Sunrise from Long Reef Headland

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I mentioned my new found enthusiasm for photography in my last post. My latest adventure was to Long Reef Headland, to take photos of the sunrise over the ocean. Anyone who knows me will understand that this in itself is no mean feat – I am not a morning person AT ALL. So when I came up with the suggestion, my husband was doubtful. Me, get out of my warm bed, pre-dawn, in the middle of winter, to take photos?!? Surely you jest!

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When the alarm went off at 5:45 am, I turned over and told Hubby that we weren’t going anymore. He took it well, asking me if I was sure. We checked the forecast and I dragged my butt out of bed, while my awesome Hubby got the gear together for me. Off we set. And I’m so glad we did.

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It’s so serene at that time of the morning, and the colours in the hour before sunrise are so vivid.

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We even had a soundtrack to enhance the experience – a local guy with a didgeridoo came up and started playing, improvised but perfectly fitting.

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The sunrise itself was quite hard to photograph. There weren’t many clouds to highlight the colours that you’d normally get, and I’m still unsure about what settings will get me the results. Light is my passion in photography, and I think I’ve managed to capture some of that here. I guess I can only keep practising. *Sigh* And I guess that means more pre-dawn alarms going off…

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Vivid Sydney 2013

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I am a brand new photography enthusiast. Actually, I lie. I have been into iPhone “photography” (also known as iPhoneography) for a few years, but we recently purchased a real DSLR – a Canon EOS 60D. After a one day photography course I’m in love with it. I’m still no good, but I’m practising!

Here are some shots of Vivid Sydney this year – and my first night shoot. What an awesome program the City of Sydney has put on. From animated light shows with their own sound tracks to interactive light installations along the foreshore – they all fill you with a sense of wonder and joy. It’s kind of like the New Years Fireworks. You’ve seen it all before in various forms, but there is still a buzz when you’re there immersed in it.

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It has drawn thousands of people to the Harbour – scores of locals and tourists alike traipsing about from Walsh Bay through to the Opera House, many carrying their own DSLRs and tripods. Then there was me and the Hubby (my tripod bearer), trying to get my first night shots. And loving it!_MG_0581

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P.S. The Vivid light show is only on the west side of the bridge, unlike the fireworks and almost every other activity they have featuring the bridge. As I had done limited research we ended up at Mrs Macquarie’s chair first off, and got a harbour different shot 🙂

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Tip #3 – The joys that come from managing expectations

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I’ve been thinking that I am probably about due for the next instalment of “Secrets to a long love story”, but what to write about next? I have a bit of a list of topics, but nothing was really tickling my fancy, until I wrote “Seven steps to a happier me”. And it hit me. Managing expectations!

Managing expectations is a basic that goes beyond marriage or even personal relationships – it extends to pretty much any relationship you’ll ever have. And if you manage to master this skill, you’ll avoid a world of trouble and hopefully end up with a few more smiles on your face.

1. Managing your partner’s expectations of you keeps you out of trouble. For years I have been giving this little piece advice to all of my male friends, but despite my insistence it is a mistake that is so easily made.

A few months ago I had a farewell do to attend. However the farewell happened to be on the same day that hubby was leaving for a week or so away. My plan was to have a few drinks then head back home around 6:30 so I could catch hubby before he went away. The problem was that (as per usual) I had more than just a few – I got carried away by the socialising, the banter, the fun and it only takes someone shouting me another beer/wine/cider (or an espresso martini in this case) for me to stay on. I ended up calling him at 7:30 saying I’d be home in an hour, and he ended up needing to leave before I got home. I was not very popular that night.

Surprisingly, it’s not the first time I’ve done that 😛 I had every intention of keeping time, but… If I had just been honest with myself I’d recognise that I get carried away in social settings and I should have just said goodbye to hubby that morning. That way he wouldn’t have been waiting for me to come home, and most importantly he wouldn’t have ended up disappointed.

I think that’s the key here. Most people don’t mean to disappoint, and they have every intention of keeping their promises and commitments. But if they had a good hard look at themselves they’d probably recognise that they may have overpromised, which most often leads to under delivering. And if you do find yourself in a situation where you look to be falling short, inform your partner sooner rather than later. That way you’ll have an opportunity to reset the expectations before it’s too late and you’re really in the poo.

2. Managing your own expectations keeps you from being disappointed.

disappointmentI’m pretty lucky that although I wasn’t particularly popular that night, hubby wasn’t completely angry with me. As I mentioned before, that event was pretty much on form for me, although in my defence I hadn’t offended in years (I had gotten much better in managing expectations in recent years). My “relapse” wasn’t entirely unexpected from my hubby’s perspective, and he adjusted his expectations when I didn’t call on or before my planned 6:30 return. He knew then that I’d probably be more than an hour late, and started prepping for his own departure. When I did finally call he voiced his disappointment, but he was pretty much over it straight afterward.

Moving away from my own flaws, a friend of mine (lets call him Mr A) used to go out for massive boys nights out. He’d tell Mrs A that he’d be home late, however unfortunately he’d often just not come home at all. This used to result in massive and frequent fights between the two of them. In a way, I thought that if Mrs A just adjusted her expectations to think boys night = he won’t be home, then she would have ended up with a lot less stress and tears. That’s not to say he shouldn’t have explicitly told her boys night = I won’t be home; it’s just common courtesy and respect. However sometimes it doesn’t really matter who was late for what at the end of the day. If you can learn to manage your own expectation of others, you end up with much less disappointment, and possibly pain. Proactive expectation management is almost a self preservation technique. It’s the difference between realism and optimism.

3. “Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life.”
William Cowper

Managing expectations gives you an opportunity to surprise and delight. As your partner is so used to knowing what’s coming up, any positive activities that you do plan will have a much bigger impact. There was a time when hubby was away (on a different trip) and as per usual he’d call me in the afternoon to recount the day’s activities and say good night. We finished our conversation and said we’d see each other the next day upon his return. About half an hour later he appeared back at home (scared the bejeezus out of me) and gave me a big kiss and hug. He’d come back home early because he missed me, and it was SO nice to have him back to warm my bed.

Managing expectations is a weapon that, if used properly, can smooth out so many bumps in a relationship. And the best thing is that it is a weapon that everyone has access to. You don’t need to be a Cassanova or a psychologist. You just need to be self aware and remember to communicate.

How Does the Act of Writing Affect Your Brain?

I came across this great article and infographic on “How Does the Act of Writing Affect Your Brain?.” It contained some really pertinent points for blog writing:

  • Tell a story over laying it out in point form. Point form will give the reader information whereas a story will activate the parts of the brain involved in physically re-enacting the story.
  • Avoid clichés. The brain becomes so familiar with the combination of words that it no longer evokes the thoughts/emotions that may have been intended.
  • Writing can have similar effects on the mind as meditation and can be a good method of de-stressing.

The final point is definitely true for me. Happy writing!

 

Cat Adventures – Lovedale Long Lunch

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I’m a massive fan of the weekend away. There’s just nothing like hopping in the car, bags packed and setting off on adventure. Any direction will do – it’s about getting out of the city and really making the most of the weekend.

Hunter Valley VinesThe other weekend we  headed 2 hours north west of Sydney for the beautiful Hunter Valley, and the famous Lovedale Long Lunch. Eight of us set out Friday evening to i villini, the cottage we had rented for the weekend.  The cottage was perfect – 3 bedrooms all with their own ensuites, and a living area complete with two fireplaces. There  was nothing to do but crack open a bottle of red, cheese up some biscuits, crank up some tunes and relax. Before long we were through the 12 bottles we had brought up with us and half a case of beer! True to form we had once again peaked on the first night, and needless to say everyone was slow moving on the Saturday morning… Our only problem was we still had to get through the main event!

After 20 years, the Lovedale Long Lunch organisers have it all sorted. Your $85 ticket gets you your (plastic) wine glass for the day, 2 glasses of wine, 2 meal tickets and a dessert/cheese ticket. All of the wineries involved have food stations, music and seating, and of course plenty of wine! A $25 shuttle ticket gets you unlimited rides between the wineries for the day, so as long as you can get yourself to the first venue  and home again, you’re set.

It was a stunning day – a fresh and warm spring day. We started off at Wandin around lunch time (did I mention that we were slow moving?) which had an reasonable band and a great DJ playing. With the doors opening at 10:30 it was clear that everyone else  had a head start on us. What I hadn’t expected was that people would turn up in costume. There were groups of story book characters, where’s Wallies, flapper girls. You name it – they were there and they were already tipsy!

photo 1After a bite to eat and a few bevvies (which were also relatively slow flowing), we eventually moved on to the next winery, Allendale, which was pretty much the first stop on the shuttle route. After another hour or two there our time was almost up and we needed to find our way back to our pick up point. We arrived back at Wandin with about 20 minutes left of serving time. That of course meant we bought another couple of bottles so we could sit back and watch the end all unfold. By this stage there were a lot of very funny drunks around and they were honestly the best entertainment of the day. People escaping security, people getting walked out by their friends, lots of dirty dancing and many costume crimes.

The girlsBack at our cottage we reflected on an awesome day as we settled back by the fire into another round of cheesy goodness, more wine (although nowhere near as much as we had the previous night!) and a few rounds of poker.

If you get the opportunity, I’d definitely recommend partaking in the Lovedale Long Lunch. It’s a great activity to enjoy with a few mates, a great little weekend escape, and I dare say always an adventure.