Happy New Year!…Video from Sydney Harbour Bridge…Making errors throughout the year…

View from a local beach, on a stroll around the country.

This morning for the first time in a year, we posted “Photo from one year ago today, January 1, 2016” that indicated “2016” as opposed to “2015.” We’ll see how long it takes for me to make an error and post 2015 in this daily highlight regarding a photo from the prior year.

It is easy to make mistakes while writing each day of the year. Since we began our trips in October 2012, we’ve published the following posts for every year:

There are many ponds on the farmland.

2012 – 159 posts
2013 – 346 posts
2014 – 376 posts
2015 – 365 posts
2016 – 373 posts

With our goal of posting once a day, why did we post less than 365 times in 2013?   It was at the halfway point of 2013 that we decided to publish daily.

Why did we spend more than 365 days a year in 2014 and 2016? First, 2016 was a leap year, which added one more day on February 29. Secondly, when we’ve flown or cruised frequently we often posted a short blurb earlier in the day, later uploading a more comprehensive post.

Recently planted agricultural field for hotter summer weather.

As for errors, they’re inevitable. As much as we’d prefer to be “error free” no matter how much proof reading, we conduct, we easily miss typos, grammar errors and my nemesis, paragraph spacing issues.

We’ll start with the paragraph spacing issues. Blogger has a faulty system. Posting multiple photos have an impact on the ability of users to correct line and paragraph spacing. 

Farmland on a sun-drenched day.

In addition, when the Wi-Fi connection is slow, the spacing of lines and paragraphs becomes a major problem. If there is one thing that takes the most of my time, it is to try to correct the spacing. It’s not so much a problem with other blog publishing programs like WordPress. 

Why aren’t we moving from Blogger to WordPress? We’d lose all of our stats and have to begin again, perhaps losing many of our past posts. As an avid “numbers cruncher” and stats fanatic, this would be awful. So we used Blogger, hoping that one day they will make changes to impact this one area of concern.

View of our vacation home from a nearby park. (Similar image shown recently).

Beside the paragraph spacing issue, we make plenty of errors. I can read and reread a post several times. Once I upload the post, within moments, Tom is busy reading through every word and photo caption. There is rarely an occasion when he doesn’t find any errors which I immediately correct per his suggestions. 

At times, I’m appalled by the nature of an error. How did I not see this when reviewing the post? I suppose it’s human nature. We easily miss mistakes we’ve made. That’s why they’re called mistakes.

Mom and her colt. 

As the New Year rolled in last night, while we watched the festivities in Sydney on TV for which we’ve included the this fabulous video, I considered making a New Year’s resolution for the first time in decades, no more errors in the posts.

But, as I contemplated this possibility, my eyes landed on our slogan at the top of our home page which reads: “Wafting Through Our World Wide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity.”

Close up Bottle Brush plant.

In my old life, perfectionism was the order of the day, an endless objective, never fulfilled. That’s changed progressively over these past four plus years. We’re finally nearing the pinnacle of acceptance of our flaws, our idiosyncrasies and our eccentricities. We’ll never strive for perfection again. 

Instead, we strive for ease, joy and simplicity. Within this concept lies no accommodation for attempting to be perfect at anything. The burden of striving for such an impossible goal has long since passed.

Bottle Brush plants growing in the yard of our vacation home.

So, instead of a resolution to avoid making errors when posting, we choose to accept the reality that posting 365 days a year (or more) is a breeding ground for errors. 

Of course, if we’ve misspelled or misrepresented information on a locale, an item we photographed, a culture or a people, we kindly ask you to let us know so we can make corrections accordingly. We never intend to provide faulty information. In this aspect, there’s no margin for error.

The Holland America cruise ship was passing by a few days prior to Christmas.

For the rest, we ask our readers to bear with us, knowing our intentions are genuine and heartfelt.  Accuracy will always be our goal, perfectionism will not. Maybe we all may benefit from not being so hard our ourselves. It’s a lesson we continually strive to achieve.

May your New Year bring you personal acceptance, peace and love. Happy New Year!

Photo from one year ago today, January 1, 2016:

Riverfront property in the neighborhood in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

Our year in review…Photos of us…Happy New Year to all!…

We were on the Mekong River Cruise and tour in July, stopping at a the Kampong Cham temple in Cambodia.

It was a very good year. Five months during the year, from June 1 to November 1, I was recovering from a spine injury that probably clouded many of our activities. 

In February for my birthday, me and Miss Jessica, an alpaca cria born under our watch while the farm owners were on holiday.
Out for dinner in February in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner at this restaurant in February.

Healed and pain free, that’s all behind us now as we move into the New Year anticipating many more adventures and amazing experiences including the upcoming trip to the US in a mere five months.

Out to lunch at a winery in New Zealand in March.

In addition to this challenging time, during which we still had many memorable experiences, we had many exciting moments in the following locations and on the following cruises:

In July, Tom squeezes his way out of a narrow opening after crawling through a tunnel at the site of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. He was very brave to do this and the crowd cheered when we made his way out.

2016 in review…

January:  left Fiji for cruise from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand – 2 weeks
January – April: Alpaca farm vacation home in New Plymouth, New Zealand – 3 months
April – Cruise from Sydney to Singapore – 2 weeks
May – June:  Vacation villa in Bali, Indonesia – 2 months
June – July:  Boutique hotel in Singapore – 1 week
July:  Hotel in Vietnam and then on to Mekong River Cruise and Tour – 3 weeks
July – August:  Vacation home in Phuket, Thailand – 6 weeks
September – October: Returned to the villa in Bali – 2 months
October (end) to December (3rd): Cruise circumnavigates the Australian continent – 33-nights
December to present – Vacation home in Penguin, Tasmania where we’ll remain until heading to Huon Valley, Tasmania in mid January – 6 weeks

In Bali, lounging at the infinity pool.

In between all of the above, we spent 32 nights in hotels and took 10 airline flights (not counting layovers). Whew! Writing this here makes us realize how much we’ve moved about during this past year, especially when so much of it occurred during that difficult five month period.

We swam in the pool every sunny day in Bali.

Now, with only 16 days remaining until we depart Penguin, we realize how quickly time flies. We could easily have enjoyed spending three months in Penguin. 

A visit to the Monkey Temple in Bali in May, wearing the required sarongs.

No doubt, once we arrive in the Huon Valley after another long and interesting drive on an alternate route from our original drive through Tasmania, surely we’ll be thrilled to experience another part of this amazing state in Australia. 

On a port day in November during our 33 night cruise, we spent the day in Perth with friends Michelle and Carlo, whom we’d met on a prior cruise. How sweet of them to spend the time with us!

The world is huge. We’ve only touched the “tip of the iceberg,” speaking of which, in one year and three weeks, we’ll be boarding the cruise to Antarctica. Wow! It’s even hard for us to imagine how much we’ve seen thus far and how much we’ve yet to see in the future.

Tom is talking during one of the two seminars we conducted on the 33 night cruise in November. Check out that hand moving with his words!

As the New Year rolls in tonight at midnight, we hope to be awake to share a kiss and to welcome in this new year of our world travels, of our lives and on this journey which for now, has no end.

Me, checking my notes, during one of the two seminars we conducted aboard ship in November.

Happy New Year to all!  May this New Year bring you the fulfillment of your dreams, an abundance of love and affection and enough laughter to rock your world wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2015:

In last year’s post we included photos from other New Year’s Eve, including this photo of us on New Year’s Eve including this photo from 2013, in Marloth Park, South Africa at Jabula Lodge where we’ll celebrate my birthday in a little over a year in February in 2018. For more past New Year’s Eve photos, please click here.

New Year’s Eve is tomorrow…Where did the time go?..How do we celebrate now?

Yesterday while on a walk, we spotted this White Faced Heron.

Early this morning it dawned on me that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.  With no big plans to celebrate, except for an event on New Year’s night (more on that later), we’ll spend the usual celebratory night at “home.” 

Perhaps, we’ll celebrate with a glass of wine on the veranda, (if the skies clear) and do as many do throughout the world, have a quiet evening at home often heading to bed before the stroke of midnight. 

Leftover from Halloween?

Its not very exciting but Penguin only has a few bars with most locals celebrating at private gatherings or, as the case for many, not celebrating at all.  Rolling into the new calendar year is not necessarily an event of significance to many throughout the world when many nationalities have their own particular calendar:

New Year’s Eve:
In both the Gregorian calendar, currently used in the United States, and the Julian calendar, which was used until 1752 in the British colonies, the last day of the year is December 31st.”

Masses of yellow daisies grow along the road.

Here is an interesting link as to when and how each country throughout the world celebrates their interpretation of the beginning of the New Year. Many  countries celebrate both their own spiritually based acknowledgement of the New Year and also the New Year those of us in Australia, the US, parts of Europe and other countries have adopted over the centuries as indicated in the above quote.

In our old lives, each year we enthusiastically celebrated New Year’s Eve with a theme based party at our home.  For days, I’d prepare a wide array of foods for the party and decorate our home befitting the theme based occasion. 

Fluffy yellow blooms.

One year we did a “tacky 70’s” theme party.  Along with our guests we dressed in bellbottoms, flower printed silky shirts and chunky heeled shoes while disco music blared in the background.  For the food, I made 70’s type of appetizers while we encouraged guests to bring their favorite 70’s type foods.

From cookie cutout baloney sandwiches to pickled eggs to homemade White Castle burgers to gruyere cheese fondue with chunks of baguettes for dipping, we had every imaginable dish as a result of a huge turnout.  For a list of 70’s type foods, please click here at this great site.

These flowers are so dark they’re almost black.  We’d seen these in new Zealand as well.

Our last such New Year’s Eve party occurred in 1999 with the fears of something awful occurring as the New Year rolled over to the year 2000.  For the first time, we had a poor turnout especially with the icy and snowy weather.  It was that year we decided we’d most likely discontinue the huge New Year’s Eve house parties. 

From there, on several occasions, we got together with friends and neighbors or stayed at home keeping the festivities low key.  This time of year in Minnesota was often bitter cold.  The idea of heading out on the icy roads with the potential of drunk drivers spinning out on the highway didn’t hold much appeal.

Wishing well planter in side yard of neighboring home.

I suppose in part for many, aging in itself is reason enough to lose interest in celebrating New Year’s Eve, whether we acknowledge it or not.  No longer is the idea of drinking copious amounts of liquor well into the night as appealing as it was in our younger days.

With few friends in this area, its unlikely we’ll do anything more than enjoy one more pleasant evening together, feeling blessed and grateful for the quality of our lives, for those we love and for each other.

Rocky beach on a cloudy day walk.

Moments ago, Tom mentioned it was two months ago today that we left Bali on a “red eye” flight arriving in Sydney spending one night in a hotel.  The following day we boarded the 33 night cruise circumventing the Australian continent.  Wow!  How the time flies! 

As for where we were one year ago please check below for our “Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2015.”  Please have a safe and happy end of the year.


Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2015:

When we walked through the Pacific Harbour, Fiji neighborhood, one year ago, we crossed this river.  For more photos please click here.

Four days, no sun…Cabin fever setting in?…Dogs, flowers and beaches…A little bit of “this and that”…

Simple, but delightful.

We’re anxious to get out to explore, but with rain over the past four days, most likely we won’t be doing so today. Neither of us sees any reason why we should get soaked on a walk in the rain (not our thing).

On a walk across the street which is lined with a wide variety of blooming flowers, we spotted this unusual plant.  Any comments from locals or flower enthusiasts?

Nor do we see any purpose in driving through the countryside with limited visibility, making photo taking annoying to say the least. There’s strong storm conditions in the Australian continent and we suspect we’re getting some of that inclement weather as well.

Instead, like many of you, on bad weather days, we choose to stay close to “home.” In our old lives, when we had to work, we never hesitated to go out when it was below zero or on rainy or snowy days. 

Note the purple/mauve borders and veins on the leaves. 

Now, in this life, we don’t have to go out in bad weather unless we have a definitive reason, such as a travel day; to catch a flight or when boarding a cruise. We love how flexible we are in this life!

Two dogs swimming in the ocean on Christmas Day, the last sunny day in Penguin.

Do we get cabin fever on days like this? Tom, who can easily occupy himself online for days at a time, has no problem to prevent cabin fever. For me, spending little time online after posting the day’s blog, conducting research or logging future travel plans and financial matters, I have little interest in using my laptop. 

Aside from vast expanses of white sand beaches in Tasmania there are rocky areas.

Somehow I find myself with plenty of tasks that easily consume part of each day, whether it’s preparing a meal, doing laundry or organizing and rearranging our “stuff” to make the next packing session all the more seamless.

Little bells.

Today, I’ll be rearranging our pill bag. I take three prescriptions, while Tom takes none. Recently, we received a shipment of a one year’s supply of my three meds each of which is wrapped in blister packs.  

Having used all the loose pills I had on hand, I decided today would be a good day to open all the blister packs putting the individual pills in the appropriately labeled plastic pill bottles from past purchases in Australia. 

Walkway along Penguin Beach on Christmas Day.

Yep, I must admit, as an old timer myself, I use a monthly pill container case since I take the three meds together once each morning. It contains space for 28 days. Thus, like many of who are taking multiple medications, it makes sense to use a pill case to ensure errors aren’t made. 

Looks like this possible Great Dane was looking for her/his owner to return from the shop. We took this photo on a very cool day.

Pressing the pills through the blister packs for an entire year’s meds could take a few hours. For three different meds for 12 months, that is 1095 “presses” in the blister pack. 

Dogs allowed.

I realize that keeping the pills in the blister pack may extend their freshness, but in an effort to eliminate excess weight, getting rid of the superfluous paper and plastic makes more sense due to our circumstances.

Also, today, I have to use a needle and thread to sew a few items. I don’t mind doing this, but have trouble threading the needle unless I use that silly little tin thing that is often included in a package of various sized needles. Its this thing:

Ever use this thingee when trying to thread a needle? I’m lost without it. Must be old age.

Yesterday, I made enough low carb, grain free, starch free pizza for several meals, leaving only a salad to chop for today’s meal. We left out enough pizza for two days, freezing three packages we can later reheat as  additional meals. 

Specifically, Penguin Beach.

Sure, I have a touch of cabin fever, but with plenty to do plus a few favorite downloaded/streaming TV shows we’ve been binge watching in the evenings I’ll be fine. We’ve been watching these shows: “This is Us,” “Victoria” and “The Crown.” We seldom watch TV during the day, although we may have local news or talk shows on in the background.

More of Penguin Beach.

We hope you have a great day today filled with a little “this and that” to keep you occupied and entertained.

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2015:

We’d been warned against purchasing locally caught fish in Fiji when it’s often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish for four months. For more photos, please click here.

Eyes drawn to beach after beach…Is Tasmania as amazing as Hawaii?…

We took this photo from downtown Penguin. Wow!

Two years ago, at this time we were on the Big Island of Hawaii while 12 family members had visited us at the two vacation homes we’d rented next door to one another. It seems like a lifetime ago. 

We were watching from our front veranda as a massive flock of birds (most likely seagulls) were in a frenzy over a school of fish.

To view some of our photos from that period, please begin searching through the archives beginning here. Below is a photo of Tom in our “backyard” in the Big Island, taken the day after we arrived, awaiting out kids and grandchildren soon arriving. What a view!

Two years ago Tom stood in the backyard of one of two of the vacation homes we rented awaiting our family’s arrival for Christmas. Here is the link for this particular post, the same as indicated above.

Having spent a total of eight months in four of the Hawaiian Islands; Oahu, Maui, Big Island (aka Hawai’i) and Kauai we left the exquisite US state with fond memories of amazing scenery and experiences.

Scene of Penguin from a distance.

Now, after only three weeks in Tasmania, we’re finding ourselves entrenched in the beauty of this island not only for its amazingly friendly people and ease of living but also for its simplicity. Nothing feels rushed here.

Farmland view of the sea.

Is it possible to compare the islands of Hawaii with Tasmania with their expansive ocean views, white sand beaches, mountains, hills and lush vegetation? 

From of the ocean from a country road.

Tasmania offers the exact same features that make visiting this island state of Australia comparable in many ways to visiting some of the Hawaiian islands in the US.

This is a view from an elevated road in Penguin.

A few differences we’ve observed during this short period in Tasmania:

  • Considerably less tourists in Tasmania due to it’s distance location to many countries. Hawaii is easier to get to from many countries in the northern hemisphere. Most of the popular islands of Hawaii are packed with tourists, creating traffic and commotion typical of life in many island communities, not necessarily bumper-to-bumper traffic, but  it may be difficult to find parking spots at popular beaches and venues.
  • It’s generally more expensive in Hawaii, perhaps a trade-off for the added time and transportation costs to travel to Australia from many other countries.  Rental cars were more expensive here.  Groceries are less expensive. Dining out is comparable.    (Continued below).
Many homes and farms in Penguin have beautiful ocean views.
  • The weather? It’s sunny and warm in Hawaii year round, although it may rain off and on, with most rain storms quickly moving through to returning sunny skies. In Tasmania, we’re experiencing three cloudy and rainy days in a row (which may be unusual during these summer months) with considerably cooler temperatures during the spring and summer based on its distant proximity to the Equator. Winter temperatures are cooler. Not all travelers care for warm climates. 
  • Friendliness factors in both locations? Comparable. We found the people of Hawaii to be outrageously friendly. Here in Penguin, in Tasmania, in general? The locals are equally friendly if not more.
  • Recreational activities: Scuba diving, deep sea fishing, diving, whale watching, shopping and the availability of tourist spots are readily available in both locations.
Tasmania has many roadside viewing areas on the highway.

In reality, for most travelers, it all boils down to cost, weather, proximity and crowds. If a traveler prefers a quiet, laid back experience with temperate weather and can travel the long distance, Tasmania may be preferred.  If one is looking for a more active location with nightlife, warm sunny days on the beach, Hawaii (on some islands) may be preferred.

Walkers exploring the beach.

As for the scenery, they’re equally exquisite in their own way and we treasure the opportunities we’ve had in visiting both states. The ocean and mountain views, the green grassy hills, the abundant variety of vegetation and wildlife and the cooler climate has made us feel we’ve come to the right place at this point in our travels. 

An early evening guitar playing session while sitting on a rock.  Photo taken from our veranda.

Have a beautiful day as we work our way toward the end of 2016. It’s been a good year for us. We hope it’s been so for YOU as well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2015:

  • One year ago in Pacific Harbour, Fiji Tom was engrossed in watching a ski movie on the projection screen in Baku Blues bar/restaurant in the Arts Village. For more dining out photos, please click here.

A sunny day drive through the country…Nature at its finest…For the less experienced reader, how to use our archives…

This was our favorite photo of the day, a huge Billy Goat with quite the beard and defined facial marks.

Even today the weather is cloudy and overcast, but that does not bother us. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of sunny days since we arrived in Tasmania more than three weeks ago.

By car across the countryside, you can see the ocean in the distance.

Each sunny day, we head out to take photos as shown in today’s post, photos from the countryside, the quaint towns, the ocean and the points of interest we’ve found to be most appealing.

Cattle are funny when humans come by.

In many locations around the world, living in more remote regions often leaves us looking for photo opportunities. We had assumed this would be a dilemma over the four months we spent in Bali (with a two-month break in between) as of April 30, 2016. 

Nice country sign, by the way.

But, the photo opportunities in Bali kept coming and coming as evidenced in our posts, easily reviewed if you missed them, by researching our archives located on the right side of this page below our advertisers.

Cattle on a hill.

As a matter of fact, here are the step by step instructions for using our archives.  For our more experienced readers, please bear with us as we review these instructions:

  • Scroll down the day’s home page, below our advertisers, to PREVIOUS POSTS 
  • Note the list of years since we began posting beginning in 2012
  • Click on the little black triangle of the year you’d like to research, that looks like this:   
  • Once you click on this ► the entire year’s posts, month by month, will be displayed.
  • Select the month and search for headings, you like to see. If you’re looking for something in particular and are unable to find it, please don’t hesitate to send me or Tom an email and we’ll send you the link by email.
Highland Breed cattle.  See this link for details on this breed.

Many of our new readers find they are more easily able to grasp the nature of our continuing story by reading the posts from the beginning. Our story is a a continuing day to day journal of the lives of two retirees with no home, no storage and only a few bags in our possession, traveling the world for years to come. It’s less of a “travel and sightseeing” log one may find elsewhere and more of a personal account about living all over the world.

This annoyed male approached the fence when we stopped for photos.

Many have written to us explaining how they began reading our posts from the beginning to grasp the full intent and meaning of why we do what we do and how it impacts our daily lives. Could YOU do this? Some could, some actually do what we do, although few would choose this odd life.

Although this one mooed at us, she/he didn’t bother to get up.

Yesterday, we loved speaking to our family members on Christmas Day (in the US) and were reminded of how much we left behind. Any yet, after hanging up, we giggled with delight over the prospect of seeing them in a mere five months, spending six weeks in Minnesota and three weeks in Nevada.

The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminds us of New Zealand.

Will we run out of photo ops while in these two locations in the US? Hardly. We’ll be busy in our “home town” looking at it through new eyes and a new perspective. We’ll share the nuances of living in the US for our readers in other countries (and in the US) and perhaps a different perspective after having been away for almost five years at that point.

Old log house seen along the country road.

And, for now? We have hundreds of photos we’ve yet to share and the stories surrounding them.  There’s no doubt we’ll leave Penguin having many photos we’ll never have had the opportunity to post. In the interim, we’ll share our favorites, which we hope our readers find interesting.

The hills, the trees, the vegetation and the sea create a breathtaking scene.

Today, while the house is being cleaned, we’ll head to Ulverstone to shop for groceries. After discovering pesticides are used on most of the produce at Woolie’s we no longer buy their produce. Instead, we now purchase organic produce at the local Fruit & Veg market, a delightful five minute walk down the road. 

The views of farm fields, bodies of water and the sea is always stunning.

There’s nothing quite like a walk down the road to the veggie mart. Then again, there’s nothing quite like Penguin. Leaving in three weeks leaves us with a twinge of disappointment. It won’t be easy to say goodbye.

We hope all of you who celebrate had a fulfilling Christmas as we anticipate the New Year rolling in.

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2015:

During a period of many cloudy and rainy days in Fiji, we visited the capital city of Suva. This photo is the top of the President’s house located in Suva. For more Suva photos, please click here.

Boxing Day situation with a seal…What?…Plus, what is Boxing Day, for those who may not know?

Members of the public should not approach the seal. Pictures: Tasmania Police
Photo taken by the Tasmanian Police of a seal sitting atop a car.  The area has been secured to prevent the public from getting too close. For details on the story, please click here.

After yesterday’s perfectly sunny Christmas Day, today is Boxing Day and its overcast and cloudy.  We’re staying in other than a possible walk if it doesn’t rain.

Our Christmas Day meal.  The filet mignon was tender as it could be, the prawns sweet and delicious and the plate of bacon and sautéed mushrooms, salad and green beans were added treats.

We’ve always assumed Boxing Day had something to do with the sport of boxing.  This is the first country in which we’ve lived that was celebrating this special day prompting us to research what Boxing Day really is about.

Pedal kayaking on Christmas Day.

In Australia and other British Commonwealth nations, Boxing Day is a day for many shoppers to line up during the night, to take advantage of the continent wide sales on new and leftover holiday merchandise.  They take this very seriously and many stores had long queues since the middle of the night.

These are the same purple flowers that bloom this time of year in New Zealand.

What is Boxing Day?  From this site, here’s some speculation as to its origins:

“Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated on the day following Christmas Day  in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations. Boxing Day occurs on 26 December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or a day later.

In the liturgical calendar of Western Christianity, Boxing Day is the second day of Christmastide,[ and also St. Stephen’s Day.  In some European countries, notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, 26 December is celebrated as a Second Christmas Day.

There are competing theories for the origins of the term, none of which are definitive. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest attestations from England in the 1830s, defining it as “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box”. (Continued below).

Sunny day view of a portion of Penguin.

The term “Christmas-box” dates back to the 17th century, and among other things meant:

A present or gratuity given at Christmas: in Great Britain, usually confined to gratuities given to those who are supposed to have a vague claim upon the donor for services rendered to him as one of the general public by whom they are employed and paid, or as a customer of their legal employer; the undefined theory being that as they have done offices for this person, for which he has not directly paid them, some direct acknowledgement is becoming at Christmas.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.  This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663.  This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food.

The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in areas of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen,which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.”

During our walk on Christmas Day, we noticed many mailboxes say, “No junk mail.  Thank you.”

As we sit here now with TV on in the background with coffee  mugs in hand, the conversations on the various news shows are all discussing the exciting sales throughout Australia.  This is a favorite day for many Aussies.

For us, with no interest in shopping we won’t even notice the shopping frenzy in quiet, laidback Penguin.  With only a handful of shops not related to dining and food shopping, we don’t expect the Penguin shops to be open.  We’ll know more later when we go for a walk.

B&B in the neighborhood.

We had a pleasant, albeit quiet Christmas Day, with a great midday meal with a light snack later in the evening followed by a lovely walk in the neighborhood.  Later, we lounged on the front veranda exchanging “Merry Christmas” to one passerby after another.

With summer starting on December 21st and temperatures warming flowers are blooming.

Talking to some family members  on Skype and sharing wishes in Facebook via chat and posting kept us busy for part of the day.  Tom spent hours on Ancestry.com piecing together more of his family connections while I busied myself reading and writing to family and friends.

With most islands formed from volcanos an amount of lava rock remains on the beaches in Tasmania, along with a tremendous amount of white sand beaches.

For those on the opposite side of the International Dateline who celebrate ,we wish you a very Merry Christmas and for those on this side,  located in British Commonwealth nations, we wish you a Happy Boxing Day, and shopping experience as well!


 Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2015:

What a great meal we had dining out on Christmas Day last year in Fiji.  I ate four of these octopus!  For more food photo, please click here.  See Tom’s meal below.
Check out the size of those slabs of prime rib and prawns on Tom’s plate last year.  It was the most tender beef we’d had in months

Merry Christmas to all of our readers…Its Christmas Day today in Tasmania…

Finally, we were able to take a picture early in the evening of a high-speed train decorated with Christmas light. We’d hope for a nighttime train for a better shot. However, each time we heard a train coming in the dark, we quickly ran outside with the camera only to find that particular train wasn’t decorated. We’re pleased with this photo.

This marks the fifth Christmas since our departure from Minnesota on October 31, 2012. Each one has been unique in its own way, especially when living outside the US. There isn’t any snow. It’s usually warm and has even been hot in some locations. 

The penguin mascot, this gigantic penguin, is decorated for Christmas.

Over these years of world travel its made no sense to decorate a Christmas tree or our vacation home when we’d be required to purchase everything when we’d have to leave it all behind.

Only a few homes in penguin have elaborate Christmas decorations as this festive display.

To our great surprise, we were not disappointed in any of that. Having long ago let go of owning “stuff” we’ve both acquired a perspective of what really matters to us. And, it has nothing to do with owning furnishings, pots and pans, flat screen TVs and Christmas decorations. 

More elaborate Christmas ornaments on a local house.

It has everything to do with embracing our surroundings, learning about varying cultures throughout the world, while taking time to stop to notice the song of a bird, a blooming flower or an expansive ocean view.

We are in awe of this elaborate display in Penguin.

Last night, Christmas Eve in this part of the world, we sat outside on the veranda in the front of the house sipping wine. We discussed how we don’t miss having an elaborately decorated home with twinkling lights, a variety of Santa displays, exquisitely wrapped gifts under the tree and the smell of cookies and other holiday treats baking in the oven.

Wild red flowers, perfect for the holiday season.

All we’re missing is being with people we love. In a mere 154 days, a little more than five months we’ll all be together again. There’s no making up for lost time, but there is such a thing as making new times together. To that end, we eagerly and enthusiastically look forward to our visit to the United States.

Decorated penguin outside a store in town.

As we waved to passersby last night, in cars, yelling out “Merry Christmas” or walking along the sidewalk in front of our vacation home, we were reminded of the warmth and friendliness of people of Penguin, Tasmania and Australia. 

St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Penguin.

Even the conductor signalled and shouted “Merry Christmas” as the train went by. There are few places we’ve visited over these past four years that have been quite like this. We couldn’t love Penguin more!

Uniting Church in Penguin.

Today, we’ll walk in the neighborhood as we’ve done many days since arriving in Penguin three weeks ago today. During each walk we’ve found something new and interesting, only adding to our joy of spending this precious six weeks in this special little town.

This penguin house has been decorated indoors, making it difficult to take pictures at night through the window. Nonetheless, it was quite an exhibition.

May each of you who celebrate, wherever you may be, have a Merry Christmas filled with companionship, a world of wonders and an abundance of love. 

Another view of above display.  Breathtaking!

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2016:

A year ago today our power was out. We went for a walk in Pacific Harbor, Fiji to see this small boat heading down the Qaraniqio River.  For more details, please click here.

Celebrating Tom’s birthday last night…It’s Christmas Eve on this side of the International Dateline!! Traditions for world travelers?

Mersey Beach bluff where we went to dinner last night.

Last night we made the 30 minute drive to the town of Devonport for a reservation we’d made at Mrs. Jones, a popular upscale restaurant located on the ocean near the mouth of the Mersey River.

Veterans Memorial in Devonport, Tasmania.

I made a reservation at 6:30 last week for a table by the window. After the pleasant drive through the ocean/riverfront town, taking multiple photos along the way, we arrived at the restaurant well before our reservation, planning on a drink at the bar and then seated at our table.

A historic house under renovation in Devonport.

As it turned out, all of the window tables were marked with signs stating “reserved.” None of those tables were assigned to our reservation, much to our surprise and disappointment.

Another historic house on Devonport.

When shown the other seating options for two located against a bare wall, none provided the romantic ambiance we’d hoped for. As far as I was concerned, I’d have been happy to sit anywhere had it been OK with Tom.

But, as we’ve learned so well in our lifestyle over these past years, we can decide what works for us.  I wasn’t upset at all when he said, ‘Let’s do something else!” 

A small lighthouse on the Mersey River.

There’s no doubt the food would have been good and we’d have written a great review for the establishment. We place no blame on the owners or staff for being unable to fulfill our expectations. That was our choice to say no.

Instead, we enjoyed our drinks at the bar, were as gracious as possible that we’d changed our minds based on choice of table and within an hour were on our way out the door.

Live entertainment at Drift Café on the beach.

A casual dining spot, Drift Café, is located downstairs from Mrs. Jones Restaurant where diners were enjoying live music, casual dining, seated at tables and on the grass, creating a lively and festive scenario. We decided to dine there and join in the festivities overlooking the Mersey Beach Bluff. Today, we’re sharing some photos of each establishment.

Entrance to Mrs. Jones and Drift Restaurants.

Tom ordered a juicy bacon cheeseburger with chips (fries) and I had a chicken and avocado salad.  The food was great, the setting was ideal and we had a great time.

Today, Christmas Eve, we’re making our usual tradition of steak and lobster, well, not quite lobster. We’d purchased the Filet Mignon from the meat market in Ulverstone after visiting Pedro’s Restaurant and Fish Market to see about purchasing the lobster. 

The restaurants adjoin a beautiful park and recreation area.

In Australia, lobster is called “crayfish” and is outrageously expensive. Since both of us prefer the tail only as compared the remainder of the body, it made no sense to pay AU $51, US $36.60 for a .11kg (4 ounce tail). 

Pedros Restaurant and fish market seemed to be a great spot for seafood most of which is battered, fried and wouldn’t work for my way of eating. The smell was intoxicating. We’d hoped to buy crayfish (Australia’s version of a lobster) here, but the cost was prohibitive for the small tails. 

Instead, we purchased jumbo prawns which will go well with the tenderloin. The menu: garlic butter sautéed prawns, Filet Mignon with sautéed portobello mushrooms, fresh green beans and side salads will make for a fine Christmas Eve dinner along with the bottle of wine we purchased for the occasion. For dessert? Homemade low carb, sugar-free fudge. 

Lounge/bar area in Mrs. Jones Restaurant.

Today, the warmest day since we arrived in Tasmania three weeks ago, we’ll spend time outdoors on the front veranda overlooking the sea while waving and saying Merry Christmas to passersby who walk and jog along the sidewalk in front of our vacation home.

Life is good. We pray it is for all of you as well. Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate and happy day to those of you who do not.

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2015:

A year ago at Tom’s birthday dinner in Fiji my rumpled lobster juice soiled clothes were a sight to see after dinner. Click here for details.

Happy Birthday, Tom!…Today, we celebrate YOU and…what???…Photos of Tom over the past year…

While crossing the countryside several days ago, Tom spotted this highly venomous Tiger snake crossing the road. Quickly turning around, as it raced off into the vegetation, we were able to get this photo. For information on these scary snakes, please click here where it’s stated, “Most Australians know of tiger snakes and are aware of their fearsome reputation, though few people will ever encounter one.” Leave it to us to encounter one after only 20 days in Tasmania!

On a beautiful warm and sunny day, today we celebrate Tom’s 64th birthday. Without a lot of hoopla, no presents, cards or birthday cake, we celebrate it with as much enthusiasm as ever. 

While in a resort in Kenya in October 2013, celebrating our first worldwide travel anniversary, Tom agreed to take part in the reptile exhibition. Click here for the full post.

Today, we thought it would be fun to share our snake stories when only two days ago we encountered the feared highly venomous Tiger Snake, which most Australians never see in their lifetime.  This precipitated our sharing other snake encounters in our world travels in the past 50 months.

Just so you know, Tom doesn’t like snakes. But, encountering wildlife of many types is a highlight of our world travels and we treat each encounter with respect, curiosity and interest, although in this recent encounter and others shown here, with the utmost of caution.

Only slightly venomous, he held this snake in his hand without incident.

Grateful for another healthy and meaningful year in our world travel, it is easy to look back and revel in the experiences we’ve had over the past year. The joy of seeing him embrace each and every location with childlike wonder adds so much to my own experience, let alone us as a couple.

Tom let this green snake slither up his arm.

In these past 12 months since his last birthday, we’ve traveled to Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali (Indonesia), Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand.

We’ve sailed on four ocean cruises and one river cruise (Mekong), finally circumventing the Australian continent on a 33-night back to back cruise (two separate cruises, one after another with us staying in the same cabin) ending up here in Tasmania, Australia after a short flight from Sydney. Wow!

This semi venomous snake paralyses its prey. If they bite a human, the area of the bite will feel numb for a few hours but poses no systemic risk. We were told to keep the head away from us while handling it.  This is me holding it as Tom took the photo.

It’s even difficult for us to fathom the fact that we’ve visited and lived in so many countries in one year. We were in Malaysia for only a day, but spent from one week to four months in the remaining locations. It was a very good year.

This venomous snake, a Mozambique Splitting Cobra, dropped from the ceiling of the veranda in Marloth Park, South Africa, less than one meter from Tom’s bare feet as we sat outdoors awaiting the day’s “visitors.” For more details, please click here.

Now, as we look to Tom’s 64th year, we anticipate the future with even more excitement, as we look forward to the following, until his next birthday:
1.  March 1, 2017 to March 13, 2017, depart Tasmania, head to Sydney, boarding a 12 night cruise to New Caledonia; Vanuatu; Fiji and then back to Sydney.
2.  March 13, 2017 to April 22, 2017, stay in Manly (Sydney) for 40 nights in a vacation home.
3.  April 22, 2017 to May 15, 2017, a 24 night cruise from Sydney to Seattle, Washington, visiting Hawaii along the way.  Make our way by land from Seattle, Washington to Vancouver, British Columbia, where we’ll spend two nights awaiting another cruise. (Continued below).

A python on Tom’s shoulder in Kenya.

4.  May 17, 2017 to May 26, 2017, board an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver to Seattle with four ports in Alaska, including; Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway and Hubbard Glacier; Sitka; and Victoria, BC; then back to Seattle.
5.  May 26, 2017, fly from Seattle, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Stay six weeks visiting family and friends.
6.  July 7, 2017, flies from Minnesota to Nevada where we’ll stay for three weeks visiting family.  (Continued below).

I took this photo of Tom while we shopped for toiletries Sydney, Australia before boarding that day’s cruise on January 5, 2016. It was pouring rain. We were soaked but happy, as shown by the huge smile on his face!

7.  August 1, 2017 to November 22, 2017, fly from Nevada to Costa Rica where we’ll stay in a vacation home.
8.  November 22, 2017, fly to Miami to spend one night in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9. November 23, 2017 to December 8, 2017, board the cruise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, including visits to Grand Cayman Islands; full transit on the new Panama Canal; Manta, Equador; Lima, Peru; Pisco, Peru; Arica, Chile; and on to Santiago, Chili.  (Continued below).

In early 2016, we visited Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake, New Zealand when I shot this photo of Tom. Click here for details.


  December 8, 2017 to December 23, 2017, stay on the same above cruise to continue on to Santiago, Chili to Buenos Aires, Argentina including visits to Puerto Montt, Chili; Chilean Fjords (cruising); Straits of Magellan;  Punta Arenas, Chili; Ushuaia, Argentina; Cape Horn (cruising); Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Punta del Este, Uruguay; Montevideo, Uruguay;  Buenos Aires.

This itinerary is expansive and exciting, each leg of the journey filling us with a sense of adventure and grateful for the opportunities to continue on this path, hopefully for many more birthdays to come.

While in Bali, this year, Tom dressed in traditional Hindu garb with the help of our household staff.  Love that hat on him (and the beard!) which he’s since shaved off. Click here for details.

So, on this day, I wish my dear husband, travel companion, best friend and lover, a very happy birthday and new year of his life.  Thank you for celebrating this life with me, for making each day a holiday and a memorable experience and above all, for the opportunity in spending each day with YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2015:

One year ago when I post a birthday letter to Tom, I posted this single photo of Tom which was taken in March, 2015, when we were in Princeville, Kauai playing bingo at the senior center. For Tom’s birthday letter from last year, please click here.