Two years old!

Happy second birthday, Old Chook Enterprises!

My blog is two years old today! Well, not ‘today’ today because I wrote this in May and the second birthday happens in July but I’m publishing it on the second anniversary of my first post! Now that’s not confusing, is it?

I am celebrating because unless something tragic has happened in the last few days, I have posted consistently every week for two years. Sometimes more than one post a week but at least every week!  I am proud of myself for doing that.

In the time leading up to this post, I will have been chronicling my trip around Scotland. This particular piece I wrote in the comfort of my home on May 16th, 2019. A little “here’s one I prepared earlier” post.

I still have a way to go till I hit my goal of 1000 followers, but my “followship” (is that a word?) has been steadily increasing. Sadly extrapolating from my current growth rate, it will be about 2027 before I hit that mark. I need some exponential growth!

My most viewed post to date is No day shall erase you from the memory of time which was featured by WordPress as an Editors’ Pick. This post looked back at my visit to the 9/11 Memorial in New York and still gets a few views every week.

A few of my own favourite posts are

RAOK – (Random Acts of Kindness) about a magical few minutes on a train when everyone was kind to each other.

Pandora’s Box about the briefcase full of letters between my ex and I.

It’s not been hard work but sometimes a bit stressful when I have has no posts up my sleeve, and it’s Thursday night. Every photo and video has been my own (unless I say otherwise and it’s only a few). I have not reblogged anyone else’s work. Not once. Not ever.

My original goal for starting the blog was to find a place for a side hustle in writing and creativity. That hasn’t panned out yet. It still costs me more to run than I have made. My obvious talents (sic) are still underappreciated.

But nonetheless, I’ll keep going. I still enjoy writing. My friends IRL seem to enjoy my candid posts. This Old Chook still feels like she has things to say.


When I get home from Scotland, I will be updating my theme to give my blog a fresh new look. I hope you’ll stick around!

This reel is me over the last 10 years.

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Planning My Scottish Holiday Episode 5

A map of Scotland with Acamera and passport

Well folks, here is the final installment in My Planning a Scottish Holiday Series. In the next couple of days I will be leaving for Scotland.  I started this planning journey in mid 2018 and I now have a detailed and comprehensive plan (the Manifesto)  of what I am doing and where I am going. As stated in a previous post I have my travelling companion, Iain, all ready to go.

 

I’m looking forward to the “doing” now the planning is done.

I have attached a blank copy of the detailed itinerary pages I talk about in the video. Please feel free to use them and let me know if they have been helpful.

Template detailed itinerary 1

PS Notice Ii didn’t say anything about how heavy my bag was? The 15kg limit I set myself has been blown! I’m up to 19kg!

May the 4th be with you

Well the force was certainly with me on May the forth when my blog was featured as the Editor’s Pick on the Discover Page of WordPress’s own website. As a result I got 409 views on the first day and 175 likes. After four days on the “top of the pop” charts; I had 120 new people following my blog.  I would really like to give my thanks to Krista and the team at WordPress for selecting my blog for special mention. I think it may have been the photo that caught their attention.

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For those new followers I know not all of you will stick around, because quite frankly, not all of my posts are as good as the one that was featured. That post came after a very moving and emotionally disturbing visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York.

 

There are a couple of other blog posts that I am really proud of and I have put links to them here. You might  like to go and have a look at them and perhaps you will agree with me that they are some of my better ones.

The changing soundtrack of my life

Confessions of a solo female traveller Part 1.

According to the interwebs, a successful blog has a strong theme. Well I am afraid I am going to lose out there. My blog theme is very ‘fluid’. There are some major underlying currents but it’s basically whatever catches my attention at the time. It’s a blog about travel but more about the getting there. It’s about relationships and in particular surviving divorce. It’s about well being and  living simply. Sometimes, it’s just about my hometown because Wollongong, Australia is a great place to live and I’d love people to visit and see that for themselves.

So far my post No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time has had 545 views and 309 likes. Wow! I am overwhelmed. I was happy with 10 views and still will be after this!

I’d like to thank those people who have recently joined my blog and also those of you that have been with me from the beginning. I hope that you will stick around and follow this woman’s journey to a more meaningful life.

(That featured image in the header is the Seacliff Bridge in Wollongong – now you gotta see that!)

New York, New York (oh and a tiny bit of Maine)

I spent most of April in the US of A and most of that time, I was in New York with about 5 days in coastal Maine. I took nearly 6000 photos and around 300 short videos. I used 11 SD cards. It has taken me over a week to sift through them. Some I deleted immediately. Too blurry, too grainy or just too nothing. What I saw with my eyes did not transfer to the digital sensor. I cut the 6000 back to 2500.

These 30 photos are my favourites. Over the next few weeks and months I will go through them again and perhaps I will see some things I did not see the first time through. But for now, these photos stand out to me. (I think I did pretty well to pick 30!) I have not added any titles. I hope they stand up as interesting images in their own right. Stories about the photos will follow over the next few months.

My friend, a real photographer, says I am a “documentary photographer”.

I am happy with that title.

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A lazy day on the Promenade.

First time visitors to Israel may be surprised to learn that things pretty much close down on Friday afternoon through to Saturday evening. While not all Israelis are observant Jews, the retail trade for the most part keeps Shabbat. You will, however, find many restaurants and cafes open. Just don’t expect to do any shopping or use public transport[1]. Think of Sydney in the late 1960’s when you had to rush up to Woollies before 12 on a Saturday!

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The roads are quiet with less traffic and the din of traffic abates. The streets are less hectic, and everything is slow and peaceful. It might be quiet but if you are into people watching head down to the Shlomo Lahat Promenade which snakes along the Mediterranean coast for a few kilometres from Tel Aviv Port down to Old Jaffa in the south. There is a good choice of eateries and plastic lounge seats on the sand where you can enjoy a beer or glass of wine.

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I spent almost an entire day walking along the Promenade last week and had a great time! I enjoyed classical music, dancing, singing and watching people exercise outdoors.

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A sting trio played a mix of show tunes and classical tunes.

Joggers and power walkers pound down the pavement dodging bike riders. There is a dedicated bike track,although in some of the more narrow sections, it  gets a bit tight so you need to keep an eye out.

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untitled (1 of 1)Surfboards and paddle boards are available for hire, but for an Aussie, the surf was not much to write home about. Speaking of surfing, the sand on the beach is pretty good. Pale gold- grey and small grain size so comfortable on the feet but NOT squeaky! There were people out surfing (in wet suits) but no swimmers. According to the signs, swimming is prohibited.

The Leonardo Art /Hotel building (a disused shopping mall??) which straddles a road has some interesting street art.

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This face had stuck on googly eyes! Never seen that before

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The dancing was fascinating.  Tel Aviv’s answer to boot scooting. A large group of more than 100 people dancing in a circle to traditional folk tunes. I asked a woman in the crowd and she told me it happens every Saturday. Some come alone, some in groups or with their partner.

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There is exercise equipment, a swimming pool and plenty of space for beach volley ball (mostly younger people) or a version of noisy tennis with hard rackets and a small ball (Mostly older people).

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These photos show some of the fun from that day. I would give it a 10 out of 10 for a cheap day out depending on how much you stop and eat and drink. Allow yourself three hours at least. Not so great on a cold, windy wet day but you could visit the Museums that are open if the weather is nasty!

[1] Have a look at this blog post for a summary of what is an isn’t open on Shabbat. It was written in April 2017 but seems a good summary based on my own experience. http://tlvxp.com/eng/shabbat

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My first blog – a countdown to 50

Back in November 2010, I started writing my first blog. 200daystill50. It was all about my 200-day countdown to my 50th birthday. It’s archived and private now but when I go back and read it over, it makes me laugh and I feel grateful for my plucky spirit.  I am aware I have many failings but I also know I have a few good qualities. One of them is optimism and another is stick-to-it-ness. I had made a grand plan for my birthday – to drink champagne on the upper deck of the Eiffel Tower with my 20 year old daughter.

Sick of the wine and wedges[i] diet I had been sticking to for the past year, I decided it was time to quit wallowing in the self-pity that had consumed me after (semi)separating from my husband of 27 years and get my life back on track. I knew I needed to break the shackles of the past by doing new things; meeting new people and going to different places. So, I challenged myself to do something new every day for next 200 days. The blog was my accountability partner.

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So (nearly) every day I posted about the new things I had done. Sometimes the new things were very small, like trying a new brand of breakfast cereal. Other days they were substantial like flying to France and crashing the hire car within the first 10 minutes of picking it up. The blog challenged me! Some days I hated it. I couldn’t think of anything new I had done. I pressured myself to do something new – anything – so I could write a post!

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By the third day, Day 197[1]  I was already scratching around for new things! I settled on having lunch with different people. But by Day 183 I was  reporting feeling more positive about life.

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My musings where usually matter-of-fact. Did this – did that.  Other times I got deep and meaningful:

 

Day 97: More than half way through the challenge – probably more than half way through my life. I think that’s the difference between being old and young. When you’re young you have lived for less time than you have left to live. As you get older there comes a time when you realise you are not going to double your age. That you have had more time than you are going to get.

 

During the time I kept the blog I wrote about 5 natural disasters including floods and cyclones in Australia, an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand and a tsunami in Japan. I went to Bateman’s Bay; Bellingen; Armidale and Western Australia. I watched several movies; completed three subjects for a law degree. The Americans killed Osama bin Laden. I ruminated on my own thoughtlessness and the thoughtfulness of my friends. My Ex moved in and out of my life.

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My posts got a few comments every now and then and at times it got over 100 views. I don’t think that mattered. The point was to push through. To keep myself sane in my own mind. When a failing relationship was being kept afloat with equal measures regret and hope. When even though a thousand times before I had slammed the door, and declared it was over, I hoped it wasn’t. When he lived in two places. When life seemed like a revolving door. The blog let me think out loud in the noisy space of the internet. Even if no-one did read it they could…it was possible.

 

I love reading the last few entries. Too busy to post properly as we drove (in the smashed car) from Bordeaux to Reims via the Loire Valley and back to Paris, staying in castles and ordinary hotels; my daughter’s high school French helping us along the way. The sense of joy in my (written ) voice still buoys me now. The Ex ended up meeting us in Paris on his way to a conference in Stockholm, two days after my birthday. A massive fail in the independence stakes perhaps but it seemed right at the time.

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It would take another three years till I finally changed my name and really lived my own life.

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That blog was a stepping stone. This blog? We’ll see where it takes me.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] I was counting backwards

[i] Big chunky potato chips or oven baked fires.