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Mini Road Trip

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mum and I recently took a little road trip to Bunbury  for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  It was nice to get away for a couple of days, with no schedule to follow, no work to get through, and no dramas to stress us out.  It was such a lovely weekend and I think we both really needed it.

The weather was, unfortunately, pretty dreadful.  Cold, wet and miserable.  In the middle of Summer we had torrential rain, flooding and ridiculously cool temperatures.  It was so cold, I had to buy some extra warm clothes and shoes once we got to our destination.  I had planned on spending many hours at the beach (our favourite little motel is located metres away from the Ocean) but the weather was just too inclement.  We did have one afternoon where the sun shone for a few hours, and we were able to go beach-combing at Hungry Hollow and collect some lovely shells, have a paddle and soak up some rays.

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Sunshine at last!

I love the variety of shells at Hungry Hollow.  I try to take the ones I think won’t be used by  sea creatures for their homes or other purposes.  I like to collect the broken, smooth pieces of shell and any that have that gorgeous oil-slick colouration (mother of pearl to everyone else on the planet, I guess) on the inside.  I have great plans for the shells but then end up just keeping them because they’re so pretty and I can’t bear to use them.

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Nature’s Artwork

While the weather was fine we also visited the Bunbury Wildlife Park.  We’ve been there before and have been very impressed with the way the animals are cared for and housed, and how the kangaroos, in particular, have “quiet zones” where they can escape from the crowds.  It’s so important for animals in captivity to have places they can go to when they want time out.  They shouldn’t have to be on display all the time if they don’t want to.  The roos at the Wildlife Park seem very relaxed though.  They follow you around and come up to you for food and enjoy a good scratch on the chest or under their chins.

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Kangaroo – boop my nose!

I do love kangaroos.  Having had one as a child for a short period of time, I love their gentle nature.  Of course, the bigger males can be quite aggressive and dangerous at times (usually when a human being is getting too close or basically being an idiot) but the inhabitants of the park are all very calm and friendly.  I like to see them so un-stressed and chilled out.  They don’t even startle when a group of noisy children come in, which to me means they are not anxious or have any need to be afraid.  Do I wish they were out in the wild?  Yes, of course.  But these parks are also important for teaching people about native fauna and how we need to look after them and protect them.  Many of the critters in the park are orphans, hand-reared after their mothers were killed on the road, in dog attacks, and other accidents.

I love getting up close with them.  My Mum was a bit more nervous than I (she was attacked, rather badly, by a large roo, years ago when I was child) and so didn’t get right in their faces like me, although she did feed them and give them a pat.  But I have always been annoying and like to get right in the middle of the action ha ha.  I wouldn’t do it if they were weren’t so calm and friendly.  One of them actually grabbed my arm and pulled me back in when I stopped scratching his chest 🙂

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Photo-bombing!

Another lovely little spot we visited was Mulberry House.  Just gorgeous.  Pretty things to buy and look at – room upon room of vintage-inspired treasures, in a 1900s building.  Each room is themed and just so delightfully arranged with floor-to-ceiling goodies.  You can also have afternoon tea there (we didn’t indulge this time) and enjoy some home-baked cakes and other treats.  My Mum ended up buying some lovely fat quarters in beautiful country/cottage colours – pale pinks, greens and cream.  If you’re visiting Bunbury, be sure to pop in here – you won’t be disappointed.

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I’ll have one of everything, thanks!

This is a bit random, but I had to show a pic of this beautiful Crepe Myrtle, standing proudly outside a small antique store.  How gorgeous is it???  I can’t believe how bright that pink is.  It was almost TOO bright to look at.  I’m glad the sun came out long enough for me to take this photo.  It wouldn’t have looked so spectacular if it was bedraggled and dripping with rain (which I would also have been, most likely).

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Crepe Myrtle.  Ridiculous show off.

So, a lovely, relaxing trip that recharged our batteries and gave us some respite from life.  I’m looking forward to going back again later in the year, if I can.  Which probably means more kangaroo cuddles.  If I’m lucky 🙂  (and the kangaroos, less so, ha ha!).

Thanks for stopping in – hope you’re having a happy day x

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Quote for the Day : The Sea

“…When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused…”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

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Hungry Hollow Beach – Bunbury, Western Australia
Brilliant Birdies

Brilliant Birdies

Well, it’s Sunday again already.  Sigh.  Monday morning follows Sunday evening, inevitably, and it is a very sad fact indeed.  I have basically bogged about at home today, doing lots of laundry (as the weather was very hot and sunny), sorting out my wardrobe, finishing off some jewellery for a friend, and faffing about in general.  I did go for a walk as I am currently disgusted with my weight and overall plumpness (when am I not?) so at least I got out for some fresh air and exercise.  I also did some drawing in my art journal which is turning out to be just a doodling journal, but that’s ok.

Here’s a few more pics from my recent trip to the South West.  Bunbury Wildlife Park has some beautiful birds – you can enter the enclosures and walk around with them.  if you’re lucky they will come and eat from your hand.  The majority of them were quite happy for you to be close to them.  They’re so used to people, they’re not at all fussed if you’re there or not.

This first little guy was so cheeky.  Look at his face!  His plumage was so bright and colourful.  I believe (ie I am mostly guessing) he is an Eastern King Parrot.  Very royal indeed 🙂

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Red Tailed Black Cockatoo.  This fellow was very interested in the honky nut he was chewing on.  They have very powerful beaks – you don’t want your finger anywhere near it.  I have handled them before, in my years as a vet nurse, and they actually make very calm, gentle patients.  They are quite beautiful, especially when in flight.  Much of their population has dwindled due to the destruction of their natural habitats.  Very sad.

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These funny-looking birds are Bush Stone Curlews.  I’m pretty sure these ones were alive.  They didn’t move much so I could be wrong.  Their call is likened to a “shrieking woman” (how very gender-specific and un-pc!).  These two were chillin’ in the sunshine.

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This odd-looking chap is a Tawny Frogmouth, so-called because of their large mouth which looks a bit like, um, a frogs.  They are also Tawny in colouration.  Otherwise they would be called something else.  Spotty Frogmouths, Ginger Frogmouths, that sort of thing.  But they’re Tawny, hence the name.  Sorry the photo isn’t very good – he wouldn’t turn around.  Snobby Frogmouth might be more appropriate.  Their main method of defence is to stand stock still and act like a dead piece of wood.  I have known humans like that.  Ahem, moving on!

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A Southern Boobook Owl.  Very cute.  It is the smallest and most common owl in Australia.  I didn’t tell him he was common.  That would have been impolite.

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I believe this is an Eclectus Parrot.  Stunning bird.  Beautiful colouration.  This is a male – the females are bright red (fancy!).  Both have a loud, raucous call but apparently make awesome pets.  But not good neighbours.

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A group of Australian Shelducks.  A pretty common sight in many parts of Australia.  I actually raised a pair of these many years ago (a mother duck decided to leave her babies in our swimming pool) and they are lovely birds.  Very handsome with their bright copper breast and flash of green on the wing.  The females have a white ring around their eyes and base of their bill.  The males are quite a bit larger and just have the pristine white ring around their necks.  Very dapper.

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Emus.  If you look closely, there are actually two birds here.  I created a marvellous optical illusion with my impressive camera skills!  Not really – one emu just ducked his head down when I took the photo.  My Mum attempted to feed one of them, with some grain in her hand.  She nearly lost her hand.  Oh how we did laugh!  Emus are not particularly aggressive or nasty, but it is difficult for them to peck lightly or softly on a human hand.  Let that be a lesson to you. 
Better to just chuck the food and step back.

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I think this is a Musk Lorikeet.  I prefer to call it a “Little Green Parroty-bird I Don’t Know the Name of”.  Bright green feathers with scarlet/orange on cheeks, beak and forehead.  Not very good at putting their makeup on apparently. 

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Pacific Black Ducks.  I think.  I actually came across a family of them the other night when I was out walking.  Nearly trod on the newly-hatched ducklings that were running about all over the sidewalk as the Mother tried to get out through a hole in the fence. They had hatched inside the grounds of the zoo and now Mummy Duck had obviously forgotten that she is actually able to fly over the fence.  The ducklings were zig-zagging all over the place.  I was able to catch them but not the mother, so had to leave them all to it.  I did contact the zoo however, and they said they would look out for them.  I worried though! 

This pair at the Wildlife Park were pretty friendly and happy to come up for some food. 

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After visiting the park, we travelled down to Balingup to the Lavender Farm (see HERE for my previous post).  Lots of birdies there, but my Mum was delighted to see her most favourite of all, the Splendid Fairy-Wren (or Blue Wren).  Ridiculously pretty, the blue on these little birds is AMAZING.  Electric blue.  This particular fellow was flying close to us as he kept catching sight of his own reflection in a nearby window.  In non-breeding season, they are dull in colour, mostly brown with bit of blue on their tail and wings.  Still very pretty though, and always a welcome sight, whatever the season.

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Last, but not least, we have this cheeky chap.  He was very bolshy and brave, practically landing on my foot as he flew down to check us out.  I am trying to decide whether he is a White-Cheeked Honeyeater or a New Holland Honeyeater.  Both have very similar markings and habits.  Let’s just say he is a Honeyeater of some description and leave it at that.  I have lots of these in my garden at home too.  They are cheerful and cheeky little birds that love my Grevillea plants.  Always happy to have birdies in my garden 🙂  Unfortunately they are also a favourite of neighbourhood pussy-cats. 

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Well, that is the end of my shoddy ornithological report.  I love wildlife of any kind.  We are so lucky to have them in our gardens and parks.  We should take better care of them.  And maybe find out what they’re called before we write a blog post about them *looks sheepish again*.

Have a happy, chirpy day everybirdy 🙂

Lavender Farm

Lavender Farm

During our trip to the South West last month, we travelled to lots of pretty places, through still-green-and-lush countryside.  One such place was the Lavender Farm in Balingup (about 240km from Perth).  My Mum and I had been there before, about ten years ago and were eager for our UK visitor to see the property and perhaps share some delicious tea and scones.  We were disappointed to find they no longer serve lunches (I’m absolutely convinced that they used to – but maybe I am muddling them up with a different places…) so we just looked around the garden instead.  Sadly, the lavender itself was not out, having been pruned back to small clumps.  Disappointment again.  But, we made do with the rest of the garden which was pretty and colourful, with a few individual lavender bushes, California poppies, bulbs and other beautiful blooms.

The property is nestled in the hills of Balingup and the countryside itself is gorgeous.  It’s kind of an Aussie version of a English dale.  Green and lush, rolling hills dotted with fluffy sheep and little farmhouses.  So pretty.

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I love lavender – its smell and colour and just the look of it when it is in full flower.  It’s a shame we didn’t get to see the farm in full harvesting bloom, but the little amount we did see was lovely nevertheless.  The bees seemed to be happy enough 🙂

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The California poppies were gorgeous – that orange is so sunny and bright.  I loved the just-opening ones.

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We saw lots of these Scillas on our travels.  Scilla Peruviana to be precise.  I only know this because I looked it up ha ha.  SO pretty.  That bright, bright blue-purple is dazzling.  Another favourite with the bees.

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Lots of irises.  The icy white complemented the purple ones – very beautiful.  When we returned home, Mum was pleased to see hers had flowered in our absence – they are stunning.  Such a favourite in the garden at this time of year.  They are elegant without being too showy.

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I wasn’t sure what these flowers were called so I had to look them up when I got home.  They are everywhere at the moment.  Blooming on the side of the road, in people’s gardens, and in council displays.  They are so bright and cheerful and pretty.  They’re Ixias, or African Corn Lillies.  Native to South Africa, these bulbs seem to like our warm climate and flower beautifully in the Spring.  The colours range from yellow to red, pink to purple, with every shade in between.  Lovely.  They also make a nice cut flower – lasting well in a vase for a pretty arrangement.

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So, we had a nice hour at the Lavender Farm, despite the general lack of Lavender, and got lots of gorgeous flower photos.  Mum even got to see a Blue Wren, her favourite little bird, so it was worth the trip even for that.  I’ll write up about the bird life in a future post.

A beautiful part of the South West 🙂

Sydney and Surprises

Sydney and Surprises

Has it really been two weeks since I posted something on my blog?  Where does the time go?  What have I been doing?  Oh, that’s right, I’ve been in Sydney!

The HammondCare Risky Business 2 Dementia Conference was held in Sydney at the Hilton a week and a bit ago.  My colleague and I went with our CEO to man a stand for our organisation, attend lectures and presentations, and eat.  A lot.  Ok, so the eating part wasn’t actually an official requirement of the trip but we made sure we did plenty of it anyway 🙂  The conference was very well catered, let’s just say.  It was a bit torturous actually.  Cake and biscuits and FOOD everywhere.  At every break.  And it was gorgeous food too – not just the usual old packet of Family Assorted biscuits and coffee in polystyrene cups, oh no.  We are talking miniature lemon meringue tarts and macarons, turkish delight squares and little tiny cups made out of chocolate filled with pistachio mousse.  Drool.  I tried to be good, but it was hard.  The lunch service was a huge buffet affair with hot and cold dishes of extremely high quality.  People pigged out.

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But we weren’t there to eat.  Not officially, as I said, anyway.  We were there to promote the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference which is being held here in Perth next year, as well as promoting a new communication app our organisation currently has in production (and will be launched at the conference next year).  We talked to carers and family members of people with dementia, we handed out brochures by the score and information on services and education.  We answered questions and gave advice.  We attended lectures on the various aspects of dementia and dementia care.  It was hectic and full-on but we enjoyed it and learnt a lot.

The Hilton was a lovely hotel to stay at (and certainly not something I would ordinarily be able to afford!) and the buffet breakfasts were…oh, I am talking about food again… Well, they were yummy and vast and just so decadent when you are used to your bowl of Cheerios in the morning.  I had a very nice room (with a TV in the shower!  I watched MasterChef while washing my hair – awesome!) with a great view of the city.

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I sat in my window (they had window seats!) and looked out at the city and watched people in the high-rise buildings next door.  I snuggled up in the complimentary bath robe, with my complimentary slippers and relaxed on the king size bed.  SO nice!  Not something I get to do very often (or ever!).  I was in charge of looking after our robotic seal Paro and he stayed with me in my room as he is very expensive and we couldn’t just leave him at our stand overnight.  Paro is a therapy pet for people with dementia.  Everybody loves him and he is a big drawcard when we’re at a public event.  People can’t resist a baby seal (even a robotic one!).

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Though the days were very busy, we did get our evenings free.  One night my co-worker and I visited The Rocks where we had a nice stroll around and got to see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  Both very beautiful all lit up at night.  Wish we had had time to go and actually see them up close and made even climb the Bridge, but we made do with taking a few touristy snaps while we walked around and chose somewhere for dinner.  It is a very busy area of Sydney and there were lots of people about as well as boats and ferries.

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We chose a charming little cafe/pizzeria by the water, The EastBank Cafe.  Though we were outside and near the water, it wasn’t too cold and the cafe had plenty of heaters to keep away the chill.  I ordered a yummy roast beetroot and feta salad and my colleague got a gourmet pizza.  Such delicious food (again!).  In fact I don’t think we had a single bad meal the whole time we were there.  I also had a virgin raspberry mint mojito (very nice!) and we treated ourselves to an ice-cream on the walk back home.  A really nice evening and I’m glad we at least got to see a little bit of Sydney, even if it was at night.

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I managed the flights to and from Sydney really well.  I don’t know what I was worried about.  I didn’t get anxious at all and almost enjoyed the trips.  The flight back to Perth is always longer (due to headwinds etc) so that was a little less comfortable but still ok.  The food on the plane was not very good (is plane food ever good?) but as long as they keep the cups of tea coming, I didn’t care!  I don’t understand why it is so hard to make decent vegetarian food for the airlines though.  I mean, they served me Nasi Goreng for breakfast!  Anyway, first world problems…

When I got home I had a nice surprise waiting for me : an awesome box of beading goodies from my far-away-friend Dianne in the U.S.  She had packaged up a bunch of beads and beading supplies, as well as glitters and ring blanks.  So cool!  I was so happy!  It was such a great surprise.  Gotta think of something to get her in return now (so watch out Dianne!)… Dianne’s blog has lots of great crafty ideas, recipes and interesting stuff to look at.  She puts me to shame with her regular posts and great content.

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So it’s back to a “normal” life again.  I’ve still got my suitcase sitting there, half-unpacked, and my notes and other conference bits and pieces to sort out.  You will be pleased to know that I have actually cleaned and tidied my house so it is fit for human habitation (it was getting a bit dire).  I just haven’t had time to spend a decent few hours getting it done, but I feel so much better now that things are tidy and clutter-free.  Well, at least in the front rooms…the back rooms are another story (I mean, I had to put all the junk somewhere, right?).  I have had a friend staying with me while she sorts out some marriage issues and I think having someone else here really gave me the motivation I needed to tidy up.

The weather is stormy and grim today and I would rather stay indoors and stay warm and dry, but I am heading out to a friend’s place for an afternoon of Tarantino films, friends and food (God, food is such a theme with me!).  I’m making Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls as they are easy and fairly low in fat etc.  I’ve started back on Weight Watchers again so I need to be good and not pig out.  What I would really like is a bowl full of cookies and maybe some ice-cream.  But that ain’t gonna happen!

Hope your week ahead is a happy one 🙂

Catching up…and road trip to Albany

Catching up…and road trip to Albany

Firstly, let me apologise for being absent quite a bit from bloggy land just lately.  Lots going on and no time to do anything, plus I have been distracted and just wasting a lot of time not knowing what to do with myself.  I’m in a crafty mood but can’t decide on what I want to do, and by the time I do decide, it’s time to pack it up again.  There’s been stuff happening in my life that’s been hard to deal with and, again, distracting, so I’ve not been accomplishing anything at all over the last few weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, however, as part of my work, I had to get my butt into gear and take a road-trip to Albany in our state’s South West. I was a little nervous about the trip as I had to drive one of the big work cars and Albany is a long way to travel by yourself.  But I actually enjoyed the 5 hour trip – lots of solitude and time to think (not actually always a good thing for me – thinking leads to worrying which leads to anxiety and freak-outs).  The drive itself was pretty cruisey, if a trifle dull (the land is still very dry at this time of year and you are faced with miles and miles nothing more exciting than a few dead kangaroos and maybe a road-side service station if you’re lucky) and I made it to Albany just as the heavens opened and I was attempting to find where I would be staying.

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I was booked into a lovely little B’n’B in the main part of town, The Three Chimneys B’n’B. The property is heritage listed as has been restored to a comfortable and pretty little cottage with modern amenities.  You were also left to your own devices which is lovely and each morning you were served a tasty, hot breakfast accompanied by cereal and yoghurt, toast and preserves.  I had the place to myself for most of the visit and was very comfortable there.  The first night I was a bit frazzled (all that driving!) and didn’t know where to get a meal for dinner.  I went for a bit of a drive which was a bit dumb when I didn’t know where I was going and it was dark and rainy and eventually found a supermarket where I just bought some yoghurt and a tin of tuna.  Not very exciting, but, as long as I could make myself a cup of tea, I’d be ok.

The furnishings and decorations in the cottage were very pretty and vintage in style – there was even a little reading room where guests could avail themselves of the reading material in the book shelves, or just sit and have a quiet cuppa.

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I did have a bit of a walk around the town and did some shopping.  The weather wasn’t brilliant, so I didn’t risk going too far from base.  Nice to get out and about and get some air though.  I kept forgetting to take my camera with me, hence the lack of photos.

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The Three Chimneys is located not far from the beach – if you look at this photo, you can just see the ocean on the horizon.  The B’n’B is right where that white car on the left is…

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During my few days in Albany, I was helping one of our other branches pack up their library.  They are moving into a new premises – much larger and newer and designed for people with dementia – and, as they don’t have a librarian down there, I came to sort everything out and weed the collection and then pack it up ready for moving.  I really enjoyed my stay and getting to meet our Albany staff – they were so lovely and welcoming and I made friends with their office dog, Pablo, who is just gorgeous and will love the new site as it is much bigger for him to run around and has lots of kangaroos to watch! 🙂

On the way to Albany, and again on the way home, I stopped off at The Williams Woodshed for lunch and a well-deserved cup of tea.  The Woolshed has a lovely cafe, gift shops and displays about the history of shearing and sheep farming.  The lunch was yummy both times – Mushroom Tart on the first visit and three-cheese quiche on the second.  Delicious!

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I had a quick browse around the little shops there, just to stretch my legs.  Their “Swag of Sweets” lolly shop was mouth-watering but I was good and didn’t buy myself anything…

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So, I’m back home now and once again in the routine of work/home/sleep/work/home/sleep.  It was a nice break from things – hard work but also relaxing at the same time and I am glad that I have contributed to making the Albany gals’ move a bit easier.  Next month I am taking on a bigger trip – flying to Sydney for a few days to attend the Dementia Conference with my CEO and another colleague.  I did freak out a bit to start with – I hate flying and don’t want to embarrass myself in front of people I work with, especially when one of them is the CEO, plus the conference itself is supposed to be very busy and hectic and I will have to be on my feet all day answering questions and pretending I know what I’m talking about.  The lead up to it will also be busy and stressful – making sure we have all the right equipment, brochures, display stuff etc to take over with us.  My CEO has assured us she wants us to have some down-time too i.e. shopping or at least catching a bite to eat at a nice Sydney restaurant but it’s still going to be a lot of work.  Still, I am trying to see it as a good opportunity and one that I should be grateful to be offered.  Not everyone gets the chance to go to these things (there may be a few noses out of joint actually, so I’ve been keeping it quiet anyway) and so I am pleased to have been considered as a candidate to represent the organisation.  Wish me luck!  🙂

Apologies again for the lack of content – life has been getting in the way!  I will try to do better this week.  Have a happy Monday tomorrow everyone 🙂