My Sabbatical Part 6: The end of the adventure

Aug. 29, 2018, 1:10 p.m.

Our explorer Paul comes to the end of his sabbatical adventures with his family. This time he’s in Australia enjoying time with friends and a spot of relaxation…

After our volunteering in Bali it was time for the last leg of our family holiday. We were very sad to be leaving our volunteering projects after a couple of weeks but we were also ready to move onto a different environment and see some new stuff.

We started with 5 days of pure relaxation at a beautiful hotel next to the beach in Legian, Bali. The all-you-can-eat breakfast went down very well as did the lovely pools, jacuzzi and spa treatments! On top of this, the girls and I got some bodyboarding in every day so I definitely got my time in the surf!

After the relaxation, it was time to pack up again and head to Australia for a couple of weeks. We flew to Melbourne for first for couple of days and really enjoyed our time back in a city environment wandering around the streets and cafes, taking in a few sights and catching an Aussie-rules football game. Then it was down to Phillip Island for same wildlife and rugged Aussie scenery. It was a bit chilly but we had a fantastic time feeding kangaroos, going for a few walks and, the reason we went there, viewing the local penguins finishing their days feeding and coming to shore to go to sleep. The experience is made for tourists but is done in such a controlled manner that you don’t feel like an intruder and can really enjoy it. We all left feeling we had seen something magical and it really brings home the simplicity and wonder of nature.

Next stop was Sydney for just over a week staying with my best friend and his family. After a long trip we were getting a little weary and homesick, so being made very welcome whilst staying with good friends in a home environment was just what we needed.

Sydney, as ever, was stunning in the “winter” sunshine and we made the most of the weather, getting two beach days on both Manly and Bondi. We got to see a show at the Sydney opera house which was just fantastic. I don’t know what it is about that building but I just never get tired of it, inside or out. We also squeezed in some more sport with a trip to watch some rugby league all topped off on our last day with a jet boat trip around the harbour and getting absolutely drenched (a good excuse for everyone to treat themselves to a hot chocolate afterwards).

Having special friends halfway around the world means that we don’t get to see each other often. However, every time we do get together we get on so well you wouldn’t guess we live so far apart and it’s special that our children get on so well given the age difference between them and the lack of regular contact. We’ll forever remember this time we had together: the chats, the beers, the card games and the many smiles. It was difficult to leave but we know there will be a next time whenever or wherever that may be. I feel very lucky to have people like this in my life.

So that’s it! Five and a half weeks of family travel have come to an end. We board the plane for the long journey looking forward to getting home. Everything has gone as well as we could have hoped, with each different element working well. It seems like ages ago since we left the UK (and even longer since I left work). All I can say is what an adventure we had with some unbelievable experiences that I hope we will all learn from, especially my daughters who are still in their formative years.

I now look forward to getting back to normal life and re-engaging with the world of work. Next week, I’ll let you all know what I have made of the whole experience after having some time to reflect!

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