2019 Reflection

Now that 2020 is well underway, and the surrounding countryside isn’t quite as on fire or threatening as it was, I’m feeling a little more reflective and ready to look back on the year that was.

At the beginning of 2019 I set myself a few goals, which are always a good place to start:

one. buy a house, make it a home
Achievement unlocked! Almost a year ago today, we were in negotiations for the house we fell in love with and – through tenacity, commitment, and with incredible support from my parents – were able to secure. While furnishing and settling in were quickly achieved, we have since invested in reverse cycle aircon (such a necessity in the extreme summer we’ve been having) and replaced the dodgy old unit with a beautiful induction oven and stovetop. We’re still planning to replacing our hot water system, which would be the last step in going gas-free, along with solar panels down the line, would set us up as a much more environmentally and power friendly house. And the fact that all of this is genuinely exciting for us shows just how grown up we’ve become.

two. master my job
I’m going to count this one as an excellent achievement, although not in the way I anticipated. While, over the course of 2019 I did gain confidence in my job with Ticketek, the more I learnt, the more I realised it wasn’t what I wanted. After some looking and applying, trying to decide exactly what it was I wanted to be doing, the stars aligned for me to join the team at Visabel, a small business that I had worked alongside on Floriade. This presented an opportunity to work on the major Canberra events that I love, while being safely outside of the government structure that I didn’t like so much. I’ve now been there 3 months and am absolutely loving the challenge, opportunities, and potential of the role. It’s a really strong, small team of four, with the perfect mix of complementary personalities, and with a real interest in training up, developing, and strengthening the staff. The work is really everything I loved about Short+Sweet, but within a real, proper company and actual, supported growth opportunities. Yay!

three. enjoy it all
I can definitely say I enjoyed 2019. We bought our house, made it a home with a dog, and had an incredible holiday. We enjoyed living in the same city as my parents, especially while not in the same house; moved even closer to dear friends, allowing for regular and spontaneous hangs; and grew a passion for Auslan into an actual education, making some new friends along the way.

I’m entering 2020 grateful for 2019 and all its achievements, and enjoying the fruits of our hard work. I’m in a place where I feel I can grow, professional and personally, and I’m keen to see what opportunities arise. So, there’s no specific goals for this year, I think I’ll just focus on that last one and continue enjoying the life that we’ve built for ourselves. 

Love always,
Alana

Favourite Books of 2019

Once again, I failed to hit my reading goal of a book a week, as usual life got in the way. This year I’ve bought a house and a puppy, gotten a new job (finally one that I can see a real future in), and went on an epic holiday. So there was still a bit going on.

Regardless, 52 books per year is supposed to be a challenge and I’m sticking to it for 2020, with the hope that I knock it out of the park (and being 3 books in on day 6 I’m so far on track, yay!), but before we get into that, it’s time to wrap up on 2019 and share some of my favourites.

Top 3 Series

3. Starbound by Amie Kaufman (3 books)
I absolutely adored this series. I loved the world creation, the sci-fi, the romance. The writing had me completely hooked from the beginning (I am a sucker for chapter by chapter) and I was immediately emotionally invested. It had a solid, satisfying conclusions at the end of each book, with great throwbacks and connections for readers as you went along. It lacked slightly toward the end as it got more philosophical than I desired, but overall such as strong journey and highly enjoyable.

2. The Rephaim by Paula Weston (4 books)
This was the series that convinced me I love angels. I expected to pick up a trashy, terrible romance, and instead got an action-packed adventure throughout 4 satisfying novels. This had definite Shadowhunter and Penryn and the End of Days vibes (each being a favourite in previous years so why was I surprised that I loved it?!) but the fact it was set in Australia was a nice bonus.

1. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (3 books)
This was a re-read from long ago, early on becoming my basis of comparison for all YA fantasy, and I was so excited that it totally held up! The intrigue of the setting, characters, twists, challenges, passion and humour throughout were just iconic. The third and final book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters is a mammoth conclusion, and a huge journey in itself, but oh so good and the right ending to an epic tale.

Favourite Standalone

It Sounded Better In My Head by Nina Kenwood
This contemporary fiction was such a beautiful breath of fresh air that I simply couldn’t put down. This contemporary YA was so brutally and openly honest about sex, relationships, self esteem, and teenagedom. It may be a decade since I was a teenager but this spoke to me in so many raw, real ways that it must be read by everyone, especially Australians, who are, were, or have teenagers.

Check out my GoodReads for all the books I read, or follow my bookstagram what.rae.read for live thoughts and reviews.

Love always,
Alana

Iceland Is Very Nice…

This trip of a lifetime was the result of my incredible, generous family. Thanks to my parents supporting our home loan, beyond already having had us live with them for almost a year, when Joyce left me some inheritance. Dad’s advice was that whatever we spent it on, it should be meaningful. Something we would remember and think fondly of her. Since my parents’ generosity and our year of saving meant we didn’t need to put it into our home deposit or furniture, we were left with the question of the best way to spend it.

I’d loved the idea of going to Iceland for a little while. I’m not sure what prompted it – probably the Girls Love Travel Facebook group I’ve been following enviously, igniting my wanderlust – but the idea of travelling around a country the furthest point from Australia, especially in a campervan and in our own time, seemed highly appealing. A visit to a travel agent (the amazing Justin at Flight Centre, thanks to Amanda’s recommendation) and we rethought the whole thing, booking a tour around Iceland and tacking on Norway as a bonus. It seemed silly to travel so far and see only one country.

So, here’s what we did…

21-22 Sep. • CANBERRA > REYKJAVIK •
First up, it takes a really, really long time to get to the other side of the world. I realise that pre-planes and modern technology this would have been a lifetime, if not impossible, journey, but still. It’s a real long way away, even with fairly direct flights.

Thanks to the new connection by Qatar Airways, we were able to get on our international flight from li’l Canberra, annoyingly hop off the plane for an hour in Sydney to pickup many more passengers, and then head onto Doha, Qatar. We felt better about not embracing a longer layover when we stepped off the plane (thankfully straight into the airport) and it was 33° at MIDNIGHT. Seriously.

A delay on the tarmac in Doha meant (7hrs later) we missed our connecting flight in Copenhagen. While seemingly inconvenient, it worked out beautifully, meaning we could not enjoy a pause off-plane for a few hours, eating some non-airplane food, and hanging out.

We ended up arriving in Reykjavik around 5pm Sunday, just enough time to get from the airport to our hostel, check in, get some dinner, and have a little explore. We found some gorgeous buildings, many souvenir shops, and a good pizza place just up from our hostel, before crashing out for a nice jet-lagged sleep.

23 Sep. • REYKJAVIK •
For our first full day exploring Iceland, we did our own walking tour of Reykjavik, hitting all the dodgy tourist museums along the way. There was the Viking Museum, a creepy wax museum with poorly timed narratives that kept you staring at a single figure for a ten minute story; the Aurora Borealis Centre, the best part of which was their epic pinboard of visitors.

After exploring the marina and a long walk on the waterfront, we had the best lunch at Hamborgarafabrikkan (Burger Factory). We were utterly confused by their sign of “360,390 Icelanders” – Icelanders served? Burgers served? What could it mean? – before Googling revealed that this is indeed the entire population of the country! For context, the population of Canberra is 395,790. This blew our tiny minds.

Then we really made the most of being in a foreign land full of new cultural experiences and enjoyed what we do at home, an escape room. At Reykjavik Escape we proudly nailed their (35% escape rate) Mafia Room. Thankfully escape rooms are fairly universal and, while we were stumped by our lack of geography and a confusing password, we were very happy with the experience.

Then, after a short but well deserved nap, we met up with our Intrepid group – 5 other Australians and our guide/driver, “Lilly” (because her full name, Sigurlaug Lydía Geirsdóttir is impossible to pronounce) – for introductions and dinner of traditional ‘meat soup’ (lamb & veg) at the local favourite, Loki Cafe.

24 Sep. • REYKJAVIK > ÞINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK > GEYSIR •
Day one of our Intrepid Tour, we set out from Reykjavik for a beautiful scenic drive out of the city.  We saw the site of the first recorded parliament (around 930 AD), Þingvellir National Park, also the site where the European and North American continental plates connect, which shift apart 2cm every year. The expanse and beauty of the land, particularly at this point of connection between literal continental plates, was truly magical. Even for sceptics, you could understand the majesty and power of the place, and why it was selected for the site of all important decisions so long ago. It’s retained relevance to modern day, with key decisions being made there as recently 1798.

There was a gorgeous walk around the buildings (added much later) and between the lava walls, plus a bonus waterfall just around a corner. This was the first of many stunning waterfalls we would be discovering on our journey. Then onto the hot springs and famous spouting Geysir, Strokkur. He goes off every few minutes with no warning, resulting in the video shifting a little as I lose focus and talk to Blake.

• GULFOSS > HVOLSVÖLLUR VALLEY •
We continued a scenic drive to the Niagara Falls of Iceland, Gulfoss, with an average water flow of 109 cubic metres per second. It was truly impressive, though the
Then stopped in at a local farm, Smáratún with the most incredible view of Eyjafjallajökull, to plant and name a tree each – Milo & Blakedòttir (Blake’s daughter). It was a much simpler process than anticipated, with a gadget designed to stamp into the ground, which you open (the hardest part) to reveal a pipe which guides the small plant straight into the ground. Tamp around the edge and voila, tree planted.

This was a part of Intrepid’s carbon neutralising efforts, creating a wall (in a few decades) at the border of the farm, and helping Iceland to restore some of their Forrest coverage destroyed by the Vikings so long ago.

We also drove by many of Iceland’s adorable sheep – of which the 3 million or so far outnumber the population of 360,000 people. They’re even able to roam totally freely throughout summer, only being herded back into sorting stations and returned to their farmers before the first snow hits (so they can be kept safely inside and don’t drown in the deep snow).

• SELJALANDSFOSS > SÒLHEIMAHJÁLEIGA •
With a cave enabling you to walk around behind the falling water, Seljalandsfoss was a real experience. We, of course, had to find the optimum vantage point where you were under the actual flow of water, not just the other side of it. A great experience all round.

Then we were making such good time we got to see yet another waterfall, Skógarfoss around the corner from our farmstay accommodation. This was another challenge to see just how close we could get and left us adequately soaked through. A little trickier as there was no path behind the fall, just up to the side of it, but the temperature had also started to drop so the idea of getting too wet was a little less appealing. All in all, it was a great afternoon for waterfall fanboy Blake. Then a good night’s sleep at Sólheimahjálega farm.

25 Sep. • REYNISFJARA > LAKI LAVA FIELDS •
On a very rainy day, we explored further along the south coast of Iceland. Starting at The Black Beach, Reynisfjara, backed by incredible rock faces and caves, eaten away and shaped by the sea. You could see the black rocks as they progressed through the stages of large, breaking up into smaller, and finally into a soft sand as you walk along the shoreline.

This was not a beach to swim at though. Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, with no other land masses between it and Antarctica, the waves carry that momentum with force. There were plenty of tourists risking the water’s edge though, taking photos in sari’s on a freezing, wet day, and encroaching closer to the water for the perfect shot. Iceland is almost as dangerous for tourists as Australia, with this particular beach risking massive, sneaky waves coming up and dragging out tourists unawares.

Next stop, the village of Vík. Then we drove through the Laki lava field, covered in grey moss, though in the rain it was open and green, absorbing the moisture. We walked the uneven, rocky path of lava, and saw the full expanse of moss that had taken root, the first signs of vegetation in the area, and a glimpse at what so many areas of the country had begun as, not so long ago.

Lilly advised how Icelanders consider their land to be in a fluid state, because whether in 10, 100 or 1000 years, it shall be entirely reshaped by volcanic eruptions. Incredible when so many people in Australia approach everything with such a short term mentality.

• VATNAJÖKUL NATIONAL PARK •
When a volcanic eruptions occurs, it’s actually the glacier on top that caused the disasters. The magma hits the ice and causes a chemical reaction that sends ash and shards of ice everywhere. It was this reaction prompted by Eyjafjallajökull that caused all flights in Europe to be cancelled in 2010 and though further testing has revealed the total shutdown was not entirely necessary, its the magma, lava, and glacial mix that causes the biggest impact to the surrounding landscapes.

Along with the constant risk of volcanic eruptions, the expanse of glaciers across the country has shifted dramatically in the last ten years. The skaftafell jökull (glacial lagoon) at the base of the outlet we walked to for example has only been there for the last 3 years.

The former steel bridge seen near the national park entrance is from the last volcano eruption, sending glacial waters down the plains with such force to bend it like aluminium.

Then onto Gerði before heading to our exciting glacial hike adventure!

• BREIÐAMERKURJÖKULL •
Named for the open plains and forrest that used to lie between 2 glaciers, we got to climb up the now joined ice mountain.

After getting geared up on a converted school bus, we took the bumpiest ride in the world over the un-paved terrain and saw first hand the evidence of global warming when he stopped 2.8km short of the glacier and pointed out that was where we would have started the glacial trek in 2001.

After the drive we were out and walking along jagged rocks, over many streams of various intensity, over a rickety wooden bridge with freezing glacial water rushing below, and eventually up to the edge of the glacier. It was the height of the water under this bridge that nearly caused our excursion to be cancelled, and walking across with the water flowing with great force, we felt it would have been the right decision to abandon if it hadn’t gone back down.

With crampons on and a solid hour on the ice, we learnt about the Moulins (as in Moulin Rouge) where the water cascades and spins into circles, carving a whole in the ice. The piles of sediment popping up nearby, into neat little (huge) termite mounds, is the result of this transfer of water.

On a clear summer’s day the ice is blue and can get up to 25°. Today, it was wet and getting dark, but you could see down the clear layers of ice to the ash in between, evidence of volcanic eruptions over the ages being compressed along with the layers of snow. It was simply incredible.

26 Sep. • JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIAL LAGOON •
This morning started with a very wet glacial lagoon ride on a hybrid boat. Remnants from the war that have been given new life thanks to the national tourism boom.

We saw a seal from the shore, rode around the various glaciers, and got to hold and even taste a small section brought to us by a lone scout (in a smaller boat able to get closer than we were to the dangerously unstable icebergs. They could have easily tipped and caused a mini tidal wave if we got too close. While the fog and rain made for limited views, the experience was still excellent.

On our way out, we visited the nearby Diamond Beach, where the crystal clear glacial pieces are washed ashore, after being polished by the waves. Lilly told us of the outrage one tourist had when she realised that the beach was scattered with something other than real diamonds. We were thankfully not so mislead, and enjoyed the views of the clear ice, black sand, and gorgeous glacial waters. Blake even found a pair of car keys dropped in the sand, and walking along figuring out what to do with them, managed to find their very relieved owner.

The rest of the day was filled with appreciation for not being the one driving, as we made our way along the East Fjords. Through constant rain, winding road, and through the most incredibly dense fog atop a mountain, we were ready for our next nights accommodation and some relaxation.

27 Sep. • SEYÐISFJÖRÐUR > SKRIÐUKLAUSTUR •
We said farewell to our little fishing village of Seyðisfjörður and headed into the highlands. After a stop at another waterfall (not life-changing, but still a nice spot), we drove through ‘the’ forest of Iceland. A place where they have planted a huge variety of trees to confirm what breeds grow best and can help

Lilly guided us through a magical forrest, between more trees than we’d seen on all of the island, and emerging next to a lake. Standing on the rocky edge she talked to us about runes, their historical significance as the messengers of Odin and the old Gods, and her interest in them in learning about a situation, people or advice. We where then each invited to reach into her crochet bag and retrieve a rune. They were all wrapped with their name and an English translation of their meaning. Should we feel uncomfortable or disconnected from its message, we could return and redraw, just the once, but if it felt significant and correct to us then it was to be retained. We were welcome to share our meaning, or keep it to ourselves, but given the closeness of our group we were all more than happy to share the meaning and reflect on the importance it places in our life.

Then a stop off at another visitor centre of Vatnajökulsþjóðgarðs National Park, with the most incredible projection display and touch table. Just down the path of fun obstacles was the home turn museum of Icelandic author, Gunnar Gunnarsson. A beautiful lunch spot. Blake discovered his favourite soup in the country, getting through around 6 bowls and a loaf of bread for a great price. I enjoyed the full buffet spread, the home made mains and desserts were too good to resist.

• RJÚKANDIFOSS > MÖÐRUDALUR •
Another beautiful waterfall along the way, and we reached our accommodation for the night. A stunning, warm and luxurious cottage on an eco farm, within the uninhabitable highlands.

We explored the small area, following the track across an expansive land, until a river meant we had to turn around. The setup included a family built church, and a long way out the back of the farm, into the desolate wastelands with ash rather than soil, up until the lack of a bridge forced us to turn around. Then I had a delicious dinner of Reindeer steak and we saw our first glimpse of the Northern Lights. Not actually as green as in phots, but even glimpsed between the clouds it was an incredible sight live across the sky.

28 Sep. • LAKE MÝVATN > SKÚTUSTAÐIR •
Today we saw Europe’s strongest waterfall, Dettifoss, in the barren wasteland nicknamed “Mordor”, the Mývatn area. With an insane mass of water falling to the abyss it was definately impressive. But we were much more enamoured by the nearby Selgoss with its pretty falls, stunning rocks and reflections. We saw the crater of Víti (Hell), saw the geothermal power plant of Krafla.

Then we found the place they make mud. Or used to mine sulphur anyway, the mudpools of Námaskarð. The geothermic mud pits are the result of active volcanic plains, hearing the water naturally and creating sources of green energy. The sulphuric smell was almost overpowering for me, but Blake had fun walking around.

We bathed in some geothermal pools, the geothermal baths of Mývatn for lunch. Much less crowded than the Blue Lagoon and just as strong in the minerals, with silky water that’s meant to do wonders for your skin. We enjoyed the hot springs, overlooking the volcanic hills and valleys. Then off on a beautiful walk through another magical forest, Dimmuborgir lavamaze (feat. sheep) and gathered in an Elf Church before heading onto our farmstay, seeing the Skútustaðir pseudocraters along the way, and to our accommodation for the night where we made a friend of the local Icelandic Sheepdog and enjoyed a night out in their naturally heated hot tub.

29 Sep. • AKUREÝRI > GAUKSMÝRI •
Today we started our journey north with a stop off at yet another waterfall, Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods). Then to the Grenivík village where we dressed for fashion and went out into Iceland’s longest fjord for whale watching trip with the Keili Seatours. The owner & captain were amazing at spotting and bringing us alongside the whales, we saw a heap of humpbacks up so close. It was incredible and Blake’s favourite part of the journey so far.

We explored the town of Akureýri over lunch, with its adorable heart traffic lights, and Blake and I wandered far down the road to Old Town, with museums (all closed on Sundays) and beautiful houses. It was the perfect way to enjoy our sunniest day yet. A drive (and nap) later, with a stop off at this old turf house church, the little turf church of Víðimýrarkirkja, and we are at our horse farm accommodation for the night.

Then we got an incredible show of Northern Lights. After our peek through the clouds the other night, and with such amazing blue skies all day, we were hopeful but unsure of what tonight would hold, and it totally exceeded all expectations. These pictures, though showing up more green than the human eye can see, just can’t capture the rapture and awe of the entire sky being covered in a spread of pulsating waves of light.

A truly spectacular phenomenon, it was hard to drag ourselves away back inside the warm and to bed, even once the incredible display had cycled through for us twice already.

30 Sep. • SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA •
A quick farewell to the horses at Gauksmýri and we hit the road west toward Snaefellesnes Peninsula. Stopping at the Glanni waterfall, Vatnaleið the volcanic valley, Djúpalónsandur beach, and Lónsdrangar, we had heaps of beautiful photo opportunities along the way.

Then we reached our evening accommodation at Lýsuhóll where I rode Icelandic horse down to the rocky beach at sunset surrounded by incredible views. After an incredible home made dinner – like home made in their kitchen and seated around their dining table, and the most delicious feast we’ve had yet – we slept in small cabins with a beautiful view of Snæfellsjökullglacier and it’s volcano.

1 Oct. • REYKJAVIK •
Quickly bringing our last day in the countryside, we completed our circle tour and returned to Reykjavik. It was a whirlwind journey and it was so hard to say goodbye to our little Intrepid’s family tonight, with a group lunch where we farewelled our incredible guide/driver/expert/champion, Lilly, then the rest of us couldn’t bare to have it end so had dinner together and said our farewells. Truly a life-changing experience.

And then onto Norway…

Love always,
Alana

Wanderlust Bucket List

Travel is a little like a tattoo. It’s a deeply personal experience that you try to share with others, and as soon as one is done you’re planning the next. Blake and I are about to embark on our biggest international adventure yet (just wait for that post!) and I’m already dreaming and planning ahead. These are a few places on my mind…

Bali – This isn’t really one on my personal list, but for a bestie’s b’day I’m willing to escape to an island resort for a week – Feb 2020 here we come!

Canada – This one I desperately want to be a self-drive, self-paced in a van. I want to see Banff and all the beautiful scenery, see some ice hockey, and explore as much as we can.

Mexico – Top of Blake’s list, this will probably be a tour group and maybe touching on parts of America, or tied into Canada pending a lotto win.

Japan – This is feeling more like a reality now we’ve planned to go with Zac & Red for the boys’ 30th b’days in 2022. So keen to explore, visit my cousin, take a fast train, and spend days in Tokyo checking out the different precincts. Red mentioned a stopover in China for the Great Wall and Terracotta Army which sounds pretty good.

Greece, Croatia, Sicilythis is a mum & daughter trip all over. Maybe 2021? We loved Italy, but might avoid peak summer season this time around.

UK – I would love to head over, work with my cousin on her film tour, and tick “solo adventure” as well as this place off my bucket list.

Europe – apart from “all of it” Blake and I have been talking about doing the Netherlands, Belgium, France areas as a tack on to my solo UK adventure. Though I’d love to extend that little trip to Prague, and wherever else we might fit in.

Love always,
Alana

Name Dropping

Applying for jobs got me thinking about the good ol’ days of Sydney Film Festival, and there are a few highlights that I just don’t want to forget:

The time I wasn’t organising the closing night after-party but still ended up door bitch and had to usher George Miller out of the public line and into the VIP express lane.

Texting Lord Mayor Clover Moore‘s driver to coordinate her arrival at the Public Launch.

The time Ben Mendelsohn did a talk in the Hub and I handed him his chocolate freckles that he’d left behind.

The conversation with Margaret Pomeranz (of Margaret & David) before opening night.

The time I helped organise a filmmaker event at the home of Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward, and especially at another

The time I prepared Lexus Filmmaker Prize scripts and the room for David Wenham and Judy Davis.

The talk I organised featuring Behrouz Boochani live on the phone from Manus Island.

The time I was in the foyer of the Opening Night VIP pre-party I arranged and Sam Neil wanders in oh so politely asking if he needed to wear a VIP lanyard. Simon Barker and Hugo Weaving were also at that one.

The time I organised intimate pre-screening drinks for Bong Joon-Ho.
Hosted at the QT Hotel just before his Closing Night screening of Okja. I chatted anime with Steven Yuen and Programs Manager, Jenny Neighbour.

Love Always,
Alana

Link Love

Oof, nearly a year since my last Link Love. Oops. Here are a few things that I’ve saved on Facebook, found online, or have been planning to post since then…

Neat writing tips I plan to utilise

I’m always thinking about the next steps

An incredible singer

An insightful expose of Kate Nash

And another of Florence Welch

Accessibility of live music

A no-buy challenge for you

A useful pie-graph of Shakespearean deaths (pictured)

This instance of internet fun-poking is one I can get behind

How millennials became the burnout generation

Some positive news for your day, in pictures

Love always,
Alana

 

Overdue Life Update

So, it’s been a long, long while. I had a big plan to write about my 29th birthday, with all my hopes, dreams and accomplishments that felt important in the final year of my 20s, but then I got busy and life went on and here we are now months later.

Since then, I’ve been through ups and downs and it’s been a bit of a struggle to (want to) sit down and write about it. But this is a place I like to post news and events, and there’s been a few since I last caught you up, so here’s the rundown.

Feeling a bit lacklustre in my day to day role with Ticketek, I decided to get back on the ground of an event and joined the committee putting together SouthFest, a one-day event in November. Engaging with the Tuggeranong community, and giving me something fun to do outside of the day to day of work, I’ve already felt like my knowledge was appreciated and that I could bring useful experience to the table. I’m keen to see how the involvement might grow over the coming months and hopefully I can really bring something to the event.

Blake and I also did what we’ve talked about for ages and signed up for an Auslan class. We’ve already finished this course and it was a great experience. We learnt many basics like fingerspelling, colours, everyday objects and conversation pieces, and I’m really keen to continue the studies as soon as possible. The instructor was excellent and the weekly commitment was perfect for us. Now we just need a deaf friend to practice with and the opportunity to keep learning. Will keep you posted on that front.

I decided that I needed a whole other post dedicated to the addition of our newest family member so be sure to check that out here.

Otherwise, this year is going incredibly quickly but in general we’re enjoying our home here in Canberra, being amongst friends and family, and are avidly looking forward to our holiday in October/September!

Love always,
Alana

World, Meet Milo

This April, Blake and I became fur-parents to our beautiful Foxy X, Milo. She’s tiny and smart, fast and perfect, a total cutie and energetic terror. We love her. A great combination of playful and lap dog, she’s exactly what we wanted.

I’d been looking at dogs constantly for weeks, really since we settled into our home and had to return Wicket when my parents came back from their trip. We’d been keen on adopting but given we wanted a small dog, and many of the older, small dogs require someone home all the time, getting a new puppy off Gumtree ended up being the perfect option for us.

I was pretty sold when we’d looked at her picture and named her, but Blake knew we were committed when we were driving out to Goulburn to ‘meet’ her. It was a wonderful experience, meeting her owners and her sister Reece. We even got to meet both her parents and beautiful border collie (19yo!) grandmother, the generations shared between two neighbours, so knowing the temperaments of the whole family and getting to see them all totally sealed the deal. We took her straight back home, the tiny thing riding on Blake’s lap, and I went straight back out to Kmart to pickup what we needed.

The first day we left her alone was the most terrifying day of my life. I came home to a dog-less house. We’d covered the front gates but only in a weak wire that she pushed up and sneaked out under, clearly not happy being left alone so soon. Thankfully, after my frantic search out the back and during a panicked phone call to Blake to let him know our un-tagged and un-micro chipped dog had disappeared, our neighbour came out to let me know he’d found her outside his door whimpering and had been hanging out all afternoon. Such a relief. Then, after what we thought was a better fence job, she was gone again the next day. Luckily our friendly neighbour was on hand once again and met me in our driveway to avoid an actual heart attack. After the remainder of the week locked inside, mico-chipping and collar tagging, and a weekend of proper fence-fixing, she’s since been safe at home every time we’ve returned and I have saved myself many grey hairs.

We’ve since  been through puppy classes with the RSPCA – an excellent program in which she shined as the instructors favourite, and the instructor’s roast chicken far outshone any treat we tried. Blake’s taught her some great tricks including a routine of sit, down, roll over, and handshake, which she gets a little too excited and over keen on sometimes, reciting the whole thing without instruction in anticipation of the treat. She’s also mastered falling asleep in her own bed (now with some insistence required) but sneaking into our bed to sleep between us as soon as she can get away with it. We really want to keep up obedience training because I think she’d be perfect for fly ball, so that’s our goal when she’s a little older. Having a puppy may be tough, but she’s perfect and she’s ours for life.

Love Always,
Alana

The Full Monty [Supa Productions]

Book: Terrence McNally
Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek
Director:
 Chris Baldock
Musical Director: Katrina Tang
Choreographer: Jordan Kelly
Cast: Dave Smith, Max Gambale, Bailey Lutton, Michael Jordan, Garrett Kelly, Jake Fraser, Lauren Nihill, Callum Doherty, Josh Nicholls, Emma White, Kirrily Cornwell, Sarah Hull, Cole Hilder, Lottie Bull, Emily Byass, Harden Crosweller, Chelsea Heaney, Bridgette Kucher, Brad McDowell.

This was a great re-introduction to the Canberra amateur theatre scene. Although the material itself was a little odd – Blake and I agreed that the songs felt kind of unnecessary turning what would have otherwise been an interesting play into a musical – the performers had great voices, the acting was pretty strong, and overall it was great fun. It definitely made me miss the fun times of Canberra’s amateur theatre and I think I’m going to look at pursuing it again sometime soon.

Love Always,
Alana