Australia is big.
That’s stating the obvious, right, but it’s all very well to know that in an abstract, classroom kind of way; it’s quite a different thing to experience it.
Australia is big.
When we lived in the UK, John and I would get in the car, head down to the south coast and catch a ferry over to France at every opportunity. At that time, The UK had just started the free trade agreement with Europe so there were no import duties on things that you bought in Europe and brought back to the UK, which meant that… alcohol was really, really cheap.
We paid huge taxes on alcohol in the UK and all of a sudden, we could stick the car on the ferry, fill it up with alcohol from a hypermarche in one of the French ports and bring back a car load of booze for about half the cost of buying it locally, even when you included the cost of getting to France and back. Groups of friends (our friends, I have to admit but I’m assuming other people did it!) clubbed together and a couple of them would set off to pastures cheaper (or at least, alcohol cheaper) and bring back the cut price manna from heaven.
We put up a video on our YouTube channel – Stop Being So Poor - last week about John’s recent rock climbing experience (you can check out the video here) and I wanted to tell the story in a little more detail. Actually, let me rephrase that: I want to put the story into my words.
Back in the eighties John was a pretty hot shot rock climber who spent every weekend and most evenings of his youth, down at the local quarry, Pex Hill, honing his skills so he could venture out into the rock-filled world of the Lakes District, Snowdonia, South Wales and then further afield into France (in particular Buoux). This is a man who, when we started seeing each other, would do one finger pull-ups on the architrave over the door every time he went through it. Given half an opportunity, he’d “traverse” the lounge using the Victorian dado rail as his finger hold. There was no foot hold. Heaven knows how it didn’t fall off! He climbed with the glitterati of the British rock climbing world of the time: Joe Healey, Gerry Peel, Tony Mitchell and Phil Davidson. John stopped climbing in the 90’s. But I know he misses it and I’d love to see him get back into it. John, however, felt that he was too old now to do something like that.
The lengths I go to to keep my husband alive and in one piece (and hence able to earn a decent crust for the family)...
While my husband is unconcernedly swinging on the end of a rope ten metres up in the air, having gracefully ascending a climbing wall, making the whole thing look ridiculously easy, I'm at the bottom of the wall on the other end of said rope, trying, with increasing desperation to lower him just as gracefully to the floor.
I wrestled with the descender with increasing desperation, but to no avail. Try though I might, the bloody thing wouldn't release the rope in any kind of controlled, slow manner and John got more and more alarmed as he jerkily dropped three or four metres, pretty much in free descent, every ten seconds or so. After plummeting the final few metres so quickly that he couldn't get his feet under him, he picked himself up off the floor and, swearing like a pirate, demanded to know what on earth I was playing at.
One of my great long-distance driving Stay-Awake tools is singing along to Robbie Williams. At top volume. I can’t sing for toffee, as Keeley so graciously confirmed once. I was happily squawking along to some swing tune or other, aiming for the high notes and missing by quite a long way, trying to do the harmonies – which, to be fair, I am quite good at for some obscure reason – but getting it wrong half the time, and, not wanting Keeley to miss out on all this fun, particularly as she’s the family musician, I enthusiastically urged her to join in; I was having so much fun, I was sure she would, too.
“No, it’s fine, thank you,” she says. I implored her to chill out, join in and enjoy herself a little. I know she can sing, why doesn’t she participate in the family singalong? It’ll be fun! “Because,” she says, “it’s really annoying when you hear people try to hit the right notes but then end up singing off key.”
Right. Bemused a little by the criticism inherent in that sentence, I finally consoled myself by singing for a while. Off key, of course.
I’ve been thinking there was something wrong with me for the last few weeks. I’ve felt more and more listless, unable to sit at the computer and write, unable to get a string of words together. I make sure that I exercise and do all that stuff; after learning the hard way, I know that if I don’t exercise, I don’t sleep, and sleep is a vital ingredient to feeling good and having your life work. Sleep is as precious as diamonds. Hence, I exercise and stay physically active, I fall asleep quickly and I sleep well. So why am I feeling more and more lifeless, more and more depressed? Why don’t I have much enthusiasm for anything? Why are things getting to me so much? Why can’t I cope with life, taking things personally and blowing everything out of all proportion? What is wrong with me?
It all came to a head yesterday. It’s been a particularly stressful week and I’ve no doubt you’ll hear about it in one article or another. There have been massive upsets with Keeley, concerns about Kira, arguments with Jamie, things going on with Ryan, chats with teachers, emails flying all over the place, arrangements rescheduled, Christmas is hurtling towards us and I hate the whole Christmas thing, and John went into hospital for an operation on his jaw.
John, as the main breadwinner in the house (okay, the ONLY breadwinner), always has the brightest, biggest office space, something that will "call him into being" and make him feel good, something that’s going to allow him to create things in a big way. And he always, invariably, inevitably, ends up hating his office space. It always ends up as the worst room in the house. You see, John has this problem; I’m tempted to say that it’s a male thing, but I actually have no evidence of that other than my husband, so I can’t really. He has to use every available surface to put things on. Every. Available. Surface. And there are never enough surfaces,
You know, sometimes life can be such a bitch. And I can sit here and moan about it all - the hot flushes, the weird rashes, the raging hormones, the sleepless nights - and, trust me, I DO moan about it occasionally, and then I get the giggles about it all. The things that we go through (and that we put ourselves through) are quite hilarious. I don't know about you, but I made such a MEAL out of being middle aged. I was totally stopped. I thought there was nothing else I could do with my life: I was too old, too out of touch, too slow, way past it. There was just no point in trying something else; I'd been out of the workforce for 20 years, there was no way I could get a decent job and I certainly didn't want to redo my professional qualifications. Besides which, I'm basically unemployable: I'd last about 5 minutes in someone else's company before I started taking over, let's face facts.
The thing is, why was I even CONSIDERING working for someone else? I'd had my own businesses, I'd been involved in our developments, I'd done numerous renovations for profit but
I woke up this morning and it felt like summer! Why did everything feel so different? John took me out for breakfast a new café. We’re very enthusiastic (read: too lazy to cook In the mornings) about eating out for breakfast and I don’t think there are too many cafes within a 5km radius that we haven’t tried breakfast at. But then we found this one. #happy #whatagreatfind Well done, my husband.
I decided, for some reason, I suspect because I just felt like summer was here, to put on a skirt instead of jeans, although I did hedge my bets by taking both a cardigan and my down jacket! John togged himself up in his jeans & jacket and I looked at him, silently regretting my rash decision to wear a skirt and prepared myself for an uncomfortable hour spent shivering in the wind, which is
If you're on this website, it's highly likely you're a woman aged between 40 & 65, who's staring down the barrel of the rest of her life, uncertain as to what the hell to do with it.
Welcome to the MAWS of life.
'Maws' in the dictionary means 'jaws' or 'mouth'. In this case, it's my acronym for 'Middle Aged Women's Stuff', although originally I had it down as 'Middle Aged Woman Syndrome'. It's that point we get to where we've been doing everything for our family, the kids are leaving home/have left, we're looking at an empty nest, and the rest of our lives, and we find ourselves a bit lost. What on earth are we supposed to do now? We can't even remember what it is we used to want for our lives, and we certainly can't remember how to put ourselves first, right?
Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...
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