Holiday Inn Express, Brisbane

As my European holiday is about to start, I have taken an award night through IHG at the new Holiday Inn Express, Brisbane. Brand new, only 8 weeks since opening, we found the room adequate for a budget hotel and nicely styled inside. It was a short walk from Central train station and not hard to find. The views were as you would expect from an inner-city location.

It wasn’t just the room that was stylishly decorated. The Holiday Inn Express model is that every booking comes with a free breakfast and the dining hall was impressively styled. I didn’t get a photo unfortunately, but the checkin-counters and bar area shared the same space, allowing for minimal staff as they operated both stations. I found it quite a smart design.

We had a small bite to eat before heading to the airport and walked away impressed with the experience. It’s certainly a welcome addition to Brisbane.

The Quest for Platinum

If you are reading my blog it should come as no surprise to you that travel is a big part of my life. I enjoy it. I also enjoy the perks that come with a lot of frequent travel and even strive to attain those perks. A few years ago, this took me right to the top echelons of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program when I attained Platinum One status. The year that followed was certainly worth it, in my eyes. This entry isn’t about aiming for that level again, as I just don’t have the time or money for that. However, I recently dropped back to Gold, having been a Platinum (or higher) frequent flyer member for the last 4-5 years. I was happy and ready to accept that fate, when a double status credit offer appeared in my inbox and suddenly all bets were off.

Over a long weekend in April I took 12 flights that placed me back in the Platinum arena for the next two years. Where I go from there is unknown and is not important. This entry serves as a record of that journey in pictoral form. I don’t think anyone needs to know what it cost, except to note it was extremely good value. 

Travels in 2016

This is a rather late entry, as I realise I forgot to do a 2016 travel recap. I had a little more activity than the previous year, travelling as far West as Perth and as far East as Fiji.

Despite the slightly larger map, I only flew one more flight comparatively, and not many more thousand kilometres. That said, 2017 looks set to be a huge year. But you’ll need to wait till the end of the year to hear more.

Haematology

For those following along with the health of my blood, you will know that I took a blood test last week, in preparation for a haematologist appointment this morning. As I pretty much already knew before taking the test – and confirmed at todays appointment – my Neutrophil count is again low. The reason I knew this was because it took a very long time to get over a sore throat/associated congestion a few weeks back, and I have been feeling very tired lately. Both tell tale signs for me that my white blood cell count is low, based on previous experience.

While Lupus has been ruled out as a diagnosis, the rolling hills of my Neutrophil count mean we are taking a watch and see attitude. My last count was 2.2 when they found out there was nothing wrong with my bone marrow (fun test by the way), while today it was 1.1. I’m told, if it goes below 1.0 again (the previous trigger for the bone marrow test) and remains consistently low, I may get special injections to boost the white blood cells.

My next blood test will be before my dental surgery in July.

Yananyi Dreaming

While I was visiting Uluṟu recently I had the chance to take home some artwork with me. Something to remember my time by. I saw a few I liked, but nearly missed out completely as we were initially focused on getting something both Dee-Anne and I liked – and we simply couldn’t agree. On the last full day I saw a work in progress though and decided no matter what, I’d take it.

Francine Kulitja

When I saw it at first it was still in progress, but I expressed an interest and luckily by the end of the day, it was complete.

I’m not sure what drew me to it exactly, although I do like dot paintings and having previously kept lizards in Hong Kong I expect it was that. However the biggest revelation was to come when I got home.

On a whim, I decided to google the artist, Francine Kulitja. Naturally, there’s not a lot of information available online, but her work (that is similar to mine) was announced as inspiration for a tourism business in Uluṟu late last year. In that announcement it mentions that her mother, Rene Kulitja, is famous for a Qantas plane design. Suddenly my choice of artwork comes full circle, as I have always had a love for the Boeing 737-800 Yananyi Dreaming, and soon I shall have art on my wall that evokes a familiar feeling.

Dougie Howser

I’ve felt a little like Dougie Howser this week, where at the end of each episode he sits at his computer and contemplates what he has learnt. In a not too dissimilar position I’m also contemplating a life and death decision. That of my dog.

She’s 16 and a half and getting quite frail, and as she lives with me I have the ultimate responsibility, the only discretion, in whether she continues living or is put down. It’s not a decision I am looking forward to making.

While we were away at Uluru recently she was in a kennel, a supposedly very good one. However she came back with a UTI (urinary tract infection) and that necessitated a trip to the vets for some antibiotics. The vet informed me that she had very little muscle left in her hind legs and was very thin, the latter of which I knew already. She’s dropped to 18kg. It was suggested to me that she would be in pain, but wouldn’t tell me she was and would keep on doing her best for as long as she could. This I’m told wouldn’t be fair to her.

Trouble is, when I look at her she’s happy to see me, she doesn’t whimper and she does get up and move around. Sure, she’s a little weak in the legs sometimes, but she is the equivalent of 112 years old!

Over the past few days she’s had good and bad times. Bad times are when I find her effectively shivering, unsure if it’s cold or a muscle spasm. I don’t want to prolong her life if she’s in pain, but I don’t want to end it if she isn’t and I don’t want this decision in my hands.

If euthanasia is illegal, why can I put down my dog? Our bond is just as strong.

I have people to talk to, but at the same time I don’t want to speak about it. I have too many questions.

Braces

I finally had my braces put on earlier this week, so now starts the first year of braces… before surgery. It has been 3 days and I am getting use to the feeling, and do think that I might be able to start eating harder foods again soon, but my biggest grievance with them right now are the inside of my cheeks getting caught and cut up on them.

In a couple weeks I get to start using elastics 80% of the time, which should make life even more fun. And if you were around me right now, you’d have fun trying to understand me as I attempt to not move my lips.

Gym

I joined the gym near my house yesterday. Dee-Anne found a deal online that waived the joining fee, gave me two weeks free gym, her 2 weeks free for referring me and if I signed on for a 12-month contract it’s just $12.95 a week. So… I figured it was about time I made the jump and started to get in better shape.

The gym is Snap Fitness, and as part of my membership I can use any of their gyms nationwide (and overseas). They’re 24 hours too, so I can go for late night workouts to avoid crowds. But they seem to be just a gym, no pool or sauna facilities like you’d find in a heath club. I’ll somehow survive.

They’re also a Qantas partner, so I do get some points for my ongoing membership… however they’re so minuscule they hardly factored into my decision. Just icing on the cake really.

Welcome Back

It has been 137 days since my last blog post here, and seeing as I am paying for the hosting I thought I better use it.

Ultimately, there’s no excuse for my laziness in not posting, however I have been very busy and at some stage not long ago all that pressure did get too much, at least briefly. This week I see a psychiatrist, and I also graduate from my degree. I’m still studying my bachelors degree though, and I’m looking ahead to what comes next, perhaps a Grad Dip.

Of course the biggest change from 137 days ago is that I’m now married. To me, nothing has changed, it’s just another piece of paper signifying a new relationship level, but the day was quite a fun one and when I get hold of photos I’ll be sure to share them.

As a footnote, I’ve got two new sites now. Wunala.com is what I will use as my main family site, although how I use it hasn’t been decided yet; while nattoboy.com stems from my love of the sticky fermented soybeans from Japan, and will be a food blog.