Day One: Gone Cruisin’

Brrrrng Brrrrng….the alarm wakes us on the morning of the cruise and it’s excitement all around. Bags are packed, paper work is ready, the fridge is emptied and it’s time to go! The mini-bus arrives at 11am to pick us up, and after a few laps of the local area and with all (13?) seats full it’s off to the Overseas terminal…or so we think. It seems that some ships also leave from White Bay. When we arrive there it is pouring rain, and the passengers heading on the P&O short cruise (3 days off Sydney) look like drowned rats as they drag their luggage along to the White Bay Terminal.

Things are a bit brighter at Circular Quay as the rain has stopped and a few rays of sunshine are peeking through the clouds. Even so none of us notice the red nose on the bow of the ship as we are too busy organising our luggage. Our plan to carry-on as much luggage as possible has backfired, almost everything has to be checked-in. We will be able to carry it off ourselves though!

Then it’s up to the next floor to open our cruise accounts and get our sail and sign cards…then through customs and off to the tax refund booth where a hold up meant that I got separated from everyone else and missed the ‘Boarding the Ship’ photo….last port of call was the luggage check and then off to the cabin to drop the hand luggage and explore the ship….first stop the La Playa Grill (Deck 9) for lunch.

Lunch is an international affair Peter selecting Chinese food, mum & dad Italian, Lara joining the queue for ham and pineapple pizza and I went for the salad bar & Italian fish.  – Since it had been a long time since breakfast we made a trip to sweet treats where Lara discovered that in the cold jelly v’s warm plate challenge the jelly will lose. There was plenty of fresh fruit, cake pops and cream, but there was disappointment when we found the unlimited ice-cream was soft serve and there was no Blueberry Cheesecake flavor!!

A quick look around the upper decks and then back to the cabin to begin unpacking.

Didn’t get everything done and at 3.30pm it was off to the Fountain Café to join the ships tour with Rowley. Lara is very excited to find there is a library onboard and is hoping it is full of Manga…At 4pm Lara and Peter have to leave the ships tour to check out the kids clubs. The tour continues to the shopping area, casino Serenity Deck (adults only!) and then up to see Green Thunder, off to the Spa – where we got to try seaweed skin mask…then off to the Gym…where we find out that on average passengers gain 3kg each on a seven day cruise! We did not win the spa credit.

Back to cabin to finish unpacking as it is nearly time for dinner – the cabin still looks like a bomb went off when the alarm sounds for the COMPULSORY emergency drill. Off we go down to Deck 3 area B to check out our life boats and uh-oh we find it is the Italian Capt and realise we must pay strict attention as the last one hit a rock and the ship is still laying there! So now we are late for dinner & no time to unpack – it is all go on the cruise.

We head to the Empire Dining Room (Deck 2, Aft) and meet Aaron, our Head Waiter and his off-sider Bagous (otherwise known as Bali Boy) we also meet the bread delivery guy – who I am sure we will remember after a few days. We are at table 170 which is toward the edge of the room – not quite a window seat though. About 6:40pm during the mains we notice the ship is moving…Hurrah we are on our way. Three courses take a while to eat so it is after 7:30 when we leave.


Peter and Lara head to kids club visiting the library on the way (where Lara discovers that there are no Manga books and Peter finds out you have to sign over your 3rd born to borrow anything). The rest of us check that the accounts are set up properly and then swing past the daily photos, which we decide to leave as not everyone is in them L and head back to cabin.

No excuses now it is time to finish unpacking and put the cabin to rights. I visit Mum and Dads cabin (7166) to check out their extra space. When I head back to our cabin Lara has arrived back from kids club and is already in bed. So we get her up, I try out the shower – which has good pressure and temperature) then we all head off to the Welcome Aboard Show at 9:30pm. The Pharoahs Palace (Deck 2, Fwd)  is very impressive, and as you might guess is decorated in an Ancient Egyptian theme. The show is just a short one with a few songs by the ships entertainers, short performances by the comedians that are on board for the first few nights, and a bit of an introduction from the Cruise Director (Stu to his friends). There are plenty of other activities available but we are knackered so it is back to our Cabin and into bed.

For Dinner Tonight…..

Lara  – Prawns, pearch (with chips), jelly & ice cream (dessert only kids menu)
Peter –  Propical fruit plate, linguine, crème brulee
Ginger – Tropical fruit plate, perch, crème brulee
Colin – Beetroot capacciao, spaghetti , Black forest cherry cake
Jane – Salmon plate , Lamb Loin, Orange Cake

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Home-Sweet-Home Day – Sunday 24th July

Had to finish packing and checkout by 10am, still trying to finish jigsaw before leaving, return cd’s,dispose of ‘sharps’ and pay….hmm it’s a big day – take a deep breath.

Somehow my belonging have expanded and no longer fit into my suitcase and backpack – so off to pay and see if there are any plastic bags available (if only I’d popped in the expandable bags that the G gave me for Christmas – lesson learned). Plastic bag is of the small bin liner variety – but will have to do. Running a bit late but run into a fellow Hopewoodian and we dash to the Gym to do 10mins on the equipment – every little bit counts. Back to my room and 15mins to go……manage to get everything packed, including several sets of clothing for the days activities in the ‘black bag’. Hand in key and dash off to the “listening to your body  seminar” – only a few minutes late. Listen to my body and it’s telling me I need to finish the jigsaw – run into my jigsaw buddy and we give it a last burst of effort – get it finished!!! yayyy. Okay another thing ticked off. Lunch is next –still on the buffet but looking out for low carb uncooked food – yummy salads –  pea, asparagas and advocado, green salad with walnuts and for hot food lentil and carrot loaf – yummmm (and now I have the receipe).

Lunch is dealt with, now to get ready for the last Aqua class – Apart from the people the pool is the thing I will miss the most! Make it a memorable last effort and then sprint for a shower and head back to the office to hand in my robe and pick up my luggage (including hairbrush). Hair is wet and wild but when I get to reception I see Blackish…and then Peter and Lara! yeah they are here. After a big reunion we load the car and head off to Baulkham. Peter has bought 3 juicy steaks for dinner…….

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Work-Out Day – Saturday 23rd July

Even though I have been doing plenty of exercise classes while at Hopewood I normally have to miss at least one class per day because of appointments….not today! So it’s off for a walk in the great outdoors (45mins) and then a top up for 15minutes on the treadmill before breakfast. Stuck in a rut so it’s paw paw, lecithin and flaxseed for breakfast with 6 Almonds for protein…no Blueberries on the buffet – nevermind.

Let that settle then off to Aqua-aerobics, pool is at 34 degrees so not too bad. After Aqua it’s off to the Gym for a “Body Blast”. I’m the only one in the class and have to work hard for the six that are missing!

a)      5 step ups….run to other end gym….5 star jumps…run back, 10 step ups….run to other end gym….10 star jumps….run back….step, run, jump, run… etc etc until 50 steps, and 50 star jumps at each end…but that’s not all.

b)      10 sit ups, 5 push ups, 20 sit ups, 10 push ups….etc etc until 50 sit ups, 25 push ups…..still not finished

c)      5 squats, lunge walk to other end of gym, 5 squats, 10 squats, lunge walk to other end of gym, 10 squats …etc etc etc until 30 squats, lunge walk 30 squats…did I mention I was carrying a heavy weight for this one???? Surely that is all….no

d)      Six laps of the gym to warm down (thankfully it’s not to big a gym)….

Whew, takes a little while to cool down but 15mins later ready for a stretch class…can’t remember too much about that as I’m suffering from exhaustion!

Okay, time to shower, relax and do some of the jigsaw before lunch. The rest of the day passes in a blur of yoga, meditation and steamed vegetables.

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Washing Day – Friday 22nd July

Early morning walk is not doing it for me so have to hit the cross –trainer to get the heart rate up. Morning Blood Sugar is 4.8 so not really shifting despite hardly any carbs…last “health and vitality breakfast” – my fellow diners are amused by my eating blueberries with a fork??? Is there another way?

Based on the smell emanating from my washing pile and the diminishing number of clean trackies etc in my draws I figure I’d better do some washing before my clothes walk home – even though it is still raining. Get a load of blacks in before breakfast and out again before aqua-aerobics…Get a few things in the dryer but find that most cannot be tumbled dry must make other arrangements (or pretend I hadn’t read the labels). Have to skip Boxercise because of increasing pain in right shoulder – will be seeing the Osteopath this afternoon for a quick checkup – so have plenty of time to remove wire draw unit from wardrobe and transform it into an excellent heater side clothes dryer…(photos to follow). Hanging now sorted so proceed with the ‘light’ wash….time flys so I am nearly late for basic stretching…whew these household chores really suck up the time!

Last meal of “health and vitality” is a salad and a ‘Hopewood Quiche’ not bad but due to a mix up I get the wrong one and have to leave the potato….nevermind. Back to hang out the whites – realise the bag stand will also need to be brought into service. Quick visit to the Osteopath who confirms that I have strained the Rhomboids, Tetroids, Triceps and several other geometric shaped muscles as well as pulled a tendon….exercise is very dangerous.

No time to sit around feeling sorry for myself need to race off to find out about the benefits of fasting – did you know that the longest fast ever was 382 days?…I thought not. Time for some carrot and tomato soup…no more special juice for me.

Need to rearrange the washing and turn the heater up – or else I will have damp patches…room is now a sauna. Want to avoid the humid air so back to the jigsaw until it is time for yoga. Have to modify some poses to account for sore arm but nail the meditation at the end…reeelaaaaaxxxxx.

My first meal from the smorgasbord and it is …… salad and vegetable frittata with a small (make that very small) amount of cashew nut salsa. Add a side of strawberry, spinach and walnut salad and life is good. No dessert.

Decide to skip Tai Chi for Chit Chat – which is pretty much the same thing – ? and then back to my room and get a football update from Peter and a quick chat to Lara.

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Rainy Day – Thursday 21st July

Wake up to the sound of rain pattering on the roof and quickly jump up and get ready for the ‘morning constitutional’. After a brisk walk it’s back to breakfast, followed by a few pieces of jigsaw and out to the pool for a double wet aqua-aerobics. Pool was still 30 deg even with the rain!

Out of the pool and quick change for hydrotherapy and morning juice. Had to do a little ‘real work’ and got carried away nearly missed having “Fun with Dynabands” which turned out to be tough and fun. Worked up a great appetite just in time for the Tofu Patty and salad for lunch.

Still raining so the afternoon outing to Nepean Gorge is cancelled and Stretchersize is on instead. Must have over-stretched something on the upper right (neck, back, arm) so had to get hot packs and zen spray from the Healthcentre and rest until it’s time to visit the naturopath.

I’ve apparently being doing quite well, though my liver is still not behaving….very naughty liver. Maybe I should punish it with a nice bottle of red? Oh no red available it’s green veg and curry dahl! Dahls….

The rain provides quite a nice sound track to Yoga and Meditation and then I float to bed after a sweet goodnight with Peter and Lara.

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Relax Day – Wednesday 20th July

Posted late due to temporary DoDo extinction

Couldn’t sleep during the night so decided to do the tread mill instead of the outdoor walk and had a bit of a sleep-in listening to the rain on the roof. Blood glucose at 8am (5.1mmol) and then to the planned treadmill for 20mins at 130 beats per minute…managed to get to 150 so lowered the mill to 8% slope instead of 10%. Breakfast was back to the favourite of paw-paw and blueberries with lecithin, flaxseed and a side of 6 almonds (to replace the protein previously provided by the yoghurt).

Off to aqua-aerobics and only two of us left in the class so we have to work twice as hard….shower etc ready for a juice (no beetroot this time) and a turn in the shuttle (as the VibraSaun is affectionately known). When the shaking is over a quick change and off to join the fitball class… those balls are big and tricky to balance on. Get through with the balls and off to lunch. I discover that the salad has a name “HopeWood Salad”. No new vegetables to report. The side was spicy bean casserole and was so tasty I think even Peter would like it.

Bit of a rest after lunch before heading of to learn how to make delicious vegetarian food. I got to wear the blue plastic gloves to roll the patties, balls and croquets of falafel – I say again variety is the spice of life and three different shapes of falafel is certainly variety. Got to taste a croquet of falafel with a tasty dip (minus the yogurt as I’m banned from yogurt at the moment) – wonder if I will have to declare it!.

After winning the Hopewood Chef’s challenge off to yoga and I notice I am definitely more flexible – Yay for me! The relaxation at the end is a bit short – never mind because the talk on “Successful Management of Our Stress” is following on closely after the afternoon Juice.

Message from stress management class is “if the oxygen masks drop down fit your own mask first before helping others” – this must be the Virgin Blue Stress management class. I have a whole double sided A4 page of other hints and tips if you are interested.

Finished not-stressing just in time for dinner – Asparagus Frittata and steamed green vegetables – no other colors! Just the green ones.

One last meditation for the day using the hand over head technique – which is quite successful and then a call home to speak to both my darlings (so need to redo the meditation as it is very hectic there at Burrandong Cres).

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Whoopsie Day – Tuesday 19th July

Whoopsie # 1 – slept in and missed the morning walk, was even too late for a Gym session. Whoopsie # 2 – Got up and raced straight to bathroom forgetting to fill the specimen jar left yesterday for that purpose….Okay take a deep breath and get dressed.

On way to get juice veer to the right to get around the linen cart and (Whoopsie # 3) trip over the arm chair. Juice has been delivered to my room as I was too late to collect it. Whoopsie # 4 – tried to make up for Whoopsie # 2 ended up with too small a sample to be of any benefit – but they still had to toss out the bag and container….

Oh well – drank juice and then headed off for breakfast. Strawberries instead of blueberries and stewed apple instead of yoghurt – variety is the spice of life!

Did a bit of the communal jigsaw (instead of basket weaving) then off to prepare for aqua-aerobics. Another good workout – pool was 34 Deg. Whoopsie # 5 (# 6 and #7) After the workout I slipped on someone else’s slippers, wrapped their towel around me and picked up their bath robe (in my defence they all look the same…and they were on ‘my’ seat!). Quickly provided fresh towel, returned slippers and bathrobe to the aggrieved guest (actually she had not yet noticed) and got the hell out of there.

Had a quick shower and changed into gym clothes ready for circuit training. Had to leave early to make it in time for next appointment and Whoopsie # 8 took sweat towel back to room instead of leaving in the gym.

Made it in time for Hydotherapy (towels on the liver again) and Whoopsie #9 took off bath robe and selected a cover towel when I was supposed to leave on the robe (apparently they thought I would remember the routine from yesterday…). Then at the end I didn’t realise that it was time to leave and laid there for 10 mins or so making me late for my appointment with the naturopath (Whoopsie # 10).

Didn’t have much to talk about because of Whoopsie # 2 – but did get good news in the form of ‘mostly no tofu’ for the next 2 days.

Feeling good, back to room to get dressed for lunch (you are not allowed to eat in your bath robe – phew avoided another whoopsie!). Salad included shredded squash, which is unusual and therefore rates a mention, with a side of mushroom frittata. Then the others started eating from the smorgasbord…very naughty. I headed back to my room to get ready for my massage and discovered Whoopsie # 11 – I had locked myself out!

The receptionist kindly mentioned that everyone does that at least once while they are here. Quick sprint to my room, quick change and make it in time for my Swedish Massage which is very relaxing. Then off to the last half of the weight management lecture and return my spare room key. Yayyy got through several hours without any Whoopsies things are looking good!!!

Time for a bit of relaxation (jigsaw, ukulele – can almost play Hallelujah (not sure if I can spell it though), and a small nap – very important.

Headed off to meditation thinking that the Whoopsies were over but realised that Whoopsie # 12 was that I had forgotten to collect my afternoon juice…oh well better late than never! So skulled my juice (which is not the preferred method) and made it to meditation only a few minutes late – which worked out okay as the (what do you call a leader of meditation? If a yoga leader is a Yogi it must be a Medi – anyway I digress) Medi was also late. We covered a fair bit of ground (figuratively speaking as with all the weight loss I am literally covering less ground than before) and I discovered I need to have more fun…so watch out for the water squirting rings, whoopi cushions etc.

Time to put some real shoes on and head of for dinner which is…..sweet and sour stir fried veg with a side of steamed veg (vegetable of note for its’ rarity is spinach). Think that it is time to quit while I’m ahead and decide to return to room and not leave for the rest of the night.

Whoopsie total for the day – 12


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Moving Day – Monday 18th July

Well in terms of the Hopewood Open this is day three moving day – so I made the cut and am now moving through the field….starting with 30mins on the treadmill before paw paw and Blueberries for breakfast…couldn’t face the yoghurt so had to get some extra paw paw to wash down the lecithin and flaxseed….No rest for the wicked and it’s off to aqua aerobics….what a great class. Pool was 34 Deg (quite noice) and the trainer was focused on the aerobics part of aqua aerobics….so it was a great workout.

Time for a quick shower and off to hydrotherapy, this time no vibrating hot cabinet, it was hot and cold packs on the liver (well not directly on the liver of course)….time for the blood to get moving and get rid of any toxins. Placed on light duties for 30mins. Stretching is counted as light duties so drunk my juice (carrot, celery, chlorophyll and a hint of ginger) and hightailed it back to my room for a quick change and sprint to stretch class. The trainer kindly let me join late and then proceeded to get me into positions in preparation for the World Twister Championship – I’m just a golfer! Fully stretched ready for lunch! (how time flys).

Salad includes grated beetroot and carrot along with bean sprouts of various types, celery and rather a lot of lettuce…and then the tofu bake arrives….the flavour and texture are a bit different from the last one…so lunch was quite enjoyable. I might have been a bit tough on the tofu in my previous posts?

Tuned up the ukulele and had a bit of a session…then a couple of ginger teas while waiting for the naturopath…who advised that ketones up, PH down so fat is burning…so far so good. Swapped yoghurt for stewed apple and strawberries – excellent.

Back for a bit more practice on the Ukelele and now I’m all warmed up for dancercise! Well it was more er-size than dance…due to my multiple left feet. We covered all dance types so if they ask me to go on “Dancing With The Stars” I will know the basics (I won’t be able to do them but I’ll know them!).

Dinner was Shepherdless Pie…no meat and not sure if the topping was potato – must find out. The filling is a bean mix and was quite tasty, it was served with a side of steamed veg. The smorgasbord was calling but I showed great restraint and did not partake.

A short break and then back to the fitness room for a yoga session. It was the stretching Hatha Yoga – so relaxing that 2 out of 5 fell asleep during the relaxation…neither snored….btw I was not one of the two.

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Rest Day – Sunday 17th July

Sunday is the day of rest so I got to sleep in until 7:30 and then off to drink some lemon juice (with water) and to “Salute the Day”. After apologising for having to run out of the previous days yoga class I got to have a one-on-one class. The Yoga Instructor even provided a rebok step so that I was tall enough to place my foot on the windowsill for one of the stretches – they are so nice here!

Finished “saluting the day” in time for Paw Paw and Blueberries followed by Yoghurt, Lecithin & Flaxseed. Next activity “Mandala for Meditation” was very relaxing and another one-on-one. If I could get the uploading of images sorted out you would be able to see what excellent work I produced.

Different juice for morning tea…it was orangey green due to the carrot and celery…not a bad mix. Blood Sugar 4.7 – very good again.

Robijn (pronounced Robina) must have been getting a bit sick of the sight of me by the time I had arrived at the “Boosting Energy” class…at least this time there was another person in the class (Robijn also teaches yoga and mandala’s). Feeling very energised I raced off to lunch – salad with a slice of Cashew Loaf – best meal yet.

After giving lunch sometime to settle it was back to the pool for aqua-aerobics and then a quick shower and down to the river and back for a bit of a bush walk. Of course the river (Nepean) is not up to the beauty of theMurraybut it was ok!!

Nearly forgot to collect the juice (Beetroot etc) but made it in time and also reminisced with the night staff about our previous nights escapades – apparently she had considered bring the ‘kidney dish’ down with her as she thought it “could go either way” but decided against it incase the sight of it gave me ideas!

On a cheerier note the laughing class gave all my laughing muscles a workout…and staved off the feelings of hunger that appeared to have arrived since one of the fellows leaving mentioned he was going to have some chocolate when he got home….mmmm can someone email me some chocolate…Please!

Guess what was for dinner???…tofu and vegetables….while the others got to have onion & almond tart….Lucky I like tofu…but for how much longer…..Hope they don’t serve it for breakfast.

Ended the Hopewood part of the day with a talk from Roger French about having a healthy lifestyle…bought the book…now have to read it. Will let you know how that turns out. After that I enjoyed a beautiful Euphonium concert by the very talented Lara. There were many old favourites, a pop song, some singing and even a guessing competition – where I guessed 2 out 3. What a great way to end the day.


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Sick Day – Saturday 16th July

Up early for a lemon juice starter and off for a morning ‘walk’. Ooops my watch is slower than their clock so everyone has left. Lucky for me Kate also has a dodgy watch and has been on the walk before and knows which way they are heading – so we set off in pursuit. Eventually I catch up with the Peloton (after much jogging and heavy breathing) by this time Kate is with the lead pack…Go Kate! Get my breath back and travelling okay on the flats but the hills are killers (at least 15 Deg slopes!!!).

More lemon juice and then breakfast of Paw Paw and Blueberries followed by yoghurt topped with lecithin and flaxseed.

Time for a quick shower and off to the pool for aqua-aerobics….followed by another shower to get rid of the chlorine and a Body Blast – and what a blast it was….had to have another shower and off for a delicious juice (same as yesterday) and a VibraSaun. After an initial panic attack about being locked in a hot cabinet which vibrated I realised I could actually get out anytime so then I relaxed and enjoyed the soothing music.

Off to lunch (thankfully no need for another shower!) and it is tofu bake with salad…tofu bake is tomato based and had the texture of tinned fish…not too bad.

Food demonstration cancelled (due to food poisoning??) which is ok since I have a Spa Pedicure to attend. Hmm totally relaxing and beautiful colour nails to impress my socks!

Feeling relaxed ready for Yoga – when the sickness sets in…first a small headache (which I had been warned about) but then sweating (even during the easy poses) and nausea…have to leave in a hurry and visit the ladies on way to the “health centre” (otherwise known as sick bay!). Several Cold packs and Peppermint waters later I’m feeling well enough to have my afternoon juice (Beetroot etc etc) and off to my room with various hot packs/cold packs and potions to have a lay down and ward off the headache.

Feeling much better after an hour so decide to get up and have dinner to prevent later starvation and not being able to sleep. Missed the collage activity through sleeping etc…oh well can’t attend everything. Doing fine until about 9:30pm, ring the “health centre” (they are on call 24/7…excellent). They bring down more heat and cool packs and then make a second trip with peppermint water and lavender lotion which they kindly massage into my neck. Feeling okay until I lay down then it is off to the bathroom to drive the porcelain bus…not so good but feel better after another shower (that’s four for the day!). Then off to the land of nod where no one is ever sick!

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