jenn jay tales

Jennifer Johnston shares her travel tales; life adventures; observations, photos and random thoughts


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Seen better days

I had visions of 2017 being a year of many things.  Getting around on a pair of crutches with a broken leg was not part of my vision.

It all happened on day five of our Japan holiday. Myself with Mr 18 and Mr 13 were on a two-week vacation in Japan. (My other Mr 13 stayed home with Dad – “I don’t like skiing Mum.”) Like most trips, I’d done a fair amount of prior planning. This was my first visit to Japan and it was timed to co-incide to meet up with friends for a few days in Nozawa Onsen. Always more fun if you can ski with others – not just on the slopes but also the apres ski activities!  If you read my previous blog post on my impending Japan trip you’d know I was super excited to be finally visiting the land of the rising sun. It was going to be a quick overview: Tokyo, Nozawa Onsen and Kyoto were on the list.  As were a bunch of activities, including a sumo tournament, on the last night of the sumo season (had to jump through hoops to organise!)

But things don’t always go to plan do they? Continue reading

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Renovation – the home run

Don’t dream it’s over

Love that the Crowded House song and thankfully I’m not dreaming, the (BIG) reno project is almost over! All that is left is the waft of paint fumes and clutter of painter’s trestles and paraphernalia as the painters finish the outside. A few walls are showing one of the fifty shades of grey I chose as my house colour! It won’t be long and I can remove the project manager hat. Hard to believe after 18 months the project is almost complete. I say almost as the external house paint is work in progress. The start date for that was delayed but I’ve learnt over the course of this project you just roll with delays.  Landscaping, some storage stuff to sort and the left over stainless steel security grills and old pool fencing lying around the spare block are still to be dealt with.  Next year (ha ha which is tomorrow!)

Oh and then there’s the spare block to develop. One of the major reasons I went down the renovation path on my old house, was to create a block of land to sell at a later stage.  There is still the registering of the title, the connection of utilities – including the big job of sewerage connections – and the clearing of “all encumbrances.” This involves removing the remaining slab and retaining walls!  A wee excavation project in a few year’s time, provided I can get the extension on the DA (development application) to allow me a bit of breathing space.

the spare block - the next project!

the spare block – the next project!

So what’s happened since my last blog post?

June 2016

June 2016

The downstairs areas became more than a skeleton. Walls and floorboards were added.  Decisions had to be made fast on the width of the downstairs bathroom and whether to add a bath or not. Thanks to a persistent friend (Kelie – yes you) the bath was ordered. Rather than going into the boy’s bathroom downstairs, the new free-standing bath was added to my en-suite.  There is hope I will have time to “enjoy” baths in the future. I’ve not been one for luxuriating in a bath tub unless it’s in a ****hotel room. It was fun testing baths for suitability. (If I was to be installing a bath it was going to be the right “fit!”) Continue reading


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East German mis-adventure – a Travel story

The Berlin Wall near Checkpint Charlie

The Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie

A travel memory shared on my travel blog – an East Germany adventure while backpacking (only a few decades ago!)  Wondering why we did these things – probably being young and feeling ten foot tall!


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Renovation jitters – the next phase

Renovation phase three

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t been exposed to stories about renovations. They’re everywhere. Magazines and blogs share renovation yarns. Reality TV shows like the Block and House Rules allow viewers to gain an insight into the tension a renovation project incurs. As both a reader and a viewer – none of these prepare you for what reno stress actually FEELS like, until you undertake a renovation yourself. Continue reading


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Sharks and how Aussies manage them

Two laid back Aussies

I watched one of the funniest clips I’ve seen in a while on Channel Ten’s Project last night. The segment was following up the incredible photo moment captured by Nathan McLaren of a shark leaping from the water near surfer Daniel Caban. The incident occurred the day before, around 2pm at the southern end of Caves Beach near Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

shark image

McLaren was on shore taking photos of two surfers when he captured the shark breaching.  As with many moments like this when it involves one of nature’s creatures, it all happened so fast, others on the beach with McLaren asked if that really happened. McLaren checked through his photos and saw that it was in fact a BIG shark – approximately 3.5m long.

Being a little concerned Caban and another surfer were in the water with such a large shark – it appeared Caban was oblivious to what had just occurred – McLaren did what he could to get their attention. Maybe it’s just me, but Nathan McLaren’s description of what he did next was priceless. “I put a trusty red flannelette shirt on a crutch and started waving it like a lunatic,” said McLaren. “The guys thought it was another wave coming and started heading back out while I’m frantic up on the shore.”

Listening to this, Project guest host Tommy Little followed with a quick come back. “Well the good news is that with your look going on there Nathan, it would have looked like a homeless man ranting from the shore with no shirt on.”

What followed was lots of laughter by these two laid back dudes basking in their five minutes of fame. Not missing a beat, Nathan responded “Yeah I get that a bit, yeah.”

What a low key larrikin Aussie. What a character. What delivery!

“They may be two of my favourite people on the show,” Carrie Bickmore said closing the segment.

Couldn’t agree more Carrie! And Caban who remains totally unfazed by the danger lurking below the water shows Aussie surfers, well….. they’re a special breed.

Daniel Caban and Nathan McLaren / Picture: Troy Snook Herald Sun

Daniel Caban and Nathan McLaren / Picture: Troy Snook / Herald Sun

Here’s the three minute clip if you want to smile at these totally chilled couple of Aussies.


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Mosquitoes and soft tofu – another side to Vietnam

Vietnam so many highlights – what about the lowlights?  Here’s my travel story  with a few of both Mosquitoes and soft tofu – another side to Vietnam

mekong river dwellers 2

Transport styles

Transport styles