tatum via this little gem


It was about time that I realised that this was happening today on TV and well you know me and sport!!

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So instead of pampering body, I decided to pamper my home by attacking Mt Washmore, while watching the cricket!  So the doona’s were popped into the washing machine and I began sorting and folding until my table looked like this …

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Those are piles, people! Folded and sorted piles, people!  I’m so proud of me.

Just the queen sized doona to hang out and then I’m ready for some slathering and soaking.  As I was hanging out the doona, I wrenched my grumpy shoulder and MAN DOES IT HURT!!!! So the rest of the day is being spent with a wheat pack and these …

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It is 34 degrees here and I have a heat pack on my shoulder!!  I guess it will open the pores on my neck – if that was what I wanted to deep cleanse.  So I have ended Day 1 of Mandy’s G20 Spa by eating hot, fresh croissants with butter and strawberry jam.  And I am happy and have achieved stuff  and am looking forward to Day 2 of Mandy’s G20 Spa.

Until then.

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Getting my G20 on.

I don’t know if anybody outside of Brisbane realises but we are hosting  the G20 Summit this weekend and for a relaxed holiday city like us, the security is crazy!  Obama’s secret service detail requested that a roundabout outside the University of Queensland, be demolished so that the President’s motorcade would not have to slow down when transporting him!  Request denied!

US decoy helicopters.
US decoy helicopters.

Tomorrow has been declared a G20 public holiday in Brisbane, making a lovely long weekend.  With the extra day break and the predicted temperatures of 38-42 degrees celsius, most of Brisbane has made their way to the beautiful Sunshine or Gold Coast to enjoy the beach.

Beautiful Palm Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland
Beautiful Palm Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland

But not me!

What to do on this momentous occasion?  Well, I could wander into the City Precinct and go people watching. Don’t really want to get frisk searched or mixed up with the many protest groups already there.  I could go shopping.  Many of the Shopping Centres are closed.  I could do housework and fold clothes from Mt Washmore – actually I just might do some of that.  I’ve been wracking my brain for what to do.  It is just this kind of weekend, when most of my friends are away, that I can fall into a deep depression and crawl under the covers and not come out (obviously with the air conditioner on).  So I decided I needed a plan – thank you Pinterest!

Mandy’s Stay at Home Pampering Weekend is about to be planned.  My mind, body and soul are going to be nurtured and loved and spoilt and hugged …….. by ME!!  I am going to rest, relax, drink plenty of water & G & T’s! I am going to slather and lather and scrub and smooth!  I am going to pray and think and read and write! I am going to move and swim and listen to music and dance in my kitchen!  And I may even plan my food for the next few weeks and I will definitely be sneaking in a few “get ready for Christmas” activities!

Watch this space for G20 Spa updates!

Christmas crockery has made it's way into my cupboards!  Oops!!
Christmas crockery has made it’s way into my cupboards! Oops!!

What will you be doing this G20 weekend – wherever you are in the world?