Tag Archives: driving

The Woman in the Red Car…

“Red has guts …. deep, strong, dramatic. A geranium red. A Goya red … to be used like gold for furnishing a house … for clothes, it is strong, like black or white.”

–Valentino

For those of you who have been following my ups and downs here on Beyond the Flow for awhile, you’ll know that I’ve had some car troubles over the last couple of months. These began with a nasty scrape in the supermarket car park and was following up with driving into a concrete divider in a car park which cracked the radiator and our red Nissan Pulsar was written off. For those of you who appreciate a bit of humour, I say that I took my son to the Emergency Department but my car didn’t make it home alive. My husband bought a Subaru Forester and we all really loved that car. However, I think it was only two weeks after we bought it, that I got caught in a hail storm and the car is covered in dents and everyone else we know, has had their cars written off. So, we were back to the online auctions and that’s when my husband stumbled across an Alfa Romeo 159. I can’t remember what year is was made and I struggled to remember the 159 part, but the trait I never lost sight of, was that is was red. An absolutely luscious red that makes you want to go and put on your tap shoes and dance on the table.

“There is a shade of red for every woman.”

-Audrey Hepburn

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I need to brush up on my modelling skills.

However, it wasn’t just the colour that lured me in. It is Italian and oozes with Italian style and pizazz. Indeed, the Italians invented pizazz. This included a leather interior. I have always wanted a sports car, and while this is technically classified as a family sedan, this Italian sedan has nothing to with being sensible, responsible and did I mention anything about being dowdy? Not on your life. In other words, my Red Alfa, who in typical Australian fashion, could well be named “Blue” is my midlife crisis, post-disability and chronic illness mobile.

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Look who popped out of my sunroof!    Photo Geoff Newton

Although the car actually arrived home on Friday, I wanted to wait and get some good photos incorporating our beautiful local scenery rather than photographing it while it was simply parked in our driveway. While I clearly need more experience posing as a photo model, we haven’t turned out too badly and didn’t crack the lens.

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The pelican didn’t seem that interested in my new car.

On our first photo stop, we drove over to Patonga about a fifteen minute drive away. Being a Sunday during the January Summer school holidays, there were no parking spots at the beach or near the wharf and so we meandered around through the back streets until we found a spot on the Hawkesbury River side and there was a stunning pelican swimming back and forth doing its rounds.

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The backwaters of Patonga, NSW.

We also thought we’d head over to Koolewong on Brisbane Waters to photograph the car in front of the Imagine Sign. Based on the game of Scrabble, IMAG_NE features large letter pieces which spell out the word “IMAGINE”, with a space where the second “I” would be and invites the community to interact with the sculpture to complete the word.

Created by Australian visual artist and creative producer, Emma Anna, the artwork originally exhibited at Bondi’s famous Sculpture by the Sea in 2008, and has since featured around the world including at Denmark’s inaugural Sculpture by the Sea in 2009.

I think the sculpture was installed on the Gosford Waterfront towards the end of 2016 and yet I’ve never stopped and photographed it, which really is rather extraordinary when you think of the vast myriad of things I have photographed. I don’t often drive into Gosford so it’s probably a case of out of sight, out of mind. However, I’ve always loved it. Not only do I love to imagine, but I also love Imagine by John Lennon.

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Let me reassure you the car was stationary when these photos were taken. Photo: Geoff Newton.

Needless to say, the kids are expecting to be driven to school in the Alfa, instead of the bomb which usually gets parked at the station. We’ll have to see.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite driving songs:

Lastly, as I was just wrapping up with a Google search for “red car” to see what turned up, up popped The Wiggles hit:   The Big Red Car, which dare I say it, has to rate as a driving song and has certainly been a big hit. It just wasn’t quite the driving song I was hoping for:

Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car
We’ll travel near and we’ll travel far
Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car
We’re gonna ride the whole day long
Murray’s in the back seat
Playing his guitar
Murray’s in the back seat
Of the Big Red Car
The Wiggles: Big Red Car
I’m not sure that the Wiggle’s Big Red Car is a good place to finish up, but c’est la vie. What do you think about my new set of wheels? What are a few of your favourite driving songs? When it comes to what I usually listen to in the car, it’s usually the local radio station or a CD like David Bowie. I do like listening to him in the car. Ed Sheerin’s another but I usually hear him on the radio. That reminds me of beautifully moving ballad: Perfect.
Anyway, I’m actually heading off this time.
Best wishes,
Rowena

An Australian Road Trip…All roads Don’t Lead to Wollombi.

Yesterday, I had to drive my daughter to GATS Camp at Point Wollstonecroft about an hour’s drive North of Sydney on Lake Macquarie. This was Mummy’s cue for adventure. So, I ensured our son had his key and my only specification was, that I didn’t get home before sunset.

At the same time, I also had a few ideas. I was going to start off by exploring some of the coastal beaches around Lake Macquarie, but I really had it in mind to get to Wollombi where my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Gardiner, married his second wife, Jane Lynch. Thanks to Google, I’d already been to Wollombi online and found out it was one of those preserved country villages which had gone into a 100 year slumber thanks to a bypass. Being a lover of historic anything, I’ve been trying to get there for awhile and thanks to the mushy geographical soup in my head, had the strange idea that just because I was heading North, Wollombi would somehow be “on the way home”.

It wasn’t.

That’s how my road trip of a life time began. Well, it was actually more of a once in a lifetime road trip. That’s because when it came to travelling from Lake Macquarie to Wollombi, I bypassed the A to B route and detoured via just about every letter of the alphabet. Not that I was lost. Indeed, I knew exactly where I was and where I was going and blame whoever it was who designed the NSW road network, for my convoluted route. So, before I leave on my next great road trip, you can be sure I’ll be reciting this traditional Gaelic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Anyway, before we leave on this road trip of a lifetime, I’d better provide some  coordinates. After all, my stats tell me that most of my readers aren’t Australian and to be quite honest with you, most Australians won’t be able to pinpoint Wollombi on the map either.That is, unless they cheat and use GPS. I’m a firm believer in using actual paper maps and when you’re travelling,those huge foldout monstrosities, which almost take up the windscreen (goodness knows how many fatal accidents they’ve caused!). Nothing else will do. No matter how lost I get, I refuse to sell out, or I’ll never find my way out of bed. My sense of direction is not allowed to get any worse!!

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Wollombi is a small village in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is within the Cessnock City Council LGA, situated 29 kilometres (18 mi) southwest of Cessnock and 128 km (80 mi) north of Sydney. To the south is the village of Laguna, to the east, the village of Millfield and to the north, the village of Broke. To be quite honest, Wollombi is very isolated, but that’s part of its charm and how it’s become a time capsule of sorts.

However, back in the day, Wollombi was at least somewhat central. In 1836 the Great Northern Road was finished. Built by convict labour, it joined Windsor to Wollombi, and at Wollembi forked off to either Singleton or Maitland. It spanned the 200 kms from Sydney to Newcastle and took on average 9 days for a traveler to get to Newcastle. Consequently, it was mainly used as a stock route.

Anyway, we haven’t got to Wollombi yet. We’re still at Lake Macquarie.

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Looking North towards Swansea from Caves Beach.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, with deep blue skies and water was a dazzling diamond carpet of blue. I headed North and followed a sign to Caves Beach and pulled over. I could almost inhale the ocean and feel life’s burdens blow out to sea. The fisherman and a couple of walkers, looked like stick figures below and the windswept coastline stretched for eternity and I could truly spread my wings and soar and keep soaring. There was no ground beneath my feet.

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Illawarra Flame Tree at Pelican near Swansea, NSW.

I did wonder whether I should just stick to the coast, and head inland to Wollombi another time. However, the day was my own and I made no set plans.Indeed, lured down a side street by the enigmatic Illawarra Flame Trees in full bloom, I chucked a left into Pelican, which seemed to be little bigger than its sign beside the road.

I kept heading North, looking for a road to reconnect me with the Motorway. Wollombi was still on the cards and I was also looking for signs to Cessnock and the Hunter Valley. I know exactly where they are driving North. However, missed the lot heading South and found myself exiting at Morriset, turning right and going on the windiest road through Mandalong and Dooralong expecting to connect up with the inland road, which runs like a peripheral artery somewhere through here connecting up with Wollombi somehow. I knew it was there because I have been on it before. AND, I actually did consult the map before I left, not that I did a very good job of it.

 

Yet, just because you know there’s a great road system out there somewhere, doesn’t mean you’re find it.

By this stage, things were becoming DESPERATE!! Even finding a person to give me directions was hard enough, let alone find somewhere to buy food and dare I mention the unmentionable…a toilet or even a camouflaging clump of trees. There was nothing until I finally stumbled across a bonsai nursery. That seemed quite appropriate for someone going on an epic adventure. Having downloaded my troubles, I perked up as I cast myself as Gulliver on his journeys through Lilliput.

Thankfully, the guys at the nursery directed me out of my geographical quagmire over Bumble Bee Hill and then right, then right, then right. OMG!!! Although I didn’t believe in GPS, I was relieved to have my mobile phone. By this stage, I was already starting to picture the search party looking for my last known whereabouts. Indeed, I probably should’ve left my card.

Above: I stumbled across a gourmet oasis and stopped for lunch at Jerry’s Gourmet Kitchen & Cafe, Kulnurra.

At this point, I should tell you that I’m not the most confident driver and that I don’t usually go on such long road trips.Indeed, I live on a Peninsula and have what I call “Peninsularitis”. Some days, even the ten minute drive into Woy Woy is too much, and that complicated gourmet dinner, becomes chicken schnitzel out of the freezer.

Moreover, while part of me loves this whole serendipity thing of just driving with the wind without any particular destination in mind, I also get a bit edgy on unfamiliar roads, especially after doing a loop the loop through the wilderness. After all, this is Australia and the outback’s only a stone throw away. (Ssh, Australians! Don’t ruin a good story!)

It doesn’t take much once you leave an Australia city and the main roads to feel like you’re off the beaten track. I was so close to so-called civilization. Yet, I was driving through farms, and was definitely “out in the country”. Indeed, even the road signs had changed. There were now multiple wombat warning signs. Yes, I had made it into Wombat Country.

By this stage, I’ve almost made it to Wollombi and I can start to relax. Unwind. Yes! I am actually going to get there and this journey of 1000 goat-trailing miles, is finally going to end and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t have a big sign set up in my honour: “Welcome to Wollombi, Rowena”. I sure deserved it.

Stay tuned. In my next post, I’ll take you on a walking tour of town.

Have you been on any road trips recently? Please share.

xx Rowena

 

 

The Audrey Roster…Friday Fictioneers.

Playing the organ on a frosty Sunday morning, Audrey sat the bulky hymnal on the front seat of her battered Toyota Corolla, and struggled to get the key in the ignition. Her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be. Although her vision was patchy, the Church was only two blocks away. She could get there blindfolded.

“Mrs Ledger, can I give you a lift?”

“No, thank you love,” she smiled. She’d heard about the Audrey roster. Next they’d be calling her son. She’d burned her bra in the 70s. No one was confiscating her car keys.

Not even the Police.

……….

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

The Great Esky Wall.

Tomorrow, we are leaving on an epic family holiday to Tasmania and we’re taking along the ultimate must-have holiday accessory…”The Great Esky Wall.”

The Great Esky Wall conveniently fits into the back seat of your car absolutely filling up that space that could have been number 3 if it hadn’t been for Numbers 1 & 2.

Indeed, our Great Esky Wall conveniently sits right on the seams of the backseat upholstery. This means that if either child tries to invade the other’s territory by even a millimetre, the battle lines are clear and action can be taken.It’s time to pull out the cannon. No, actually it isn’t!

You will notice in the photograph provided, that our Esky  is poo-brown ugly and beyond a retro-statement, but it’s made of good, old-fashioned plastic which could withstand a hit from a truck.

However, that still doesn’t mean the Great Esky Wall is going to endure 3 weeks of pretty intense driving with two kids living and breathing the same air all that time.

Even a tough and rugged Esky can only endure so much!

Have you ever been to Tasmania? Or, perhaps your family has been on an epic family car trip somewhere else, which you’d like to share.

xx Rowena

History. The Esky was created by Malley’s, a Sydney refrigeration business. Some historians have credited Malley’s with the invention of the portable ice cooler. According to the company, the Esky, was “recognised as the first official portable cooler in the world.”

PS While we’re away we have house minders in and two ferocious guard dogs. Well, make that one.

Driving to Newcastle …Mum’s Taxi Seeks Gold!

Shame I didn’t have the meter running yesterday. Mum’s Taxi clocked up some serious K’s (kilometers) driving to Newcastle for my daughter’s violin rehearsal, especially returning via the “scenic” route. However, being only ten years old, of course, she couldn’t pay the fare.Perhaps, she could find me a gold medal? I certainly deserved it!

Milly Violin

Before I delve into our travels, I should clarify that I was driving to Newcastle, Australia and NOT Newcastle in the UK… or anywhere else for that matter. Although I can get catastrophically lost, the last time I checked, the car can’t fly or swim. So, no matter how badly we got lost, we were still confined to the Australian continent! Phew! That’s a relief. Wandering into another country can get dangerous, and I’d hate to cause an international incident in addition to the usual road rage.

Newcastle is 168km North of the Sydney CBD and 110 KM up the freeway from home. As we have family in Newcastle, I’ve been up there quite a few times, but usually as a passenger. We were actually on the outskirts of Newcastle on the weekend, but that didn’t prepare me for finding yesterday’s rehearsal at The Junction, near Newcastle’s CBD.

All went well until we took the Newcastle turn off from the freeway and we pulled over at a servo (petrol station) to consult the map. My daughter had been on her iPad so far, which of course, does nothing to hone your map reading or navigational skills. I wrote out a list of streets for her to find and walked her through the route on the map. For some reason, I’d assumed she’d inherited her father’s sensational spatial skills and not my Blindis Mappis, or map blindness.

Big mistake. We’re driving along in very unfamiliar territory when she tells me she can’t read maps. That she couldn’t find where we were, where we were going or the all important Crudace Street where we need to turn right.

Meanwhile, I was peering through the windscreen trying to read street signs needing a magnifying glass. Of course, I only picked up the street names too late. Don’t you hate that?!

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Mind you, that’s why the U-Turn was invented. Indeed, my husband’s done quite a few U-turns over the years thanks to my navigation and I’m not mentioning a certain trip to Canberra, which nearly ended in divorce!

But, as I’m sure you can appreciate, the U-turn is a last resort. Missing your street can be incredibly stressful, especially when you’re on a main road. Moreover, although the sign should have been bigger, a miss always feels like a personal fail…a mistake. Nobody likes making mistakes, even when you’re used to it.

Abandoning the map, I get my daughter reading street signs. We never found Crudace Street but instead, she’s calling out names of streets further down our list. I don’t know what’s going on but Newcastle’s on the coast and we’re running out of road. Surely, we’re not going to drive into the sea looking for this !@#$% street??!!! Suddenly, I see our destination, Union Street, out the window. It wasn’t the route we’d planned, but we’re there.

I don’t know whether I was being too hard on Newcastle’s signage. However, despite The Junction’s popularity, I was surprised not to see one sign for the place. Isn’t that strange? Or, with my fixation on street signs, I might have missed them. Quite aside from the usual street signs and directions, I’d also been expecting a bit of a welcome. Wasn’t Newcastle expecting us? Hadn’t the Mayor stuck up a few extra signs for us, preferably in neon…such as: “Ro, turn here!..Left…right etc”

Apparently NOT!

Not unsurprisingly, as soon as we pulled up outside the school, I parked the car and wasn’t driving anywhere. I had 3 hours up my sleeve and set out to find a cafe on foot where I could write, read and chill out without getting lost.

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Hello Talulah. You wouldn’t believe I’d stumbled into Mum’s cousin’s restaurant. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there. Had lunch and wrote a short story and arrived back at the school in time to hear a full run through of their concert repertoire. It sounded heavenly en masse and I can’t wait…Sydney Opera House here we come! Thank goodness we know where that is! No navigation required.

Now that we’re back in the car, I can hear you pleading with me to drive straight home. Get out of there before we’re in a major accident, as our drive-by-feel tour of Newcastle continues. In that case, driving home would have been a no brainer. I just had to turn the car around, and drive out the way we came in. Simple Simon…even I could do that!

Except…(and as we know if there wasn’t an except, there wouldn’t be a story. I don’t need to write fiction to come up with plenty of complications!)

I wanted to buy myself a pair of ballet shoes and there was a Bloch’s store conveniently located in nearby Charlestown. We don’t have a local dance shop. So, you could say “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. However, this little excursion meant that we weren’t going back the way we came and trouble was looming. Just how lost could we get in one day?

You’d be surprised!

Spotting a huge Westfield Shoppingtown out the window, I didn’t even question whether we were at the right place and was very unimpressed to find out we were in the wrong suburb and Charlestown was still out there somewhere…lost.

Or, was it us?

By this stage, I was starting to wonder whether the ballet shoes were worth it. Somehow, I’d managed to live 36 years without a pair of ballet shoes. Yet, suddenly I had to get these shoes. There was such an urgency, a determination. I yearned to have my daughter with me when I bought them so we could do it together…the same way my mother came with me to try on my wedding dress. I wanted Miss to see me slip my huge clodhoppers into those dainty pink ballet shoes, pointing my toes and dancing away. Forget that I haven’t done ballet in 36 years. I had changed.

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Finally found Charlestown Square shopping Centre.

Finally, we found Charlestown. Found Bloch’s and bought my shoes, satin ribbons, pink tights and some black dance pants. I was a real dancer and it was time to drive home.

Oh! If only I could slip into those same precious ballet shoes and tap my heels together saying: “there’s no place like home” and suddenly find us parked in the driveway at home.

Alas, no such luck! More caffeine required!

Worse still, we were on the slow road home, via the scenic route…the Old Pacific Highway. What with driving through 60kph zones, stop-start traffic lights and peak hour crawls, an hour’s journey stretched into two without even stopping to photograph the sunset over Lake Macquarie.

After all of this, I almost fell through the front door when we arrived home…a marathon driver falling over the finish line, dry retching and completely spent. While nobody would expect a marathoner to cook dinner straight away, I could forget that! Should’ve ordered takeaway. What with all these medals in Rio, surely they could spare a weenie gold medal for me?

I deserve it.

However, unfortunately driving Mum’s Taxi hasn’t become an Olympic sport.

Meanwhile, thanks to my daughter’s teacher, I at least had a thank you box of chocolates.

It was great to be appreciated!

Do you have any good getting lost stories? Of course, getting lost is an important part of travel and so many travel stories simply wouldn’t exist if we directly went from A to B!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Drats! The Sunset Which Got Away!

Check out this breathtaking sunset!

It all but escaped my snap-happy finger, while we were driving down to Sydney. As much as we’re inclined to pull over to immediately capture that stunning sunset, we had the trailer on the back. Moreover, due to the an accident on the freeway, we’d opted for the “scenic route” along the rustic and rather windy Old Pacific Highway, and couldn’t stop. Out of sheer desperation, I managed to snatch this shot through the windscreen and you too can enjoy water droplets bouncing around like ping pong balls, wrecking what might have been a stunning shot.

Of course, I know I shouldn’t get upset about not being able to photograph a sunset. There are, after all, much more pressing issues in our world, and it wasn’t like I was trapped underground and couldn’t see it.

However, therein lies the problem. I could see that sunset in all its technicolour glory and felt the call of the wild. Such an incredible sunset isn’t something you just see through your eyes, but also through every part of your being…mind, body, spirit and it somehow becomes a part of your very being. So, to be able to capture that, it’s a bit like sticking your bubble gum to the bed post over night. You can come back and relive the experience later.

I also enjoy sharing a little taste of Australia with you. Through even this less than perfect photo, you can still appreciate an Australian bush sunset with those towering gum trees silhouetted against the setting sun. You can also sense the vibrant intensity of the colours…molten oranges and yellows slapped across the sky like generous coats of paint. It looks so good, I want to eat it! Yum!

However, as much as I’m disappointed about missing the sunset, I must admit that I think it’s good for me to just to stand back and appreciate the bigger picture now and then. Take in the vast enormity of an endless sky. Feel gobsmacked! Awe inspired! Instead of trying to work out how I’m going to frame it. Shove it inside a 6 x 4 box to contain it. By trying to constrain the heavens and stick boundaries around them, they lose some of their magic. Like wild animals caged at the zoo, they’re still great to look at, but it’s not the same as seeing them in the wild. Or, experiencing a sunset simply for its intrinsic beauty without trying to turn it into something it’s not…a photo!

These two opposing views, however, bring me into conflict with myself. How can someone whose love of photography could be described as a chronic twitch, ever happily let a brilliant sunset go and simply let it be?

I don’t know but every now and then it happens. I spot something and don’t have my SLR with or my phone and I have that experience, albeit reluctantly…a lesson in savouring the moment…!

Meanwhile, could you please pass me a Kleenex. I still have a bit of work ahead on acceptance! I’m still thinking about the sunset which got away!

What do you think about savouring the moment? Is it better with or without the camera?

xx Rowena

PS: By the way, if you like a good sunset photo, here’s one I prepared earlier.

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Sunset Down the Road a few weeks ago.

 

 

Born To Crash.

Ȕber-pumped, Fangio’s poised in the driver’s seat. His foot’s on the accelerator ready for blast off! Mightn’t have a licence but this is the Dodge Em’s.

What a misnomer! Although the sign states: NO BUMPING, we’re all out to crash.

Caught up in “The Siblings’ Revenge!” my husband and I fight on opposing sides.

Disco lights flash. The hunt begins. Where are they? A hunter stalking his prey, he was born to crash!

Bang! Got them! Again! Again! Again!

“Yahoo!” We’re in the zone… until retaliation hit.

Ouch!

Siren rings!

Adventure over, we’re laughing like a bunch of crooks!

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March 23, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write an adventure, experienced or witnessed. Explore your own ideas about what makes an adventurous spirit. Is it in the doing? Does standing witness count, and if so, how? Be adventurous!

Respond by March 29, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

…..

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Setting out on our big adventure…standing at the entrance to the show.

Yesterday, we went to the Royal Sydney Easter Show and had the best time ever. I will never forget our ride on the Dodge Ems where I teamed up with my son and my husband teamed up with Miss.

My son and I chased them round the track like a crazed stalker. He was driving and a couple of times, I actually grabbed the wheel and tried to get up out on the edge where he could actually drive. He wasn’t interested. Just wanted to crash…especially into Dad and his sister. She was just as bad. The looks on their faces were quite priceless…grinning from ear to ear with the most fiendish smiles. They just loved being legalised villains. All the other drivers were the same. We all just wanted to crash.

I laughed so much my face hurt. Much more fun than driving a stupid car and you don’t need a licence!

This is my second flash fiction this week. After writing about the personification of fear on the rollercoaster, I wanted to write about a happy adventure. Take the topic a different direction.

Hope you’ve had a Happy and Blessed Easter!

xx Rowena