Tag Archives: time management

T – Time Management: Quotes A-Z Challenge.

“The common man is not concerned about the passage

of time, the man of talent is driven by it.”

Schopenhauer

Welcome back to my series of Motivational Quotes for writers and creatives.

I’m currently immersed in researching and writing a collection of biographical short stories ranging along the continuum between fiction and non-fiction. I thought this series of motivational quotes could be a great help to myself and other writers in the same boat who are busting a gut to get that book project done and dusted. However, contrary to my expectations, I’ve been going gang busters on the book and have needed more of a motivational cattle prod to get through the A to Z Challenge…even though I’m finding working on these quotes very informative.

Today, we’re catching up a little and finally reaching the letter T. For today’s quote, I’ve decided to go with time and in particular my dreaded nemesis… Time Management.

I’m addressing time management because so much of what it takes to get that 80,000 word book into print has nothing to do with sticking your head in the clouds and having your feet anywhere but planted on the earth. Yet, for those of us who are creative and very right-brained, dealing with the so-called business side of writing can be a struggle and something we avoid like the plague. Yet, when so many writers are having to juggle paid work, family commitments and the realities of survival, time management is particularly important. It’s the closest we can get to squeezing more hours into a day.

Dealing with distractions is a huge challenge for me. I’m married with two teenage kids, three dogs and we all live life to the full what with work, Church, school. My husband and son are both full on into sailing and our daughter dances upwards of 10 hours per week and has eisteddfods, performances and will be in the school production of Grease. Our son is now a Venturer in Scouts and will be performing in their Gang Show production. Yet, I’ve hunkered down researching and writing this book trying to understand what it’s like to live in any other era but my own. When I put it like this, writing my book seems madness, but most dreams do until they become reality. I need to get this book under my belt. Become a real writer instead of just a gunna-be.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

Benjamin Franklin

However, that all comes at a cost. After all, how on earth do you get those 80,000 plus words into print and manage to do it all? Be more than a face staring at a screen and all your family ever sees is the top of your head? Don’t even talk about friends! What are they? That’s the downside of being 100% focused on what truly is a massive goal.

Rosie and ball

Speaking of distractions, a mangled tennis ball has just been deposited on my keyboard and Miss Rosie Border Collie x Kelpie dog and her brother, Zac, are waiting. Two pairs of eyes, ears cocked waiting and occasionally editing as the ball strikes the keys.

It’s hard to concentrate.

It’s hard to know if anything is making sense anymore. I’ve been working on the book all day. Managed to walk the dog but still have a ballet shoe to sew up for tomorrow’s dance eisteddfod. I’m needing to divide myself up into such small portions that I’m not sure what’s left when the book demands so much. Can’t the dog just throw the ball to herself?

Are these questions you have also asked yourself somewhere along the way?

How do you find juggling writing your book with the demands of everyday life? Do you have any tips for success or simply surviving til the end? I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure there are many more like me. Please leave your thoughts and links in the comments below.

Best wishes & Good luck,

Rowena

 

Back to the Real World…a new school year.

It was the massive jolt that had to happen. The kids went back to school this week and the dreaded inevitable hit me like a Mac truck, as we switched from Holiday Mode to School Time looking and feeling like the zombie apocalyse.

Waking up at 7.00AM again was brutal. We’ve mastered the sleep-in over the break and while the kids went off on a few camps, I stayed put often staggering out of bed at lunch time, making the most of an empty diary.

While I’m sounding like a human sloth, I’ve actually spent much of the holidays trying to get the kids, house, bedrooms ready for the new school year. In keeping with my belief that we are reborn on January 1st each year, I knew it was entirely possible that we could pull off the seemingly miraculous. That can all be encapsulated in one simple word…ORGANIZED.

Unfortunately, being organized for school isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not as simple as making sure they have their uniforms, shoes and socks all set out. Of course, they also need the laptop, pen, paper, books, backpack. But that’s not the end of the list either.

“Wait. There’s more!” Since we’re going back to school, I can’t throw in a set of steak knives. That said, school wouldn’t be school without a metaphorical knife in the back, more likely from a friend you’ve loved and trusted, rather than the proverbial bully. Most of us are also pretty good at shooting ourselves in the foot too.

Going back to school is also about a place for everything and everything in it’s place, which means a clean, neat and tidy bedroom…and kitchen table for many of us and some way of making sure the dog doesn’t eat the kids’ homework as well.

That’s just the stuff you need to get sorted before the kids have walked through the gate.

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It’s only been a couple of days and all the gumph hasn’t come home yet. This has given me the chance to do what I fully intended to do two years ago when our son started high school. That is, draw up a grid showing the weeks of term on one side and the subjects on the other side. When I’d finished, I printed it out and suddenly my mind went blank. What was I supposed to do with it now? How were the kids supposed to use it? I had no idea. My mind went blank…an empty whiteboard with all of it’s circuits removed.

It was time to phone a friend.

I don’t know about you but how often to you come up with these wizz bang systems but don’t know how to implement them? How to convert dreams/plans into action?

I’m the master. A frequent visitor to organizing stationery shop Kiki K, I have all the tools to plan my week, menu, set goals, and even fly to the moon. Well, that is, if only I could ever get started.

Anyway, the subject grid is now sorted and we’ll write the big assignments and tests in there so we can trouble shoot and plan ahead instead of falling in a screaming heap, which has been our usual modus operandi. With both the kids in high school now, this planning will also help us identify times when they’re both going to be hitting the panic button and we can hopefully prevent a monumental meltdown x 2. After all, each of the kids isn’t living in isolation, but as part of a family and by getting the family machine well greased and in peak fitness, hopefully it will support them. Bring out their best. I feel it’s been holding them back in the past with four individuals coming and going and all sorts of unexpected hazards side swiping us while absorbed in something else.

Clock Sculpture Paris

This brings me onto what is a bit of a swear word around here…time management. How do you help them complete tasks in a timely manner? This has been a real struggle for me and this is what inevitable takes me into Kiki K.pomodoro timer

 

Recently, I was put onto a time management system called the Pomodoro Technique. This uses a tomato-shaped timer which you set for 22 minutes and then you focus on one task during this time. If you have an idea about soemthing else during this time, you jot it down on a post it note and keep going on the original task. When the time’s up, you can take a 5 minutes break. After four consecutive sessions, you can take a 20 minutes break. I spoke to my son’s teacher and she said that they basically do this and they call these 5 minutes breaks: “Brain breaks”. I also use a device called a Time Timer, which is a visual clock and shows how much time you have left in red and you can immediately see how much time you have left and can plan accordingly.

Yet, along with all this organization and the home study machine, we still need to have fun. We still need chaos, antics, laughter because we’re not machines.

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For better or worse, our dogs are very good distractors, comedy and stress relief while also adding fuel to the fire. Today, Rosie one of our 6 month of Border Collie x Kelpie pups, helped herself to a fluoro pink highlighter out of the pen jar on the kitchen table and chewed the thing to death. There was literally a pool of pink ink on the kitchen floor and splashes of ink on her paws. She was a very naughty girl, but she looked so funny that I had to laugh and photograph the proof.

I also went for a swim at the beach this week and it was so therapeutic just to feel the stress fall off my shoulders and drift far out to sea. Phew! What a relief.

A relief and a reminder that it’s all too easy to get too wound up and perfectionistic about all of this. Being organized is good, but it needs to serve a purpose and there comes a point where you have done enough and it’s time to let go. Step back. How far back, I guess depends on how the kids respond. However, experience to date, has shown the need to keep checking back in and knowing when those deadlines are coming up, even if it;s only to prevent a serious bout of gastro, asthma or the like leading to extended absences and avoidance.

It could also be helpful to reflect on our own less than perfect school days and give the kids a breather. They’re not 40 or 50 something and tackling their high school days for the second time. Rather, they’re teenagers on their first way through who also need to learn from their mistaks and find their own way through. By doing everything for them, it removes responsibility, and doesn’t allow them to think for themselves, which could well have greater long term consequences than a few late assignments.

So, as you can see navigating your way through the whole parent teen study thing is riddled with contradictions, but defintiely worth thinking about and not simply going with the flow to give your children the best chance of doing their best.

I would love to hear any tips you might have as either a parent, teacher or student which may be beneficial.

xx Rowena

 

What It Means To Be Human.

G’Day Humans!

This is Rosie-Roo, Rowena’s adorable and geniously smart puppy dog. I’ve jumped onto her blog to end her interminal screen-gazing. Put her out of her misery. I know she’s always teaching me stuff, and thinks she knows it all, but her brain’s now gone into park, and won’t budge. So, seeing that I’ve now worked out how to pull the string on my toy mouse and make it run all by myself, I figure I’m now ready to step into Bilbo’s paws and  be the brains trust around here. After all, that goes with the territory when you’re the Philosopher’s Dog.

Rosie & Zac BW

That’s me on the left.

So, here I am paws to the keyboard.

Rewinding to last night, you might’ve already read all Mum’s philosophical, new year ramblings about turning Chaos Central and it’ s inhabitants, into clockwork robots. Have a place for everyting and everything in its place.

Of course, we who know Mum better than she knows herself, know better. We know she drank too much pear cider over the holidays. Was dazzled by the fireworks. It’s all gone to her head, and now she thinks a  new year makes her a new person. That her DNA myseriously changed overnight.

I might only be six months old, but I’m a great observer. Not only that, I’m smart. Scary smart. Only this morning, I learned how to pull the string on my toy mouse, but I’ve been pulled mum’s string a lot longer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being creative. However, I’m a working dog, and that means getting on with the task at hand and not writing about it instead.

Anyway, we working dogs are adaptable. I can herd humans, and I can philosophise like a human as well. After all, as you’ve always suspected but have never been able to verify, we dogs can read your minds. Well, at least, that is the more astute of us canines.

Moving forward, I’m going to pick up from Mum’s last post where she concluded: “I am going to be a human being.” Shortly, after signing off there, she quickly typed “What It Means to Be Human” into a new post and went off to bed.

Who did she think she was? Professor Stephen Hawking? Why couldn’t she just be happy with 42 like everyone else, and leave it at that? Why did she feel the need to tackle a question whose answers spread the full length and breadth of the World Wide Web. How did she think she was going to reduce all of that verbosity into 500 words, or even a 1000?

It didn’t take me long to work out Mum was a dreamer, and nothing like a working dog.

 

Anyway, this leaves me to explain what it means to be human.

Firstly, humans are always telling us dogs to “sit”, while I figure all humans do is sit. They need to get out of their chairs. Switch off the TV. Turn off their laptops and mobile phones and walk, Run. Go outside. Smell the roses.

Secondly, humans seriously over-complicate things. We dogs keep it simple. We wear the one coat for life, and we’re always ready to go out. Adventure awaits. None of this hair, makeup, clothes, can’t find my shoes, wallet, phone. I don’t even need a lead, but I did get in trouble last week for what turned out to be a pre-emptive run.

But, while I can be a little critical of the humans and would like to give them some really thorough training, my humans have loved my brother and I unconditionally. We were homeless and had been taken away from our Mum, Dad and sisters and didn’t know what would become of us. Then, Mum and Miss turned up there in the middle of the night to pick us up and gave us a home. We had so much to learn, leaving puddles and piles all over the house and even chewed on the furniture, but they still loved us. Humans have big hearts.

A big heart is mum’s biggest trouble. Of course, she’d like to be uber-organized and have everything running like clockwork, but her heart gets in the way. She cares too much. I also understand that she can’t move around as easily as the other humans and then lets the other humans and us dogs get away with things we shouldn’t. Please don’t tell her that. That can be our little secret.

Well, I don’t know if I’ve answered the question, but I’d appreciate a bit of understanding. This is my first dog, I mean, blog post, and I’m still only a pup.

What do you think makes humans human? Perhaps, you could enlighten Mum!

Love,

Rosie-Roo

PS: In case you’re wondering why I’m called “Rosie-Roo, it’s because the humans reckon I look like a kangaroo. I don’t know why they’d think a dog looks like a kangaroo. Perhaps, poor eyesight and confusion are further aspects of what it means to be human.

The featured image was drawn by my teenaged son many, many moons ago.

G-Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day Seven of the A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we we’re leaving Ferndene in Penguin on Tasmania’s North Coast, and heading South-West to go on a scenic Gordon River Cruise, which will be departing from Strahan on the West Coast.  Strahan is 197.5 KM from Penguin and a 2.3 hour drive.

Map Penguin to Gordon River

“THE mighty Gordon River flows pure and clear from its source in Lake Richmond, a deep glacial basin way up on the precipitous eastern slopes of the brooding Mt King William.

It plunges down from the high country in a brawling, tumbling torrent, scouring dark tannins from the boggy buttongrass plains to emerge as black as billy tea.

It plummets in foaming cataracts through limestone gorges so impenetrably deep and dark that the river was once thought to vanish into an abyss of underground tunnels and ferocious chasms no man had ever seen.

In its 172km length, the Gordon is swollen by 25 tributary creeks and rivers as it descends almost 600m through a magnificent uninhabited wilderness of towering forests, ferns and emerald mosses.

On the gently sloping lower ground it becomes a sinuous serpent of a river, broad and ponderous yet powerful enough to carry enormous loads of honey-blonde shingle downstream to form the shallow beds of roaring rapids.

The Gordon has a higher catchment yield than any other Tasmanian river and by the time it reaches the sea at Macquarie Harbour it has drained an area of about 5000 sq km.

Unlike lesser rivers that take the course of least resistance and flow around the massive mountain ranges that block their path, the Gordon rips its way through the Permian rocks of the King William Range, literally splitting them apart.

After torrential rain, its awesome power develops a daunting deepthroated roar that reverberates like the thunder of great guns booming through the mist-muffled silence of the wilderness.

The World Heritage-listed South West Wilderness National Park is one of the wettest regions on earth, with an average annual rainfall in excess of 250cm.

On our journey upstream, though, during a dry spell, the river was as placid as a millpond.

Moving as if asleep, the cold, dark water slid past in majestic silence, its mirror surface broken only by the occasional splash of a startled platypus or the rippled rise of a rainbow trout.

From the moment we entered the river’s broad brown mouth, I confess I was in a state of transcendental bliss…”

http://www.themercury.com.au/lifestyle/tasweekend-ride-of-a-lifetime-on-the-magnificent-gordon-river/news-story/52011232f20952f6733bbaab0c5bcb56

My apologies.

Before you start getting too comfortable, I have a small confession to make.

We didn’t actually make it to the Gordon River Cruise, even though it was at the top of our Must See List.

Now that we’re back home, that seems like such a travesty. What went wrong? How could we possible miss it? After all, Tasmania isn’t such a big place and even if we didn’t have an itinerary as such, surely we’d at least make sure we crossed off all of the “must-sees”…prioritized.

Apparently not.

Moreover, while I’m on the subject of travel planning, I should mention that my father who is a seasoned, independent global traveller, draws his itinerary up on an excel spreadsheet and almost has the trip planned out down to the second. He has all his accommodation booked ahead…the works. He’s got it all sorted.

On the other hand, we fly by the seat of our pants.

Yet, you could also say that we “travel by feel”. That we sensed where we wanted to go, and if we wanted to linger longer, we could without being held hostage by the plan. Since we were in Tasmania for three weeks, it seemed like we had plenty of time to linger without having to rush and cram everything in. As it turned out, I don’t think you could ever spend enough time in Tassie. It might seem small but its layers run deep.

Above: Some of the places we DID experience in Tasmania.

Our plans were also governed by our budget and the fact that we could base ourselves with friends in  Devonport for the entire three weeks without paying for accommodation.  We  had packed our tents and fully intended to go camping, which also didn’t happen. With Geoff coming from Scottsdale in the North-East, we were always going to be focused on the North and East coasts and by the time we’d caught up with multiple lots of family and eaten our way as we went, we didn’t get anywhere near the West Coast.

So, I guess we’ll be spending a chunk of time exploring the West Coast the next time we go to Tassie.

Take it from us, Tasmania is never “done”.

What type of traveller are you? A planner or a pantser?

I’d love to find out more about your philosophies on how to travel.

xx Rowena

The featured image was sourced Gordon River Cruises and you can check out their website for further information: http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/

 

 

 

Keep Breathing…Friday Fictioneers.

“All my life,” Melissa sighed to her therapist. “I’ve been peering through the keyhole too afraid to live.”

Phillippa was trying hard not to yawn. Dumping clients was hard. Never mentioned the “F” word.  It was all about “finding a better fit”.  Being a “therapy drop out” wasn’t good for their self-esteem.

“Anyway…”

Suddenly, Melissa became strangely animated, even possessed. “I finally attended a writer’s group this week and read one of my poems. Thought I was gunna die. Then, I heard you counting and this other voice saying: “Breathe, Melissa. Breathe. You can do it.”

“It was actually me.”

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s image was provided by © Shaktiki Sharma.

This week, I’ve spent a bit of time researching my grandmother who was a concert pianist and I’ve been thinking about that experience I had as a child of almost looking through the keyhole into her adult world. There was definitely a “them” and “us” policy and children should be not seen AND not heard. That suited us and we’d round up change for lollies from the adults and disappear with our stash.

Yet, there were those times I distinctly remember peering into this adult world and watching through that metaphorical keyhole. Nothing quite like being a spy!

By the way, I’d also encourage comments about when therapy doesn’t work and what that was like. Personally, I’m a lousy one for taking action but I’m currently working through that with my physio. Or, should I say, I’m “walking” it out.

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

 

 

Lazarus Returns: Back to School.

We did it!

  1. Hair cuts.
  2. Uniforms ironed and labelled.
  3. New shoes.
  4. Lunches made.
  5. On time!!!

What an absolute miracle!

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How the Day Went…

6.30 AM Alarm.

6.45 AM Out of Bed.

7.45 AM Deposit No. 1 son at High School and take photos.

8.00 AM Start Driving Miss to School.

8.45 AM Arrive at my daughter’s school.

9.30 -11.30 AM Print Photos…just the tip of an enormous ice berg!

12.00 Noon – Had lunch at Gloria Jeans. Writing beat reading. Wrote in journal.

2.00 PM Headed back to school. Traffic not the best.

2.15 PM explore shops next to the school and buy an Apple Crumble Cake for afternoon tea.

3.00 PM School Pick Up.

We successfully made it through their first day of school for 2016.

 

However, it still remains to be seen whether we can keep it up. At the same time, I see myself as a new creation.

New School Year = Clean Slate.

For better or worse, my watch is back on my wrist and I’m back to living to the beat of tick-tock time, instead of meandering well and truly off the grid, which is the real beauty of holidays. Not having to be someone, be somewhere stuck on the proverbial train track. If you have ever read a gorgeous Little Golden Book called Tootle The Train, you’ll now know what I mean.

Tootle-

So, our journey continues…

Tomorrow is another day!

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Train Trip: Surry Hills to Gore Hill, Sydney.

A train trip there, requires a train trip home.

To read about the journey there, click here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/me-myself-i-writing-a-complex-character-profile/

However, I’m not returning home quite yet. I am yet to get to my doctor’s appointment at Royal North Shore Hospital, which was actually the reason for my trip. Despite star billing, Surry Hills was a detour, not the destination. So typical of me that I get so caught up in the detour, that I almost forget the main event.

There I was wandering along Crown Street, camera round my neck practically photographing anything at all, as though I had somehow transcended time. Meandering in and out of shops and still fully intending to stop off at the Vegan Mary Cafe for my much anticipated Coconut Chai Latte. Popping into the Salvo Store buying a bride doll for my daughter, huge turquoise, chenille bedspread (only $3.00…what a bargain!) and a recipe book from the 1st Series of Masterchef.

Turning into Albion Street, I’m now lugging a huge Ikea bag in addition to my bulky camera gear and writing journals. I look like I’ve been away for a week, not simply on a day trip. That said, how many middle-aged women go away for a week with a bride doll? Not many but I can sort of get away with that. After all, she’s a gift for my daughter.

I knew the sands had been flowing through the hour glass. That it was time for a much needed reality check.

What’s the time Mr Wolf?

Checked my diary. Checked my watch. Yikes!! 3.00 had become 2.30 and suddenly I had 45 minutes to walk to Central, catch a train and lug myself up Gore Hill to the hospital. As much as I love that John Lennon quote: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans,” somehow I don’t think the Gastro Specialist would appreciate that. He’d much rather:

“I’m late, I’m late. For a very important date. No time to say “Hello.” Goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”
– Alice in wonderland

Not for the first time, I wished I was Superwoman and could leap tall buildings in a single bound and suddenly get from Surry Hills to Gore Hill as the crow flies, instead of relying on the vagaries of public transport.

Moreover, although Gore Hill mightn’t be Everest, it must be close. I’ve had several near-death experiences tackling that hill heading to appointments and you’ve really got to wonder who decided sick people needed to become mountain climbers to access treatment?!

It wasn’t me.

Gum trees in Albion Street.

Gum trees in Albion Street.

So there I am running incredibly late for an appointment, which I’ve had to reschedule 3 times and I really need to get the results of the endoscopy I had a few months ago and yet I’m still in Surry Hills. I still have my camera and there is just too much temptation to ignore. I’m pulling and tugging at the zipper on my camera bag almost ripping the damn thing open to prise out the camera in my desperate haste. I’ve spotted what must be some kind of Supermodel gum tree with incredible white branches soaring upwards into the deep azure sky. The branches almost appeared to be dancing and I was captivated. Mesmerised. Photo opportunity!!! It was like a siren in my head eeeore eeore.

Time stood still for those few precious moments. At least, it did for me!

“I’m late, I’m late. For a very important date. No time to say “Hello.” Goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”
– Alice in wonderland

Humph! I did mention in my previous post that I am both the protagonist and antagonist in my story and as this case in point illustrates so well, I have a brilliant aim when it comes to shooting myself in the foot!

Anyway, my justification for such apparent procrastination was that the doctor kept me waiting for 1.5 hours for my last appointment and is more than likely going to be late again. Being quite the egalitarian, I also feel that if the doctor can run late, so can I. The door swings both ways.

The Clock Tower at Central Station, viewed from Surry Hills.

The Clock Tower at Central Station, viewed from Surry Hills.

Fortunately, I manage to get to Central Station in record time and see that a train arrives in 4 minutes but I’ve still got to get down the concourse, up the stairs and somehow still be breathing. I don’t know how I managed to pull it off but I make it with a minute to spare and as I collapse into my seat feeling my heart about to burst through my chest, I notice an elderly lady peering into my bag…the doll. She’s not the only one looking either. There are at least 8 sets of eyes staring in there. Her golden hair is flowing over the edge of the bag and her eyes are closed. She’s so life-like and with her eyes shut, she almost looks dead. Like I’m carrying a small, dead bride in my bag. Call the cops.

The bride doll on the train.

The bride doll on the train.

“She’s for my daughter,” I explain.

That seems to satisfy the curious glances. I’m not some crazed mad woman, after all.

Well, I am but they just don’t know it yet.

The Doll Bride.

The Doll Bride.

Anyway, not that I’m on the homeward journey, I need to get back to thinking about character development and getting back to the “book project”. Time to put my ruminations about Surry Hills on hold, as we return to working on character…the protagonist, antagonist….myself.

Soon the train is clattering over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, not that I notice. My heart’s still racing!

I arrive at St Leonard’s Station with just ten minutes to spare. That’s almost possible but I’m not the world’s fastest walker. Indeed, I have a walking stick and it’s more likely to take half an hour. I’m starting to think about catching a taxi but there isn’t a taxi in sight. I’m heading up the hill and spot what could be a shortcut and in my desperation, decide to give it a go. This path doesn’t seem quite so steep and might just save me from a heart attack and a quadruple bypass.

However, this shortcut takes me via a building and if you know anything about how they design hospital buildings, it’s to maximise confusion. They’re always such a maze. Fortunately I see a hospital volunteer I know and she kindly points me to the lift and I’m out. A lift strikes me as a great alternative to climbing Everest. Perhaps this detour wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I was lost but now I’m found but already late.

Onwards and upwards.

Phew! I arrived and there’s a queue at reception.

That’s why I’m late.

xx Rowena