Seven Bridges to Cross Again: Part Three

Prologue
Part One
Part Two

Village One: Milsons Point Village

Milsons Point Village, 7 Bridges Walk 2014 (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

Milsons Point Village, 7 Bridges Walk 2014 (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

I walked quickly through North Sydney towards Milsons Point.

Fortunately, most of the way it was downhill.

I ate two of the two chocolate bars I’d bought on impulse the night before.

As I passed through North Sydney and entered Milsons Point, I saw a few other people who also looked like Walkers heading in the same direction.

Finally, almost twenty minutes after I’d hurried out of the Rydges North Sydney, I made it to Milsons Point Village a few minutes before 8:30am.

Hundreds of Walkers were crowded within the Burton Street underpass that led to the stairs up to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I put some chewing gum in my mouth, entered the underpass, and got my Event Passport.

A moment later, the Walk began for 8:30am starters.

I joined the huge mass of humanity making its way up the stairs to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Bridge One: The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

The Sydney Harbour Bridge (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

Since 1996, I’ve walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge hundreds of times – or maybe it’s more than a thousand times, now.

But I’d never crossed when the walkway had been packed like this.

As far as I could see up ahead, an almost solid mass was moving south across the Bridge.

Yet again, it was amazing to behold the variety of people walking the Walk.

The atmosphere was quite pleasant.

Except for the few jerks who, to my utter disbelief, were slowing up the crowd here and there because they were looking down at their fucking smartphones.

I overtook them whenever possible.

I also tried to keep left wherever I could, to be considerate of the few non-Walkers who were coming the other way with disgruntled look on their faces – but unfortunately, like the jerks with the smartphones, some of my fellow Walkers weren’t that considerate.

As I neared the southern end of the Bridge, a non-Walker very angrily blew his stack at the situation before continuing on.

Apart from that tense moment, I crossed the Bridge without incident.

Just after the stairs that led down to ground level near Argyle Street in the Rocks, I got my Event Passport stamped.

Shortly after, I glanced at the time on my iPhone.

It was around 8:50am.

One Village reached and one Bridge crossed, six more of each to go.

Vilage Two: Barangaroo Village

Barangaroo (www.sydney.com)

Barangaroo (www.sydney.com)

Along with many other fellow Walkers, I headed west along Watson Road and then Argyle Street into The Rocks.

Soon, we turned north into Dalgety Road and followed that to the northern entrance of the Barangaroo Reserve.

The walk through the newly-built Reserve was quite pleasant, and flat. Its pathway took us along the foreshore around Millers Point and south into Darling Harbour.

Just after the southern exit from the Reserve came the next stamping point for my Event Passport – Barangaroo Village.

It was also where I took my first toilet break. There was quite a line-up for the Portaloos there, but fortunately the queue moved quickly.

After I was finished, I looked at the time again.

It was around 9:15am.

As I’d done back in 2014 during my first attempt at the Walk, I recorded that progress in the notepad I carried in my travel vest.

Back in 2014 I’d also used an official Walk app to record my progress, but this year I’d decided to just use my notepad.

I changed my chewing gum and resumed walking.

Two Villages reached, five to go.

Bridge Two: Pyrmont Bridge

Hundreds of us continued south out of Barangaroo Village and down Hickson Road into the north-west edge of the Sydney CBD.

The Walk route made a turn up a long and narrow flight of stairs to Kent Street, and then headed south again until it turned west down Erskine Street to the King Street Wharf.

This was once familiar territory that I hadn’t walked though for a few years, especially after one of my all-time favourite restaurants near King Street Wharf had closed back in 2013 – Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ.

The Walk continued south along the Darling Harbour foreshore past Madame Tussauds and the Sydney Aquarium to the eastern end of the Pyrmont Bridge.

Many of us headed up to the Pyrmont Bridge via escalator, and then crossed to the western end to get our Event Passports stamped once more.

I checked my iPhone.

It was around 9:40.

Two Bridges crossed, five to go.

Village Three: Pyrmont Village

Pyrmont Village, 7 Bridges Walk 2014 (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

Pyrmont Village, 7 Bridges Walk 2014 (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

Barely five minutes after Pyrmont Bridge came Pyrmont Village, where I decided to take my first break.

After I got my third Village stamp, I took my empty water bottle out of my backpack and filled it from one of the free taps provided.

Then I saw something as equally wonderful as free water, but more hard to come by at the Villages – a seat.

I sat down, took off my travel vest and jacket, and relaxed with my water and two more of my chocolate bars.

It was quite a warm day, but I saw for the first time that unlike the bright and sunny Walk day back in 2014, today was partly overcast.

Back at the Rydges North Sydney, I’d left behind the small umbrella I usually carry in my backpack to reduce travelling weight – but now as then, I thought that it would be no big deal if it did rain. I would already be soaked here and there with sweat, and the hat would keep water out of my eyes.

Physically, I wasn’t feeling bad at all – and so far, there were no problems with my Doc Martens.

It was good to be doing the Walk again.

Just before 10:00am, I got myself ready and resumed Walking.

Three Villages reached, four to go.

Bridge Three: The Anzac Bridge

Like the walk around the Barangaroo Reserve, the next 25 minutes of walking around the Pyrmont peninsula was flat and pleasant.

After Johnstons Bay and then Jones Bay, many of us arrived at the Anzac Bridge.

Just before the large spiral walkway that leads up to the Anzac Bridge was the next stamp point for our Event Passports.

I checked the time.

It was around 10:25am.

I headed up onto the bridge and then across it.

As I was descending on the western side, it felt like my left sock was bunching a little within my left Doc Marten – which could lead to blistering. I quickly pulled over, spent a minute or so adjusting both my Docs and socks, and got walking again.

After the Anzac Bridge, the Walk entered the narrow and twisty streets of eastern Rozelle.

Along the way was Easton Park, where I felt like making another toilet stop.

There were no Portaloos there, though – just a unisex public toilet with only two stalls and a queue. Fortunately, like at Barangaroo Village, the queue moved quickly.

After Easton Park the narrow and twisty streets continued, but now up some steep slopes as well. They weren’t too bad, though…unlike the horrors waiting up north a few hours away.

Soon the Walk reached, and then crossed through, Callan Park. At this stage, there were still many Walkers of all ages.

Finally, we descended to Iron Cove where Rozelle Village awaited.

But before I got my next Village stamp, I saw a vacant seat that was right on the water’s edge with a nice view, so I decided to rest there first.

It was now 11:15am.

Three Bridges crossed, four to go.

Village Four: Rozelle Village

Rozelle Village, 7 Bridges Walk 2014 (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

Rozelle Village, 7 Bridges Walk 2014 (http://www.7bridgeswalk.com.au/)

Like I’d done back at Pyrmont Village, I took a 15-minute break.

I drank the water still left in my bottle from Pyrmont Village, looked at the nearby Iron Cove Bridge, relaxed, and thought about my legs.

They were starting to ache a little.

That wasn’t worrying at that moment – but, of course, I thought back to those last agonizing kilometres through the Lower North Shore back in 2014.

I decided to start preparing myself now to blunt what might be similar excruciating pain in a few hours’ time, so I took some Nurofen.

I also changed my chewing gum again, and just before 11:30am I set off again.

Just before I left Rozelle Village, I got my next Village stamp.

Four Villages reached, three to go.

Village-wise, I was now more than halfway there.

Bridge Four: Iron Cove Bridge

Barely 10 minutes later, I was across the Iron Cove Bridge and getting my Event Passport stamped again.

Four Bridges crossed, three to go.

Bridge-wise, I was also now more than halfway there.

It was around 11:40am.

I’d been walking for just over three hours.

And the toughest parts of the Walk still lay ahead.

Like my former vertigo-inducing nemesis, the Gladesville Bridge.

And worse than that, the nasty incline from Burns Bay Reserve to Riverview.

And worst of all, the last six kilometres of the Lower North Shore.

I kept walking.

TO BE CONTINUED

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Seven Bridges to Cross Again: Part Two

Rydges North Sydney (hotelscombined.com.au)

Rydges North Sydney (hotelscombined.com.au)

Prologue
Part One

The Day Before: The Bumpy Road to North Sydney
Saturday, 29 October 2016.

Today I would be travelling to the Rydges North Sydney to check in for the next three nights.

I could have gotten there by 2:00pm, the earliest check-in time, but ultimately I decided that there was no hurry.

So finally, just after 3:00pm I loaded up and left home.

Just a few minutes after I left, my four-wheeled suitcase veered awkwardly for a moment as I pushed it down the street. At the time, I thought it was caused by something heavy in my bag, so I left it at that.

It was a hot afternoon, Town Hall railway station was about 15-20 minutes’ walk away, and my backpack was heavier than usual with my iPad, my personal laptop PC and my work laptop PC – but fortunately the walk was downhill halfway and flat after that.

Before I reached Town Hall, my suitcase veered awkwardly again a few more times, but I continued along.

At Town Hall, the next train to North Sydney arrived only a few minutes after I got there. After that, the trip across the Sydney Harbour Bridge was short and uneventful.

After I got off at North Sydney and began heading through the Greenwood Plaza Shopping Centre, I thought that perhaps I should have gotten a taxi from the station to the Rydges instead of the walk that I was about to do…but then I decided that, although it would be uncomfortable for a short while, it wouldn’t kill me.

I emerged from Greenwood Plaza on the west side of Miller Street, which rises in a long slope as it heads north towards the Rydges.

I began heading up Miller.

My suitcase veered awkwardly again, and because it was a cheap and light suitcase it had little of its own heft when pushed – especially uphill. In frustration, I began dragging the damn thing behind me on two wheels.

I continued further up Miller.

Finally, about 10 minutes after leaving Greenwood Plaza, I reached the intersection of Miller and McLaren Streets.

I waited until the Walk light turned green, and began to cross.

Because the ground was flat again, I tried pushing my suitcase on its four wheels again.

And yet again, it veered awkwardly.

Oh, for fuck’s sake!

I angrily glared down at it and resolved to next time pack my suitcase better…

…until I saw that one of the wheels was coming apart.

That was why my suitcase had been veering awkwardly all this time.

Oh, for fuck’s sake! again.

I dragged my shitty suitcase onto two wheels once more as I turned down McLaren to the Rydges.

*

About 20 minutes later, I was in my cosy and pleasant-looking room…

…but I was drenched in sweat and pissed off thanks to my fucking suitcase.

As I showered and then changed into clean clothes, I thought about what to do with my suitcase and the trip home in three days’ time.

Where and when the heck could I find a new suitcase before Tuesday morning? Was there a good luggage shop in North Sydney on Monday? And if not, what then?

After a while, though, I told myself to knock off that worrying.

Besides, there was something more immediate and important to think about.

*

Barely an hour after I’d arrived at the Rydges, I departed to head back down into the North Sydney CBD.

Apart from staying at the Rydges and being able to start better for the 7 Bridges Walk, there was another reason why I had been looking forward to coming to North Sydney.

It had been over a year since I’d last visited Had To Happen Mexican Restaurant (WARNING! Make sure your sound is not too loud), and I was keen to enjoy its cuisine again.

And I did🙂

*

Speaking of food, another thing I was looking forward to in North Sydney was fuelling up with a ‘big breakfast’ (bacon, eggs, sausages, hash brown, toast) before the Walk.

At first, I had thought about the Rydges buffet breakfast…but that didn’t open until 7:30am, an hour before I was due to start the Walk at Milsons Point Village, and I would have to leave the Rydges by 8am at least to get there in time. That meant only about 30 minutes of somewhat hurrying my breakfast, rather than an hour to enjoy it at a slower pace…

…and then I saw that Rydges room service was available from 6:30am.

Great! I could have time for both a leisurely big breakfast and a dump afterwards if required, and leave the Rydges at 8am feeling pleasantly fuelled for the long day ahead.

After returning from Had To Happen, I submitted my breakfast order and spent the last few hours of Saturday night relaxing until an earlier-than-usual bedtime at midnight.

I went to bed happy and looking forward to Sunday.

The Morning Of: Walking On Empty
Alas, the six or so hours of solid sleep I had hoped for didn’t happen.

Partly because I found that when I woke up at around 3am, my room was somewhat stuffy thanks to disappointing air-conditioning.

I spent the next three hours of passing in and out of sleep until I got up at 6:15am.

I sat at my desk and went online as I waited for my breakfast to be delivered.

6:30am came around.

And then 6:45am.

And then 7:00am.

This sucked…but I decided to be patient.

Soon, 7:15 came around.

And when 7:30 came around with still no sign of my breakfast, that was it.

I took a dump and got ready for the Walk.

First, I got dressed and put on some sunscreen.

Next, I packed my backpack with my iPad, a large empty water bottle and some fun energy boosts.

The night before after I’d left Had To Happen, I’d gone to a nearby supermarket and gotten some supplies for the Rydges and the Walk. Initially for the Walk, I was just going to take a couple of bags of jelly beans as the fun energy boosts – but on impulse, I also bought six small chocolate bars for variety.

Now, though, two of those bars went into one of my travel-vest pockets as breakfast on the way to Milsons Point Village.

But before that, I had to stop at reception to ask about my preferred breakfast hadn’t arrived.

*

But before I could get to reception, I discovered that only one of the two working lifts was now working (the third was under repair).

A moment later a lift going down did arrive – but it was full.

I waited about five minutes for the next one.

*

At reception, there was one member of staff and one person before me checking out.

Another few minutes passed.

When it was my turn, I politely reported my missing breakfast.

The member of staff was very pleasant and professional. She called the kitchen, and she reported that (a) the kitchen didn’t open until 7:00am (despite room service being advertised as available from 6:30), and (b) they’d tried calling me several times to tell me (although my room’s ‘phone or my mobile hadn’t rung at all).

It wasn’t quite another case of Oh, for fuck’s sake! – but I was a little annoyed.

Most importantly, though, the cost of that missing breakfast was removed from my bill.

The member of staff apologised for what had happened.

I thanked her very much for her courtesy and help, and left.

*

It was now after 8am.

I had less than 30 minutes to walk to Milsons Point Village.

I was pretty sure I could still make it, especially as it was all downhill to there…

…but then again, after the unexpected delays I’d experienced this morning, would I?

Shit.

I could have gotten a taxi from the front of the Rydges – but this being Sydney, even a taxi-ride could potentially take as long as walking there.

And what if something unexpected happened along the way –

Enough!

I would walk, because that seemed like the most likely way I would get there in time…

…but what I had originally hoped would be a relaxed walk to Milsons Point Village now became a hurried walk.

Back up McLaren and then back down Miller I went, grumpily starting on one of my chocolate bars as my replacement breakfast.

So far, not a great start to the day.

And I hadn’t even gotten to the Walk yet.

TO BE CONTINUED

Posted in Action, Anger, Fear, Gratitude, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Travel | Leave a comment

Seven Bridges to Cross Again: Part One

Dr. Martens (Wikimedia Commons)

Dr. Martens logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Prologue

Planning: The Four Very Important Things
As I mentioned in my previous post, there were four very important things I’d have to do differently this year to ensure that I completed the 7 Bridges Walk.

The first and easiest thing was starting earlier. Back in 2014, I had started at 9:30 – so this year, I would instead start at 8:30 (I could have started at 7:30, but to a night-owl like me even that seemed too early).

The second thing was starting from somewhere different. Back in 2014, I had started from the Observatory Hill Village at the south end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which had been one of the closest starting points to where I live…

…but ever since 2014’s experience, I had been thinking that it would be better to start from Milsons Point Village on the north end of the Harbour Bridge. It would take only 20-30 minutes to cross the Harbour Bridge, especially if I was starting fresh – so one bridge would be knocked over easily.

Which led to the third thing. Starting from Milsons Point Village would be good – but getting there first thing in the morning from home would be a drag. Having to get up even earlier than usual, walking 15-20 minutes to the nearest railway station, waiting who knows how long for the next train, the worst-case scenario of the train somehow being delayed on the way there…blah. I wanted to somehow get up and spend as little time as possible getting there…

…which gave me the glorious excuse of staying in a hotel close to Milsons Point Village the night before the Walk began.

There was one spectacular-looking hotel in North Sydney that was barely 10 minutes’ walk from Milsons Point Village – but although I could afford it, it was still a little pricey.

There was a pleasant-looking boutique hotel further up in North Sydney that looked appealing, and I came close to booking there…

…but on the same street as the boutique hotel was the Rydges North Sydney, where I had stayed one night a few years before. I had liked it, so I thought I’d give it a return visit.

After further thought, I decided to book three nights at the Rydges. I would check in the night before the Walk; I would use the second night and the day after the Walk, a Monday, to rest and recover; and I would head home Tuesday morning. I would be working Monday and Tuesday, but fortunately I could connect remotely from the Rydges via my work’s laptop PC.

Finally, there was the fourth thing – pain management.

Back in 2014, the last part of the Walk through Sydney’s Lower North Shore had been murder. I had recovered afterwards when I took some Nurofen painkillers during dinner – but I wanted to deal with that pain long before, as it was a major reason why I had mostly hated that last part of the Walk through the Lower North Shore.

That meant taking Nurofen before hitting the Lower North Shore – with encouragement to do that coming from several sources I had read a few months before.

Back then, I had been reading (and re-reading) a lot about thru-hikers on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails in the US. Several accounts had mentioned the benefits of painkillers and using them proactively as opposed to reactively.

This year, I would do the same.

Planning: These Shoes Are Made For Long-Walking?
Apart from those four very important things, there was another thing that was perhaps the most important consideration of all.

Footwear.

Back in 2014, I had worn Colorado boots – but since then, I had moved on to Rivers and then Dr. Martens.

From late last year until earlier this year, I had regularly worn Dr. Martens boots outside of work…but I had found them disappointing, especially for long-walking. During walks like this one earlier this year, they had always given me blisters.

Eventually, I replaced them with the Dr. Martens shoes I had been wearing to work and dress-up social occasions since late last year. They had never given me grief, they were very comfortable to wear (in fact, they may be the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn) and ever since they’ve become the shoes I wear everywhere.

But were they practical and suitable for the 7 Bridges Walk?

I didn’t see why not. For one thing, one of the first groups of people that Doctor Martens footwear had been designed for were postmen. Docs were made for walking, indeed.

For another thing, for the past couple of months I had been preparing my Docs for long-walking, in a way. On most Sundays, I had developed the pleasant routine of getting the train to dinner at Montezuma’s Crows Nest on the Lower North Shore, and walking home afterwards – which was a distance of about seven kilometres (and included crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge). And my Docs had not given me any trouble.

Okay, then – but still, were Docs really suitable for something like the 7 Bridges Walk? Wouldn’t something like hiking sneakers be better, aesthetically and practically?

I did consider looking at sneakers, but ultimately three things stopped me. One thing was that even if somewhere along the way my Docs turned out not to be suitable, so what – thanks to the support services in place for the Walk, like buses, I could return easily enough to the Rydges if my Docs broke or melted away or whatever.

The second thing was that if I did buy hiking sneakers, after the Walk I would be wearing them infrequently – and very infrequently, at that.

And the final thing for sticking with my Docs – and ultimately, it was the most inspiring thing – was THE MISTRESS OF AWESOME.

Regular readers may remember who I’m talking about, but if you don’t she was a remarkable-looking 7 Bridges Walker whom I saw a couple of times back in 2014.

Here she is again, as first mentioned in this post:

She was wearing a long-sleeved top and long pants.

And a rainbow-striped plastic top-hat, and rainbow-striped leggings over her calves.

And, most of all, a long red velvet cape labelled with THE MISTRESS OF AWESOME in large silver letters.

If THE MISTRESS OF AWESOME could walk the Walk like that, I could certainly walk it in my Docs.

Planning: Complete
So by the last weekend of October, when the Walk was due to take place, my plans were in place.

The only other thing I was worried about was if something work-related would arise at the last minute to torpedo part or any of my plans…

…but fortunately, by close-of-business on Friday, 28 October, nothing did.

I was free to take on the Walk again.

TO BE CONTINUED

Posted in Action, Fear, Gratitude, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Life Strategies, Pain, Resilience, Travel | Leave a comment

Seven Bridges to Cross Again: Prologue

Back in 2014, I made my first attempt at the Seven Bridges Walk.

As I recounted in my series ‘Seven Bridges to Cross’, it was a very interesting experience – if at times a very grueling one – and despite not completing it (although I came very close), I was keen to do it again.

Last year, however, I was working down in Canberra so I wasn’t able to do the walk then.

This year, though, it’s looking like I will be able to try the seven bridges again on Sunday, 30 October.

And if I make it on the day, I’ll be doing a few things differently to ensure that this time I complete the walk.

One thing is to start at least an hour earlier. Back in 2014, if I had started an hour earlier, I probably would have made it…

…but then again maybe I wouldn’t have, as towards the end I was experiencing some pain. Which has inspired a second thing I will do this year if the pain most likely arises again (and this thing is partly inspired from my recent reading about thru-hikers on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails).

A third thing I will do differently this year is start the walk from another location – and a fourth thing I will do in conjunction with that is get to my starting point from close by. Back in 2014, I spent up to an hour walking from home to the closest starting point; this year, however, I hope to begin walking from what I think will be a better starting point that will only be a short walk from where I’m planning to stay the night before (and that in itself I’m looking forward to – as well as what I’m planning to do after the walk).

Despite some trepidation, I’m looking forward to trying the Seven Bridges Walk again.

Until next time, stay well and take care🙂

Posted in Action, Confidence, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Life Strategies, Travel | Leave a comment

It’s been one year

Quest Canberra, Civic ACT (questapartments.com.au)

Quest Canberra, Civic ACT (questapartments.com.au)

PROLOGUE
I had originally begun writing this post a few weeks ago…but two tries later, it just wasn’t working.

Last night, I began another post about a different subject…but that didn’t work either.

But while trying to write last night’s post, as research I went back and re-read this post about when I began working in Canberra last year.

Although I still recall most of my time in Canberra quite vividly, reading that post made me smile.

It also made me want to re-attempt a post on this subject for the third time, so here goes.

*

A few weeks ago, I was startled to realise something important.

21 September, then a few days away, would mark an important anniversary – a year since I began my first contracting job in Canberra.

A year!

Realising that presented a lot of mixed emotions.

*

Some of those emotions were very pleasant.

As I wrote in the last few parts of my series ‘2015: A Life Odyssey’, I had a great time in Canberra. I worked in a great environment; I met some great people; and I thoroughly enjoyed staying at Quest Canberra in the CBD.

Some days, I found myself walking around with a grin on my face.

Before last year, Canberra was already one of my favourite places on Earth – and now, I’m even more fond of it.

*

But what happened during the first half of this year led to the other emotions I also felt a few weeks ago.

Two weeks into 2016, I was relieved to land my next contract, and it was only 30 minutes’ walk from home in the Sydney CBD. Unfortunately, by the end of the first week I began to dislike it – and a week later I hated it, thanks to my employer’s rotten client.

Fortunately, it was only a month-long contract – and although I was offered another month’s extension, I declined.

Instead, I decided to take a risk. I still had some of my redundancy money left, there was a lot of promising job-hunting activity happening – and most of all, my former manager in Canberra contacted me about my former position perhaps being reinstated.

So there was hope, I thought.

*

But during the next three months that followed, that hope dimmed.

Despite entering my busiest job-hunting period since redundancy, I got nowhere from mid-February until mid-May – which was very frustrating.

The last of my redundancy money lasted throughout that time, and I also received unemployment benefits – but as those three months passed and my funds dwindled to a final $500 or so, I became increasingly bitter.

And then there was another very unpleasant emotion I experienced.

And to add insult to that injury, it happened during a return to Canberra.

*

As I briefly recounted in my previous post, back in March I risked a short trip to Canberra for a job interview that ultimately failed – but thanks to a mistake by the interviewer that sent me to the wrong address, and meant that the interview couldn’t be rescheduled until four days later after the Easter long weekend, that trip’s expenses increased and thus consumed a large chunk of my remaining redundancy money.

I returned to stay at Quest Canberra, partly because I had thought the interview would be taking place less than five minutes’ walk away – but despite now having to stay longer than planned and at greater expense, I thought that at least staying there again would be pleasant enough.

But very early on Easter Sunday morning, I suddenly awoke.

A few seconds later, my mind began racing with fear.

And it would take me the next two hours of reading myself into exhaustion before I got back to sleep.

I hadn’t woken up in the middle of the night like that for a long time.

And I HATED it – especially as this had taken place in a favourite hotel in a favourite city where barely three months before I had had such a great time.

The rest of my trip passed under a cloud.

*

Finally, in mid-May I got a new job. Like that rotten job back in January-February, it was only 30 minutes’ walk from home (in a neighbouring suburb, not the Sydney CBD) – but unlike that rotten job, it was a good one.

Initially, my new contract was only until the end of June – but shortly before then, it was extended to mid-August.

And in early August, my contract was extended again until mid-December.

And recently, I’ve also been able to work from home – which has made my current job even better.

I’ve also been able to rebuild my savings.

And back in early June, I was also able to do something that was very important to me.

*

Ever since I began my current contract, I have continued job-hunting.

In early June, that included getting an interview for another opportunity in Canberra that was also very close to Quest Canberra.

So back I went to Quest Canberra – to find that I would even be staying in the same room that I had during my failed March visit.

But although I would also be unsuccessful with this interview, my return visit to Quest Canberra was successful. I had an income again, and I could relax.

And most of all, I didn’t wake up in terror during the middle of the night.

Until next time, stay well and take care🙂

Posted in Action, Depression, Fear, Gratitude, Happiness, Hope, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Life is Good, Pain, Travel, Working | Leave a comment

The jazz oases

Wednesday, 27 July 2016, just before 2pm.

I’d just checked in at the Abode Hotel Woden, and now I was entering my room – where I was greeted by an unexpected sound.

Music.

I listened to the music as I wheeled my two large suitcases into my room and closed the front door.

It was a pleasant-sounding jazz instrumental, and it seemed to be coming from the enormous flatscreen TV with the currently blank screen.

I continued listening as I looked around at my home away from home for the next five nights, and I smiled.

I was in Canberra again, and for pleasure, and staying in another appealing hotel room that was larger than my cluttered apartment back home in Sydney.

And the jazz music in the background was contributing to the ambiance.

I unpacked one of my suitcases – the other didn’t need unpacking yet – and soon I prepared to leave for the nearby Westfield Woden shopping centre to buy some supplies. Just before I left, I glanced at the flatscreen TV which was now showing the source of the music.

And that’s how I discovered the digital radio station ABC Jazz.

*

I was in Canberra for Brick Expo 2016, which would take place very close to the Abode Hotel Woden at the Hellenic Club.

The second large suitcase I’d brought was filled with the Lego I would be displaying at Brick Expo. The next day, I would wheel that suitcase over to the Hellenic Club and set up my layout.

This was my third year at Brick Expo, and I was looking forward to it a lot.

As well, as I mentioned above, I was in Canberra again, which I always look forward to.

But there was another reason why I was especially happy to be here.

The first half of 2016 had sucked. A crappy four-week work contract from January to February had been followed by three months of increasingly frustrating unemployment, job-hunting and money running out. Those three lousy months had also included a job-hunting visit to Canberra that would fail – but thanks also to (a) the interviewer sending me to the wrong address and (b) not being able to set up another interview until after the Easter long weekend, it would turn out to be an overly expensive visit that drained a big chunk of the last of my money.

(As regular readers may recall, during my past few posts I’ve alluded to a few series I had planned to write earlier this year. The above paragraph is a summary of what these series were going to cover. I may or may not still write these series – but the first half of 2016 was a very difficult time, especially after the great time I had working and living in Canberra in late 2015, so at present I’m still inclined not to revisit that shitty period.)

Finally, in mid-May I landed a new contract within walking distance from where I live in Sydney. There were some frustrations at first, but eventually I gained an extension thanks to my new employer liking my work so that was welcome. As well, I was receiving the same pay that I got in Canberra last year but without the expense of staying in Canberra, so once again I had extra money in the bank.

And now, I was back in Canberra for a brief but very welcome break to enjoy myself.

*

And during the next five days, the music of ABC Jazz became the pleasant soundtrack to what would become a very enjoyable break indeed.

The only time I turned off ABC Jazz was when I went to bed – but each morning, one of the first things I did after getting up was to turn it back on. I left it playing whenever I left my room, because I always liked hearing it whenever I returned.

And most of all, I enjoyed having ABC Jazz on during my favourite time of the day – late at night during the last few hours before bedtime. I’d long held a stereotype of jazz that it was the perfect sort of mellow music for unwinding to late at night – and now that I was finally listening to it, I found that it was indeed.

*

Most good things must come to an end, and so it was with Brick Expo and those five nights in Canberra. But I will always have the memories.

And one thing I was planning to continue doing when I returned to Sydney was listen to ABC Jazz late at night.

Which would ultimately lead to purchasing a type of item I had thought I would never buy again in my lifetime – a radio (or specifically, a digital radio).

Astoundingly, though, it took me almost two weeks of constipated thinking and lame-arse umming-and-aahing before I bought my radio. For that fortnight I listened too much to a voice in my head that whined about whether it was worth it spending more than $100 on a device just to listen to one radio station…until finally I told myself to stop being such a nob-end.

And weeks later as I currently type this, my little black Sony radio sits close by and fills my headphones and ears with yet more great late-night jazz.

I have also extended my boundaries beyond ABC Jazz and bought a few albums by different artists. At present, I mostly favour mellow instrumentals.

I have tried listening to jazz at work, but I much prefer to keep it to my late-night oases where it feels just right.

Until next time, stay well and take care🙂

Posted in Gratitude, Happiness, Inspiration, Life is Good, Resources | Leave a comment

Lone Aussie Rider

(Chris Anderson/Lone Aussie Rider)

(Chris Anderson/Lone Aussie Rider)

Today I learned about Chris Anderson, the Lone Aussie Rider who on 1 May began an incredible journey to raise money and awareness for beyondblue.

Having started from Frankston in Victoria, Chris is aiming to ride 20,000 kilometres by bicycle around the coast of Australia.

He’s already covered more than 3,500 kilometres across the Nullabor Plain and through the southern half of Western Australia.

Unfortunately, the Lone Aussie Rider’s bike was recently stolen – but fortunately, he’s been given a new one.

If you’d like to know more about Chris, here’s the Lone Aussie Rider’s Facebook page.

If you’d like to help Chris, you can donate here.

Chris, stay well and take care – and keep on riding!🙂

Posted in Action, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Life Strategies, Resilience | Leave a comment