From the Vault

Two cranes gantries in a blue sky

This week is the start of a new series “From the Vault”. It will be a combination of re-posted items and photos from past journeys that have been languishing on my hard drives.

I’ll admit that the “from the vault” series is a bit of a lazy cop-out. In all honesty, I’ve reached a crossroads and my left shoulder guy and right shoulder guy are arguing with each other about whether we are going to continue writing in this space. You’ll have seen the classic cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. My left and right people are not devils or angels but rather two sides of the coin. 

I can see good reasons to keep going. I can see equally good reasons for stopping. This space was NEVER meant to be a substitute for a journal, yet here I am using it as one. As per my post about turning sixty, it’s time to rethink, refocus and renew!

The next few weekly posts will be ones that “I prepared earlier”. They will be scheduled in one hit, and thus give me some space to do that thinking. Maybe I’ll see you on the other side!

From the Vault – Week 1

Don’t be a dick!

There’s a lot of unmined gold in my photos from New York! I thought I’d hate it, but like many others, I fell in love with the busy busy mad place! I guess this bus shelter has a different ad now, but what wonderful advice!

Street scene from New York with a bus sign saying don't be a dick,

Birthday Blues?!

It’s my birthday this week, and I wanted to write an engaging post but there has been some serious procrastinating!

I had a lot of ideas.

  • A slide show of photos from baby to now.
  • A list of things illustrating how the world has changed in sixty years.
  • Matching historical events to my own life in some sort of digital timeline
  • A funny birthday post
  • A reflective birthday post
  • No post?
At about one year old

Some abandoned starts to the birthday post:

1. Light hearted….but went downhill

Somehow I got to be sixty! How did that happen? I don’t feel old, but I am beginning to slow down. A little. My life so far has had its share of ups and downs although I don’t think I have had more ups or downs than anyone else. Regrets? I have a few!


I wish I had ended my marriage earlier and not stayed unhappy for so long.
I wish I had been a better, more patient parent.
I wish I had started thinking of myself as creative twenty years ago.
I wish I had spent less time in the sun and more time in the shade.


Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “Shit! Who is that old lady? “ The inside me still feels 27. I find myself staring at women “my age”, and judging whether I look younger or older than them. How have I fared?

2. Started sad and stayed sad.

I was hoping to write an inspirational post about turning sixty. I sit here with my fingers poised above my keyboard wondering what to write. It’s a struggle to find the right tone with the right words and the right mood. I am proud and sad. Happy and annoyed. Relieved and unfulfilled.


I don’t have another 60 years left. Another 25 – 30? My immortality is simultaneously slapping me in the face and the arse. A blanket of generalised anxiety is hovering over me urging me not to waste another minute making bad decisions or wrong choices.
I am waiting for the cloak of wisdom to descend. When does that happen?
Maybe today is not the day to write this post.


You see what I mean.

at eight?

Significant birthdays are another number. Right?

It doesn’t happen to me often but I am lost for words about turning 60. I didn’t mind turning 50 or 30 or any of the other significant birthdays. Sixty on the other hand does feel like a marker. A place to stop and reset. Perhaps it’s because I have made a big deal of my 60 for 60 list. I have completed 38 of the things on the list. Some of the undone items I have decided to abandon. They no longer hold the significance they had 3 years ago. For instance, finishing the stories I started in 2017 or 2018. The spark is gone. I’ll leave them unresolved and thank them for their service.
Many of the other things still on the list are projects I want to do. Paint my house and get new carpet, a case in point. I’m not going to get them done in the next couple of days so I’ll transfer them to another list. Seventy things before seventy!

What’s next for Old Chook Enterprises?

I’m proud to say that I have crossed the “post a blog post at least once a week” item off the list. I’m now considering what to do about this blog. Will I continue? It’s a lot of work and I’m not sure of the return. I started the project to practice writing to a wider audience. I’ve done that. Do I still have something to say? Maybe. I have 500 followers but I’m lucky to have 30 views per post. (Thank you to those thirty!! ) Is it about the numbers? Is it about having a place to express myself? Is it just a habit I need to abandon along with the stories?

Fifty one


One of my most “popular” posts is about Port Kembla, a suburb in Wollongong. I wondered why. The analytics reveal that it gets hits from the search term “Wollongong Prostitutes”. Ewww….That’s not my target demographic! A scroll through my followers shows that very few are the type of people I thought I was talking to. That is, women my age. Is that good or bad?

Maybe I’ll start a new blog?

I’m ready for another life stocktake. I’ll take my time. Look at my style guide for living, do some calculations and work out what’s feasible and add in some “stretch goals”. (Man! I hate that term, but I get the concept!)

Fifty seven


I’m all for a theme. How does “Savour my Sixties and Slide into the Sassy Seventies” sound?

BTW: I have applied for my Seniors’ Savers Card!

Camping adventures

What’s not to love about a great camping adventure?

I love camping adventures! When I was a kid they were the preferred holiday style on my mother’s side. While my own nuclear family had very little in the way of camping gear, we would join the canvas city set up at places like Green Patch for weekends and extended holidays. My happy memories of the camping adventures are strong, but the recall of actual details is low. (Perhaps my Chief Editor will add a comment below to correct my poor recollections?)

My Hundt family camping adventures were the real deal. By that I mean, they were not in fancy caravan parks with amenities but in camp grounds where you needed to look after your own wastes and shower from a canvas bag hung from a tree. Translation: The kids didn’t have a wash other than swimming in the ocean/lake and there was a wee “Wee tent” or a designated latrine area in the bushes. The tents belonged to my Grandma and Papa and other aunts and uncles. There was a communal cooking area and various sleeping tents. The cars were parked Wild-West-Wagon style to set up a perimeter.

Selecting a flat spot, large enough to accommodate the tents, was left up to the camp master, Papa. As a Scout Leader, he knew his stuff. Once the survey was complete, the heavy bundles of neatly folded white and green canvas were hauled out from cars and taken to their assigned spots. Everyone had a part to play in getting them set up. The unfurling was left to the older kids and adults and the delivery of the various wooden tent poles, guy ropes, tent pegs assigned to children of appropriate size. (The photos above are scans of old slides)

Come back at meal time!

The troupe of seven cousins (ranging from 5 – 15) were set free during the day and reported back to camp for lunch and dinner. The rest of the time we played in sandhills, in the water and on the shoreline looking for treasure. I’d like to think there was an adult somewhere watching from a distance but there probably wasn’t! Cousin Susan, at 15 was likely charged with this responsibility. We would get outrageously sunburned. We would be covered in insect bites. We ate a LOT of cheese and spaghetti jaffles cooked over a campfire. But we were safe and happy. 

Lake Tabourie

As a teenager, my Aunty Colleen and Uncle Graeme continued the camping adventures but had moved to a more or less permanent camp in Lake Tabourie Caravan and Campground. They’d set up with a group of friends at the beginning of the school holidays and stay put for the duration. People would come and go. My brother and I would go down for a few weeks in the long summer break. 

Our activities here were a little more structured although still more or less unsupervised. We had the option of joining in on the Christian Holiday Groups that occupied these places in the ‘70s. They would run activities like craft groups, liberally sprinkled with Scripture of course. There was a shuttle bus that would go into the nearby town of Burrill Lake in the evenings and here we would watch movies in the open-air theatre, sitting in chairs made from a strip of canvas strung on two metal poles. I remember watching all the (original) Planet of the Apes series here. 

Pre-Schoolies – Schoolies

When I graduated high school, the Ex and I went on a camping adventure to Ballina, with two of our school buddies. (These days this post-school graduation trip is called Schoolies). We told our parents that Trish and I would be sharing one tent and Mark and the Ex would be in the other.  (Yeah right!)   It rained a lot and we spent a lot of time in pubs playing cards. But still, I recall it as a happy time.

As we got older and richer, The Ex morphed into a 5-star hotel man. Ready access to fine food and wine was the priority. Our 1980’s style Wolf-of-Wall Street jobs meant we didn’t go on many holidays anyway. Most of our downtime was spent renovating houses or with my parents who had moved to Bellingen. Sitting on their verandah looking out over cow paddocks was as close as we came to the great outdoors.

The last extended tent camping adventure I had was 14 years ago when I was teaching my daughter how to drive. To get her logbook hours up,  we went on a road trip through western NSW and alternated between camping and rural pubs. 

Glamping

In 2013, I flew to Adelaide and hired a camper van to do a circuit through North-West Victoria, Broken Hill and back to Adelaide. Now, THIS became my favourite holiday – glamping! Accommodation, transport and dining all wrapped up in the one package! The ability to pull over and make a cup of tea wherever you felt like was so appealing! Pulling into the caravan park with nothing to do beyond plugging in the electricity! Bliss! 

Bliss!

Such simple healthy pleasures! Camping has been shown to be really good for your physical and mental health. You can read those benefits here in a post by Sports Fitness Advisor, it’s a US site but just as relevant to us here in Aus. Waking up with the dawn light and enjoying the dark night resets your body clock among other things. I am not sure if these benefits extend to glamping! I have not yet tried hardcore camping which requires you to carry EVERYTHING in a backpack to a remote wilderness, but I will soon!

My own (new) tent!

Why this trip down memory lane? I have bought a tent for my upcoming Great Southern Road Trip. My plan is to camp most of the time interspersed with forays into cabins and hotels. My return to camping  is motivated by my memories and as a way of saving some money (see my Year of Zero series). I investigated a camper van but since I’m switching States and doing a walking tour and going to Flinders Island, it would not be economical to have it sitting parked for 12 days. On top of that, it is almost impossible to hire one! With Australians confined to the continent due to ongoing concerns for COVID overseas, EVERYONE is road-tripping!

The tent is EASY to erect. The main support poles are attached and it goes up a bit like an umbrella. It’s big enough to stand in and while nominally a four person tent it will be plenty big enough for me and my gear. I still have to get a few things like a camp bed.

I’ll be doing a practice weekend camp with my grandson in a few weeks in a place not too far from home, to check I have all the gear I need. I have already set it up in my garage to test the “instant-up” claim and yes it is easy, but do you think I can fold it up neatly and get it back into that little bag it came in?? Not easy! 🙂

I can’t wait!