Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year (almost)

Henry David Thoreau.  Robert Louis Stevenson.  F Scott Fitzgerald.  Anton Chekhov.  Jackson Pollock.  Billie Holiday.  Marvin Gaye.  And not forgetting Steve Irwin.  I have succeeded in avoiding this illustrious list of people.  People you may well have heard of.  And due to some of their life accomplishments may have assumed they lived long, and fruitful lives.

The truth of it?  All dead at the youthful age of 44.  I have read the lives of some of these people, and the amount they crammed into their 44 years is nothing short of amazing.  And can leave you feeling like you could be doing more with your life.  Taking more adventures.  Living, over merely existing.  If you knew at the outset, that you only had 44 years to do everything you felt you wanted to do, how well would you think you did, or are doing, in achieving this?  And as the year draws to a close, what better, cliched time to spend a little time ruminating on this.

In the last week I ticked over to the ripe old age of 45.  And I am still yet to either write a book.  Write a song.  Paint a masterpiece.  Or even wrestle with an alligator.  I am not one for writing new years resolutions, much preferring a personal list of things I would like to experience, and accomplish in the year ahead.  Just ensuring that I am personally happy that when I do come to expiring, hopefully another 45 years from now, I do so with a smile on my face.

2016 has been a very good year.  I started as an Australian resident, and finish as a citizen.  My application all approved, and just the formality of the ceremony, which I will attend in Mosman, on Australia Day, 26th January.  The timing couldn't be better.  It will be 5 years to the day that I awoke on a cold winters day in Halifax, to an email informing me I had been granted my Australian Permanent Residency, after a 2 year wait.

A short while later, in August of that year, I was ensconced in a large Singapore Airlines business class seat, sipping champagne, about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life to date.  
Relocating to the other side of the world, sans job, sans accommodation, and sans family and friends.

Riverlea Cottage, Mudgee

And here I am still, over 4 years later, still enjoying life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, whilst getting to explore this glorious country.  2016 saw a first visit to the wine region of Mudgee, in central New South Wales, and 2017 will see a return visit to the idyllic little country town.  City life does leave you yearning for the peace and quiet of towns such as Mudgee, which doesn't even have any traffic lights in the small centre.

January of this year also saw me ticking off something I had wanted to do for many years.  Since first watching the Australian Open tennis, in a hostel in Adelaide, in 1994, I had wanted to witness the spectacle in Melbourne first hand.  Being even better than I expected, with a great atmosphere inside and outside the tennis arena, this is something that will definitely be repeated in the future.

One item that always makes my “year ahead” list is to visit somewhere new in the world.  And this year, this was achieved having finally made it to Canada for the first time.  Having heard first hand how beautiful British Columbia is, and about places such as Kelowna, and the Okanagan valley, I had wanted to get a taste of Canada.

An epic road trip that started in the city of angels, and traversed the west coast, through the Big Sur (unfortunately passing up the opportunity to stay at the Post Ranch Inn - this time) up through San Francisco, and the wine region of Sonoma, into Portland (with a visit to Powell's Book Store, where I could have spent weeks browsing the thousands and thousands of books), enjoying the world famous mac ‘n cheese at Beecher’s in Seattle, and across the water to Vancouver Island (with a first trip on a seaplane), finally culminating back over the water, in mainland British Columbia, in Vancouver.

Big Sur, California

I am not sure what 2017 holds, and where will be visited for the first time, but I sure will have a good time planning something. There may even be a spreadsheet involved!

Here’s hoping you, and your families, have a great and safe New Year.  

See you in 2017.

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