Amazing things I get to eat:


Bbq-ed elk sausage (yes, they bbq in the snow in Canada) and blueberry pie. Homemade pie, where the blueberries were home picked as well, from a patch where bears also appreciate fresh fruit.




I am eating all the things in Canada.



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Luck or serendipity?

Currently I am going through the process of paperwork and legalities for the business that my partner and myself are starting. It is tedious (and expensive!) and sometimes I feel daunted at the prospect of attaining the results I want.

I’ve never run or operated a business before and sometimes I get a bit panicky when I see how enormous the task is. But then I remind myself that we want to build it slowly because we want to get it right so that it is sustainable. I try to break it down to  small bits, which I know I can accomplish and eventually, I suppose, those small bits conglomerate and it will be achieved.

What we are planning to do has taken a slightly different slant. Still niche touring, though. It seems foolish not to pursue an opportunity right in front of you. Other tours can come later on: this is our way into the market and the way it will differentiate our company from the others.

I was away on tour last weekend: a 3 day camping trip with students from the university. By all rights, I should have been home for the Sunday family brunch that I organised (such a bad wife, daughter, step daughter, friend etc) but I find it very hard to say no to work right now because I need the money. I didn’t envisage the contacts  we would make or how important that weekend would turn out to be.

Almost everywhere we went there was somebody qualified to do what we want, in all different areas. What’s more, they wanted us as a company infrastructure probably equally as much as we wanted/needed them as experts.

And they all knew other people to facilitate the process and it mostly turned out that I knew those other people already, or my partner did, and both of us have excellent reputations in the touring business. I’ve built up my worth and goodwill over 20 years and it is paying out right now.

There’s a new international airport opening up near to where we plan to do the tours. From Asia to here is six hours or so. Potential market there. Also great for other international travellers.

Literally everybody we have spoken to about this venture has given their enthusiastic support. If it goes as we hope, next year might be the last year I work for somebody else.

In the meantime, though, I get tired just thinking about next year and its demands!

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I hate people posting on FB about the anniversary of my brother’s death. I don’t want to even remember that day, let alone have to deal with well meaning wishes reminding me.

I thought about calling my mother. I thought about calling my sister-in-law. I did neither. They both know what day it is and talking about it makes it much worse for me.

Only a year. We are now past the death inflicted ‘firsts’. Hopefully, it will get easier.

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The first year without him

It has been nearly a year since my brother died. I think I’m doing much better but every so often it hits me like an explosion again. I’ve cried and cried today.

I just knew the anniversary of his death was around about now but I’d blocked out the actual day. It was December 11.

I remember different things about that day but I don’t remember all of it. I don’t think he was supposed to die so quickly or I wouldn’t have left the hospital. I think I was having a day off from doing the sleeping over night shift because I was worn out.

The nurses noticed a change in him and told my SIL that she could call family. While she was talking to me her friend came out of the room and I heard her say, “You’d better come now.”

I knew. I told my husband that he had just died but we shouldn’t tell my mother, who we were driving down (her husband being away for the day). As soon as we drove into the hospital car park I saw the priest there in his long black garb and I wasn’t surprised. My husband dropped us off and went to park and we went straight up to the ward. I can’t remember what my mother did but I remember my SIL grabbing my hand and pulling it under the covers, onto his stomach, saying “he’s still warm, feel!’

I didn’t want to but I let her do it because she obviously needed to. His lips were starting to go white as the blood left them.

I don’t know where my husband was at that time. I walked out into the hallway because they wanted to do a bedside blessing/moving on thing and I didn’t want to be part of it. I remember calling my stepfather and telling him because I knew he’d want to come home and support my mother.

I remember my mother yelling at me because I’d done that: she didn’t want to interrupt his day sailing and she would tell him later. I tried to say to her that he would be unbelievably hurt if he wasn’t involved and I knew this because of how I felt when nobody told me he was even diagnosed with a brain tumour. She screamed at me anyway.

I was so embarrassed that this was going on in the public hallway. I just wanted to hug her and grieve with her but she wouldn’t even touch me. I always knew he was her favourite child but that really rammed it home.

I don’t remember funeral plans as such. I recall I had a reading and that my husband would do it if I couldn’t.

I only remember flashes of the funeral. I know that so many people came up to me and I was so touched that they did but I couldn’t process anything.

I know that I am doing better. I particularly know because I had an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday; followup from treatment.

He’d asked me check in during the year about how well I was doing and to look at starting some sort of medication maintenance. I was definitely open to the idea but it wouldn’t work with my lifestyle. I have the best intentions in the world when it comes to regularly taking medication but it doesn’t survive on the road – there have been days when I’ve noticed an untied shoelace at 7 am and not had a moment I recall it needs attention until 1 pm.

The medication he wants me on has some nasty side effects and needs to be monitored, in order to avoid them. That’s a little bit scary when you can be 12 hours driving time from the nearest town and the ultimate side effect is death.


I asked about maintenence ECT and that, again, needs to be done on a regular basis, which my job would never allow.

We settled on rescue ECT because it is so effective for me. That means outpatient treatment as soon as life crises start to overwhelm me – I need to monitor myself and my husband needs to also. The doctor was inclined to support my view that I was doing okay and that means a lot.

I am honestly just being family aware and bracing myself for the next bad time but currently I do generally like life, apart from these horrible waves of grief.

Next person will be my mother, I think. She has various anomalies that medical people are constantly checking out and I think I already know that the answer is cancer; they just have to pin it down to where. Note, she doesn’t have this point of view and I respect that but I can hear that damn deathclock clicking again.

It’s been a pretty good year, all told. I’m so grateful for a break from heartache but I don’t think I can expect it to last.

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And here we go again

Not directly blood me and mine this time around. But family nonetheless and definitely there will be an involvement.


I feel like yelling out loud to the skies: “For fuck’s sake, God, you couldn’t give us even a year?!”


It feels like an old fashioned roundabout, in hell.

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Silly complaints

As a tour guide you get used to dealing with a lot of petty issues. There are always passengers who gripe about things and you try to resolve things as best you can, no matter what the problem, because it makes for a better tour.


A lot of these issues involve conflict with another tour member and you have to be judge, jury and executioner. I don’t have King Solomon’s wisdom but I have got fairly good at finding common ground and I have got very good at just listening and not saying anything committing, because being heard is sometimes all that they need. Doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes hard afterwards, though. And I am totally judging them.

Rarely, I am presented with a situation that makes me want to slap the complainer and one of these types presented to me on this last tour.

Day 1, mind you.

He started out by saying “I don’t want to be a whinger on the first day..”

Immediate internal “Uh oh!” from my partner and myself. Partner responded “Then don’t be. I am not in the mood today.”

Passenger ignored that warning light. “It’s about the guy sitting in front of me.”

Okay, then. Some sort of personal space issue/inappropriate behaviour/health problem?

Not really.

“He’s too tall.”




“He’s blocking my view out the front with his big fat head.”

(For clarification purposes, it should be noted that we practice seat rotation and on this particular trip we had  12 spare seats on a capacity loading of 28.)

There was a moment when my eyes locked with my partner. The words bubbling up on his lips were identical to those being held clamped down by mine: “Well, don’t fucking sit behind him, then!”


A more diplomatic answer was given (along the lines of assigned seats just for start of day; feel free to move around; we told everybody this, including you, on day 1) but we made sure that everyday after that he was assigned to that same seat behind the too tall guy.

#lifeontheroad #tourguidelife


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Life is good

I think I’m in a good place right now. I don’t write much here any more, mainly because I’m too busy.

Over my brother’s death? No, not at all but I have a very functional life around it and the grief spurts last so much less than they used to.

I have an amazing husband and our relationship continues to go from strength to strength.

I have a job that I love, that takes me travelling all over.

I am very much in demand for work with other companies.

The most exciting thing currently is I am setting up my own business, with my work partner. I don’t know if it will be successful or not but I’ve always wanted to try. It will be worked initially around my other commitments but long term, I hope it brings in enough to support my husband when he is forced out of the workforce (metal worker, you can’t go on doing it until 65/70).

I am forming a partnership with my work partner and we both agree that it is worth putting some effort and money into it.

Unfortunately, this has been a bad year for us moneywise. We paid a shipload for my hospitalisation treatments early on this year (totally worth it, though); and both my daughters needed bailing out from overseas. We’d also committed to an overseas holiday before any of this went down. There’s not a lot of spare cash around right now.


I don’t want to take anything out of our joint account so I’ve been saying yes to whatever work offered and banking that money. I’m also using my tax refund cheque when I get it. Hopefully, that will be enough for start up costs and we hope to run our first trip in Tasmania in February.

I’m thinking that I’m crazy because I already work so much but now it will be much more. My husband is supportive it (although he doesn’t think it will work) and knows that I want to try. I’ve always wanted to, actually, but I was never game to do it as a solo operator, which would have meant putting my assets on the line; the partnership is a limited one and outside of all personal assets so I won’t lose my house or car if it all goes belly up.


We’ve identified a niche market (extremely important in tourism) and now we want to see if we can make it work.


Currently I am at home, frantically trying to deep cleanse my house, sort out cupboards, garden etc. My husband has been amazing about keeping the house clean and I appreciate it so much but he doesn’t do all the regular stuff that needs to be done every six months or so – dusting skirting boards, walls, oiling floors , cleaning ovens and microwave, cleaning out fridge and freezer, sorting out cupboards etc etc. You get the idea. I am to blame really because when I come home from trips I am just exhausted and need the time to recuperate and I scatter my stuff all over.

The day I get back, I have my cousin’s son coming to stay and then I am working locally and then we are off to Canada for Christmas. None of us could face Christmas this year as  it will be the second one Charles won’t be here for and it makes it heart wrenchingly real all over again. He’s really gone. So my mum and stepdad are going on a cruise, my SIL and nephews are having Christmas in the UK and we are going to Canada.

My younger brother is bringing his family out to stay with an old friend of his for Christmas and I’ve offered the use of my car and house. Which means that I need to tidy every wardrobe, cupboard etc and I have such limited time to do so. Their household has a stay at home mother and a full time maid and I know they think our Australian houses are dirty anyway because we were shoes inside. I can’t possibly live up to that standard but I’m trying!


In other news, it has been five years since I had a very early grade 1 tumour removed from my breast and I am now on the right side of the statistics – NED. It felt right to mark the occasion by having my nipples re-pierced. I hated taking out the piercings for surgery but they wouldn’t do it otherwise and the holes closed up almost immediately. I’ve tried various times to do it myself (even got my doctor friend to try) and the scar tissue just wouldn’t let it happen. I was inspired by my youngest who had had one of hers done and loved it. I remembered how much I had loved it and I gritted my teeth and went through with it.


It was just as painful this time but I’m so happy I forced through it. I look at my breasts and they look like mine again. My piercings and tattoos were so much part of my identity in this post divorce life I built for myself and it feels good to get that missing piece back.


I’m off early Sunday morning for my next tour; Kangaroo Island and the Murray River and places over there, a trip I haven’t done before. I was doing some research and looking at the run sheet and I noticed that we passing through the little town of Goolwa. I have a friend there that I met in Alice Springs on a tour and I haven’t seen her since then. So I’ve made the executive decision that we are having morning tea in Goolwa. She was so excited when I told her and said she’d take a couple of hours off work and show me around. That made me laugh.

It will be thirty minutes. We run a very tight schedule on most tours so I can’t make it any longer. Story of my life, really. I’ve made amazing friends in a lot of outback towns but I never have time to see them. Still, I schedule coffee dates wherever I can and this is going to be one of them. Now I just have to come up with a plausible explanation of why we are stopping there, apart from it being of benefit to me!



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