Monday, August 24, 2015

Treasures from the Past: Thrifting Today

Today's we have a guest post from Sue at Fifty Plus Travel. She's also my mum! Please make her welcome.


Every now and then while thrifting you come across something so precious it makes you pause and wonder how much it meant to the original owner. Last Saturday, I brought home the most beautiful Meakin soup tureen, a beautiful bowl edged with royal red and reminiscent of my mother's perfectly appointed table.

We would sit down for dinner with knives, forks and soup or sweets spoons lined up in order, napkins in their old worn silver holders, salt and pepper cellars and tablecloth freshly starched. I thought of the time when this tureen had been cherished and placed on the table filled with soup and ladled out to each family member sitting around the table! It speaks of love and long lost table manners!

I also collect gloves, handbags and oddments like my magnificent old trunk which has a mystery to it to be solved! I love the see through spotted voile wrist styled gloves I own and the long evening gold gloves like those my older sister used to wear to balls! I have some of my mother's worn gloves and also own another precious pair, carefully preserved in their original Dents plastic covering! Most of my handbags are from the 60's like Glomesh and Oroton - some being mine, some with a locked history from the past.

But my prized possession is bound for the curator at the Cobb & Co Museum in Toowoomba. I found this at an auction centre a few years ago. Nothing I have ever bought has been so evocative of the past and so mysterious as to its origin. I found it underneath a bench with many other vintage items, just waiting for me it seemed! It has hessian laid over timber and rusted steel bands over that. it is a traveling trunk of the type you would see atop an old stage coach....just the kind of trunk you can imagine a lady would take laden with her possessions - on her way to a distant destination in the 1890's!

Maybe I can hear the echo of the young boys rushing out to unharness the horse team ready for a fresh one, as she stepped down from the coach with the help of an outstretched arm of a gentleman traveller! This trunk was used by the photographers at my daughter's wedding on the farm to display her wedding dress.....those memories will overlay the history of yester year.

Layer upon layer, that's how thrifting builds upon the previous person's usage, what a wonderful legacy we leave when things are passed on and lovingly cared for by their new owner!

Have you ever been absolutely overcome by the history of an item you have thrifted like me? 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

More Things This Weekend Has Taught Me - a Problogger Training Event debrief

One of the common tips you read a lot in the blogosphere is to use popular past content to guide your future posts. Well, as one of my all-time most read posts is titled "Things This Weekend Has Taught Me", I thought I'd do a sequel.

That post was about a stormy weekend with a blackout. This post is about an awesome weekend away at the Gold Coast for Problogger Training Event, an annual blogging conference. This year it was held at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. 

To say the weekend was great would be an understatement. This was my second time attending the event and once again I was impressed by the quality of speakers, the networking opportunities, the venue and mostly the value for money. 

What was I taught? That blogging isn't always about monetization (though I did know that already). That for a lot of people, reader engagement and community-building is more important. Sharing stories, solving problems, bringing joy or comfort or happiness are worthy goals too. 

I met so many people that I have known online for many years, and everyone was so kind and encouraging. I cannot describe to you what it's like to connect meaningfully with people of your "tribe", who GET what you're passionate about. I hope you have experienced this before because it is the greatest thing!

After two days of sessions and excellent company, I was exhausted but reinvigorated about blogging. I have lots of strategies to implement and ideas rolling around in my head. 

But the greatest thing of all was experiencing the event with my mum, who has just started a travel blog. She had a fabulous time too, and it was extra cool to see how wonderful the blogging community treats it's newbies. 

Did you go to PBEvent, or follow along on social media? What's the most important thing a conference has taught you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oz Comic-Con 2015 Giveaway

I'm noticing a trend in 2015. And that trend is that being a geek is going mainstream.

In between a plethora of Marvel movies and the huge popularity of Game of Thrones, more and more people are getting into what was previously the domain of nerds - comic books, science fiction and fantasy, animation and cult movies.

Back when I was a young geek, it was a fairly lonely old life. It wasn't until I got to university and found The Internet that I discovered there were people out there who loved Star Wars! And Tolkien! It was like finding my tribe.

Flashforward a few years and now you can find geeks everywhere. They're at your work, making coffee and talking about why Jon Snow Knows Nothing. They're in cinema foyers, munching popcorn in their Captain America t-shirt.

And, joyfully, geeks can now congregate at conventions like Oz Comic-Con. We can dress up as our favourite characters, chatter with other like-minded folk about the latest fandom news; and most exciting of all... chat to our favourite actors, authors and artists!

Oz Comic-Con is coming to Brisbane in September and I've got 2 x family passes (that's 2 x adults and 2 x children) to give away. It's on at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre 19-20 September, enter to win! Each pass is for the WHOLE WEEKEND and is worth $160. Check out the con website to see what guests are expected. If you're a Stargate fan, you'll be particularly excited. Plus there's plenty of other cool stuff to see, experience and buy.

To be in the running, just leave a comment below (along with a way for me to contact you) and tell me - if you had an an unlimited Cosplay budget, who would you dress up as? [THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED]

Me, I've already been a Jedi, but if I had oodles of money and time I've always wanted to try the Kaylee's Layer Cake Dress from Firefly!

Terms and Conditions:
This is a game of skill. Chance plays no part. Open only to Australia residents. This competition closes 11.59pm AEST Tues 1st September 2015. Winners will be announced Wed 2nd September. Prize is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash.

Monday, August 17, 2015

C is for Caloundra - A-Z Guidebook linkup

Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast has long been a favourite getaway spot for Queenslanders. Offering four or five different beaches, there's plenty of sand and waves for everyone. 

When my husband and I first started dating we took a weekend away at Bulcock Beach and it's been a top spot of ours ever since. Facing Pumicestone Passage, there's no surf so the calm water attracts young families and people who just want to float around in the sparkling sea. 

Caloundra itself has changed a lot over the decades with more and more holiday apartments going up, but it has retained a lot of its sleepy seaside town appeal. 

There's not a lot to do unless like me you're a fan of late breakfasts, going for walks, reading trashy novels, eating ice cream, having a paddle and taking afternoon naps like me!

And at only 1-2 hours drive north of Brisbane (depending on traffic), it's close enough to home that you don't have to waste a lot of your precious holiday time getting there. 

Do you have a favourite beach holiday spot?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Conference Jitters

Tomorrow I'm off to a two-day conference. Yep. Like some puffed up self-important businessman. Except it's more of an "event" I guess. It's Problogger Event, the biggest thing in an Aussie blogger's calendar. 

I'm mostly prepped. I'm down to thinking of last-minute things. This is my second time and I think I'm less nervous because of that. 

I'm not great in large gatherings. But as I get older (and wiser?) I've realised that other people are mostly blundering their way through social interactions too so that's ok. And this time I will know two whole people in real life! Doesn't matter if one of them is my mum!

I'm also more connected with other bloggers in the online space this time around. There are people who I feel I will be able to go up to and say hi because we've interacted on social media, rather than me just being familiar with them from reading their writing. 

And I'm staying overnight this year, so it's kind of like a mini-holiday on the Gold Coast! It's even at a resort. 

But most of all I'm looking forward to hanging out with my "tribe" - a mob of people that just GET blogging, love blogging, live blogging. If you're going, maybe I'll see you there!

Do you ever go to conferences or industry events? Do you get a lot out of them?

Friday, August 7, 2015

4x4 Fun

I'd never been off-road with my husband before last weekend. When I was young I fondly remember my dad barreling the XF down dirt tracks to remote campsites, box trailer in tow. What fun. 

But I've never really been "4WD-ing" so when C decided he wanted to give another go to the mountain trail that I'd freaked out on a few weeks prior, I was a bit nervous. 

Lucky my husband is a prepper - he likes to be prepared for all eventualities. As he loaded a first aid kit, some "Max Trax" and a roll of loo paper into the back of the X-Trail my fears were somewhat assauged. 

The road we'd decided to take started at amount Kilcoy and ended Who-Knows-Where. We'd managed to find it on a Hema map but weren't sure where we would end up as there were multiple intersecting roads. I was having visions of the RACQ rescue chopper having to winch us out. 

I must admit, being completely alone in the Australian bush unnerves me. I was on Yowie-watch the whole time! The difficult parts of the road scared me, whereas C was having a complete ball tacking washouts and slippery corners. The scenery up there is stunning. At times over 600m above sea level, the bush changes from scrubby gums to semi-tropical rainforest as you go. 

In the end it wasn't a particularly challenging trail (apparently) but more than enough for my nerves! After a couple of hours I was ready for home and the promise of a hot shower. 

What I did like was taking the new camera and tripod and practicing our photography. And we even saw a kangaroo. 

Now we just have to decide where to go next! Any suggestions?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Travel Essentials You Can't Pack in Your Suitcase

These days, the average person will know the basics of international travel. Roll your clothes, take an emergency outfit in your carry-on, layering for the plane etc. But what about preparing your attitude like you do your luggage?

These are my favorite things to mentally pack when headed over the ocean blue: 

1. An Open Mind
Australians sometimes don't realise until they travel just how lucky they are to live in such a clean country with universal healthcare. Even if you're headed to another First World country, you should be prepared to see (and smell!) things that may shock or disturb you. Poverty, beggars, thieves, gypsies, garbage, sewerage - you'll need to keep an open mind and realise not everywhere is just like home. 

2. A Sense of Adventure
If you're not traveling for work, you're probably traveling to see new things, new places, experience the world - don't forget to bring along your sense of adventure! Being overly cautious can sometimes mean you'll make decisions you regret later. Try the street food! Visit that remote temple. Talk to the locals. You'll get so much more out of the experience. 

3. Common Sense
Point 2 should be tempered by point 3. Yes, be adventurous and take advantage of exciting opportunities, but always apply common sense. If that bungy jumping operation doesn't look like it's had any HS&E inspections lately, perhaps don't do it. Likewise give a miss to things like drinking the local water if travel guidelines say it's unsafe. And don't believe the taxi driver when they try to tell you that major tourist attraction is closed! I once nearly missed out on seeing Bangkok's Grand Palace because of a cheeky tuk-tuk driver!

4. Flexibility
I heard once there's an unofficial second motto of the US Marines:  "Semper Gumby". It's a joking way of reminding themselves to be flexible. When you're traveling, circumstances can change at a moment's notice. Connections get missed, weather ruins plans. Scaffolding happens.* Don't let these things ruin your day! Look for alternatives and make the best of any situation of possible. 

5. A Backup Plan
When things upset your itinerary or that museum you wanted to visit is closed on the only day you're in the city, it helps to have a backup plan. If you suspect a certain something you'd like to do might be closed/inaccessible/impossible, think of some alternatives. Don't go Clarke Griswald on everyone! Google is your friend, more so now than the large Lonely Planet tome we used to cart about. A good backup plan saves a lot of worry and anxiety!

With these tips in your mental kitbag, you're sure to have smoother travels. I've navigated my way though multiple travel disasters by using them!

This post is an entry in the Virgin Australia Problogger Event competition. 

*There's a Murphy's Law that applies to traveling in Europe - your favourite monument or cathedral is probably going to be covered in scaffolding. Old buildings need lots of restoration!


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