Archive for November, 2012

When last we left it was full steam ahead, iceberg on the starboard Sir, unleash the band and line those bloody deck chairs up. Some mongrel thought one iceberg may not be enough though. Ring Ring. Just been informed that even though doors close on the 7th of December your separation date along with fellow mouseketeers is Dec 16th. Say what? So what are we expected to do that last week you may ask? – be “meaningfully employed”. Could probably take up to the Wednesday to clean up form the party on Dec 7th but struggling after that. It has of course been a very busy 10 days back at work since European Tour mainly trying to address issues arising from decisions taken in my absence and without my input. Naturally people around the hospital assume I am much more important and all powerful than I actually am as confirmed by my fortnightly payslip. Interesting times people, interesting times.

Now to the real mid life crisis occurring. When people ask what I will be doing in the future I jokingly say “improving my golf handicap” because saying lying on the bathroom floor in the foetal position could lessen me in their adoring eyes. The reality of course is that is very unlikely to happen. Why you may ask. 3 answers quickly come to mind

Stuffed ankle
Stuffed back
Stuffed fingers

Now the ankle has been an issue for years with the right ankle basically being twice the size of left ankle in normal resting state. Walking 18 holes is nigh on impossible so it is cart golf where possible. Sadly one looks around the golf course these days and just about every group of 4 has at least one cart and often 3 in it. They are not all cripples – they just find it easier to carry their eskies around mostly. Good luck to them – unfortunately now there are no cart sheds left to use and live too far away from the course to house it at home. A problem to be addressed in the future. The back is pretty much an issue the day after. There is a Pro golf tour coming up next year which is a much sought after long weekend of golfing, drinking and no sleep apparently. Sounds great but the reality, as clearly demonstrated again this Sunday morning , is on the second day I would need a stretcher to get to the tee at 0830 in the morning. 3rd day? – just drive by ICU thanks. The fingers is a new one that only causes problems at golf but no other shaft related activities and there must be some arthritis in fingers 2 and 3 because by about 12-13 holes it hurts like hell with every full shot especially if not out of the screws, a regular occurrence way back when young and supple let alone now.

So the real crisis has been defined – no work and an inability to do a lot of physical exercise let alone enjoy time out on the golf course regularly does not bode well for me maintaining my general optimistic carefree approach to daily life

Damn these bathroom floor tiles are cold.

December 7th – “a date which will live in infamy.” So FDR stated. Many thought he was referring to the attack on Pearl Harbour. In reality he had foreshadowed the closing of the Maryborough Pathology laboratory which was accompanied by the famous warcry of “Bora Bora Bora” highlighting the degree of white anting that has occurred to this department in recent years.

When I left for lands far far away 5 weeks ago we knew the laboratory was slated to close before end of year but no set date and in reality a certain lack of consultation seemed to be occurring. On second last day of holidays while relaxing in Dubai I received the official notification of the date. Subsequently attended meeting yesterday in Maryhole – while still on leave – to get the update. So the reality is after 35 years (almost to the day having started on Dec 5th 1977) of working in Pathology in Maryhole it all comes to an end after 3 more weeks work.

Its an odd feeling and will no doubt fluctuate over coming weeks and months. After said 35 years of living in the rarified world where you thought your job was always safe and this could never happen – it has.In a perfect world you always leave at a date of your own choosing and that is the same whether it is your work life or you are Captain of the Australian Cricket team. Most people who give loyal service are provided this opportunity especially in my case when my average is Bradmanesque. But we dont live in a perfect world – we live in Campbell Newman’s Queensland. There was always a certain inevitability about the closing of this department – if you were planning a new service in this district you would not have 2 hospitals 20 minutes apart to service this meagre population. Personally I blame the influx of too many bloody Victorians into Hervey Bay and with their 2 heads each skewing the population stats. One thing is for certain though – there are no winners in this brave new world. The current staff in Hervey Bay may still have jobs but man are they going to be busy. Being a loyal Maryboryian until the day I die – or CLP finally allows me to become a kept man – I feel for the locals and the reduced service they now face. The reality of course is that many communities across Qld are being affected as are many lives of health workers – its just that when you actually close a service it resonates throughout the community. I will be ok but some of my staff will struggle. Life will never be the same for at least 6 people in Maryhole.

Now to better news. Spent a couple of days in Toowoomba with kids 1-2 inclusive along with the 3 Amigos. There is a 4th amigo on the way as well so when all else fails lose yourself in your children and grandchildren. Who can be down when you pick up a cute as a button 6 month old who is perfect in every way or your 3 year old says “I missed you Grand dad”. I think he said that – maybe he said “Were you pissed all the time Grand Dad?” Dropping Child 3 at airport tomorrow as she flies to Cairns to meet boyfriend who is working hard and studying hard to better himself. Daughter 1 is a wonderful Mum who is raising her son almost single handedly as hubby( a great guy in every way) has to work in the bush 3 weeks out of 4 to provide for his family -very hard for him not seeing his son 3 out of 4 weeks. They will have to move next year to address this situation – lets hope it is closer than Toowoomba. Daughter 2 has to cope by herself about 9 weeks out of 10 and is doing well but in reality they both live in far from perfect worlds.

As a parent I choose perfect worlds for my children – I can deal with this little blip for me standing on my head. If only I could sleep more than about 3 hours a night. Maybe its the standing on my head that is the problem??

Short answer – no. Long answer – would not have missed it for the world

Avid followers, and you know who you are, would know that CLP had shouted us a BC upgrade for return flights from Zurich-Dubai-Brisvegas as just one of the many gifts that she will shower upon thee for the big 55.

Zurich – Dubai. Those in the know would know that the first part of the BC experience with Emirates is chauffeur pickup from lodgings. The said chauffeur – who unfortunately bore a striking resemblance to Rosa Klebb from From Russia with Love – picked us up nice and early in a beautiful mercedes sedan.It was snowing, there were water bottles in our back seat yada yada yada – class all the way. She escorted us to the check in counter even and then God Bless her kicked a few annoying Indian tourists in the shins on the way out. Then it was onto the sumptuous BC lounge in Zurich airport where the food, drink and service were superb. Easy access to our airplane and BC seats but there was quite a delay in our take off – no sweat sir have a glass of champers. Dont mind if I do. Then I will take your drink order for when we take off and here is today’s menu for your perusal. The seats are very comfortable and are the lie down type, plenty of leg room of course and the rather excellent ICE system on a bigger screen. The 6 hours flew by pretty quick and everything was great. Then we landed in Dubai.

The chauffeur system in Dubai is really a glorified taxi service. You have to go line up and get a voucher then go stand in a very short queue while a car is brought around for you – a Volvo station wagon, very nice but no Mercedes. It was a very long trip to hotel due to ridiculous traffic and no hand holding at hotel arrival but no dramas. Leaving Dubai was a similar experience – efficient certainly but not luxurious. Dubai is a massive airport and it is a 20 minute walk from drop off to actual gates. Once again the check in was smooth. The BC lounge was under renovation so had access to first class lounge which was a little crowded (cf Zurich)and much like the hotel breakfasts there was plenty to eat but it just did not grab me much. Once again you have to catch a bus to your actual plane but BC passengers are loaded last and get a very comfortable bus to sit in rather than standing with the plebs. If you are lucky you get to make faces at economy passengers as you zoom past their bus. The seats and arrangements were very simialar to first 6 hr leg but this was 14 hrs and nothing is that comfortable for that long. CLP fell asleep on take off from memory! The food was great, plenty to drink and watch etc but as I say 14 hrs is a chore any day. We left around 1100 in morning but after about an hour the shades on windows were automatically bought down and stayed that way whole trip – basically felt like it was night time for 13 hours of trip which is a little unsettling when you cant sleep. The individual toiletries bag you receive on these flights is very impressive and comprehensive. I now have CLPs Xmas present ready to go! Got through Brisbane airport easily and then a man with our name was waiting and dropped us off at Brisvegas lodging with no hassles

BC upgrade for these 2 trips cost about $3500-4500 EACH extra depending on how early you book. For that money you could spend an extra week in Paris and probably get a helicopter to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The reality is it was a fantastic experience but unless you are 10% of rolling in it your money can be spent in a more productive and lasting way. What is really great about the BC experience is the easy access and exits on and off planes and through airports – you really do skip some queues. If they sold that part of the trip as a $200 upgrade option I would take it every time!

Where to Stay on Holidays

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Travel

Having just travelled around Europe for a month staying in different forms of accommodation raised the question – what is the best type of accommodation on holidays? To me it comes down to apartments V hotels though am sure there are some other options eg tent in a paddock! We stayed 80% apartments and 20 % hotels and think that is the right mix

We always use as first port of call when looking for an apartment – basically “vacation rental by owner” – and have not been disappointed yet either in Europe this year or US last year. For example this year in Rome we stayed at 150878 and it was great. You can see everything that is provided and can also see previous comments from people who have stayed there. An apartment has the advantages of

1. room to unpack a bag properly
2. better equipped kitchen to save some money on meals etc especially breakfast
3. more comfortable seating arrangements to relax after a long day touring
4. and most importantly laundry facilities. This is very useful when not in one city for long. Dirty clothes tend to accumulate quickly

Disadvantages? – sound can be a problem as we found in France ; hotels tend be better soundproofed especially from people above and luckily if on a high floor no road noise. Of course there is no servicing so you may need to wash towels etc as well

Hotels have the big advantage of a bit of pampering – which you pay for. If you plan on eating out a lot and only staying in place a couple of days then hotels are best option as you invariably get a better nights sleep and simply have less to worry about. About 3 nights would be my absolute max for staying in one hotel during an extended holiday. Simple things like having a doorman or a concierge makes life very easy at times. A night in a hotel before a long flight is a good idea as it is invariably easier to ensure your transport to airport and you tend to get that good nights sleep.

On our recent holiday we stayed in a hotel in Prague (3 nights) and Vienna (1 night) followed by apartments in Rome (7), Florence(4) and Paris(6) and then a relaxing 3 night hotel stay in Dubai before flying home. The hotel in Dubai was 5 star which didnt hurt – except the wallet:). Perfect mix.