Author Archive

Far From Normal Towns – the Most Colourful on Earth

Love this post about the ten most colourful towns on Earth. Visited Bergen, Number Nine, on board our friends’ boat in 2010 – and it really is that picturesque. Just nine more to go, then!

A great reminder that towns don’t have to be grey, beige, boring. Thanks to Nellie Huang, the travel-writer, one of the Superbloggers for Visit Britain.

But  we humans still can’t outdo Mother Nature in terms of beauty that amazes. And I still prefer country living!

Fish in Hot Water

Funny how the climate change debate has moved from moral to economic arguments. Of course, the economic arguments were always there but the first groups of people to get excited about the data were the scientists and philosophers, to whom the factual and moral arguments massively outgunned the economic impacts. Now that the data is widely accepted by all but flat-earthers, the economic arguments are in play.

Yesterday’s report of 2-degree warming in the waters of SE Australia have had a bit of coverage here. The Banded Morwong fish have been studied by counting the rings in their ear-bones (similar to trees, this correlates with their growth rates) and prove that over 6o years, the sea in this area has warmed by 2 degrees. When David was working in the Antarctic for three years with the British Antarctic Survey, a couple of decades ago, much of his diving was to catch little fish so their ear-bones could be dissected for just that purpose. Funnily enough, it proved that fish in very cold waters grow incredibly slowly.

So what happens to the fish in the ABC report? Well, to start with they grew faster as the seas warmed. Then it became just too hot and their species became imperilled. Oh, but that’s just fish…

Now, if you’re in Europe you think that warmer seas sound just fine; after all, our European seas are largely unswimmable for much of the year! But unfortunately we can’t pick and choose which parts of the globe warm. It will differ per location and topography, but unfortunately the hot places are likely to be much hotter and the rest much wetter and more changeable.

A few years ago it was said that a 4 degree increase in average global temperatures would be catastrophic. Now that seems to be accepted, expected even. Bad luck residents of London, Amsterdam, Shanghai and Mumbai. At least you can move relatively easily. Not so good for the other 100+m poor people.

At the end of the day, does it matter what’s caused the change to date? It seems one has to be truly in denial to say that the massive carbon burning we’ve indulged in since the Industrial Revolution hasn’t had a part to play. Our current consumption of energy, still fuelled largely by oil and gas so releasing all that carbon stored for millenia, undoubtedly add to warming. Sure, there are other reasons too.

For my part, I know that “necessity is the Mother of invention” so have every faith in new tecs finding solutions. Many businesses are throwing huge sums of money at it. Some will succeed and some will fail, but I have more faith in business than government in finding solutions. What’s beyond doubt is that there are many future ways to both reduce carbon generation through clean energy generation and to store carbon being produced, to prevent release into the atmosphere. Exciting and profitable businesses. (Ssh, don’t mention they’re good for humanity too, or the extreme right- and left-wingers will stop listening – they’re so driven by fear that they think the rest of the world has to fail for them to succeed).

As David always says, “The sky isn’t falling”. We’ll be fine. Not so sure about the rest of the world, especially the 187 million who’ll be moving. Oh dear, I’ve gone back to that moral argument again…

How To Do It

So how do you do it? When life’s so full, how do you do the big things that make the difference? Here’s the easiest way to “get the answer”: one of Stephen Covey’s famous Seven Habits. Sorry, it’s very American, but you get the picture…

We’ve long studied these habits at Crealy. One winter, we took time out each week to visit and revisit these seven principles -starting with “Seek First to Understand”, working through “Put First Things First” and the rest.

All of these need one thing, though:

“The most important success principle of all was stated by Thomas Huxley many years ago. He said, “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”Brian Tracy quoting Kop Kopmeyer quoting Thomas Huxley.

And what is success? What is wealth? Well, for me it’s being able to be myself. That’s all. It’s not about money. It’s about not having to conform to what someone else’s idea of “me” is. That doesn’t mean I don’t care what other people think. I care deeply – we all do. But I do now have the luxury of living as I want, with who I want, where I want, how I want. And that’s such a great gift that I think I’ll spend the rest of my life working to deserve such great richness, such wealth of opportunity and freedom.

Of course, we never have it all. It would be lovely to have all our family with us in Australia, for instance. And we miss all our friends at Crealy hugely. And our horses, all the goats and their kids, the Devon hedgerows, cream teas, Mum’s cooking… no, we never have it all.

We are all interconnected. All dependent on each other. Each of us and the world at large. And the more freedom I have, the more I realise and appreciate that inter-dependence. And love it. And do my best to live up to it. So here’s a gift to you today: the reminder that whatever it is that’ll make you most happy right now (the project completed, the work finished, the house clean, the children content, time with your partner, alone on the beach, disappearing into a good book, time out to meditate…) – whatever it is, all you have to do is…

“Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”

“Perfectionism is the enemy of progress”

So it’s been a long time in between posts on this blog. But every day, I’ve written posts in my head; often they’ve been polished, honed, crafted… linked to events of the day. Why not here online? Well, because they “weren’t good enough”, l wasn’t sure they were what you wanted to read or whether they were in keeping with what we’d started.

Walking in the surf at Sunshine Beach this morning, the sea seemed to literally wash away lots of disjoined thoughts. A kind of meditation. Thanks, Mother Nature.

An evening at the beach. Who needs a plane or a coaster - all you need is a big brother to make you fly!

We live a far from normal life. We began our great Australian adventure back in 2010, more than twenty years after starting Crealy Great Adventure Parks, more than thirty years after first visiting Australia.

Since starting the Far From Normal blog, that expression is now part of our everyday family life. Viewing a great house to live in, when David said to me that, “It’s far from normal”, I knew this was the one. Discovering the perfect tapas bar on the banks of the Noosa river with my friend Winnie, I know it’s a far from normal lunch. Being told our visas are granted and celebrating with champagne that night makes for a far from normal evening. Hearing Amy’s plans, Tim’s events, Ed’s escapades, James’ and Kirrin’s double-hemisphere duet, Sam and Charlotte’s activities – so many aspects far from normal.

And don’t get me started on the rest of the world. The tragedy that is Japan and Libya right now – far, far, far from normal in dreadful ways. The awfulness is that Libya has been a long time brewing and the actions of Mad Dog Gaddafi had been permitted as normal for decades; far from normal goes in two directions – awful and amazing. And those nuclear power plants in poor Japan? Well, poison is poison; how can it be normal to create and hide away tonnes of toxicity? Would that be a normal thing to do at home? If you manufactured and hid away enough toxins to eliminate tens of thousands of people, would you still be a free citizen? What’s the difference between that and our society condoning the nuclear power plants throughout the world? “Because we need the power.” Isn’t that like trying to get out of a speeding ticket by saying you’re in a hurry? Does the end ever justify the means? I don’t think so.

So “far from normal” can be awful – or can be amazing. Of course we want the amazing. Is it the fear of the awful that locks us into normality, most of the time? Fear: that disabling, disempowering emotion, always behind the paralysis of analysis that gets in the way of creation, of change?

“Normality is over-rated” has long been an expression at Crealy Barton, our old home. Who wants normal? Who wants same-old? Life’s a great adventure, if you let it be.

So I’m publishing this post before perfectionism can get in the way. Thanks Chris G for the prompt…I found Chris’ blog looking for my old favourite, Chris Guillebeau’s; “The Art of Non-Conformity” was a staple for me while planning the great adventure to Australia. If this post helps anyone live a far from normal life even in a small way, that’s enough.

And so I’m leaving this blog wide open now for anything to happen – so long as it’s amazingly far from normal. Please tell me what you think with your comments?

Cyclones after the Floods

Australia’s worst natural disaster on record was of course the Floods which afflicted large areas of Queensland plus some of New South Wales and Victoria.

Tragic loss of human life plus devastating losses too of farm and wild animals

We had some really good news this week, hearing that lovely people we met in central Queensland escaped the worst of the flooding.

Although we travelled at the end of last year through so many of the areas affected, including Toowoomba, Emerald and Rockhampton, we were well clear of the disaster when it struck. The Sunshine and Gold Coasts escaped the devastation and indeed the tourism industry here has been careful to communicate that the coasts are well open for business as usual.

Now – cyclones! Cyclone Yasi is currently a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone, 280kph wind speeds with an 8m storm surge predicted. Well above us, about 16ookm away in the Cairns and Townsville areas. Predicted to make landfall between at around midnight tonight. Lots of people evacuated including from the Whitsundays, where we were sailing at Christmas. Many people evacuated in the northern Queensland area now and the rest hunkered down “in the safest room of their house” or “under a strong table”, “boarding up windows and doors” etc – all details on The QLD Premier Anna Bligh has been warning people to prepare for the worst, to stay indoors, and to expect to be without electricity and communications.

The cyclone cell is larger than the state of Queensland – absolutely huge. Ironically, it’s so devastating that it’s already knocked out the weather station. Predicted to last another 12 hours or so. The TV Weather Channel is very comprehensive.

Thanks to everyone who’s contacted us to check we’re OK. Australia is such a vast country that there always seems to be something extreme somewhere – although the Floods and now this Cyclone Yasi are unprecedented. Our thoughts are with everyone taking shelter from this Tropical Storm tonight.

One thing’s for sure: the “mateship” for which Australians are so famous will be in strong evidence. We’ve been humbled and extremely impressed by the huge outpouring of help which the Floods brought about – both neighbours and strangers rolling up their sleeves and helping people clean out and set up their homes and businesses, for days or weeks on end. Very impressive. Well done Australia.

We’ve found home on Australia Day

The beach next to our house, adjacent to the Noosa National Park

Sunshine Beach

Today’s Australia Day and we’re so lucky to be here celebrating with the rest of this great country. After months of travelling across Australia, we’ve discovered that Sunshine Beach, Noosa, on Queensland’s famous Sunshine Coast, feels most like home.

Coming from glorious Devon, the jewel in the South West of England’s crown, we feel more at home here in the top tourist destination of the northern Sunshine Coast.

It’s been a hard decision as we’ve experienced so many wonderful places. Of course, Melbourne is a wonderful city and we will miss our friends there; the whole of Victoria is stunningly beautiful. We fell in love with the Outback and also with northern New South Wales, especially Brunswick Heads and the deserted beaches there.

The Gold Coast is dynamic and exciting, with great theme parks and so much activity. All of the Sunshine Coast is superb, with such a choice of great lifestyles. Further north in Queensland, the Whitsundays are spectacularly beautiful as we discovered over Christmas when we sailed between the islands for a week. We have so many stories to tell so now that we are settled at Sunshine Beach and have our communications organised, I’ll do my best to tell you about more of our adventures.

In the meantime, we’re off to Noosa Main Beach for the afternoon and then to one of our “locals”, the Marble Bar Bistro here at Sunshine Beach village.

Happy Australia Day!

Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast

Great day visiting Aussie World.  Good views of the Park from the pirate ship ride, unusual with the swinging mechanism above the ride rather than below as we are used to at our Queen Bess Pirate Ship at Devon’s Crealy and the Viking Warrier at Cornwall’s Crealy.  Loved the cinema here too – hilarious.

David who runs the Park kindly met with us and discussed the theme park scene on the Sunshine Coast.  Very knowledgeable, running a very professional set of attractions here including the quirky Ettamogah Pub where we enjoyed the delicious new menu for lunch.

If you’ve not yet visited Aussie World, we all recommend it as a great day out or simply a good stop-off if you’re en route along the coast. Would be great if there was some excellent accommodation adjoining this attraction.

We’ll be back!

Cuddling babies!

Paying a quick trip to the UK next week, while David and the kids carry on surfing, fishing, diving and chilling out here in sunny Aus.

I’m so looking forward to seeing the family, friends and colleagues at Crealy. And especially to seeing new babies Max Hembury and Jennifer-Rose Banks.

Am told it’s 2 degrees in the UK though so think I will feel the cold – have become used to long hot sunny days.

We’ve been spending time between the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales over the last few days. Very chilled in NSW; very full-on at the Gold Coast. Both wonderful.

“A good thing about being wrong is the joy it brings to others”

We just passed this, written on the rear of a Wicked camper van.

A good reminder that it’s ok to mess-up. After all, the only way to do something well is to do it badly enough times ’til you’ve improved.

Another view is that, “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making progress.” Anyone can do the same old, same old.

So perhaps when someone makes a mistake, congratulations should be in order! After all, that’s what we do when a baby is learning to walk: we praise each tiny progression and all the abrupt sit-downs and falls too – imagine if we scolded the baby for learning to walk! Or called him stupid for trying! But sometimes that’s what we do to ourselves when we dare to dream about what could be. Or what others do if you say your biggest goals out loud.

So remember, make new mistakes every day. As many as possible. Because the only sure-fire way to fail is not to have a go.

Sometimes it’s a bit daunting, being on the loose in Australia, “free ranging”. So far from friends, family and familiarity. We’re missing you all! That’s the time to turn up the music and enjoy the ride. Just heard this great tune while we’re driving to Brisbane.


Far from normal state of affairs

Sometimes it seems that the lunatics are running the asylum, in a very far from normal way. If you want a good laugh and to learn a bit about what Quantitative Easing really means then watch this video. Join the more than 1.2 million people who watched it already – It is well worth a look: