Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: Little Adventures

Little Adventures #6- The Frugal Friday way! Sept 2021.

Melbourne’s still in lockdown. Yet September still needs a Little Adventure. Actually, Wednesday’s earthquake might have covered that, except I only jiggled around on my front verandah while the house swayed behind me and the earth was noisy. I didn’t actually go anywhere.

Mum and Dad live a fair way away, but when the travel bubbles were widened last weekend it meant that our bubbles crossed over into one suburb. So we agreed to meet up for a little walk along the beach at Mordy.

Mum suggested we meet at the Yacht Club. I’ve never been.

*gasp!* Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again.

My Little Adventure for September was saved.

After months of lockdown it was so strange to see so many people out and about. When we started to turn off Nepean highway onto Beach rd, Ryan26 gasped, “Look at all the people!” They were everywhere. Most were wearing masks, thankfully, but there’s always a few who think that the laws of basic biology don’t apply to them.

We arrived before Mum and Dad so we went down towards the beach to look for them.

The first thing I noticed was that the sand here is much more golden than on our Backyard Beach.

You also can’t see Melbourne from here. There’s a jutting out bit of land in the way.

After a little while, Ryan26 saw Mum and Dad making their way towards us through the crowd. I’ve never seen so many people having picnics in my life! (For those not in Melbourne, having a picnic is one of the few ways people from different households can see each other at the moment.)

There’s a concrete path by the beach that runs all the way from the city down to Mordialloc (I think.) We didn’t even consider going down on the sand, mainly because Mum, while she’s so much better on her feet than she was a year ago, is still not totally back to normal with her balance. We stuck to level, stable ground.

We were trying to remember when the last time we saw each other in person was, but we couldn’t decide. It’s been months, though.

After a little while, I saw a spare bench and we sat down. Mum was laughing at all of the seagulls congregating around that family. A little while later 3 kids from there started running along the beach, followed by a crowd of gulls. One of the girls was squealing in delighted terror while a boy kept throwing chips behind them to keep the gulls coming.

The foreshore was stacked with tea tree, with bees thrumming everywhere. I really love the flowers and would definitely have a tea tree in my front yard to help bring the bees, but I’m worried it might grow too ugly and scraggly.

Decisions, decisions.

There were also a couple of volleyball courts set up.


We turned and started slowly walking back the way we came. The place was full of family groups enjoying the sun, people walking their dogs and friends walking side by side, busily catching up on the goss. It was a real people-watchers’ delight.

Just to demonstrate that bureaucracy is the same the world over, here is a directive painted on the path.

And right beside it…

… is a drinking fountain for humans with a doggy bowl down the bottom. Talk about mixed messaging!

We didn’t bring the Little Woofs with us.

On the way back to our cars, Mum pointed and said, “Ooo! Look at the banksia flower!”

I don’t know if it’s a banksia or not, but it looked spectacular in the bright sunlight against the dark pub.

All up, this month’s Little Adventure cost us a bit of time, a smidge of petrol and that was it. Today’s weather is very grey and moody, with rain expected later on. It’s been nice to write about this day drenched in sunshine and good humour.

Everyone was happy, wherever we looked.

If there’s one thing that living through the world’s longest lockdown has taught people, it’s that there’s beauty in the simple things.

Little Adventures #4 – The other side of the bridge. August 2021

Suburban path over bridge.

With only one more day to go before August finishes, I knew I had to think quickly to tick off this month’s Little Adventure. We’re still in strict lockdown in Melbourne, so I could only travel within 5kms of The Best House in Melbourne. Where could I go?

Then it dawned on me. The little woofs and I have walked along the river many times. But… was there a track that went under the bridge and kept going? I decided that we should explore. I drove to the top of the bridge, then we jumped out of the car to do just that.

Fork in the path.

Look at this! My memory hadn’t deceived me. Flushed with the spirit of adventure, we set off under the bridge.

River under bridge.

As we walked under one set of traffic, the sound of running water was pretty loud.

Then there was a set of footsteps behind me. A guy in a tracksuit was walking near us. he kept back on our left, then suddenly walked quickly forward to veer off towards the river off the path.

Hole in wire fence.

Then I heard the jangling of a wire fence. He’d jumped through this hole so he could walk beside the river. Meanwhile, like law-abiding citizens, we kept walking on the gravel park, with a chain-link fence between us and the river.

End of wire fence.

Until, no more than 20 steps later, the fence ended. Made me wonder what the point of jumping through the hole in the fence was.

Grass and trees.

On my right was this view.

Low building on the other riverbank.

On our left. This is a water sports centre, I think.

Deserted gravel path.

The sun was out and the wind was blowing. This side of the bridge path was pretty well deserted. I kept looking back to keep tabs on the tracksuited guy. He’d stopped on the riverbank opposite the water sports place and was doing some sort of callisthenics. I didn’t want him to sneak up on us unawares… I’ve listened to too many episodes of Casefile! Better be safe than sorry; it’s not as if I’m walking with guard dogs, after all.

Bent tree with yellow flowers underneath.

I thought this tree was pretty.

Sparkling water.

The sunshine was making the river sparkle. It was all very quiet and serene.

Poppy and the path.

Judging by the tyre tracks in the gravel, walkers aren’t the only people who use this path.

Then, just as I was trying to get the little woofs to stay still so I could get a decent photo… WHOOSH!

Bike, path and dog.

We were overtaken.

Bridge and river.

After around half an hour we turned to head back to the car. This bridge is a lot lower than I ever realised when I was driving over it.

Jeff beside the path.

There are signs warning of possible flooding on the path, which isn’t surprising as you can see how close it is to the level of the river. This is Jeff giving a happy look back. He loves his walks.


And there’s the river leading back towards home.

I’m pleased I snuck this Little Adventure in – just in the nick of time.

I wonder what else I’ll discover within 5kms of home while lockdown exists?

Little Adventures #3 – Endeavour Fern Gully, July 2021.

Track leading into the bush.

I was looking at the news, seeing New South Wales’ covid figures soaring to over 100 cases from their bungled “lockdown” and then news came of 3 covid cases in Victoria due to removalists breaking the rules. That decided it! July’s Little Adventure had to happen quickly just in case we all go into lockdown again.

For any new readers; my Little Adventures are day trips. Once a month I take the freedom I have now that I’ve retired and I explore a place close to home. A place I’ve wanted to see but never really had the time for when I was working.

I looked at the weather forecast. Tuesday was cold but fine. Wednesday would be rainy. Decision made!

Tuesday would be “Little Adventure and Planting Asparagus Crowns” day.

Wednesday would be “Shopping at Costco For Dog Food In Case We Go Into Lockdown Again” day. We can go without many things in this house if we have to, but dog food is definitely not one of them.

Big gum tree.

Ryan26 is on his L plates and was at home, so he leapt behind the wheel for the 44km drive to the Endeavour Fern Gully. This is a property in Red Hill owned by the National Trust. The Mornington Peninsula was once a temperate rainforest and they’ve preserved a little patch of it with a walking track through it. Blogless Sandy discovered this place when she was with her walking group and told me about it.

I was interested to see that it’s a National Trust property. My plan is to buy a membership, once covid lockdowns settle down. They have a few old buildings that I haven’t seen since primary school and they’d be perfect for Little Adventures. The fern gully is free, so my membership plans can wait.

Big tree fern.

Ryan26 and I were the only ones there. There are definite advantages to being retired.

Tree trunk covered with moss.

All we could hear was the sound of birds, the gurgle of water as we walked near tiny creeks and the sound of a farmer a couple of paddocks over as he was riding his tractor. Fortunately, he was quite a way away so it wasn’t too intrusive, more like a low burring noise underneath everything else.

Another gum tree.

It was crazy to think that the Peninsula was once covered with dense vegetation and ferns like this. At one point the walking track skirted the side boundary of the property. On my right side was a paddock of green grass – nothing else. On my left side was a wall of tree ferns way taller than me, blocking out the sky.Really demonstrated how settlers have changed the landscape.

I unintelligently left my phone at home so Ryan26 took these photos for me.

Lots of gum trees.

The walking track is around 2kms or so and it winds its way through banks of tree ferns gathered around creeks, as well as stands of trees. Don’t you love the sound of running water?

Every now and then we’d hear a bellbird, or a galah would fly screeching overhead. Ryan26 is a quiet soul, so we didn’t chat much. We just walked in silence, first him and then me, quietly taking it all in.

The smell of the air was utterly different down there. It’s hard to describe. It was a clean, ancient smell of vegetation. Of things rotting down to provide new plants with the nourishment to grow. That may sound unpleasant but it really wasn’t. It’s a place of lush growth and renewal.

Boardwalk through tree terns.

I was glad we came. It’s an easy drive from Melbourne and we were home for lunch.

After a revivifying nap on the sunny spot on the couch, I went out to the garden and planted 7 more asparagus crowns. I can’t touch them for around 3 years but after that, I’ll have asparagus for the next 20 years or so!

Little Adventures #2 – Cutting Cloth, June 2021.

Back during the heyday of craft blogging in the late 2010s/early 20teens, there was a group of us that read each other’s blogs, met up for blogmeets at cafés and generally encouraged each other. Most of us had young kids and between us, we created a warm, friendly and utterly creative corner of the internet. Over time, most of the blogs gradually dwindled as kids grew, we went back to work and all of that.

One of the most creative of us, Kellie from ‘Don’t Look Now’, decided 5 years ago to follow her passion for fabric and open a quilting shop. Unfortunately, it was over the other side of town in Fairfield, where I never go. It was also when I was in the middle of my Europe trip and then buying The Best House in Melbourne. I was busy, busy, busy. Still, I filed it away as a place I’d visit ‘one day.’

The shop front. Wow.

Fast forward to this morning. I realised that, due to the 4th lockdown, June had almost gotten away from me and I hadn’t had a Little Adventure. Basically, now that I’ve retired, I’ve set myself a challenge to go somewhere new every month. Being June 30, it had to be today!

Fortunately, I had all 4 boys and their partners over for dinner last night and the 2 who live in the Western suburbs needed a lift back home. Yarraville isn’t exactly close to Fairfield, but it’s a darn sight closer than my side of town! So once I dropped them off, I fired up the Tomtom and headed on over.

Shopfront detail. I saw this quilt when I visited her once, many years ago.

This shop is utterly exquisite.

It’s also where I found the pattern I used for the Vintage-look baby quilt. I actually saw the original! Sadly, Kellie wasn’t in the shop that day, but once I regaled the other women with the tale of how I made mine, then unpicked it all and made it again, the conversation flowed and I had the best time!

Remember how I bought a painting in Hahndorf when I was on my holiday to South Australia? On my way over there, I decided that I’d buy the fabric for a quilt to begin bringing the colour-scheme from the painting into the rest of the room.

How cute is this?

I was probably there for an hour. I pulled up a photo of the painting on my phone and then the pulling of fabric bolts from the shelves commenced. I learned a lot, just listening to Liz talking about why each fabric would work. She was really clever in how she mixed and matched colours, which is something I need to learn more about.

We were walking up and down the shop, pulling bolts out and putting them in a stack and then stepping back to see that they’d be like.

I’ve been following this place on the blog and Facebook since it opened, so it was a thrill to see the incredible quilts in real life that I was so familiar with.

While I was there I also bought a little reading lamp. Sometimes the guest room/sewing room gets a bit dull. It’s on the south side of the house and I’ve been meaning to fix this problem for ages.

Look at how Liz packaged up my fabric! I kept glancing over at it all the way home.

Here’s the photo I took of the painting after I’d unwrapped it. You can’t really tell from this photo but it has a 3D effect – the flowers and fallen petals are made from layers and layers of paint, so they stick out. So much so that I have to keep an eye on anyone who sees it for the first time. A surprising number of people try to touch them.

In different light during the day the painting changes as the light moves across it. It’s really quite extraordinary.

So there’s the colour palette. I also bought a hexagon template so I’ll be learning a new skill when I’m making this.

I’m glad I thought to do these Little Adventures.

Little Adventure #1 – The walking tour, May 2021.

Ages ago I read a blog post that said that when you retire, you should make an effort to go out and see things in your city that you’ve never had time for before. I can’t remember who wrote it but I filed that idea away in my head. After I got back from my holiday, I received the usual weekly email from Choose FI and they had a suggestion: Google ‘fun things to do near me’ and see what comes up.

So I did.

One of the options was free walking tours in Melbourne. My vibrant and youthful friend Scott introduced me to walking tours when he showed me around London and Paris back in 2015. They’re fabulous. Even though I’ve lived in Melbourne all my life, I knew I’d learn bits of information that I didn’t know before.

So I decided – now was the time to start the Little Adventures challenge. One Little Adventure a month.

And yes – I paid my tour guide something at the end of the tour. I may be frugal but I’m not a barbarian!

Here are some of the photos I took.

The old Magistrates Court. People like Ned Kelly would’ve walked these steps.

The Old Melbourne Gaol is right next door. Lived my whole life here and never been. Now I know where it is.

The Royal Exhibition Building. They were giving covid jabs in there. If I hadn’t already booked my appointment, I would’ve raced back there to get one.

If you look up towards the top, you can see a lorikeet in a hole in the branch.

Looking towards the Treasury building. It was built sturdy – it was holding all the gold from the gold rush. We had the biggest gold rush in the world, back in the day.

This one is for Scott, who dragged me to a Babushka doll shop in Lincoln when I was over there in 2015. I could’ve come to The Block arcade and purchased one far more cheaply!

Back last century, these laneways near Flinders st were home to the rag trade. My grandfather worked all his life for a wholesale clothing retailer and this was where he spent his working days. Now, all of these little laneways are home to cafés and restaurants.

The dome at the top of Flinders st station.

As I was crossing the bridge over the river, I saw the patch of lawn in the gardens that I always met my year 12 students for lunch when we were going to see a play. It was nice to see another teacher had the same idea.

We finished at a little-known picnic spot with breathtaking views of the city up and down the river.

The walk took around two and a half hours and it covered a fair whack of the city centre. It finished soon after 1PM and I debated – should I go back to Degraves st to one of the little cafés and grab lunch, or zip home? I had a muesli bar leftover from my South Australia trip in my bag and I was right beside the station…

I went home. BIG MISTAKE.

This is when the unexpected adventure happened.

When I got back it was 2:30.

The dogs were inside. No one else was. I’d taken the train into the city so I didn’t have my car keys with me.

I texted Ryan26. “Are you on a walk?”

He texted back, “I’m in class.”

Shit. I knew both David27 and Ryan26 were due home at 6 PM. I had to wait.

The dogs came out through the doggie door and I met them in the back yard.

I did some weeding.

I had an excellent book in my bag that I was reading on the train – Klara and the Sun’ by Ishiguro. I finished it, sitting on the back couch with the dogs all over me.

It began to get cold. I threw the ball for Scout and Poppy for a while, then I grabbed a towel that was hanging on the line and wrapped it around me.

It got colder and darker. We moved out to the couch on the front verandah. Scout huddled on my lap under the towel and the cavaliers wedged in beside me. They were warm.

I sat there, thinking philosophical thoughts and vowing to install a key safe TOMORROW.

I’ve never been so glad to hear the latch on the front gate click and to see Ryan26 come home!

Apart from the being locked out thing, I count my first Little Adventure as a success. I got to see and hear things about my city that were new to me, it was a great way to get some exercise and I have some places filed away in my head for future Little Adventures.

I think this could be a great idea for retirement!