18 September...Cairns AFL Granny......Yes!!.....and farewells

When you sit the night before and watch your national AFL team get slaughtered in the finals by a team that, traditionally ....if you don't barrack for them.....you don't like.....it becomes cathartic to witness clockwork precision and to experience the sensational uplifting emotions created when you watch your local AFL team play the next day and take the game to the final siren as WINNERS!!!

Geelong Cats.....next year might be your year.....


Today was tainted with some sadness for me as I had to say farewell to some very special people.
I have valued their friendship and their professionalism during the time I have taught at St Andrew's College. 

I started my day doing coffee with a friend who did camp with me last year and from then we have shared lots of laughs and fun times. Wendy, your year 8's will be my link with SACC and my girls at SEGA....providing the internet is viable!! Thanks heaps for your friendship and for taking me to the footy today because, without your generosity, I wouldn't have been able to get there......

Sitting amongst the Saints cheer squad, and some very treasured friends, felt so familiar to me as I could easily have been amongst my Victorian friends cheering for my own boys....
Hearts pumping.....palms sweating....voices strained....CHANTING..... CHEERING....... CHANTING...CHEERING.....but the final score said it all....

SAINTS:    118           defeated     PORT DOUGLAS:   80

Farewell my dear friends.....Thanks for the fantastic memories!

Friday 17 September...packing up..

I woke up this morning with the realisation that I was healthy again and consequently bounded out of bed (well...not quite as nimbly as I have usually but certainly with much more confidence and ease than in the past few weeks!!) in anticipation of a day fraught with less anxiety and full of excitement of times to come!

Yesterday was quite a pivotal day for me and a very productive one.
Having received the positive news from my Doctor, I returned to Tari Place with Abbie and Kieran and we set about packing my life into boxes and a suitcase, as my time there was quickly coming to an end. Thanks heaps guys for your time and muscles and I hope the few things you are able to use of mine will remind you of me whilst I am away.

The day was completed with Jo and Jaydon collecting Maggie, my sea kayak (with the anticipation of them using her to enjoy many hours of paddling in my absence.....I know they will use her heaps and get the same enjoyment from her that I have loved!) then we celebrated at Lunicos with a beer and pizza.

We sat chatting, overlooking our beautiful beach and loving the balmy evening, as Jo shared her tentative plans of travelling to Africa to climb Kilamanjaro with me......"Just Do It Jo!!....(and that goes for anyone else out there who would like to visit me during the next 2 years....."Please, just do it"!!)

Thursday 16 September....Sensational news!!

Fracture clinic at 9am....Doctor checks my X-Rays...

Thank you to my wonderfully strong, healthy body for doing the necessary repairs promptly....one more week of recuperating; gently using my left arm and weaning my left foot off Bazza Boot to give me a clean Bill of Health.......then......

 Africa here I come. I now know that I will be on that plane on 2nd October!!!

14 September. Trav off on an adventure!

So now it is time for Trav to make his was down south! Here he is outside the Patricks Transport Depot in Portsmith, Cairns, waiting patiently for the next truck going to Melbourne....hopefully that will be today sometime as the journey will take nearly 2 weeks. He is pretty excited as he has never been on an adventure like this before and, he knows that when he arrives down in Victoria, he will be having fun with my kids...Aidan and Kiz at Torquay during the summer (Cool.....just his scene!), then Gemma for the next 2 years while I'm in Africa.....maybe he will get to have some time with Dylan too?!
I hope he behaves himself during his 2 year adventure!
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Monday, 13 September

Today was the day I was supposed to be joining my St Andrew's colleagues and heading off on the Year 6 Camp to Mt Carbine!...
Sadly I had to text them and wish them smooth sailing and happy times without me! Having joined them last year, I have a very good understanding of the activities planned and consequently the fun that is to be had and the friendship that are forged as the staff bond together, working 24/7 to create a memorable week of events. Outdoor playing, outdoor eating, outdoor everything just about... except sleeping.... in a fabulous setting and hopefully in perfect TNQ winter weather.....what more could the kids want? Good luck team!

Our weather during the weekend was picture perfect. Sunday we spent the day chilling at at Ellis Beach....one of the most beautiful of the northern beaches.Some of us swam for hours in the waves....yes....waves that could knock you over....and some of us slept on the warm comfy sand.....(that was me!!) .....and some of us just enjoyed watching the fun from the Bungalow deck where Lynnie and Doug were staying...premium beachfront living.....Enjoy your 3 days holiday Lynnie and Dougie!!
We were celebrating our last chance to all be together before trips interstate and overseas necessitate the inevitable farewells for myself and all of the wonderful Thompson gang.....

Tuesday, 7 September. Shopping...disabled!

Having spent several hours shopping at our largest Mall in Cairns, I certainly have a much better understanding of the challenges one faces when one is not so able and consequently take my hat off to all those people who live their lives permanently in this state. It's the little things like...
: the huge amount of energy it takes to get from one area to another or even just to moving around in any one shop
: negotiating stairs and escalators especially when I wasn't sure which foot to use to alight from the quickly moving staircase...I had never realised how fast these things move!!

As it wasn't a big shopping day, these 2 things were my greatest challenges but I was aware of the fact that it would be nearly impossible for me to quickly nick into the change room and try any clothing on because to remove Bazza boot takes ages.... I must admit that the temptation got the better of me and I gingerly tried on a lightweight, longsleeved sunsmart shirt (similar to my Comumbia hiking pants!). It was worth the investing in the time and energy as I know I will use it often in Africa and beyond!

After only about 1/2 hour, I decided that it was coffee and cake time....my shopping 'spree' was over however, I was tempted to highjack the little supercars parents can hire to push their kids around Cairns Central.....not sure if adults are allowed to use them though and I would have prefered #4 in red!!!

Another option was to put to use the abandoned shopping trolley....I had to laugh as this thought brought back memories of the crazy times we had in Warrnambool.....

I had taken my 2 sons and all their boisterous, energetic teenage friends to Coles to help with the shopping. As we were all camping together it was part of the deal that they helped out with everything.....I looked up and was nearly mown over by a stampede of emerging energy..... the boys were racing each other around in the trollies from one end of the store to the other via every aisle...their politeness to the other customers could be heard as they careered through the store...."Excuse us...toot toot...have a great day....want to hop on board?....oops....Sorry Pretty girl-want to join us at the beach tonight?......I'll get that from the top shelf for you Sir....."!! Oh My Goodness......(It is a wonder we didn't get kicked out and asked never to return but I think the little angels talked their way out of that challenge as well!)
Oh, if only atleast ONE of my boys had been here with me, I would have been very tempted to give the trolley a run!! :-)
I was very excited at having received my much needed visa in the mail and decided that I really needed a documents wallet for tavelling and keeping all my relevant items safe and easily accessible. So, Ena, I have replaced your travel bag I valued during my whole Europe adventure with a slash proof organiser of my own!

Sunday 5 September. Father's Day picnic

In Australia we celebrate Father's Day on the first Sunday of September. For me, it is a day I choose to get outdoors and active as this is where I feel closest to Dad and enjoy reminiscing and reflecting on my life with him. Having been raised on a farm and spending all my childhood and teenage years helping with the running of the farm then going on camping adventures which took us throughout Victoria, NSW and SA, in our variety of caravans......my most vivid and happy memories are of these times spent being active and outdoors with Dad.

Obviously this year my challenge was that I was physically handicapped, reducing my choices enormously! For an active person, not being able to drive has certainly been a reality check! It's times like these that good friends are great value and thanks to Jo, her two boys, Brad and his two girls plus their friend......I found myself nestled like a little gnome, in a camping chair in the middle of the forest, partaking (albeit in a sedentary capacity!) in a climbing adventure!!!!
(NB: The comic book was for swotting nasty biting march flies....not for intellectual stimulous!)

Goldsborough Valley is a very beautiful part of the country, proudly offering undulating hills, forests and rivers - green and lush with life. We selected a picnic area which was slightly less soggy underfoot than some areas, and Jo proceeded to cook up a storm feeding 8 very hungry mouths.....actually you could equate that to 10 mouths as 2 mouths belonged to 2 rapidly growing teenage boys! Gourmet delight Jo....Great work.
Those who were able bodied, washed off the heat and sweat with a swim in the river or a paddle in the canoe. Then the adventure continued....
I have walked this area before along the picturesque tracks and never given a thought to its uneven ground or inclinations and steps......however, these became small hurdles as I made my way upwards and onwards to the nominated tree. I was confident with handling the journey yet was grateful for Brad's helping hand as we left the well worn track and gently made our way through the crowded undergrowth to their chosen destination.
Watching action happen before me is not something I do easily as I am usually right in the middle of this action however, it was heaps of fun watching and feeling the excitement build and unfold. First time using new gear for the Hardie boys...very exciting!

With a fractured rib it's very difficult to laugh/cough/move.......but here I was, trapped in the most beautiful natural setting, amongst a group of fun loving, active people who couldn't help but make us laugh the entire afternoon!! .... Ouch!

Returning to Trinity I realised that I am indeed a very fortunate person to have wonderful friends and to live in such a beautiful country......
Thanks heaps gang ......It was a precious memory made....one not to be forgotten.

And Dad, it was so easy being out there with you.....I love you heaps. xxxxx

Saturday. 4 September..improving!

Each day I am feeling a little bit stronger. Today when I removed the compression bandage from my foot, it didn't seem to look as bad as it did yesterday! However.....As many of you know, I was never meant to be a nurse.... I have to work hard not to faint when dealing with blood and guts and stuff......so when I unveiled my foot and saw it for the first time yesterday, I nearly passed out on the spot! I was so grateful that I was near the bed and laid down for some time before daring to look back at the disaster area that was attached to my leg! Poor foot! I felt so bad at not wanting to look at it let alone look after it!!
"Come on Fran....You can do it....You're a Bruty....!"
......and yes, of course I got on with the job. I revelled at the relief of my first shower and being able washing my hair, as challenging as it was with one arm!

Early to bed after a big day of packing up! Foot throbbing from rushing blood...I think this was healthy even though I was tired, as soft tissue repair depends on good blood flow.....
Today is a day of rest...I promise!! 

Friday 3 September. No options really!

Ok.....so now that I have spoken with Aarathi I have only 2 choices:
1.    Departure 2nd October with my Doctor's blessing
2.    Departure February 2011!!!

Providing that my body does what it should.....then I will be flying out 2nd October. Aarathi has assured me that all steps will be taken to ensure that I am nurtured when I arrive in Tanzania to ensure I make the transition smoothly....in all areas of my health!! All appropriate bodies have been informed.
I have also just learned that I have my visa to enable me to work in Africa...YES!! It's nice to have some positives starting to happen!!

Thursday, 2 September. Fracture Clinic

Thanks heaps to everyone for all the offers of help and love during the past week. This motorbike stack has interrupted my plans to get to Africa however....I know things will work out!!!
I went to the fracture clinic today to learn that my left ankle has soft tissue damage which tends to take longer to heal than hard tissue. The plaster came off and I am now sporting the beautiful fashion accessory (not!) of a black moonboot....atleast it was brand new! It is removable so atleast I will be able to shower. I will use this for a fortnight when I will have x-rays done again to determine whether I can live without it. Hopefully this will be the case as it will take me a week or two to get the muscles in shape again.

My Doctor was more concerned about my fractured clavicle and its position. She was disappointed that it hadn't been immobilised last Friday. I guess I was lucky that my left side was so sore which restricted my use of my left are since the accident. If the bone moves at all it will need to be operated on....so I am also sporting a full navy blue sling.... (no thought has been given to my fashion accessories at all... disappointing really!) ....so, consequently my left arm has become redundant. I am not allowed to use it as a lever or for weight bearing....my hand is still useable to an extent, but I have to be careful during the next fortnight which is the critical time frame.

The impact all of this has had on my preparations for Africa leaves me with having to make some decisions:
1. Fly out on 2 Oct. My Doctor believes that she will be able to sign me off with a clean bill of health. This leaves no time for riding motorbikes!
2. Fly out one month later: This is an off-cycle departure and one that is not encouraged as Volunteers take much longer to settle and become disorientated. This would allow me time to get my health balanced all round as well as obtain my bike license. The very real disadvantage of this option is that I would miss the In Country Training. I believe that this is an essential part of my assimilation into Tanzanian culture, setting up my networks with other Vols throughout Africa....especially in Tanzania as well as learning the basics of Kiswahili.
3. Fly out in January with the next batch of departures......(I'm not sure whether I would be sane by then!!)

Having spoken to Aarathi, my coordinator at AVI, I now realise that to ride my bike in Tanzania I only need my Learners permit....apparently after 6 months it rolls over into a full license in Tanzania.....I will verify that though... but atleast it gives me a chance to ride intially then, if I have to go for the license in Tz then I can with confidence. I am confident in my ablilities on the bike ..(even though the ground and I met!) and am not concerned about getting back on it.

Aarathi and I will speak again tomorrow to discuss the outcome of her report to the Project Office. They might not even offer me a one month delay/off-cycle departure.
I realise that my decision will evolve ......and....What is meant to be....will be!

Wednesday 1 September. Update & a minor set back!

So much has happened since I wrote last of my acceptance into SEGA!!
I have been to Victoria and;
...completed the SKWID (Skills for working in Development) training...so much support...so much info...now so focused!
....visited the Travel Doctor coming away with kits full of all sorts of drugs and health aids....for a girl who doesn't do medication unless extremely necessary...this was quite confronting...but necessary!
.....met some wonderful people and learned of where their placements are in Africa...around discussions of..."We will have to catch up for weekends and visits...." This is like saying: "I will pop over to Broome from Melbourne for the night!!!"....But with technology we will certainly build on the friendships and networks or support whilst incountry.
....Hit Elizabeth Street one Saturday morning....with the 100's of other motorbike enthusiasts....and purchased my protective gear. Shoei helmet and Danaisse jacket, gloves and boots....COOL!!!...yes the gear is designed for the tropical weather!

....Caught up with my kids and family....then back to TNQ.

Having been back up north, I have spent many days researching, pursuing and finalising the necessary details for setting up the next 2 years. I was so lucky to have Evie, my sister, come and stay with me for a week!

Lots of time devoted to catching up with my friends and doing some relief teaching back at St Andrews.

I was booked to do the Grade 6 camp at Mt Carbine during the last week of term 13-17 September. I did this camp last year with the Grade 7's and had a fantastic time....it's one of the things I really love to do with the kids and staff in any school!


AVI had organised me to do my motorbike training with Q-Ride up here in Queensland. As I have a Queensland license, I had to do my bike license here as well, hence my return to QLD.

As arranged,Thursday 26 August, I attended Day1....the only student there! A one-on-one training......and I LOVED it! It was soooo good to be back on a bike. Having had many years of riding one on the farm as a kid, getting my license in my late teens.....then not having riden for about 10 years ....it sure felt good!
Day 2:
I  had finished all competencies easily and was feeling confident and relaxed with the bike when.......we think that I didn't decelerate effectively and over braked as I came into the corner.....yet I have done this so many times before....I don't really know why I didn't pull the clutch in!!!  I was only doing 25-30ks but it was enough for me to hit the ground, left shoulder first fracturing my collarbone, then my head hit as my body slid across the ground. I must have tried to roll out of the way of the bike as it eventually came down onto the left side of my body fracturing a rib and my ankle bone!! My coach, couldn't get the bike off me for ages as he couldn't get enough leverage. I can remember it all in slow motion as, fortunately I remained conscious.
Firebrigade....Police cars...then finally the ambos....high as a kite on several green sticks full of drugs....X-Rays ....a lot of pain....no food....no leaving hospital until a drip is used to hydrate and nourish me....The next day, Saturday, I kept throwing up so back into hospital....eventually had my head scanned and given the all clear with the revelation that the pain relief was too strong for me....finally got out of the hospital......OMG!