My external hard drive has been playing up which means I’ve had no access to photos! But I have them back and now I can enthrall you with the freakin’ amazingness that was Palawan.

I can’t even begin to properly describe how fantastic this place is. The airport is this tiny little thing tucked away in the corner, and you walk in to fresh food and all the coffee you can drink, and friendly people and then they put you on a tiny plane and fly you for like an hour or two out of Manila, until you arrive here…DSC_2493

And I mean that literally. The airport we arrived in is behind this. Directly behind this. There were people waiting there who sung to us as we arrived and gave us more beautiful food until we were driven 5 minutes to here, where we climbed into boats and were taken across the sea to our resort.

So, the resort is on an island and…that’s ALL that’s on the island. We stayed at El Nido which caters for about 50 guests, and was the one recommended to us as the resort with the more energetic itinerary.  We had left Manila after being stuck there due to the APEC conferences in a tiny little hotel near the airport with absolutely no redeeming features, and that smelled like pee. The window was just a curtain covered wall, and outside there were riot police all lined up down the street – which was completely blocked due to traffic.

Manila was an interesting city. I would have liked to have been able to see more of it to be honest, and am super disappointed Ollie wouldn’t hire one of the guys on bikes to take us around. Because we walked, and it was miserable. Too hot, too big, too dirty….too full of riot police.

I should write a post about Manila too actually. I’ll do that. Back to El Nido!! So after about two hours on a boat, we rounded the corner of an island to find this waiting for us…


I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything that quite resembled my idea of heaven…and then I saw this.  It might not look like much, but…


It was freakin’ paradise at every hour of the day.

Their were people waiting here for us too, singing us a welcome song, with the most amazing coconut juice I’ve ever had in my life. From the moment we arrived, to the moment we left, we felt like it was home. The staff knew us by name, and were always available. They provided a turn down service every night, which included a handwritten note in silver pen written on a leaf, and a Palawan folk story. I wished we’d stayed forever, just for the stories to be honest!

They were right about the activities too. We did all of them – well, I missed the last snorkeling trip in favour for lying in a deck chair and looking at the view and reading.


I honestly could have stayed forever. This water!!!! That view!!! Ollie and I went off one morning by ourselves to the “big lagoon” where we pushed the kayak up on a small beach and just lay in the water for hours. We went caving, and rock climbing, and island hopping and snorkeling. It was so, so, SO gorgeous.


Look at those fishiiieeeessssss!!!!

It was just the ultimate. I wish we’d gone to this resort last, because it sort of ruined the last part of our trip, because it was so amazing that nothing could compare!


We took boats out to watch the sunset over this island. Just out in the middle of the sea, with nothing around you except ocean. And I broke my ‘never’ again sunrise watching, so that I could watch the sunrise one more time.


It hid itself behind this perfectly placed cloud, but that just made it all the more beautiful for me. Slightly melancholy and throwing beautiful shade, the colours of the sky are so much softer in the morning than they are at night time. I did not regret the wake up call, nor the beautiful coffee served to me while we waited, or the amazing breakfast that was ready for us on our return.

Palawan is an incredibly beautiful place, and if you get the chance to go there – you most definitely should. If I could have stayed there forever I would have.

They also sing to you as you leave the island. They stand at the end of the jetty waving and singing until the boat is out of sight. It was so lovely.

After El Nido, we went further down the coast to Puerto Princesa, which was a much larger place but equally as beautiful. The coastline was more rugged here, and we stayed at the Sheridan which had the most amazing swimming pool in the world! I spent more time in that pool than anywhere else I think!

We went to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which was so amazing! They take you one kilometre into the cave and then back out again. We also took a boat ride to see the mangroves. And wildlife.


I really enjoyed this trip. Our guide was lovely and told us all about the flora and fauna of the area, pointing out birds and snakes in the trees, and explaining how the ecology works. It was very beautiful.

You can also zip line from the top of a hill down out over the sea to the beach – which of course we also did. The Philippines is just such an amazing country. There’s so much diversity and difference amongst all the islands. So much to see and do.  I’d go back a million times over if I could.


I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to figure out what exactly beautiful means. I’ve decided that there’s not really any definition at all, but that has never stopped me from trying to figure out what beautiful means to me. And then I had daughters.

Two of the most incredibly beautiful creatures, and so completely different to one another.

They taught me that beauty is something that doesn’t depend on any one thing. It’s an all encompassing whole person thing. My daughters are so beautiful, it’s ridiculous. It shouldn’t be allowed, to be honest. But I’m so glad it is, because without them, my life wouldn’t be as awesome as it is. I don’t know if they even realise that. I’m bad at talking, so this return to blogging has also been for them.

When you become a parent, I’m not sure that you ever expect the sudden onslaught of parental guilt that pretty much hits you from day one. This new beautiful life in your hands, so perfect, and sweet smelling and new. How can you keep it happy, and healthy and nurture it into a good person? How can you instill all the values you need to? How will you know if you’ve been a good parent? Are they going to hate you when they’re teenagers? Where are you going to go wrong.

You’re not going to go wrong.

Even when you do, so long as you have love for that child, and are honest with them? You’re not going to go wrong.

Take it from a woman with borderline personality disorder and bipolar II. Those girls of mine have had to deal with a lot of emotional weirdness while I’ve tried to find a medication that works, and a way to deal with things when the medication still doesn’t. Sometimes we’d go for drives – when I learned, and we’d talk in the car about the big important things.

I was always amazed at how insightful and thoughtful my girls were about the way that people are. Every time I bought up a big topic, they always had good questions. Deep questions…they still do. Except about sex. Because…I have no filter I suppose. Not that talking about sex with your parents is fun at all – for anyone but me. Call it sadism, but the pleasure I get from watching them and their father squirm is totally worth it! Haha!! (I promise I’ve only ever talked about the good stuff – safety, pleasure, respect, love and permission). I studied sexuality in both religion and literature, human sexuality really interests me.

My girls are teens now. Well, actually…Siobhan will turn 20 this year, and Aleeya will be 18. Adults. I am now the parent of adult children…and while that scares the pants off me, I’m so proud of them. They’re both such beautifully, intelligent and thoughtful girls. And I know how scary becoming an adult is. I may get frustrated a lot – mostly that’s my illness talking though – I remember what this time in your life feels like.

It’s scary, and hard, and learning to make your own decisions will change your life path forever. In ways you won’t understand, or even consider, and they will be wonderful. I do not look back on my life and regret any of it. Every choice I made, lead me right here. I never would have predicted I would live a life like this. And I owe so much of it to those girls. Such beautiful, compassionate, loving creatures. I am always awed that you’re mine. <3

real talk

So most of you who have stuck with me, and are continuing to read me (thank you so much btw!) know that I have mental illness. It is however, very new for me to discuss it in public kind of ways. I am much better at one on one discussions with people, so the thought of standing here in front of you all and talking about how my brain works, has always been super scary for me.

Which I guess, is why I started to write. I remember feeling so much frustration as a child and young person, because most people just didn’t seem to understand me. I didn’t know how to express myself, and often that would lead me to just completely melting down and crying. Which did not help matters much. Particularly when you grow up with people who think and feel things so differently to you.

The only way I’ve ever actually been able to express how I’m feeling, is by writing it down. I’m a natural born dramatist. I can weave a pretty good story, and within that story, are truths that I don’t know how to say. I feel comfortable writing it all down, but I struggled with actual pen and paper, because my brain thinks faster than I can physically write. Once I learned how to touch type, it’s been pretty much impossible to get me off the computer.

I have come to realise though, that I’ve been doing a lot of internal journalling too. Which isn’t a bad thing. Journalling to no audience allows me to read back over what I’ve written and pick out the parts that will be helpful and hopefully inspiring.

My intention in speaking to you about my own struggles with mental illness isn’t to make you feel sorry for me. I hope that these posts will help others. Please feel free to support me by sharing links to my blog. There are a lot of young people out there, who I’d like to talk to. The ones like me, who maybe feel like it’s just never going to get better at all. Who, like me probably put an age limit on themselves, and are potentially reaching that number, and wondering what they’ll do next (mine was 25 – in case you were wondering. I’m 40 this year, and so proud of it!)

My entries will be about my own personal struggle with bipolar disorder II and borderline personality disorder. I promise they’ll leave you feeling uplifted and hopeful. And I’d like to urge you to send people here if you think reading my words might help.

I also want to apologise – again…for any unexplained absences from my writing. Sometimes I’m very chatty, and sometimes I need to sit inside my own head for awhile and organise my thoughts. Sometimes I just don’t think I’m very interesting, and life takes hold of me and the next thing I know, two years have gone by and I haven’t written ANYTHING!

I’d promise that wasn’t going to happen again, but we both know I’d be lying. I do want you to know though, if you don’t see any posts from me (more Philippines is coming – I can’t WAIT to show you the island resorts..omgomg!!) it is because my life is more wonderful than I could have ever hoped it would be. And even when I am battling fits of pure self loathing and wishing I was dead, I never lose sight of the incredibleness around me. There’s a light at the end of that tunnel, sometimes it’s a fucking slog to trek back down to reach it, but when I do, the sun is always waiting for me.

Thank you for that Australia. I had no idea I’d find a home here. I love you, even when I’m sure the heat is going to kill me.


I haven’t forgotten you! I just got really, REALLY sick. Which is strange, and yet kind of typical for me in mid Australian summer. I’m not sure why my body decides to do this to me when it’s hot, but it does. Three weeks later, I’m finally starting to feel human again. So here’s the last part of our Northern Philippines tour!

After leaving Batad and Banaue, we were taken by our guide to Sagada, which is about a four hour drive through some truly amazing hill country. Everything is so beautiful and green, and then out of nowhere, you look down the hill and this is the view. I’m not sure what this village is called, but we just rounded a corner and there it was. Nestled into a valley, right up against the cliff side. Like brightly coloured lego blocks just scattered over the carpet.


Sagada itself was a beautiful township. The main street runs up and down one hilly street, and is mostly just full of tourist shops – which isn’t exactly a bad thing. But what it’s really famous for, are the Hanging Coffins. When we were planning our trip here, I had two things that were definite musts for me. To visit the hill country and see the hanging coffins, and to chill out on a beach. Although I was still not 100% better during this part of the trip, I am so grateful that we were able to do these things. I’ve never seen anything like Sagada in my life, and just like Batad, it was incredibly difficult to leave.

The Hanging Coffins are a pretty short walk from the township and so worth it. We hired a local guide to take us here, and then also caving. The two smallest coffins are the oldest ones, and he told us that they’re small like this, because before the country was colonised, they would bury their dead in the fetal position. It was the Christian missionaries who taught them to bury their dead laying flat. So the smaller coffins are pre-Christian era, and the chairs you can see were used to display the deceased person so that family and friends could come and pay their respects, before they were interred into the coffins and hung on the cliff faces – sometimes – as you can see, with the chairs they rested on.


They also interred their dead in caves.


It’s a little morbid perhaps, but I’ve always been fascinated by graveyards. My mum would take me to them and we’d walk around them together for hours, reading the names and imagining the stories of their lives, and it always gives me a sense of peace. It’s extremely interesting to me to see how other cultures bury their dead. Some of the coffins were so old they were broken apart, and the bones inside were visible. In the cave, they were all stacked in tightly together against the walls, held in place with rocks and some where decorated with lizards carved into the wood. There was one which had a thigh bone resting on the coffin lid. Most of these are very old, but the latest hanging coffin was placed there only about 5 or 10 years ago.


We walked for another hour or so to the opposite end of this cave, where Ollie went spelunking with the guide, but – due to my still not great health, I stayed behind at the one cafe where I sat upstairs and watched the locals come down the paths with brightly coloured packages held on their heads, tourists come for the caving, and read my book.

Probably my most favourite thing about the hill country – aside from the amazing views – was the coffee. It was rich and thick and so delicious. They also have their own tea, and so obviously I had both. The tea was delicious, very mild and not bitter at all. I would have loved to have brought some home with us, but I wasn’t sure it would get through customs. I did however bring home the coffee. Of which, I no longer have any, which is a travesty! I miss this coffee more than I can express!


There were a lot of things that made this part of the trip incredibly memorable, and also very hard going. We had heard so much about watching the sunrise over Kilpetan, that at the time it really seemed worth the 4.30am wake up call. It was so cold, and beautiful, and thank god for the coffee!!  This was as good as we got though, because the entire place just filled up with tourists, and it was all too much. So we went back to our homestay and slept a couple more hours before we left to head back to Banaue, and the 10 hour bus ride back to Manila.

Never again, I told myself. Everyone who knows me, knows I am not a morning person at all. Also, of course..the night before the rest of the tourists at our homestay partied until early in the morning, and Kelly on anything less than 6 hours of sleep is generally not a Kelly you want to spent time with. Poor Ollie.


Still though, it was incredibly beautiful, and a lovely way to end our stay in the Northern Philippines.

We Went To The Philippines!

In November, the husband and I took a trip to the Philippines child free. It was our first ever holiday without kids in 19 years! So many things went wrong with it. Now that I think back on it though, I wouldn’t have changed anything. Ollie and I got to spend some really amazing quality time together, and it was just what we both needed. Plus…we were in the Philippines, and it looked like this at breakfast time.


This is Banaue. It’s a 10 hour overnight bus ride from Manila, and worth every second. We spent two nights here, at Ramon’s Homestay in Batad. The food was amazing, the coffee was to die for, and this view? Honestly, leaving here was so hard. We had no access to internet and the time off was beautiful.

I don’t think I’ve ever done so much walking in my life! And we took the easier walking option! You definitely need stamina for this place and I suggest lots of hill walks before you go! But I seriously don’t think there’s a more beautiful place in the world. The people were so friendly and our guides were amazing. We hired ours with Irene Binalet who was just the best ever. She and her guides made the whole trip so amazing. Without them, I don’t think we would have seen and done as much on our own.  She has a great sense of humour and organised everything for us. I definitely recommend doing this if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t know the language yourself.

We took a 4 hour guided walk to the waterfalls while we were there. Walking the Rice Terraces was both devastating, and incredible! It was the hardest walk I’ve ever done in my LIFE! haha! But man, what a view! In the picture above, we had reached the top of the terraces and were looking down into the villages. We were staying in the top right corner, the largest white roof you can see – underneath a red one. After that, we walked down the opposite side of the hill to find this.


This was as close as I made it unfortunately, and is definitely the reason I’ll be back! During this part of the trip, I got sick – right as we left of course. So I didn’t get to do as many things as I would have liked to have done.


But considering these were our pathways, I’m pretty proud of myself! Sickness be damned! It was a balancing act most of the way there. I really want to go back when the terraces are all planted up before harvesting.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved being here. It was like a giant version of my childhood garden, when I spent all my time outside playing witches and making potions and catching tadpoles.



Having a guide with us was really awesome. She was able to tell us so much about the people and their customs and as a result, we were able to be respectful and interact with local people, which was one of my favourite parts of the trip.  Tourism is still fairly new in Banaue, so the people there are just as interested in you, as you are in them.  I just can’t tell you enough how friendly this place is. DSC_2280


The roads are rough as guts and mostly only wide enough for one vehicle, which is super exciting when you get to a place in the road that looks like the photo below, and it’s raining super hard! Which is pretty much THE WHOLE ROAD! I was constantly impressed with how easy it is for these guys to navigate these roads. Like…seriously.

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Also, dogs. <3

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sick remember?!

Walks With Thor

I can’t even begin to describe to you how awesome this dog is. He’s so brave and lovely and ridiculously silly. Taking him on adventures in Australia is one of my most favourite things to do.

He’s such a good walker, and he just loves exploring. It makes him so happy to be out in the wild getting to smell everything. Australia is such an interesting country too. It’s so dry and fierce and full of things that could literally kill you dead. Despite this, we totally brave the hills and aside from a few koalas, kangaroos in the distance and a freakin’ echidna!! I mean, how cool is that?! We haven’t come across anything too scary. Lots of snake warnings though. But if you stick to the paths, you could see them coming. I recommend sticking to the paths at all times.

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We walked up to the site of an old farmhouse. Right at the top of the hill, there’s nothing else up here, and the view was amazing.

I just love this country! It’s so beautiful, and wild and dangerous. I miss soft, green grass and the smell of New Zealand sometimes, so badly. But the harsh, dryness of this country has a really lovely smell all of its own.

Whoa…two years? Really Kelly? >.<

I started this blog nine years ago, after on my last teaching practice in my hometown, my husband set it up so that I could write about whatever I felt like. It was such a godsend to have a place that I knew was mine, and felt safe. Over the years, I let things make it feel unsafe for me, and after a couple of years of pretty good, solid blogging, I just sort of…stopped.

It’s hard to start back up again when you look back over how long it’s been since you did anything, and realise it’s been almost two years.

I didn’t write anything at all last year. Not here at least. I’m not entirely sure why to be honest. It certainly isn’t because my life hasn’t been interesting. I think maybe it’s just become only interesting to me. Or that’s how it’s felt.

I also often feel like I’m being disingenuous, because typically my writing has always been very personal, and putting it online for people to read and pass judgement over filled me with horror. I’ve always sort of brushed things under the carpet. Things that feel too personal, or like I will be judged badly because of my honesty.

I’m at a place in my life now, where other people’s opinions of me no longer matter. I’m almost 40 and I can’t believe that I’ve come all this way only to still feel shame and fear over certain aspects of who I am.

I know that I write my best stuff when I’m being honest, and I kind of needed a really huge kick in the butt to get myself organised. I also needed some inspiration, a change of scenery – because moving to Australia wasn’t enough apparently. So my husband took me to the Philippines and it was amazing.

I’m half way through my second book edit, by the way. That’s still happening. I have to keep reminding myself to stop editing and thinking about everything that’s wrong with it, and just continue writing. I know what needs to be fixed, but then I think about fixing it and end up sighing in despair and putting my creative energy into other things. So the book comes along super slowly. But it comes along…so, there’s that!

gin and lemonade!

With freshly squeezed lemons is great! Did you know?

We have the most gloriously huge lemon tree in the history of lemon trees here, a never ending supply of lemons! Freshly squeezed lemonade, lemon pie, lemon puddings, lemon icing,…stop me before I start sounding like Bubba from Forest Gump.

Obviously a lot has happened since I last blogged. I am now the proud fur parent of both a chihuahua and a freshly made kitten. Neither of which I imagined I’d be parenting, but of whom I love very dearly. I shall post pictures of them when I can be bothered to get on my main computer. Actually..I could probably do it from here…don’t Mac products all link together? Let me see….

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That handsome wee man is my Thor. Yes. I did call my chihuahua Thor. Because it please me, and he likes it. What he doesn’t like so much however, is my trying to take a picture of his derp face. He pulls the most amazing one ever! But when you try to capture it on camera, he just gets embarrassed, and makes adorable faces at you instead.

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And that, most devilishly handsome and wicked beast, is Dr Bruce Banner aka The Hulk. Don’t let those sweet blue eyes fool you, he is wicked personified! Evil genius and so darn cute I forgive him everything. He is already starting to hulk over Thor. We like to imagine him as an adult, bored out of his mind by this tiny dog, and saying “Puny God.”

Yeah, sorry. Not at all ashamed of my love of comic book superheroes. They suit their names to a tee. Okay, Thor is probably not nearly as glamorous or as cool as his godlike namesake, but it’s still the best and most hilarious name for him ever.

Also, because I am failing spectacularly as a blogger, I’ve decided to try night blogging – which fits in with my work schedule, but may end up making my blog full of weirdness – like it wasn’t already huh? I mean…when it’s full of anything at all, of course.

too long

I feel like people might have expected a 3 year quake memorial post. I didn’t write one, not because I haven’t been thinking about this day, or remembering what happened, I just sort of didn’t.

Ollie spent the day with Siobhan, and I spent the day, and the evening at the Fringe Festival with wonderful friends, who filled the night with amazing food, circus acts, friendship and hilariousness. It was lovely and eventful.

I shared my story with them over hot chocolate and dessert, and I guess that’s why I didn’t really think to share it here.

It was so wonderful to have so much support and love from friends and family the world over, and we definitely appreciate it. It’s also so wonderful to be here, amongst friends and family in a city that offers us so much. Including dreadful heat and horrible bugs. But you know, that is really nothing in the scheme of things.

This is a great city and we love this country. It feels like home – until I open my mouth and the Australians look at me puzzled because they don’t understand a world I’m saying.

Such is life. It’s hardly their fault they don’t know how to speak proper English. 😉

Don’t write for an audience, just write.

I have to remind myself of this a lot. Particularly when it comes to this blog for some reason.

For the past few years, I’ve really struggled to maintain it. I guess in part, it’s because I don’t really have a set theme. It’s just a blog, where I write down my thoughts, and talk about life and things in general, and for some reason, that’s just seemed really boring lately.

My blog turned six in August. I missed that. I missed it’s fifth birthday too. I’ve kind of stopped thinking about life and things by how long they’ve been running, or how old they are. I think I’m getting to an age now, where every year just reminds me how much older everyone I know is getting. Including myself.

I’m enjoying getting older, except for the wrinkles. That shit’s totally not okay. Or the fact that I look older than I am these days. When did THAT happen? I’m so used to being the youngest. Youngest child, youngest parent, youngest in my group of friends, and suddenly I’m not that person any more. I’m middle aged!  Holy crap! That’s the last time I ever, refer to myself as middle aged. Ever!!! What does that even mean?

A couple of people on Facebook the other day were talking about age, and discussing how old they felt. I tried this for myself, and, I still truly think of myself as little older than 15. Except on those mornings when I wake up and my neck is aching and I feel 80. There’s very little in between for me. Some days my body works really well, and others I’m reminded of how poorly I have treated it, and that I need to do a crapload of work to get it back up to speed before I end up in a freaking walker with a hunchback.

Some mornings, I’m pretty sure I’m already in a walker with a hunchback. Except, I’m a dancer, so I have great posture! Right?  Right.  I’m just gonna keep telling myself that.

The problem is though, that life just carries on. We lost Greebo a month ago. I took him in for dental surgery and they told us that his kidneys and liver had failed. His heart rate was elevated, and two days later, he was gone. I haven’t really been able to face talking about it, because I still can’t really believe he’s gone. We rescued his mother from a young couple who couldn’t take proper care of her, and had let her get pregnant for a second time. She was not quite a year old. I overheard her telling someone that they were going to have her put to sleep – while pregnant, because they couldn’t deal with more kittens.

So I took her. She gave birth to her litter almost right on Siobhan’s lap. Seven little kittens. All half feral I think – she was a country cat who “didn’t need to be fed because she’d catch her own”. Greebo was the one we kept. We held him as soon as she’d cleaned the afterbirth off him. He was my boy, my big ginger wild man who did what he wanted, fought everything, humped our rottie’s head and loved me. He really loved me, that cat…and I loved him too.

I turned his face towards mine and pressed my forehead to his. One minute he was there, the next he’d gone limp in my hands, and was gone. Just gone. I’m glad I got to be there for his birth, and to be the last face he saw when he died.

It hurts still to talk about, so I don’t.

The vet called Ollie today to let him know his ashes are waiting to be picked up, and it just bought it all back to me. Growing old sucks. I expected he’d have so much more time with us, but the trip here was really hard on him, and he deteriorated right in front of us over the past eight months. He would have been 14 next February. People keep telling us that’s a good age for a cat, but I just remember all the other cats who live into their 20’s and I wish we’d had more time.

I miss his face so much. I miss his meowing at me and headbutting my face and hands, and legs. I miss him slyly sneaking himself into my lap and purring so loudly I can’t hear the tv. I miss him sitting at my feet looking up at me hopefully until he’s fed. I miss seeing him in the courtyard, and having him talk to me and wend through my legs while I hang up the washing.

He was always my constant companion. My best friend. It seems so much more real now, now that we’ll get him back. I wonder if it will take me another ten years to let him go, like it did with Mabel. I already know what I’ll do with his ashes, it’s just a matter of when that will be possible.

Goodbye my Grievous bodily harm, my weebs, my boy. You were never just a cat to me. I’ve said it now. I guess that makes it true…and I’m not just going to look down and see you waiting at the door for me to notice you and let you in.