BOOK TITLE: The Australia Times - Life & Love magazine. Volume 2, issue 1

January 2014Vol. 2 No: 1
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WELCOME NOTE............................................................ 5
EXCUSE ME, NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS....................... 6
THE NEW NUCLEAR....................................................... 11
A CUP A DAY.................................................................. 16
AVOIDING THE AWKWARD.......................................... 23
ARE YOU BETTER OFF ALONE?..................................... 26
CAMP LEGENDS ........................................................... 30
MY HEART IS A GLOBE ................................................. 40
AN EGGXELLENT IDEA .................................................. 44
THE SUGARY TRUTH?.................................................... 48
TALES FROM THE CAMINO........................................... 58
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Cover image courtesy of Angie Geurs from Forever Soles www.foreversoles.com
Photographer: Hannah Lilly Leser: www.facebook.com/hannah.leser
Stylist: Kit Alida from Alida Buffalo Vintage www.facebook.com/alida.buffalo
Model: Christina Macpherson
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You know exactly what I’m talking about -
drunken family members making it their
mission to spend their enre Christmas in
a onesie (yep - only in chilly Melbourne
could that be temperature-conducive),
boozy games of beach frisbee (which you
now realise was the only physical acvity
your body encountered over the past
few weeks - thats unless you include the
champagne-laced-couch-dancing on
New Years Eve)
and just the pure, shameless, over-
indulgent gluony of it all.
Well, thats prey much how my fesve
season went down. To keep the party
vibe kicking along and to celebrate the
glorious fact that sweet, sweet SUMMER
has nally graced us with her presence,
we decided to bring you a big, juicy, extra
loved-up issue of TAT Life & Love mag
this me around with heaps of the good
stu just to keep the fesve cheer rolling.
So as the twenty-fourteen party season
gets underway and the slate is wiped
clean, I wonder what will be in store
for this year? This issue is chock-full of
laughs, a few New Year no-no’s, some
inspiraon for the free-spirited soul
and some obligatory awkwardness…
Ames xx
Image Credit: Dimitry B - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ru_boff/7931844124/
Aaron Alexander - http://www.flickr.com/photos/asalexander/3176093015/
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By now, you may or may not have recovered from the utter pandemonium
that was the festive season and the big old sayonara to 2013.
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Who do you think you are? Putting more
pressure on us to be 'better people' after
one of the biggest nights of the year?
I don't know about you, but we're all just trying
to get past the hangover.
The holiday season is to blame. It's the one time of
year we eat up, spend up, booze up... and wake up
on New Year's Day feeling guilty
or still drunk
We've pushed our bodies, our emotions and our
credit cards to the limit. But this year, it's all
going to change, right? We're going on diets, we're
putting double on our mortgages and we're never
drinking again.
No, Resolutions. No.
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Quite frankly, you should be ashamed. You've set us up
to fail at our most vulnerable and foggy-headed time.
You only have to look at Twitter or Instagram right
now to witness the madness. Every brand under the
sun is jumping on board. “Oh, January, hmm... I know...
let.'s do New Year's Resolutions!' How original.
s Jim Carrey would say: SOMEBODY STOP ME!''
Don't get me wrong... I'm all for a challenge.
m the first to add murky green chlorophyll to my
water every January for a “detox''. You should see
the looks I get; it makes my boss wanna hurl. But
surely the key is a constant journey of little 'I Will's'
- not one single thing that's impossible to sustain...
So this year, we're making mistakes, lots of them.
We're travelling to places we've never been before.
We're trying things we've never tried - even if
it is something called chlorophyll.
And we're going to make ourselves feel amazing,
little by little, every day.
Perhaps from now on, we should call you
New Year's 'Revolutions' instead.
'Cos I'm certainly not making any resolutions.
Who wants to be a cheap, skinny, sober chick, anyway?
Yours sincerely,
Image Credit: Evan Leeson - http://www.flickr.com/photos/41864721@N00/8332327516
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Image Credit: Alice Mansfield
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You are sitting at the head of the dinner table. This time you’ve
really f***ed up, made a mistake and now you have to front the
tribunal. The faces of the three people youre closest to at this
point in your life stare back at you: hurt, surprised, disappointed.
Youre just happy they’ve agreed to share
the same space as you, they’re just
happy you havent made any sudden
movements. They look as though they’re
poised to make a quick escape, if need be.
You reassure them that youre still
the same, even though you know the
friendship band has been ofcially
broken. They accept your apology, albeit
completely unconvincingly. Youre totally
disappointed in yourself and your inability
to handle a deluge of champagne.
You make excuses for your bad behaviour...
there were extenuating circumstances,
you’re not normally aggressive, you
had an out of body experience, all of
which is accepted but alas, not forgiven.
You understand this completely as after
all, you did it. Will they ever look at you
the same again?
If youre anything like me, then youre part of
a very diverse social network. It’s another
facet to life in the city, or anywhere really.
New people come into your life every day;
many are forgettable and some you wish
you could forget. You have to learn to be
discerning with whom you allow into your
life. Theres no way to pick a lifelong friend
upon rst introduction but, like a crush,
something excites and intrigues you about
this new person.
by Daniel Walmsley
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In my experience, the urban family has outlived
most of my actual romantic relationships, which
probably says more about my choice of partners
than anything. However, in some cases, a key
relationship can stand at the head of the family,
a stoic matriarch or patriarch to oversee and keep
the members of the family in check. While a key
relationship can bring a family together, it can
also tear one apart through separation of the two
parties. In most cases, a bitter divorce is followed
by a custody battle where members of the family
are generally forced to draw a very distinct line and
pick a side or see one friend primarily with the other,
on alternate weekends. You could pray for a reunion,
but it most likely isn’t going to happen - accept this
‘new normal and move on.
Theres also the extended family. This incorporates
partners, friends-of-friends and actual blood-
relatives. These are the people who are integral
to individual family members but are removed
from the family unit itself. They’re often brought
into the family under special circumstances such
as birthdays or house parties. They’re not an
integral part of the family and you therefore have
the luxury of deciding who you like and who you
won’t tolerate, almost instantly. A close friend’s
taste in friends can sometimes be bafing as they
can sometimes appear to have the worst taste
in friends. What then does that say about you?
We have all written off a friend-of-a-friend based on
unpleasant traits such as lack of a sense of humour,
general air of superiority or even for no reason at
all (“it wasn’t what they said, it was their tone).
In many cases you fail to see anything special
about them and cannot understand what your
close friend does, however this all relates back
to the differences in people previously noted.
Having said that, extended family members can,
in some cases, manage to move past this initial
screening process and make it into the group.
As for you, a week has now passed. Theres been
one-on-one coffee time with each family member.
You’ve listened to what they’ve had to say, plead
your case, endured the excruciating indifference
this has been met with, followed by a weeks
worth of nights agonising over it. While you would
give anything to be able to take your indiscretions
back, you’ve accepted that you’re just going to
have to live with your actions. Things may never
be the same again but youre willing to work with it.
Then the texts start coming through: how was your
day, a ‘Seinfeld’ quote, family outing this Saturday
night. The messages lack hesitancy; they’re open,
honest and transparent. The family unit has been
restored and everything is right in your world again.
In retrospect, it seems silly to think that youd never
be forgiven.
Theyre your family,
after all.
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I can categorically say this because I have
in fact tasted every coee in the world,
but lets save that for another arcle.
Louie loves his job; the perfectly med
and ground coee bean followed by the
smooth pour from machine to cup, the
silky frothed milk adding to it to make a
perfect cuppa does something special for
my friend. It makes him happy, and seeing
a customers face light up aer one sip
– that makes him happy too. But lately,
Louie’s self-worth and purpose is low.
He shares with me one night over a few
too many whiskey-laced laes that whilst
he enjoys his job, it bothers him that
it doesn’t serve to create any greater
good; that it doesn’t help people but just
temporarily wakes them up.
My reacon to my friends glum state is...
unhelpful. I, like Louie, used to be a barista
and aer a few years working ten-hour
days steaming and smiling and pouring
and cleaning...well, you end up feeling
like your signicance on this planet is a bit
pointless. I felt for my friend, especially
because he enjoyed what he was doing
however, he just felt there was no real
point to it...
Then, a few days ago, I wandered into a
cafe I’d never been to before. I walked
in and spoed a prey good looking guy
at the counter who I smiled at, walked
towards and was then grunted at. Now I
know people somemes exaggerate when
they say that, but I was - quite literally -
grunted at. It was a mixture of eh” and
“blurggg” and I took it to signify “what
do you want?. I resolved that I’d win this
guy over with my dorkiness and charm.
I asked him how his morning was and he
ignored me, instead answering his phone
and proceeded to make me a coee that
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I have a friend (no really, I do)
who is in a bit of a rut. My friend -
lets call him Louie for the sake of the story -
is a barista and makes the best coee in the world.
was annoyingly delicious. I thanked him
on my way out and he again ignored me.
The whole scenario lasted about 20
minutes and le me feeling at and
dejected for the enre day. I couldn’t
stop thinking about this a-hole
who couldn’t even manage to
arculate a single word for me; not
a “hello”, okay, “bye”... I was grumpy
the whole day, I was nasty to my
boyfriend and I couldn’t concentrate
at work at all (although that last one
happens quite frequently).
A few days later it hit me. My friend Louie,
as well as countless others who deal
with people every day have an extreme
amount of power and inuence over the
masses. They have the ability to change
the demeanor someone who may start
their day as a happy, nonchalant kind
of person and rapidly turn them into a
nasty, lazy monster (as I became).
In contrast, a barista has the capacity to
li someone up who is down, to make a
good day even greater. The seemingly
small roune of going somewhere to
get your early morning cuppa joe may
seem insignicant however, could have
an overwhelming eect on the world.
Imagine our current Prime Minister
waking up feeling grumpy and friendless
(not hard to envision). He walks into a
cafe and is greeted by a friendly barista,
he orders his caramel frappucino (I assume
thats what he drinks) and is surprised
at how smooth and creamy it tastes.
He speaks with the sta casually and
honestly and gets an idea of how these
people feel towards certain things.
He walks out of the cafe feeling refreshed
and a lile intrigued. Who knows
what could happen from that day on...
without geng too polical, we could
have marriage equality again, the
environment could be saved, the whole
world could become a lile less corrupted
by a nice lile moment with a barista, a
caramel frappucino and a Prime Minister.
Okay, so I may be exaggerang, but I hope
you get my point...
So to my friend Louie, and to all those
who work in hospitality, retail or any job
dealing with customers and consumers
I say this: you may not be in a career where
you can directly inuence the state of
aairs in the world or be able to physically
save lives every day, but you do have an
overwhelming inuence on a person’s
day. Who knows what could happen
just by ordering that lae, soy at
white or caramel frappucino...
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Image Credit: Coffee - http://www.ickr.com/photos/lamdogjunkie/9599755165 (Altered)
Tony Abbott - Troy Constable Photography™ (Very Altered!)
is a ‘Not For Prot’ Organisation helping to
provide warm clothing to Queenslands homeless.
We seek donations for adults, children and babies. New and old blankets, clothing, beanies,
scarves and gloves, as well as burial outts for babies born sleeping” are always needed.
Please visit www.knittingforbrisbanesneedy.com.au for more information.
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Image Credit: Anne Worner - http://www.ickr.com/photos/we_ocial/11594354833/
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My internal monologue was getting angsty.
“Come on, hurry up man the trains not far
away, you’re gonna make me late.
He says to the barista, “Um yeah…so I think
I want um…well it has to be Bonsoy cause I
dont drink dairy - have you seen what a cow’s
udder goes through in order to produce milk
so a capitalist white man can make money?
If I get a large coffee, what does that say
about my carbon footprint? Oh, and
are your takeaway containers um, like,
I cant deal with this, its a Monday morning,
I need my coffee and to catch the next
train. “Listen buddy, if you’re worried about
bio-degradable bring a keep-cup. Drink
dairy because it will save you a dollar - give it
to charity. And no, the coffee beans havent
been blessed by Tibetan monks” I yelled.
e hipster; what started as a noble cause is
now a contradiction in terms.
My problem with the hipster is not so much
their ideology (although I dont agree with
them often), it’s the impracticability of said
ideology when applied in reality.
Take the aforementioned coffee exchange.
Now the hipster will berate you for enjoying
a coffee from a commercial chain that
dominates the market space (cant name the
coffee chain - dont have the funds to battle
them in court - but you know who I mean).
eir argument goes something like this:
“Yeah man,I just really find it
like,um,super offensive that you
can sip a coffee from a company
that,like,puts profits first and
violates human rights.”
By Luke Tarrant
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Fair point, but this is all said while holding
the latest mobile phone and carrying a
brand new portable PC (you know the
brands and their human rights record,
cant name them - dont want to get sued),
carried in a bag bought online from a
company with a sweat-shop in Asia.
Are you catching what I’m throwing here?
Do you see the problem? In short, they hate
money makers, yet they consume/subscribe
to money makers. ey take the moral high
ground, yet fail to see the plank in their eye.
Ideological inconsistencies are the norm in
their detached world. Ever lived with the
hipster? Please spare yourself if you havent…
Wait, stop there, Q&A is on, I must tweet;
Tony Abbott hates women, I saw him eating
one for breakfast” #QandA
…Sorry, back to it - my inner hipster
temporarily escaped.
Dont expect punctual rent from the hipster,
money-making-Dad’s weekly handout
hasnt come through yet and when you’re
a perennial student, working isnt a high
priority. Oh, and organic products cost more.
Perennial student hipsters – now theyre
fun - “yeah, I’m…at my um, second
university now… like, I just dont get this
um, conservative notion of pass or like
fail, what’s that?” he said. “Yeah man, it’s
not like easy studying philosophy and um…
writing a PHD trying to deconstruct reality,
she responded.
e hipsters that do move on from university
move into jobs like advertising, where they
wear their short sleeved, patterned shirts,
buttoned all the way to the top - I mean all
the way to the top - and their deliberately
folded-up skinny chinos that highlight
their flamboyant socks. Dont forget fake
glasses and facial hair (women included –
possibly because the razor is a sign of
female oppression).
Attire aside, do they realise advertising
is a money-making industry trying to
sell product by any means necessary -
lies, deception and false claims?
Where’s the transparency in that industry
that they so often crave in politics with
regular comments on social media? #auspol.
Maybe I’m not being fair; maybe I dont
understand life for the hipster in Bondi or
Brunswick (affluent suburbs). It cant be
easy constantly trying to find a lactose-free,
gluten-free, ethically produced, sustainable,
vegan restaurant that directs funds back
to charities.
After a stuffing of vegany-goodness
(not too much though - kids are starving), it’s
time to debate their favourite subject; social
causes. Climate change, asylum seekers,
corporate greed and war - dont argue against
their viewpoint, the hipster will label you
ignorant, a denier or a racist.
Its interesting for a perceived progressive
person who prides themselves on social
inclusion and equality; the hipster sure
cant stomach a differing opinion #boycott.
e hipster is willing to travel long and far to
promote their social causes, well, to the inner city
where they live anyway (reachable by fixed-gear
bike). Grab a slab of concrete and sit around during
the working week, Occupy is in town. Trash some
school facilities, to stop education funding
cuts. Oh, and they love online petitions –
Twitter, Facebook theyll sign it.
Does anybody remember Kony 2012?
e cause went viral, but flopped
in reality. e Kony social media
campaign highlights perfectly the
hipster mentality - do a little but not
a lot (all rhetoric and no action).
e hipster has become so mass
produced, so mainstream, that theres
nothing individual or unique about it
anymore - an utter contradiction on
what theyre meant to be and stand for.
Lets consign this phase of our
fashion history to the likes of happy pants,
hyper-colour T-shirts and undercuts - popular
once but the world quickly moved on. Although
the notion that ‘everything in fashion makes a
return, does scare me somewhat, and not just for
the fashion sense.
Anyway time to go, online social media causes
await me, gotta get my hashtag on. No wait, my
favourite indie band is playing tonight at a small bar
where you can’t reserve a table, with un-matching
furniture, detached uber-cool staff and that means
craft beers cost $14 a bottle. eres no point in
you coming, you wouldnt know the band, theyre
really obscure and not in the charts.
Oh, theres my inner hipster again.
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Image Credit: Yi Chen - http://www.flickr.com/photos/yiie/6188136649/
Andy Solo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/67271853@N05/7674078034
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Well, that escalated quickly!”
You hang out every weekend, enjoy the
same hobbies, text most days and you’re
not attracted to them at all… right?
But there was that one fateful night
where you indulged in one too many
drinks, the dance floor was raging,
the banter was making you giggle and
somehow, all of these components
resulted in a late night bedroom
encounter with your best mate.
You wake up and your mind is racing
with numerous questions…
How did this happen?
Could it happen again?
Do I like him?
Where is my bra?
And the big one:
How do I make sure this
doesn’t get awkward?
Back up from your daydreams for
a minute here.
I dont want you getting ahead of
yourself and thinking long term with
pets, passionate nights in, wedding
bells and a speech that begins with,
ey started off as best mates!”
Your first challenge is to make it out
of the house without leaving a crack
the size of the Grand Canyon in your
friendship. It is for this reason that one
needs detailed tips for avoiding post-
intercourse awkwardness.
Crack a funny. Make a remark
about the nights activities.
Nothing where you could risk bruising
an ego, so stay away from topics of
size and girth. But take a quote from
Ron Burgundy (every guy knows
Anchorman) and go with something
like, “well that escalated quickly!”
is will break the tension, and you will
both be able to smile and relax about
what happened under the sheets.
Be armed and ready for a new
topic. Dont rush for words to
cover any awkward silences and spread
your verbal diarrhoea all over the
pillow. You have to remember that
this person is, first and foremost, your
friend! What about suggesting coffee,
or food? No doubt both your heads
are pounding, and this combination
will ease the pain.
Dont tell your mates. Well, you
can tell some, but not all. ere
are a few reasons for this:
ey will tease the both of you,
making you both ridiculously
uncomfortable and awkward to the point
where it may impact your friendship.
ey will put ideas in your
head about “how great you two
would be together” and say, “it makes
so much sense as you have always been
friends.” We arent living in a romantic
comedy, folks.
ey will want all the details,
and there are just some things
that not everyone should know about
your personal life.
Once you’re past the initial awkward
stages, give it a couple of days to a week.
en maybe you can think about how
this indiscretion may lead to future
changes in your relationship.
Dont forget - this is the ‘just once’
scenario (and quite a common one).
ere is also the chance that he will just
roll on top of you for round two
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It would seem so. When I hear both women
and men say that they would rather settle for an
unsatisfactory relationship than be alone, I have to
ask why you would want to stay where you are not
happy if you have a choice to move on.
Sure, there are some disadvantages to ying
solo, like having to pay for everything yourself, or
missing out on some invitations because people
don’t know what to do with you if youre not part of
a couple. Plus, having to do all of the chores and
manual labour yourself can get old pretty quickly
and, rather inconveniently, you don’t have someone
else to go to the shop for some milk when you’ve
run out and haven’t gotten out of your pjs yet…
I know quite a few people (me included!) who
are pretty happy with their single life. They don’t
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feel that they need a partner to make their lives
complete. There is definitely a sense of satisfaction
and happiness derived from doing ones own thing.
It’s not that I have anything against being in a
relationship and I can’t say I never want to be in
one again, it’s just that when I think of the things
I really want in my life right now, a partner doesn’t
rank high on the list.
Then there are those who are secretly envious of
the single life, but don’t seem to be able to break
the pattern they are in. I read a quote from Whoopi
Goldberg recently when asked what she wishes
she had known sooner. Her answer was, “I like
being on my own. If I’d gured that out earlier,
I probably wouldn’t have gotten married three
times.” A very wise woman is Whoopi, even if this
particular bit of wisdom took a while to come.
So, those of you who feel you are stuck - take heart.
Finding the ‘perfect’ partner is rarely the Utopia
that fairy tales lead us to believe. Having gone
down the marriage road once, my experience is
evidence of this. While there are some really great
things about being in a relationship, unless it is a
true partnership I don’t see how it can work for me.
I am totally free to make my own decisions and
have no-one else to blame other than myself and
I like it that way.
While I understand that some are trapped in
situations where they fear for their lives if they
leave, or are beaten down physically and mentally
so that they don’t feel they have a choice, this is not
the case for many living in unhappy relationships.
A number seem to stay in relationships purely
for nancial reasons or because they dont want
the social stigma of divorce. For me there is no
amount of money in the world that would make
me want to stay in an unhappy relationship.
I guess there are exceptions in such circumstances
where real starvation and poverty issues abound,
but in Australia and countries like ours, it does
not make sense. I think what is often the case
with some women is that they think they can’t
provide the lifestyle they want on their own.
This is nonsense because we live in a country
where almost anything is possible. Yes, it may not
be as easy for you as for some others but we have
so many options. And as far as the social stigma
goes, why should we care what people think if they
don’t care about what is best for us?
I really believe that if you are going into and
staying in a relationship for the right reasons then
it can be the best thing for you, but if that’s not why
you are doing it, you have to ask yourself - are you
better off alone?
Read more from Joanne on her blog here:
w ww.joannecorrigan.com
Image Credit: Shandi-lee Cox - http://www.flickr.com/photos/shandilee/4800438606
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Assorted boxes piled along the
driveway heralded a special day
of the year for mum, dad and
us four kids…an escape from the
searing city heat that was part of
the story of a Melbourne summer
way back when. Tins and packets
crammed together, bright stripy
towels protecting snorkel and
goggle sets…and the one-eyed
bantam rooster. I have absolutely
no recollection of his name though
he probably remained nameless as
was the case with several pets in
our household.
Nevertheless, he held court
over caged canaries, the quails
scratching around in the aviary
up the back, the rabbit in the
hutch, and the cat who sat beside
the hutch every day and later
grieved to the point of losing all
her fur when the rabbit went to
carrot heaven. Little rooster even
stood tall over the aggressive red
Australian terrier who had a habit
of dragging himself along the
ground with a pleased expression!
No other animal on our suburban
block or any other along the street
had the capacity or inclination
to crow so loudly as to wake the
neighbours at 4am each morning
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(who were again startled some
hours later as my brother revved
up his motorbike and headed
down the drive). Picture a quiet,
leafy, suburban street full of
retirees looking for a life of
repose, interspersed with several
big, boisterous families in an era
where four kids per family was
pretty common.
This day was long anticipated by
all… we were off on our annual
summer holiday at the beach, a
seaside village one and a half
hours from Melbourne. Why we
were taking a chook on holidays
I have absolutely no idea, it was
just one of the many quirky things
considered completely acceptable
in our family. It was only years
later, when chatting with young
adult peers, that I came to realise
that it was more than a little
So there we were, nally packed
and ready. Mother, father, the
four kids, the snarly ground
grovelling terrier and the one
eyed bantam rooster. I remember
that particular journey squashed
in the back seat with the chook at
my feet (who had gone into a kind
of self-protective trance), with me
longing to say “are we there yet
in a world where there were no
McDonalds (can you believe it!) and
a well-practiced ability to think
way more than I spoke. Eventually
we arrived at our holiday house.
I really cant remember what
the chook actually did with his
day while we holidayed at the
beach… I was way too busy
in my self-indulgent teen life.
However I do remember that after
travelling in his trance-like state,
when arriving at our destination
and being gently placed on the
ground, he sat for quite some
time in the same trance before
letting out a brilliantly loud rooster
crow - enough to impress all the
kids playing cricket in our street.
It certainly elevated our position
amongst our holiday peer network.
I guess he was happy because he
still crowed at 4am each morning
of his beach break. I cant recall
if our ne feathered friend ever
returned to the beach with us
his fate faded into oblivion as my
grown up world took precedence
over thinking about our one-eyed
bantam rooster and his menagerie
of animal friends.
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Prior to the ‘chook at the holiday
house’ incident we enjoyed many
years of tent and caravan camping
right on the foreshore in an
adjacent town. We particularly
loved the year dad knocked
together a wooden annexe for
the caravan and we kids erected
a hand painted sign aptly named
Lambeth Lair. The name certainly
sat well with a bunch of teens and
their lairy seventies hairstyles
and fashion! Having commenced
our family camping adventures in
a large tent surrounded by ropes,
poles and pegs, it was quite a step
up to progress to a caravan with
a timber annexe. I got the sense
that we had kind of made it in the
world of caravanners by this stage
of our camping career.
One particular memory stands
out amongst the many as we lived
our communal life in the camping
ground alongside other families,
often people we knew from
previous years. The carnival sat
permanently in the town adjacent
to the camping ground for the
entire holiday season and was
hugely popular with locals and
campers alike. One year, we urged
our dad (who was easily persuaded
to do crazy things), to go in a
‘Spaghetti Eating’ competition. So
there he was sitting at a long table
alongside several other blokes – yes,
only the blokes opted for this kind
of entertainment while the wives
with their immaculate ‘60s hair
styles stood well back, hoping not
to be recognised yet being secretly
supportive. Out came the steaming
bowls of spaghetti heaped high
with chunky bolognaise sauce.
The eager competitors hopped
into the fare egged on by their
enthusiastic kids, while wives
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looked on nervously. At this point,
I should mention that it was a
hands behind the back, no cutlery
kind of affair! Dad did pretty
well coming in at about second or
third and we were mighty proud
of him, though mum still looked
unconvinced. We clapped and
cheered and laughed a lot that night,
with this memory logged alongside
several other epic legends within
our family. Unfortunately dad was
caravan bound for several days as
he avoided the suns rays due to
a burnt mouth! Nevertheless he
thought it was devilishly fun and
worth the painful consequences.
We urged him to sign up to next
years comp, but my mother wasnt
sold on the idea. In our eyes he
was a real ‘Camp Legend!
Another family camping moment
which stands the test of time was
when we camped alongside friends
at a large inland lake back in the
days when lakes were still full of
water. Every day, rain, hail, shine,
not to mention wind, we kids
got to go water skiing. Somehow
our family friends convinced my
father to have a go and something
told us that this was not going to
pan out well. After all, we did
have a memory bank of incidents
where things turned a little pear-
shaped, such as the time my
brothers brand new dragster bike
bucked dad off rather violently,
though that’s another story.
Anyway, great credit to my father,
he kits up in the life jacket,
feet in skis, hands on rope handles,
a brief listen to instructions for
beginners (and I mean brief).
Predictably, it did not work out in
my dads favour, as skiing without
your glasses on when you cant see
Image Credits: Family - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmorodo/7325976180
Rooster - http://www.flickr.com/photos/anduin_andorian/6829778300
Spaghetti - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/5822501094
Independent Media Inspiring Minds34
and have no idea of what is going
on is hazardous to say the least,
especially on a large windblown
lake. We all watched horried
as he bounced across the choppy
waters taking in mouthfuls of the
murky stuff. We yelled (from land
and boat) in vain for him to let go
of the ropes, though he never did,
as he skimmed across the vastness
of the lake… ten points for grit
(think he took in a bit of that too).
Im guring he learnt two things
that day: never ski again and if
you do, best to stand up on your
skis, as staying down low can be
a pretty unpleasant experience.
What it taught me is that my
dad was willing to give anything
a go, have a laugh at himself
and demonstrated a strength of
character and determination that
has stood him in good stead all
his life. He also taught me that
humour, singing and humming
can get you through some pretty
serious stuff in your life… kind
of turns negativity on its head
though Im pretty sure there wasnt
a whole lot of humming or singing
as he whizzed fast and low across
that lake. He was gaining ‘Camp
Legend’ status in a mighty hurry!
Since my ‘camping with a legend
days I have mostly indulged in more
luxurious holiday accommodation.
Perhaps this is due to some early
camping traumas, such as the
night a severe storm ripped a
large, lengthy tear in our tent, the
rain soaking us and everything
in it. Storms aside, nothing quite
beats being part of a camping
community enveloped by the
aromas of campre cook-ups,
barbeque dinners and caravan
stews. Then there were the early
morning rises as we listened to the
ice-o ringing his bell and we’d ght
over whose turn it was to haul a
large block of ice back to our ice
chest. Several afternoons a week,
I remember an old guy with a
booming voice driving through
the narrow camp roads informing
us of the evenings entertainment,
mournful country and western
tunes backing his hefty drawl.
The best part was Christmas Day,
with excited squeals of excitement
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as scores of kids ran down to the
sea in their new bathers, some
clutching brand new buckets,
spades and cricket sets. Boxing
Day beach cricket reigned supreme
back then just as it does today.
The holidays seemed long and
glorious and full of sunshine,
though in reality there was a fair
bit of woolly wearing. I made a
vow to myself that whatever the
weather I would venture into
the water daily in some form
or another and I did, even if it
was as little as a toe dunk or as
much as paddling a kayak in jeans
and jumper. The ip side was
the annoyance of squeaky camp
stretchers each time someone
turned in bed, the ve cent piece
in the slot for the three minute
hot shower which usually came
out cold, and the desire for a
teen girl to remain clean and well
groomed amongst the sand and
camp grime. However these small
things were overshadowed by the
pluses... the camaraderie, the co-
operative team spirit, establishing
new friendships, young holiday
romances, attempting new skills,
freedom and independence.
During these years we swam, skied,
paddled, rode bikes and horses,
made daily treks to the local
bakery for their wicked cream buns,
consumed our fathers famous
camp stew without complaint, and
played monopoly laughing and
ghting in our competitiveness to
win, which my father usually did
as he had a good natured style of
cheating! Several times a week we
walked down near the pier to the
burger or donut van for supper
and often went to the movies in
the old cinema in town, clutching
a bag of jaffas perfectly rounded
to roll down the aisles. I remember
regular power blackouts however
no one seemed too fussed.
One year I was crazy enough
to enter a ‘Miss Beach Girl
competition, trussedup in ‘70s
style bikinis, though I wont be
putting that on my résumé!
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I learnt a lot about myself and
lot about my family and friends
during those long summer breaks.
It brought us all closer together
and gave us the strength to face
another year of school, work and
domestics, particularly giving my
poor mother a good rest in order
to cope with another year of four
rowdy kids and all their antics!
I was also fortunate enough to
experience several bush camps.
Though facilities were pretty basic,
I loved the wide open black sky
with an illumination of brilliant
stars in every direction, nature
right at my door, the bird calls
and animal noises of the night
though green frogs, lizards and an
occasional possum in the shower
block had me a little jumpy!
Whatever your taste, I suggest
you try camping at least once in
your life… after a couple of nights
you wont care about a bit of dirt
under the ngernails or what your
hair looks like, in fact you wont
even want to look in a mirror!
Decide what kind of camping most
suits your style… with a large
group of friends at a music festival,
a family caravan adventure,
staying in a cabin, cuddling up in
a cosy tent in a rainforest with
your lover, camping in the bush
or sea or on top of a mountain.
Do it with someone you know, go
alone or even try a guided affair
incorporating a walking adventure.
There is a form of camping to
suit all of us so create your own
Camp Legends and just do it!
Image Credits: The Shack - Mali Reed
Cricket - http://www.flickr.com/photos/laneylou/361063944/
Independent Media Inspiring Minds 37
Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park
2 Great Ocean Rd. Lorne
Ph: 03 5289 1382
Halls Gap Caravan Park
Ph: 03 5356 4251
Tasm ania
Land of the Giants Caravan Park
Mt. Field National Park (just over
1 hours drive west of Hobart)
Ph: 03 6288 1149
The Tropics/Cape Tribulation
Camping (rainforest, beach, reef)
Northern Territory
Caravan and Camping Grounds
Uluru and Surrounds
Noosa River Holiday Park
4 Russell St. Noosaville
Ph: 07 5449 7050
Whitsunday Islands National Park
74 idyllic islands!
You can even go Glamping in Qld!
(Luxury or Glamour Camping)
Rainbow Beach Hire-A-Camp
Fraser Coast Qld
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I believe that the more personal we are in our writing,
the more acceptable it is deemed by society.
Perhaps it’s our own vulnerability that is recognised
by the reader, who is seduced by a connection with
this openness.
In June 2013, I became captivated by the life of Marilyn Monroe.
I admired her strength and puried honesty in most aspects
of her life. But it was her poetry that moved me.
Whilst traipsing through a small, secluded market in Cornwall,
England, I stumbled across ‘Fragment’, a compilation of her
unpublished poetry and intimate letters.
Whilst reading this, it dawned on me that we had something
in common. Her writing exhibited the vivid knowledge and
candid acceptance of her life choices. Healing through
bleeding truth within the lines. Unafraid to admit when things
got hard, her regrets, and what excited her.
Trapped inside her own mind, and yet completely free.
“Its quiet now and the silence is alone -
except for thunderous rumbling of things unknown -
terror beyond fear.
Hungry for truth that spoke to me, I found my own voice…
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Image Credit: K. Felice
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
The day had come.
Insufcient planning, and a one way ticket.
London, I run to you.
Travel had freed me.
Terminated my past
Aborted the painful memories.
But the numbness would only last the distance.
A lot had changed since that initial booking.
Scattered along the way, I’d gotten lost.
Exhausted every option to remain standing still.
All cards have been folded.
He lay awake in bed, awaiting our goodbye.
Anxious, nervous
Reminded of the ballad I face.
I could feel myself breaking.
3 years
Blinded by a memory
Confusing my feelings with the truth.
Watching time go by in slow motion
And yet tonight, couldn’t have gone faster.
Should I stay-
Should I go-
The past would always be our future
And our future
Would be no more-
So I wiped away every drop of wet imperfection, and I left.
and somehow, breathing ne.
24 hours.
Trapped with the problem, without realisation,
I was the solution.
Breaking free-
“I hope you nd what youre looking for” - I’ll never forget his last words.
We arrived at the airport. Two of my greatest friends.
Reminding me of every reason, not to get on that plane.
Admiring one another.
For them, I’d be brave.
Where to begin-
I didn’t know if I even knew how.
But high on hopes, I turned and walked away.
Glistening eyes
Afraid to look back. Daunted, they’d see
through this deceiving smile.
Every step after, only made my decision
more obvious
I wouldn’t ght this anymore.
More or less.
24 hours in an upright position.
Small conned spaces
2 stopovers
All alone.
Just myself, and what I would later refer to, as the rest of my life.
I need a drink.
London, here I come!
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On the eve of Halloween this year, I came
home from work and my housemate, who
shall remain unnamed to protect their privacy,
suggested we go out and have a glass of red.
I was down in the dumps (boy trouble, what
else!?) and it had been ages since wed had
a little housemate outing. What a great idea!
I jumped on board straight away. The plan
was to go to a local bar and have one glass of
red over a friendly game of giant Jenga.
The bar was fully decked out in Halloween
decorations. The bar staff had gone all out
with their Halloween costumes and the vibe
was pumping. Housemate and I tucked into
our glasses of red while we waited for the
giant Jenga to become available. When that
glass was nished, there was no question that
a second was to be ordered. It wasn’t until our
third glass that we nally got our turn on the
larger than life game of Jenga. I lost, however
the highlight of the game was denitely when
I inadvertently sent the tower crashing down
onto a nearby guy, who in my mind should
never have been sitting that close to a heated
game of giant Jenga if he didn’t want the tower
to topple down on him!
Glass four soon followed after the game
ended and we continued our discussions
about anything and everything. We got on to
the topic of my ex-boyfriend. If you’re lucky,
I’ll share with you my story about him on another
occasion. Hes a really stand-up guy [insert
sarcastic undertone here]. What Housemate
and I discussed specically was the fact that,
through some terrible twist of fate, the ex had
moved into a house located approximately fty
metres from our house about a month after wed
moved in! You might wonder how I knew that he
was living there for certain. Well, the fact that
his car was parked out the front of same house
Let me tell you about the time
i egged my ex-boyfriend
s car.
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for three weeks was pretty damning evidence.
Can you actually believe that? Seriously,
what are the odds? If any readers out there
are total aces at mathematical probability,
I’d love to hear from you!
But I digress. So, I’d pretty much told all my
friends about this horrifying development
(see what I did there? Halloween? Horrifying...
sorry, I’ve digressed again) and they were all
shocked and mortied. More so than me in fact.
They each had their various ideas of revenge
by car-vandalism. His car was always parked
on the street so it was the easiest target.
Let the air out of his tyres, egg his car, key his
car, slash his tyres, get a sledge hammer and
go to town. Now I know what you’re thinking -
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you
that these were the suggestions of my friends,
not my ideas, and also to give you a bit of
information as to why such extreme reactions
were warranted from them. I won’t go into
all the details, but sufce it to say that this
guy lied, cheated and betrayed my trust for
roughly 3 out of the 6 years we were together.
If you looked up the words ‘scum’ or ‘dirt bag’
in the dictionary, I’m fairly certain thered be
a picture of him. So, I totally got where my
friends were coming from. It was actually
kind of sweet to know they’d go to those sorts
of extremes for me and I understand their
need for revenge. But I didn’t share that need.
I’d well and truly moved on from all the awful
things this man had done to me. It wasn’t
worth my energy.
But somehow, after four glasses of red
and a sudden onset of brazen and reckless
condence, when my housemate suggested
we egg his car I couldn’t have been more eager!
So without hesitation, we left the bar with the
sole purpose of egging my ex-boyfriend’s car.
We gured that there was a much smaller
chance of getting found out due to the fact
that it was Halloween eve. It was just as likely,
if not more so, that the egging was perpetrated
by local teenage hoodlums. Ha! The victimless
crime! Unless of course you count my ex as a
victim and I can assure you that I don’t.
I had six eggs in the fridge (shame they weren’t
all rotten beyond belief), so we gathered
up three each and set off for the no-good,
dirty, lying, cheater’s car. We ran around the
corner in a drunken state of somewhat silent,
stealthy-ness. The housemate stopped about
ve meters from the vehicle and started
hurling his eggs. I waited until he was done
and then I approached further, until I was less
than three meters away, because I a terrible
thrower. Then I proceeded to pelt the already
egg-covered car with my eggs.
We ran back to our house, giggling like school
girls. Mission accomplished. I know, I know!
What we did was wrong and so immature.
But I’ll tell you right now, it was satisfying as
hell and I’ll bet that there are more than a few
of you reading this that are slightly impressed
with my brazenness and maybe even a little
envious of my ‘accomplishment’!
One might even go as
far as saying it was an
eggxellent revenge.
this chick is nuts.
That all seems a
touch extreme.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilr/3174942093
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Theres a lot of hype right now about
sugar being the new food ‘evil.
Many claim it is responsible for making us
unhealthy, fat, and some even go so far as to
say it is ‘killing us.’ It feels a bit too déjà vu,
with the ‘dangers’ of fat a few decades ago
causing supermarket shelves to be stocked
with an abundance of ‘fat free’ foods. Only to
be told that fat is not the culprit, but sugar.
There is also a lot of misinformation which is
causing people to make ill-informed decisions
about their health, which scares me.
Let me clear a few things up. Sugar is not evil,
nor is it a ‘poison.
There are four main types: glucose, fructose,
sucrose and lactose. But there are many,
many other articial sugars such as sorbitol,
stevia etc. commonly considered ‘healthier
(and articial) versions. Our bodies naturally
produce glucose which we need for cell
production and energy. That’s right, our
bodies need sugar.
So what’s the problem? The problem for the
Western World today is not that we consume
sugar, but that we consume too much, without
realising we are eating way more than our
bodies can handle. What our bodies can’t
burn off as energy we convert to fat.
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Image Credit: Emilãine Vieira - http://www.flickr.com/photos/emivieira/8357490489/
Its pretty simple. You are what you eat.
Banning sugar completely from your diet is
drastic and completely unnecessary. Any good
doctor or nutritionist will back me up on this.
Rather, our focus should be on the quantities
and types of sugar we consume, not a at out
So who is the badass of sugar? Fructose.
How can this be I hear you ask? It’s a natural
sugar! Because it’s addictive. Also we humans
are born with a sweet spoon in our mouths,
literally. According to scientists we have
a genetic predisposition to favour sugary
things, which you can read more about here.
And so we eat and eat and it becomes a
sugary blur.
Six years ago, I did not really care about sugar,
I didnt need to. I weighed 45 kilos, a healthy
mum to my beautiful boy and a tness junkie.
Sugar was one of my BFFs. No problemo.
It wasn’t until 2008 when I fell pregnant with
my second child, that I learnt about being truly
mindful of the food I ate.
As the rst pregnancy had gone very smoothly,
I assumed it would be a similar journey with our
second. One of the ‘joys’ of pregnancy is the
number of blood tests an expecting mamma
has to go through. Not fun especially if youre
not a fan of needles (like me)!
Another routine test performed between
24-28 weeks is called a Glucose Challenge Test
(GCT). For this test, a sickly sweet glucose drink
is given to the expectant mother and the blood
glucose is measured one hour after the drink.
If the blood glucose level is above the normal
level a glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is required,
which involves fasting overnight with several
more blood tests taken at various intervals
over three hours, in order to see how your body
processes sugar.
Unfortunately for me, my GCT reading was
above normal which meant I had to undergo
the OGTT as well. A few days later at my
obstetrician appointment, I was told I had
Gestational Diabetes.
I was gobsmacked…. me?
My prole did not t the ‘at risk’ criteria:
I was not overweight (besides the bulging baby
belly), had no history of type 2 diabetes in
the family, I was in my mid 20s, went to gym
daily and had low blood sugar prior to falling
pregnant. Furthermore I did not experience any
of the symptoms of gestational diabetes.
I was healthy……or so I thought.
My maternal grandmother had type 1 diabetes
which according to Diabetes Australia has
nothing to do with lifestyle, however has a
genetic link. Type 1 means that your pancreas
cannot produce insulin to break down the fats
and sugars in the body, which can be fatal if
left untreated.
In order to live, type 1 diabetics need to inject
insulin before each meal and regularly check
their blood glucose levels with a nger prick
test. However my obstetrician said that my
grandmother’s diabetes had nothing to do with
my gestational diabetes.
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According to my doctor, less than ten precent of expectant
mothers develops gestational diabetes in pregnancy
and that my glucose levels should return to normal
after the baby is born. I would however require
insulin injections and need to take regular
nger prick tests to monitor my glucose levels,
as well as consulting a dietician.
I nearly burst into tears; this is not the
pregnancy journey I had envisioned for myself
and my unborn bub.
Being a budding academic (and super nerd
that I am), I went home and jumped
on the net and read anything and
everything I could nd on gestational
diabetes. I went and bought books
and researched what risks were
involved, what I could do to
ensure a safe pregnancy,
and more importantly, for me,
a healthy baby.
I was surprised to learn that even
though the gestational diabetes would
supposedly ‘disappear’ after the birth of my
baby it did mean that my child and I were at a
fty percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes
later in life. Flashbacks of watching my grandma
inject scarily long needles into her stomach
three times a day with all the complications she
endured over many years terried me, especially
knowing that her medical condition led to her
passing in her mid-60’s.
I had to make a permanent change.
I had to relearn everything about food.
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Image Credit: Micah Camara - http://www.flickr.com/photos/21434391@N02/6716861149
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
After appointments with several experts in
gestational diabetes and nutrition, I was given
a list of foods I could not eat during pregnancy
and it was horrendously long.
Now as a pregnant woman, one of the joys is
being able to follow your cravings and eat pretty
much anything your tummy desires, right?
Well my dietician said I need to follow a strict
diet, with minimal processed foods and no
white breads, pastas etc. and most importantly,
Ok”, I thought, “I can do this; I don’t eat much
of those things anyway.” I began to read labels
of everything I bought from the supermarket
and was astonished to nd out how much
sugar was in everything!
And that was the one thing I had to cut out of
my diet.
It was incredibly overwhelming. How the hell
am I going to do this???
Flash forward to 2014 and there are quitting
sugar programs everywhere; on the net and in
bookstores, proclaiming:
“Sugar is a drug”
“it’s addictive”
“it’s making us fat
“it is killing us!’”
Discussions about sugar have reached an
international scale thanks to authors like David
Gillespie and Australias own Sarah Wilson, who
have devoted time, research and alternatives
to sugar in attempt to get people thinking
more about what we put into our bodies.
Although I don’t necessarily agree with every
single word on the page, it is refreshing to hear
an intelligent and thoughtful exploration of the
topic as well as delicious alternatives.
Sarah Wilsons I Quit Sugar program is an eight-
week guide to ridding your body of sugar and
replacing it with healthy fats instead. I have had
family and friends who are dedicated followers
and have uncovered a healthier version of
themselves owing to this program.
How I wish this was around when I was
What is great about Gillespie and Wilsons
work is that it is getting every man and his
dog thinking, talking and debating more about
what we consume and how our bodies react.
They are making it accessible without the
medical mumbo jumbo, which is a big plus
(although I personally love reading the medical
mumbo jumbo!). With a growing obesity crisis in
the developed world, we really need to explore
more about sugar and educate ourselves
about the foods we eat.
Alas, I had to quit sugar cold turkey, no eight-
week wind down just stop.right.then.and.there.
It was hard and I mean really hard.
The white bread and pasta weren’t so much
issue for me, we had rye and wholemeal so
that was okay. But giving up sugar - not just
your pastries, donuts and chocolate - but
the ‘hidden’ sugars in sauces, yoghurts, even
master foods herbs and spices range, was
such a major challenge.
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Unlike the I Quit Sugar programs which
recommend getting rid of all sugar in your
home (so you won’t be tempted), I could not
do this. The concept of ‘no sugar’ was alien to
my partner, who would quite happily polish off
some Italian deserts in front of me. So I had to
do this on my own, with sugary temptations still
in my cupboard.
I had days where I would be good - I even kept
a food journal to keep me on track. But after
a week I binged on cinnamon donuts and my
blood sugar skyrocketed. There were many
times like this where I broke, and just had to
have my Cadbury old gold chocolate. But what
kept me mostly sugar free during my pregnancy
was my desire for a healthy pregnancy resulting
in a healthy baby.
Thankfully my daughter was born a healthy
seven and a half pounds and my blood sugars
returned to normal after the birth.
Hooray!” I thought - I can now go back to eating
anything I want!
But now, post gestational diabetes, I was at
high risk of not only type 1 but also now type 2
diabetes and would need a blood test annually
to ensure I had not developed diabetes.
I had just given birth and was breastfeeding
and all I wanted was a single freakin’ donut!
It took me several months after the birth of
my daughter to realise that this sugar free
lifestyle would need to be a permanent one.
Finding out I also had fructose malabsorption
(an inability to process fructose in the body)
and coeliac disease post birth, really hit home.
Oh the joys of motherhood!
Once I found substitutes for my sugar cravings,
it became so much easier. I became truly
mindful of my food choices and also gave
myself the opportunity to stray once in a while
and have those two pieces of dark chocolate
I enjoyed, but not because I craved them
anymore but because I made the conscious,
deliberate choice to eat it. Unlike the sauces,
spices and other foods I had consumed my
entire life containing ‘hidden’ sugars I did not
sign up for.
I began cooking more and living smarter. I cut
our grocery bill in half and found local farmers
markets to nd fresh produce and limited the
packaged and processed foods I brought into
the home. My husband is not ready to give
up sugar completely yet, so he has a corner
of the pantry just for him. My kids? Well they
do consume sugar too occasionally, however
I have tried to educate them on what sugar is,
which types are ok and which are not, and what
it does to our bodies if we consume too much.
Education really is the key to everything, and
I’m not just saying this because I am a teacher!
Most importantly I have taught my kids to be
more aware of what they put into their mouths
and that food should nourish their growing
bodies. I have overheard my kids saying,
no thank you’ to cakes and pastries saying they
feel they have had ‘enough sugar’ for the day.
I have returned to experimenting in the kitchen
more and the kids love coming up with new
sugar free recipes with me. They even gently
remind their dad when he is having too much
sugar - we will win him over yet!
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So what do we need to do to combat this
sugar demon?
Firstly it is important not to demonise it but
to be aware of the amounts we consume.
It is important to be fully conscious of what we
put in our mouths.
Don’t be tricked into eating ‘hidden’ sugars.
Educate yourself on how to read food labels
and eat as little processed food as possible.
One thing I always tell my students is to be
incredibly critical of everything you hear and
read and make an informed decision for
You don’t need to be the next David Gillespie
or Sarah Wilson or to follow their methods
to a tee. Their books provide great guidance
however you need to do what is right for you,
at your pace, your way. Use the information at
hand to guide you through your ‘food mindful
Food mindfulness is crucial to good health
and we are all capable of doing this. It is not
expensive and it is not hard. It just takes time
and patience, plus a bit of effort. With the
new year here it is as good a time as any to put
that little bit of effort into you - your body, your
health, your life.
Don’t get me wrong, I eat sugar and when
I do I enjoy it. But I do not crave it. If I eat it
I don’t feel bad or guilty, like I need to run for an
hour to burn it off. The guilt for ‘being bad’ and
eating something sweet is something Wilson
often writes about which I strongly disagree
with. Why? Because guilt leads to feeling low,
that you have made a bad decision. This can
lead to a whole can of worms on how you view
food and can create a binge like relationship
which is incredibly dangerous.
That is why I believe a complete and utter ban
is not only unnecessary but also unhealthy.
Think of the prohibition era - the more you draw
that red circle around something with a red line
through it, the more you want it and the more
horrible you feel if you have it. It is okay to eat
sugar, as long as you are mindful that you are
eating it.
Back to diabetes - do I have it? No, not yet.
Will I get it? How many Tim Tams are in a packet?
(I used to be able to answer this question but
now I have no idea). I do not know if it will
happen, but I am being proactive with diet and
exercise in the hope that I will not develop this
It may sound strange, however I am actually
grateful that I ended up with gestational
diabetes, because it has made me aware, it
has made me question, and it has made me
change for the better. I am healthier now than
I have ever been, largely due to making the
choice to be mindful of the sugars I consume.
Follow Dawn on instagram
Image Credit: Sean Molin - http://www.flickr.com/photos/31348155@N03/4647611001
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I’m slogging through mud, mud,
and more mud with the odd
blackberry bush snagging my
pants with its thorny branches,
while the rain keeps bucketing
down. I’m in my waterproof
jacket and horrendously
unflattering rain pants that
go ‘swish, swish, swish’ and
are slowly driving me insane
with every step. The rain is
misting upon my face from
heavy grey skies, my fingers
are numb from the cold, as
they continuously drip with the
trails of water oozing from my
sleeves. I cant look up without
getting rain in my eyes so
my view is of very wet hiking
shoes crunching on the gravel,
at times balancing on slippery
rocks. I’m concentrating hard
to make sure I dont fall over
or saturate my feet any further
in yet another puddle… and I
couldnt be happier.
Welcome to the Camino De
Santiago, a Christian Pilgrimage
dating back to medieval times,
where pilgrims trekked hundreds
or sometimes thousands of
kilometres to absolve sins
and worship at the bones of
Saint James in the city of
Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
I recently trekked 700 km from
a southern Portuguese town
called Santarem to Santiago
and then onto the coastal
Spanish town of Finisterre.
My only companion? My
70-year-old father. Call me
crazy, but I did this for fun.
So why would a sane 30-year-
old from Australia do this?
And with her Dad? Well, I must
admit, we arent new to this.
Back in 2006, I thought my
Dad was absolutely bonkers
when he walked 800 km
across Northern Spain on the
most popular Camino route,
the Camino Frances, for FUN.
It sounded like way too much
hard work – not to mention
scary! How could he walk
that far? Why walk that far?
What if he got robbed? Killed?
As it turns out, Northern Spain
is not like the dangerous parts
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of South America, therefore
after seeing Dads photos and
obvious delight in retelling his
colourful tales of adventure,
my curiosity was ignited.
In 2008, we covered that same
trail together in my pursuit of a
healthier lifestyle - two injured
knees later and 13 kg lighter,
I was hooked. Then in 2010
we hiked 1600 km from central
France to Finisterre injury-
free and our relationship very
much in tact, despite spending
76 days together, 24/7 and
sleeping mostly in bunk beds.
This year Portugal called so,
with backpacks ready to go,
I braced myself to wear only
two outfits for the next 4 weeks.
We stepped out of the hostel for
our first day of 34 km, knowing
full well it was ambitious as
we were attempting 5 days
of 30 km or more in what
turned out to be a bit of a
heatwave. Our first few days
were spent strolling through
stunning cornfields under the
intense sun and deep blue sky,
excitedly trotting up startlingly
white gravel paths to the next
town to guzzle the local icy
cold orange soft drink. Let me
tell you sugar has never tasted
so good! When you’ve sweated
that hard and walked that far,
every morsel of food and drop
of liquid tastes like the best thing
you’ll ever put in your mouth.
Suddenly, the humble ham and
cheese toastie is a beacon
and is ‘only’ 10km away at the
next village. After devouring
everything we could get our
hands on, relaxing in the local
café or town square lapping
up the ambience and cooling
down, we would still have
10-15 km to the end of the day.
It didnt help that we kind of
lost our way once or twice and
then next thing we knew we’d
nearly trekked 40 km in one
day, however the tankards of
ale consumed that night were
the best beers Ive ever had.
All enjoyed in the shadow of a
13th Century Templar castle in
a delightful medieval restaurant
in the gorgeous town of Tomar.
It was a tough life
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The Camino can be physically
tough - in our first week it
got to a point around 5pm
at the 28 km mark, where
my feet would feel like slabs
of barbeque meat which had
been slapped against the
ground prior to cooking It was
at this stage that my Dad would
patiently usher my whinging self
through the final kilometres. He
swears I wasnt that bad as he
doesn’t recall me complaining,
so maybe that was my internal
monologue The pain was soon
a distant memory as we left the
asphalt, turned a corner into
the forest, felt the gorgeous
warm breeze. We marvelled at
the stunning, almost surreal
orange sunset as we strolled
through olive groves that were
older than discovered
Nights on Camino were pretty
simple - we would check into a
hostel, hotel or pilgrim refuge
for the night and then it was
time to do the chores - washing
(by hand), showers (the best
ones you’ll ever have even
when they’re a bit dodgy and
a slimy shower curtain wants to
be your best friend), check out
the village or town we were
in and find the all-important
place to have dinner that night.
When people say I’m mad to
be hiking every day I gleefully
point out this fact: I can eat
whatever I want on Camino.
Anything and EVERYTHING.
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Pastries, cheese, chocolate,
bread, potatoes sautéed
in delightful olive oil or
included in a breakfast frittata.
Three-course dinners, DESSERT!
Wine, beer, local Spanish liquor
thats made by the owner of the
hostel… is lethal but amazing
and feel zero guilt because its
walked off the next day.
On top of this freedom to
consume anything our stomach
desired, our days were all
about the glorious scenery
we passed as we wandered
along. I loved having time to
really enjoy the view, explore
the landscape and sink into a
A massive highlight is always the
people we meet from across
the globe . I’ve had amazing
conversations with so many
fellow walkers, shared group
meals and drinks, danced
down the trail into town and
formed strong friendships that
span years and countries.
Pilgrim life is very simple and
I find stripping everything
back to the bare necessities
of where to walk, eat and
sleep each day, along with
carrying everything you need
on your back, is bonding and
surprisingly relaxing. It takes a
little while to let go of home and
reality but once you do, its a
wonderful break from modern
pressures, hence why this is
my third Camino. I’ve done
the standard backpack Europe
thing and dont get me wrong,
is unbelievably great fun and
will probably happen again.
But I came back with an empty
wallet and a liver that still curls
up behind my spine whenever
I mention “Croatia” andYacht
Week in the same sentence.
For me, hiking is my favourite
way to travel as it’s different,
relaxing, cheap, and I really
feel a sense of accomplishment
at the end. Plus coming home
phenomenally fit is pretty cool
right before summer - pity
about the tan lines that make
it looks like I’m still wearing
shorts and socks though!
But I digress - back to the walk.
Once the heatwave broke, after
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week one Dad and I settled
into the first rain Portugal and
Spain had seen since June.
Apparently it all decided to
hit in October and we busted
out the old Australian saying:
“Its PISSING down, many
times over the next three weeks!
Rain is okay to walk in for about
a day or so - it can be quite
soothing and lovely - but when
you’re rained on nearly every
day for a few weeks, it tends
to bring out the grumpy side
at times. We did stay positive
and were sensible about
it, sometimes stopping early
to dry out where we opted
for better accommodation.
We absolutely relished the
days where it didnt rain much
and virtually worshipped the
ones where it didnt rain at all.
And as per usual, the evening
feast, shelter and warmth was
100 times more appreciated,
where we were so grateful to
be treated with kindness from
the locals. We have great
memories which include the
lovely man who crossed a main
road and handed us icy bottles
of peach nectar in blazing heat
before wordlessly going back
to his home, the old guy who
saw us struggling into our rain
gear during a torrential squall
and took us into his shed so
we could change and stay dry,
as well as the couple who
served us hot tea and draped
cardigans over us to keep
warm when we stopped for a
break. We thankfully had better
weather towards the end and
strolled into Santiago relishing
the dry clothes and sunshine
and grinning from ear to ear.
After the obligatory photo in
front of Santiago Cathedral
(a truly stunning architectural
feat), we had a raucous dinner
with ten of our lovely Pilgrim
friends that we met along
the way. Portuguese, German,
Brazilian, Dutch and Aussies
all at one table eating Italian
food, reading fortunes out of
wine glasses, sharing stories
and revelling in what was the
end for most at the table.
But, there was no rest for the
wicked! The next morning Dad
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and I were walking the 4
days to Finisterre. Celebration
beers and ciders appeared
most lunch times despite the
20 km still remaining in the
day. During this journey we
enjoyed multiple tapas fiestas
and even survived the snoring
Olympics after a 36 km day.
Seriously, a French husband
and wife team tried to outdo
each other snoring and trust
me, the wife won, hands down,
gold medal! This didnt affect
the next day too much, and
it’s amazing how we can walk
through sleepiness and so many
other things that would drag
down a ‘normal’ day back at
home. The Camino changes
my perspective and when
I’m having such a great time,
it takes something really drastic
to make me upset.
I’ve had bad knees, blisters,
sunburn, mosquito bites, mild
gastro, legendary hangovers
and many aches and pains over
the years but the only thing that’s
ever negatively impacted me
was a time when my shoes were
taken. It was an accident, the
problem was quickly resolved
and I was reunited with my
beloved, stinky, worn-in hikers.
I kept on my merry way because
I didnt want it to impact on the
walk and after a day all was
forgiven, although I did tie my
shoes to Dad’s for many days
after just in case that special
Pilgrim gotconfused again...
Ending a trek like this is always
fun but somewhat bittersweet as
we dont really want it to finish
and the thought of returning
to reality is hard to process. In
Muxia, the town one day from
our final destination, I felt like
we had truly completed our
journey. It was a gorgeous clear
day walking through lush
forests and then along the
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coast, ending with a stunning
pink and purple sunset, with
Dad and I standing on rocks
overlooking the ocean, sharing
a long moment to take it all
in. After more tapas and wine
we embarked on our final day
into Finisterre, passing fellow
pilgrim friends walking in the
opposite direction, downing
more celebration beers and
tapas over lunch with some
dear Australian mates wed
met in the last days. It was a
blissful, happy day which stayed
upbeat even 10 km from the
end when the passing showers
became full blown rain... again.
Like a stubborn child, I refused
to don the rain pants that final
time which Dad amusedly took
in his stride, and saturated from
the waist down, I squelched into
town while Dad was a lot more
comfy and dry in his full kit.
Clever man.
We (well, mainly I) dried out
in a gorgeous little hostel,
toasted our achievements
with our friends and quietly
reflected on what we’d done,
whilst overlooking the ocean
and grey skies. Finishing is a
crazy mix of emotions; we’re
happy to have completed our
trek while at the same time
sad it is over, we feel a great
sense of accomplishment yet
are not ready to believe it is
time to head home. We cope
by talking about our favourite
days, sights, food, silly stories
to tell Mum and to compare
photos. I Inevitably we ask two
questions over our final meal:
Are you glad you did it?”
(A resounding YES!), and as
always, “Where will the next
one be?
The Camino is challenging,
rewarding, fun and for me, life
changing. Results may vary, but
if you want to do something
out of the box then do your
research, ask if its really for
you and go for it. It really is
just one foot in front of the
other. And so, it is time to
start planning the next one...
that 950 km on the Camino
Arles in France is looking pretty
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Image Credits: Kat Fitzpatrick
Javier Sanchez Portero - http://www.flickr.com/photos/javiersanp/
Fresco Tours - http://www.flickr.com/photos/frescotours/
Manuel Martín Vicente - http://www.flickr.com/photos/martius/
Peuplier - http://www.flickr.com/photos/peuplier/
Ines Saraiva - http://www.flickr.com/photos/inessaraiva/
Tomas - Cuba - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tmscblpz/
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is a ‘Not For Prot’ Organisation helping to
provide warm clothing to Queenslands homeless.
We seek donations for adults, children and babies. New and old blankets, clothing, beanies,
scarves and gloves, as well as burial outts for babies born sleeping” are always needed.
Please visit www.knittingforbrisbanesneedy.com.au for more information.
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