Work Is A Four Letter Word

I made a mistake in work last week that nearly cost me my job.

It wasn’t a big mistake. In the great scheme of things it was within the realms of understandability. But, it was the latest in a long list of mistakes that have happened recently, and the client was not happy, not happy at all.

There was a very real chance that they would be out for blood. And me, being a freelancer, am easy to get rid of. If the client wanted a sacrificial goat I’d be it, and really who could blame them? Get rid of one to help the many.

It was enough of a reality to keep me awake at night. I found myself lying in bed at 4am worrying about what was going to happen. I started Googling things like “I might get fired” and “What to do if I get fired tomorrow”, but they were no help. They just brought up long lists of ways to know if you’re on your way out. But I already knew that. I needed more practical advice.

Then I tried “Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me”, and that led me (eventually) to this video:

Here I was, lying awake, stressing about “…doing things [I] don’t like doing in order to be able to go on doing things [I] don’t like doing!”

The ridiculousness of the situation struck me. I realised something had to change. Maybe me losing my job would be a good thing? After all, as a friend of mine said, “…sometimes we all need a little push.”

As it turns out I didn’t lose my job in the end. Not over that incident anyway. But! a couple of days ago I got an e-mail telling me that the company was restructuring, taking on new permanent members of staff, which meant that come April there’d be a lot less freelance work available (ie: none).

So after all the angst and worry, the late night philosophy and the return to business as usual, I lost my job anyway. How’s that for a turn of events? Do you ever get the feeling the Universe is trying to tell you something?

Now, I was already thinking about what I really wanted to do? I’d been looking at properties in the Lake District (more late night musings) and thinking about finishing my novel, when I came home one day to catch the end of this documentary* about one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett. (*only available on iPlayer until 13/3/17)

Most of his story I’d heard before, but there was one line in there that really struck me:

“The thing is, I’d have written [the books] anyway, whether they’d paid me to or not.”

Terry Partchett wrote for the joy of writing. He wrote because he loved doing it, just as Alan Watts suggests in the video. Success was a by-product to him. He was doing what he loved.

I realised I wanted that. I wanted to be doing what I love, whatever it was.

That was a wake up call for me. I realised it was time for me to do what I really love.

The next day I finished third draft re-writes on my novel. I did the last half, 120 pages or so, in a day. Now I just need to type them up, get it proof-read, and then I can send it off to people, try and get it published.

The road ahead is/was clear.

I wasn’t prepared for the job offer that came my way.

It was TV work again, full time, 8 hour days, 20 days a month, €40 an hour (effectively €75,000 a year, or £65,000 at the current exchange rate). But it would just be until September. And it would mean relocating to Amsterdam. The minuses outweighed the pluses, but still it was a tempting offer.

Having learnt from my previous mistake I got some more information, then took some time to think about it, but in the end I turned them down.

If I’d gone to Amsterdam it would have just been for the money, and that’s not enough for me anymore. I want more out of the things I do. I want the things I do to be interesting, and fun, and exciting, and worthwhile. I want to do what I love and love what I do, and sod the money side of things.

Because if you do what you love not only are you already a winner, but eventually you’ll get good at it (because doing things is how you get good at them). And then one day someone will give you money for doing what you’re doing because that’s how the world works. People like what you do and they give you money for it, either so they they can do it with you, or they want you to do it for them, or to them, or they just appreciate that someone is out there in the world doing this thing so that other people can do something else. And even if they don’t give you money for it it doesn’t matter because you love what you do! You’re already way ahead of everybody else, pretty much.

You just have to figure out what it is you want to do? I need to figure out what it is I want to do? And I need to figure out now, because this is the first day of the rest of my life, and there’s not a moment to waste!

Yoga In The Media

There are as many reasons to come to yoga as there are ways to shuffle a pack of cards (that’s 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636, 856,403,766,975,289,505,440, 883,277,824,000,000,000,000 in case you were wondering), but I often wonder just how many people are missing out because of the way yoga is portrayed in the media?

Unless you’re really into yoga, and are doing some specific research, chances are when you come across yoga photos online it’s going to be some celebrity on a sun soaked beach performing asanas as the sun goes down, all bronzed and gorgeous and serene as hell.

yoga google screen grab

Or if not, then it’s an article on some new weird type of yoga that, let’s be honest, was probably written for people to have a good chuckle at the hippy weirdos.

You rarely get articles on the normal, average, day-to-day yoga that most of us do, the yoga that happens in a church hall in Croyden on a wet Wednesday afternoon. But in a world of click-bait headlines, with so many things vying for our attention, is that really a surprise?

Yoga
image © distelfliege, via Flickr

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve suggested yoga to people only for them to tell me “But I can’t even touch my toes!” With so many pictures out there of experienced practitioners doing advanced asanas really well people just think “Well I’ll never be able to do that, so why even bother trying?” With all the emphasis on the physical benefits of yoga that happen further down the line, people miss out on the positive mental benefits they can experience right away.

Which is why, when I come across a good yoga story that isn’t all about bendy celebrities, I like to highlight it.


image © Lee Ann Olwage, via sevaunite.org

I recently came across this story on the BBC News website, which I found quite inspiring. (NB: If you’re outside of the UK then chances are you won’t be able to view the content. If so then here’s another article on the project that I found on the Guardian website instead.)

In summary, the Prison Freedom Project is about bringing yoga to prisoners in South Africa, allowing them to learn and enjoy the benefits of yoga, and enjoy a feeling of liberation despite their incarceration. It is a voluntary, contribution driven organisation, that has already made a difference to many inmates, and will no doubt help countless more find health and happiness in their lives. To me it embodies the true spirit of yoga, and I like what they’re doing so much I decided to make a donation.

***

I’m not saying we need more ‘positive’ yoga stories out there. There’s plenty of those already. What we need is more ‘average’ yoga stories out there. More stories of normal people incorporating yoga into their everyday lives. I might even go so far as to say we need to stop elevating yoga to unattainable heights, and bring it back down to earth (which, ironically, is where most yoga happens, lol).

It’s understandable people want to show off when they do something well. No one wants to share pictures of themselves being average, or, even worse, doing something badly. But, in the interests of science, and to get the ball rolling, here’s a few pictures of me doing some asanas to the best of my abilities at the moment (with examples of how they look when you get good).

my forward bend

my plough

my pigeon

There are many aspects to yoga, and many benefits to be had, some of which you have to work at, and some of which you experience from day one. Anyone can do yoga (wherever you are in life, mentally or physically, that is where you begin; that is your starting point), and everyone has something to gain, one way or another.

Each practitioner is different, each experience is different, and each benefit is different; but all of it is positive, and worthwhile, and beneficial; and if it’s not, it’s not yoga.

So what is Acro Yoga?

There are so many different types of yoga these days it’s hard to know what distinguishes one from the other. At least with Acro Yoga it is somewhat self explanatory.

I confess, I haven’t tried it and know very little about it, but some of my friends have given it a go and a lot of them think it’s great. And after one of them sent me the video below I can kind of see what they’re on about.


 
Beautiful, no? But watching that I did wonder what the person on the bottom gets out of it? His role seemed to be just that of a support; one of strength and balance, and not much else.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps some of you have experience of Acro Yoga and can enlighten me to the benefits each person can gain from it?

Start As You Mean To Go On : The Aurora Borealis, part 2

Sunday morning, and time to rescue the trip after the let down of the night before. Life is a choice between what you will and won’t accept, and I was not going to start my fourth decade by accepting a vaguely disappointing tour as ‘good enough’.

sunrise over reykjavik

We wanted to see a bit of the Icelandic landscape, so we book ourselves on a Golden Circle Tour. This promised us waterfalls, geysirs, and national parks (with tectonic plates!). Truth be told I’m not a big fan of coach trips, but needs must, and it’s what we could afford, so off we went.

touring the golden circle

Iceland is fairly empty, so it wasn’t long before we were out of Reykjavik and into the wilds.

seeing the sights

iceland landscape 3

iceland landscape 2

iceland landscape 1

Iceland is run on geothermal power pretty much. Well you would if you had such an abundance of energy at your disposal. We went past the local power plant, with it’s geothermal vents,

geothermal vent 2

geothermal vent 3

geothermal vent 1

and zig-zag pipeline on wheels, that expands and contracts throughout the day, and so has to be that shape (and mobile) to stop it from breaking.

bendy pipeline

Oddly enough, the further in we went, the less snowy it got.

cabin by the lake

And we even got to see some of the legendary icepos! (albeit, from a distance).

icepos in the distance

First stop on the tour was the original Geysir (the one after which all other geysers are named).

thermal pools

Unfortunately it’s no longer active, after the land shifted and changed the underground plumbing.

the original geyser

But there’s another geyser next to it that goes off every 5-10 minutes, so you don’t miss out.

geyser

geyser eruption

Plus there’s plenty of other pools and streams around about that are interesting in their own right. They’re either full of colour,

colourful flows

(the photo doesn’t do it justice), or amazingly clear,

clear waters

or just strange and other-worldy!

steaming streams

I tried to get a headstand with the geyser, but it was tough getting the timing right, as you can see.

geyser headstand fail 1

geyser headstand fail 2

geyser headstand fail 3

geyser headstand fail 4

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun,

an old geyser, and his girlfriend

and that was just the first part of the tour.

Next we hit up the Gullfoss waterfall, a whopper of a falls if ever there was one!

gulfoss

over the edge

lieblings by the water

This time I did manage to get a headstand shot which I was pleased with.

70. gulfoss headstand

And we got to see some more of the amazing local landscape.

distant mountains 1

distant mountains 2

distant mountains 3

distant mountains 4

Iceland really is another world.

And that wasn’t the end of it! Our final stop was to be the Pingvellir National Park.

Pingvellir is where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, or rather bid each other a fond farwell, as they are constantly separating, making Iceland one of the few countries that is growing by inches year in and year out.

This is the North American plate,

the north american plate

plate face

and you can walk the divide, which is interesting, but not that impressive to look at,

walking the divide

until you get to the end, where you can watch the sun set over the lake, a truly rewarding sight.

sunset in the wilds 4

sunset in the wilds 1

sunset in the wilds 2

sunset in the wilds 5

sunset in the wilds 3

And the sun going down marked the end of the tour. We hopped back on the bus to take the one hour drive back to Reykjavik.

On the way back we looked up at the clear skies and lamented. What a shame we hadn’t booked the Northern Lights Tour for that night. We were bound to see something. Such a pity to go home without getting a proper display. Of course, the answer was obvious! Do another tour!

The minute we got back to the hotel we booked a coach tour with the same company we’d just been out with, Reykjavik Excursions. Yes it meant more money, but at a third of the price of the 4×4 tour it was worth the risk. We went out for a quick curry, then soon we were back at the hotel preparing ourselves for another night out in the cold staring up at the sky.

I wasn’t going to be caught out this time. I wore my new wooly jumper, and yoga pants beneath my jeans for that extra layer of insulation. I also had my pockets full of what I consider to be essential aurora watching kit; camera, gorilla tripod, spare memory card, iPod containing Sigur Ros tunes, and cranberry chocolate.

aurora watching kit

We were picked up by the coach at our hotel, and after a stop off at the bus station to collect a few more people, we headed out of town.

Our first stop was not the most salubrious; basically a lay-by off the main road. We stood around for about half an hour waiting for something to happen,

aurora tour no. 2

but unfortunately no joy (and the nearly full moon didn’t help either).

by the light of the moon

Pretty soon we were back on the coach and off to the same car park where we’d ended our Golden Circle tour. Expectations were low, and people were slow, until someone exclaimed “It’s happening, right now, behind us!”, then the mad dash for the door began.

And not without just cause either. For the next hour we were treated to a full display right across the sky, which is much easier to show you than tell you about, so here it is.

aurora 2.1

aurora 2.2

aurora 2.3

aurora 2.4

aurora 2.5

aurora 2.6

aurora 2.7

aurora 2.8

aurora 2.9

aurora 2.10

aurora 2.11

aurora 2.12

aurora 2.13

aurora 2.14

aurora 2.15

aurora 2.16

aurora 2.17

aurora 2.18

aurora 2.19

And if you can make it out, here’s us getting our aurora on. 😉

lena and the aurora 1

lena and the aurora 2

me and the aurora

lena and me, under the aurora skies

I was very satisfied with that display. At least I now felt justified in saying I’ve seen the Northern Lights. Definitely got our money’s worth, and the coach experience wasn’t as diabolical as I thought it would be. We also got back in plenty of time to get a good night’s kip, which is always nice.

Our last day in Reykjavik we took it easy. Just wandered about a bit, seeing what we could see. We went up the cathedral tower and a got a good look at the city,

capturing the city

reykjavik bay

reykjavik

colourful construction

reykjavik boulevard

fosshotel baron

as well as some close ups of the cathedral clock.

getting the shot

inside the cathderal clock

light fingered

We also did a good bit of shopping and eating,

heart garden lentil burger

ending up back at the Laundromat Cafe,

the laundromat cafe

the laundromat, reykjavik

the laundromat lives up to it's name

to try their veggie burger (of course, lol),

laundromat veggie burger

and a local treat called Sorer

sorer

which I couldn’t pronounce properly (apparently) and which tasted somewhere between a chocolate mousse and a coconut macaroon; ie: delicious!

We ended our final day in Iceland with a stroll along the water-front to our hotel,

reykjavik port by night

reykjavik concert hall

before hitting the hay early. We had an early flight out, so much so in fact we thought we might see some more aurora before we left. But, alas, no luck. Instead this was out parting view of Reykjavik.

early morning reykjavik

We had a great time in Iceland. Saw pretty much everything we wanted to see. I had hoped to get closer to some icepos along the way, but instead we had to settle for this picture of a poster at the airport, lol.

icepos!

We both definitely want to go back in the summer, not only to experience the midnight sun, but to see the landscape at it’s best (ie: more green, less barren). That being said, Iceland any time of year is worth the trip. Just 3 hours from the UK, and not that expensive to get to, give it a go if you get the chance. You won’t regret it.

Flying Through Singapore

Well, my fellow yogis, it’s a new year and time for a new beginning. Time to make new plans, do new things, and go new places. But in order to do that properly we need to put the old to rest. 🙂

So here’s the last post from my travels of last year. This is what I got up to on my week in Singapore, as I waited to fly back to London. And since it was so long ago, and my memory ain’t what it used to be (I’m getting old y’know – I’ll be forty in February!), it’ll mostly be a post in pictures, with a few comments on the side.

I flew out from Bali. I love flying, even if I get a bit nervous over open water, and I wasn’t the only one fascinated by the take off.

fascinated

I finally got to have a good look at Bali,

bali from the air

tips

bye bye bali

but as we left it’s beautiful countryside behind,

islands in the sky

it was time to get down to business.

singapore reserves the right to kill you

It’s unnerving to read that a country reserves the right to kill you! Only when I read that did I remember that Singapore is the country that imprisons you for spitting (though when I was there I saw at least on person do it and get away with it). Made me a little uncertain about what lay ahead.

I was staying at the YHA, which was in fact part of a Butlins type resort. Meant it was full of people and noisy a lot of the time. And there was no kitchen so you had to eat out. But at least there was a bit of space in the room to do yoga.

singapore yha yoga

There wasn’t actually much I wanted to do in Singapore. It was just a stop-over on my way back to London. I planned on visiting the Raffles Hotel, and when I found out there was a Universal Studios there I wanted to go there too!, but apart from that the only other thing I was interested in seeing was the Singapore Flyer.

the singapore flyer

It was a bit rainy in Singapore when I was there, like thundery rainy, so I had to pick the least wet day to go. Even so it still ended up being a bit gray and miserable. Still, wotcha gonna do?

Here’s the whole thing in pictures. They’re fairly self explanatory so I won’t bore you with too many words. Not that I knew what I was looking at anyway, lol. It’s was just a load of stuff to me.

Boarding.

ready to board

The view.

the hub

coming in to land

A city of constant construction,

constant construction

and occasional Formula 1 races.

formula 1 pits

A shipping hub.

I see no ships!

metal and grass

A centre for commerce.

singapore 2

pod

we've peaked!

up top

Of course I did a headstand at the top, taken by one of these two gentlemen.

what's that?

It was a tough shoot, with the flat gray light. The out-takes were good,

right exposure, wrong angle

but this is the ‘official’ headstand shot. Number 68 in the series.

68. singapore flyer headstand

(I plan on reaching 100 this year! ;))

singa-ore flyer

buddies

the harbour

singapore

so much going on

Coming in to land.

shapes

wires

Disembarking.

off and on

While I was there I went to have a look at some of the crazy buildings they have round there.

unique construction

On the left is a hotel with a garden on the roof, and on the right is an art gallery. I was interested in visiting both, but they were too expensive, so i just hung around outside soaking up the atmosphere.

singapore 3

lillies and sky scrapers

water lillies

By this time I was hungry, so I used my Happy Cow app to find the Loving Hut which I knew was round there somewhere.

loving hut lunch, singapore

Delicious!

A couple of days later it was time for something I was really looking forward to; Universal Studios!

universal studios, singapore

I was keen to see how it compared to the one in LA. Of course it wouldn’t be the same, but I wanted to see the differences.

welcome to hollywood singapore

new york public library

I started off easy, with a stand and watch experience.

spielberg's movie set show

But it wasn’t long before I was strapping myself in for the ride! 😀

sci fi city

The Transformers ride was the same as in LA, which isn’t a bad thing. I loved the one in LA, and i loved the one here too.

The Battlestar Gallactica ride would have been awesome I reckon, but it was raining too much for the outdoor rides to be open unfortunately. 😦

dampened enthusiasm

I did the Revenge of the Mummy,

revenge of the mummy

which I forgot how scary it was, lol. And I did a couple of Jurassic Park rides.

jurassic park!

The Rapids Adventure,

jurassic rapids ride

at which I took distinct advantage of their Single Rider queue jumping policy! 😀

lone rider queue jump

The ride ends with a big drop into water at the end,

splash down

one film, two rides

the survivors

end of the ride

at which I got absolutely soaked! ..lol..

soaked!

After a very disappointing bit of food I hit the Madagascar ride.

madagascar ride

It was more for kids but I was on a roll and wanted to do as many rides as I could.

The best laugh was when I came out to find these guys knocking about.

madagascar

penguins!

a stranger encounter

Of course I had to finish off with the Waterworld show.

waterworld set

I really enjoyed the one in LA, so would this one be any different?

First up, the guys did a great job of warming the audience up, even going as far as having a bit of audience participation.

Then the real show began.

waterworld  2

waterworld 1

waterworld 3

waterworld 4

Ending of course with the grand finale!

And a smoky finale it was too!

waterworld, after the finale

After all that excitement there was just time for a cup of tea and a slice of cake,

end of day cake

and a quick stroll along the fake walk of fame,

(half) my name on the (fake) hollywood walk of fame

before it was time to head home.

dusk by the island

sentosa island

My last day in Singapore I headed back to the Loving Hut in Suntec City for a final good meal (almost, the airport would hold a nice surprise for me later).

loving hut, singapore

loving hut burger

Yup, that’s another burger, lol.

loving hut cheesecake

Then it was time to check out the Raffles Hotel.

raffles hotel sign

raffle ote

hotel fountain detail

raffles hotel fountain

I was tempted to have a Singapore Sling, but the place was so rammed with tourists, and I don’t drink anyway, that I decided to give it a miss.

the raffles hotel

And that was it really. I headed out the next day. There were a few other things I did, like some nice food I had,

komala's curry

and some rather un-yogic amusement I got from the funny shop names, lol,

wanko

heavenly wang

but mostly that’s what I got up to when it wasn’t raining.

I had one final amazing meal at the airport,

meal at ananda bhavan, singapore airport

which I thought was a real bargain!

cheap as chips!

Really sorted me out for the long flight home. Thanks again Happy Cow.

And with that I boarded the plane,

coming home 1

boarded a train,

coming home 2

and hopped on Shank’s Pony,

coming home 3

to wend my way back home. 🙂

And that concludes the post for my epic trip around the world. There’ll be another post coming soon outlining what I’m up to now (back at work) and what my plans are (Iceland, Germany, France), but for now I’ll just say Happy New Year and have a great 2014! 🙂

Om Om!

The Elephant Safari Park, Bali

Before I went away I tried to make a list of at least three things I really wanted to do before I die, but it’s hard. I mean I thought of plenty of things that could potentially go on there – swim with whales, learn to play a musical instrument, give a TED talk – but in reality there were only a few things that I absolutely must do at some point. As I say, I wanted three. I only managed to come up with two.

One was see the Northern Lights. Totally wrong hemisphere for that! The other though, was ride an elephant. Now that was do-able. In fact it was the main reason I’d come to Bali.

The Elephant Safari Park in Taro, near Ubud, is one of the best and most well known elephant rescue centres in this part of the world. It got Steve Irwin approval, so by that standard, anything good enough for Steve is good enough for me!

I booked the elephant ride package for $86USD (just under £55). Not cheap by any standards, and especially not for Bali. But for that you got the whole deal; hotel transfer there and back, park entrance, elephant ride, buffet lunch, the works.

I was picked up from my hotel at 8am. Elephants are early risers it seems! We drove around picking up the other people on the tour – a pair of lovely young ladies from California, and a British couple who were there on their honeymoon! – and we all chatted and got to now each other as we heading out into the countryside towards the safari park.

the way home

I got my first proper look at rice terraces along the way,

my first good look at rice paddies

and it just made me even more determined to see then close up for myself.

We arrived to find yet another Ganesha to greet us in the car park,

we're here

and immediately we signed in, eager to start our safari.

elephant safari park

Unfortunately they weren’t quite ready for us yet, but we got to stroll our way down into the park while we waited, meeting our first Sumatran elephant along the way.

my first elephant

We even got to feed him/her (I didn’t look under the hood to check, lol) some bits of banana plant,

feeding time

which was great fun.

Our first ‘encounter’ over, we got ready to meet our elephants. Unfortunately, as we were queuing up to take our ride the heavens opened and it started chucking it down.

the line for elephants starts here

Not that that was going to stop us. I mean, that’s why God invented umbrellas, right?

Being on my own I got an elephant of my own to ride,

my ride

which naturally came with it’s very own mahout (handler).

ma mahout

Climbing aboard was weird. You have to step on it’s back to get into the seat, and it’s not the most firm of footing as you might be able to tell from this picture.

beneath my feet

It’s thick skin moved above sideways, and my boots were not the best footwear for walking about on an elephant. But still, I made it, and this is me looking all excited about going for an elephant-back ride.

I'm on an elephant!

You start off heading through the park,

careful where you're stepping

the end if the road

but pretty soon you leave the paved roads behind, and head out into their own small jungle preserve.

elephants only (a little shaky)

NB: Taking photos from the back of a moving elephant in the rain whist holding an umbrella is not the easiest thing to do.

I should point out that ‘jungle’ is probably a bit of a misnomer. The environment is very organised and controlled, and as such is definitely more ‘park’ than ‘safari’.

That being said, it was nice to just roll along through the trees, just you, your elephant, and all the time in the world.

into the wild

It wasn’t long until I’d forgotten about everything else, and was just enjoying the gentle rocking of this magnificent creature as it ambled along.

plodding along

In fact, if you want to enjoy the elephants for yourself (right now!) you can, by checking out their EarthCam live feed!

earthcam

You only get a thirty minute elephant ride. I’ve no idea how long we were in the jungle bit, but it wasn’t long before we started seeing signs of civilisation again.

that's a lot of poop

Man, that’s a lot of poop!

Before long we were back in the park,

back to the park

just married

but that wasn’t quite the end of it. To finish off we got to stay on the elephant’s backs as they took a quick dip in the pool. Naturally, this turned into the best photo opportunity!

bath time

feeling lucky

look at me!

Do I look pleased with myself, because I felt it. 🙂

And with that our ride was over, but not the experience. We dismounted, and then got to go spend time meeting, greeting, and feeding the elephants, including the cutest little baby you ever did see!

meet the elephants

go on, touch it!

making friends

reaching out

come and get it

something yummy

strike a pose</a

grab!

the little ones meet

elephant feeding time

hungry little fella

I, of course, wanted to do a headstand. With some quick negotiations,

headstand negotiations

I was good to go! At least, that’s what I thought. I was half way up when I remembered I’d forgotten to tuck my shirt in.

wait, my belly's showing!

Not the first time, or the last, that that has happened.

Anyway, I got the shot,

67. elephant safari park headstand

number 67 in the series.

By now it was getting on a bit. Still morning, technically, but with the early start I was getting hungry! As far as I was concerned it was time to hit the buffet.

safari park buffet lunch

The food was good, and plentiful, and I enjoyed more than one helping.

After lunch there was a bit of time before the elephant show, so I wandered around a bit checking out the park.

elephant bath

ganesha (again)

around the park

goldfish by the waterfall

happy heffalumps

across the fields

elephant butts

Pretty soon it was time for the show. I’d no idea what to expect, but I have to say it was very well done and quite entertaining. From elephants just walking around

everybody wave

up we go

down we go

there's something on my nose

to elephants taking a load off.

just sittin'

elephant show

From elephants playing games,

he shoots...

two points!

and doing math,

elephant maths

and the answer is...

and even doing the hula!,

this show had it all.

But the most amusing bit for me by far was at the end, probably because I’d chosen to stand on the platform at the back to get a better view, and so was out of the danger zone, lol.

look out!

a good drenching!

soaked

And with that the show, and my elephant experience was over. We all hopped back in the vehicle and headed back into Ubud.

I’m glad I did the safari, expensive though it was, and I had a great time meeting the elephants and seeing them perform. The Safari Park certainly seemed to treat their animals with care and affection, and no doubt the fees from tours like mine go towards facilitating their conservation work.

As I’ve said though, it was a little ‘controlled’ for me. I wanted to sit astride the thing, do some serious off-roading, maybe even get in the river and bathe them, stuff like that. So even though I can scratch Ride An Elephant off my ‘To Do’ list, Nelly and I still have some unfinished business, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be meeting some more heffalumps some time in the not too distant future. 😉

From Camels To Elephants (and everything in between)

A post, mostly in pictures, covering my time between Alice Springs and Bali; including Darwin, Adelaide, and Toodyay (near Perth), via The Ghan and the Indian Pacific.

After riding the camel I went straight to the train station in Alice Springs, where I was surprised to find one of the Autobots loading our luggage!

robots in disguise

I saw a lot of bush fires as we headed north, some of them quite big, and very near the train tracks (ie: right by the window!). What I didn’t expect was all the smoke and ash in the air when we arrived.

smoke over darwin

I spent a week in Darwin just chilling out. I went to the movies a fair bit, including a screening at their outdoor Deckchair Cinema,

deckchair cinema

which was great fun. I also went to the night markets, which started with a gorgeous sunset by the beach,

darwin sunset

and ended with me eating this very salty deep-fried twirly potato thing.

twirly potato thing

chomp!

Darwin is really hot, even in winter (when I was there). It kind of reminded me of Ibiza, and not in a good way. The main street was pretty full of people getting drunk, and a lot of the shops were quite touristy,

toys!

though at the same time there was a plethora of unexpected wildlife around the place, including a great many wedge-tailed eagles flying about.

eagles

Having nothing specific to do there I got to do a full yoga session every day,

yha yoga

something I managed to carry on even after I left, finding time and space to do some in Alice Springs on the way back south.

alice springs yoga

The journey south again did get a little tedious at times. I mean there was the little side trip to Katherine Gorge you could go on,

katherine gorge 1

living the dream

(NB: That thing on the river in the bottom picture is a canoe. How lucky are they?! :))

where I managed to get another headstand shot,

65. katherine gorge headstand

but once the sun went down,

sunset on the ghan

there really was nothing to do but watch old episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

deja vu

Anyone get a feeling of deja vu? ..lol..

keeping yourself amused

With regards to my yoga, I was quite proud not only that I had managed to do it every day while in Darwin, but that I’d kept it up on the train. I was on track to a new beginning. That’s when the thing with the ambulance happened, and kind of threw a spanner in the works.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the only trip to the hospital that week. Two days before I was meant to catch the Indian Pacific back west I came down with abdominal pains right in the area of my appendix. Not wanting to be on a train in the middle of nowhere when my appendix burst I thought it best to go get it checked out. Cue another ER and another CT scan to see what was going on in there.

Turns out it was just and inflammation of the lymph nodes in my digestive tract, right by the appendix, which closely mimics the signs of an appendicitis but thankfully isn’t one. I was cleared to leave, and the next day (on the train) leave is what I did.

This was the reverse of the trip I’d done in January, but it was quite different doing it in winter rather than summer. I mean the train was the same, but when we got to Cook, in the middle of the Nullabor Plain, instead of this,

welcome to cook

adelaide, that way

we had this.

rain in cook

cook, part 2

But at least this time I got to see more of Kalgoorlie than just the train station. I was able to do the tour, and see what a Kalgoorlie Super Pit Gold Mine looks like.

that's the front

super pit

66. kalgoorlie super-pit headstand

the superpit

My brother’s place near Toodyay was also very different in winter. When I went there it Christmas it was all hot and dry and red,

australia skies

but now it was much lusher and greener and a darn site cooler!

australia skies

I even got to see some of the torrential rain they get there,

rainy days in WA

something while always seemed to put a smile on my brother’s face, lol. Aussies love their rain. “We need it!” was an oft heard phrase. 😉

I got to know the farm a lot better when I was there this time, as I had six weeks or so to look around the place, and nothing else to do but sleep,

all tuckered out

cook,

unexpected kangaroo

the first loaf

and chill out after all that traveling.

contented

There’s all kinds of sights to see if you just have a good look around. There’s beauty in the landscape,

mark's farm

from the top corner

from what man has done,

the cottage

the old water source

the new water source

(Honestly, that was our water supply. We drank it unfiltered. There are frogs in there! Apparently that’s a good sign.)

to what came naturally,

blossoming almond trees

almond in the sky

almond blossom

almond blossom detail

roos in the paddock

orang clouds

cloudscape

moon cloud

sunset skies

farm sunset

and everything in between.

We all went to AQWA to see the fishes,

do you see them?

do you see what I see?

we attended the Avon Descent when it came through Toodyay,

avon descent

boat 3

run

boat 1

jump

spectating

looking away

on stage

what's this

and we toasted the odd marshmallow by the fire (before fire season starts and you can’t do it no more).

watching the sparks

this one next dad

warm yourself

sitting by the fire

But by far the most eventful day was Mark’s birthday. He and Gill got up well early to go on a dawn balloon ride, leaving me to feed the horses, get Luke to school, and get myself to yoga by 9 o’clock.

It was all going smoothly when I went out to feed the horses and found this waiting for me.

foal 1

foal 2

Believe me, that hadn’t been there when we went to bed the night before!

Of course it was expected. The horse had been due to give birth for weeks, and it could have happened any time (we’d had a few near misses in the previous weeks),

waiting for a birth

but of course it had to happen when the two people who knew anything about horses were hundreds of feet up in the air.

Thankfully everything was alright, and Luna, as she came to be known, was happily wobbling about the place, coming to grips with life in the outside world.

She was all legs and knees to begin with,

flash of white

mother and child

two heads

but it was only a few days later that she was fully loosened up and looking truly elegant.

standing tall

feeding time

munch munch

With all that I even managed to get Luke to school and hit yoga well early. The class went well, and I was even asked if I’d like to teach the next one! (which I did, and I’ll be blogging about both classes next time)

I spent my last week in Toodyay helping Mark’s mate Nick edit some videos for his website (a more arduous task than was expected, but all done, and satisfactorily so), and now I’m in Ubud in Bali, where I came with the express purpose of riding an elephant!

I’ve done that, and much more besides, but that’s for another post I think. That’s probably plenty from me for now. Expect more shortly, but for now I hope you’ve enjoyed my whistle-stop summation of a good two months of my life or so, condensed into one post! 🙂