Planning for our time away

It’s two weeks until we finally start our 3 months in Italy. In my list of What’s Next it’s been an ever present. It’s been the subject of a number of posts over the last three years and now it’s actually within touching distance. Is have to say I’m getting excited.

It’s a new experience slow travel, daytime flights with a number of stopovers before we get to Milan where our time in Italy begins. It will be a completely different approach to travel. Much less planned than in the past. We have a couple of weeks to get from Milan to Sicily where we plan to spend 7 weeks before another couple of weeks to get back to Rome for the trip home. But before we get to Italy we have a couple of days in Sri Lanka which at no point until the travel agent suggested it had been on our places to go list.

We are looking forward to seeing elephants! Source:

Apart from booking the airfares through a travel agent we have arranged everything ourselves. 

Accommodation will be a combination of hotels and Airbnb all sourced online. The level of choice is almost overwhelming.  It’s so different from our first big trip away at Christams 1998, where the complete extent of our online bookings was to email the New York Ballet to book for their New Year’s Eve performance of The Nutcracker. The tickets came back by post!


We have also been able to get a good idea of what to do in many of the places we are visiting by simply googling “One Day in Colombo” or “2 Days in Milan” etc,  it’s just all there. It means our bags won’t be weighed down with travel guides, just iPads and a laptop! 

However, before we get on the plane I have my thesis to finish (almost done), assignments to mark (not started) and a consulting job (underway) to complete!

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It’s about pleasing the examiners!


After nearly 2 years of study I will be submitting my thesis in two weeks. 

A mild panic has set in.

It’s all written. It’s been reviewed by my supervisor and an independent reviewer. I have all of their comments and I’ve worked through them. 

Bluntly, now it’s about pleasing the examiners. 

The real question is what are the examiners going to be looking for? It’s a guessing game. My examiners are familiar with my research method but perhaps not so with the area of research. How can  I be sure they’ll be on my wavelength or perhaps much more importantly that I’ll be on theirs?

I’ve submitted my Abstract to warm them up. 500 words that tells the  story of my 20,0000 word thesis!

Hopefully I’ve nailed it – a valid and reliable study on family wine businesses and what makes them tick!

It’s a story of why these families make and sell wine. A story not about a desire to make money but to do something special, to build solid relationships and to be flexible.  It’s all so logical until you try to write it in a manner which is academically rigorous.

How does it fit with the literature? Which theories are relevant? What research methodology is appropriate?  Are the findings reliable and valid? Answers to each of these and many more are really what the examiners make their decision on. 

No outrageous claims. No eureka moments . It’s a game of inches.

Then there are the practical matters: spelling grammar, typos, referencing. All need to be perfect or as close as humanly possible to it. 

 It’s a relentless excercise.

It’s also a game of diminishing returns. With every read amendments deliver smaller improvements. When is enough, enough?  Unfortunately I suspect that the answer is never!

Oh well,  the end is nigh….


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Finding an old playlist

Yesterday as I read my draft PHD proposal for what seemed like the thousandth time (I actually think it was), I was getting desperate for something to listen too. It felt like I’d exhausted Spotify and Pandora – was that possible?  

I was starting to think it just might be.  I’d got an email  from Pandora a few days before saying I’d listened to 1244 songs in the last month which  when added to Spotify, iTunes, and  The Sound made my song count for September more than I could bare to think about.

 Then I stumbled upon a playlist from my iPod that I’d transferred to Spotify “Gym4.” It was as the name suggests a playlist for listening to when at the gym and like my going to the gym, it was just a memory.

What an eclectic mix and so refreshening. Songs and  artists I hadn’t listened to for at least a couple of years. It was the breath of fresh air that I needed.

Some of the highlights for me were:

Vampire Weekend – Cape Cos Kwassa Kwassa 

Avril Lavigne – Sk8er Boi – listen to it loud!

Jackson Browne – Just Say Yeah – I’m a sucker for his love songs.

Silversun Pickups – Lazy Eye – I love the guitar in this song.

Kinda Dawson – I like Giants – it seems like fun but it’s got a hard and important edge.

REM – Nightswimming – I don’t think I’ve listened to any REM in the last 2 years which given they were one of my favourite bands was quite astounding.

Letters to Cleo – Cruel to be Kind – from one of my favourite movies 10 Things I Hate About You

British India – Tie up my Hands – a song my son introduced me too. It was British India’ s first hit and is in my opinion one of the best songs by an Australian band. 

The Donnas – Take me to the Backseat – a girls band that just rocks!

It might just tide me over for the next few weeks as I round out the study year and get ready for our trip.

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My Blog is Three!

Source – Daily Mail Australia

So my blog turned three in the last few days.

It survived the “Terrible Twos” with sporadic posts on topics ranging from travel, music, books, What’s Next, and study.

What my blog celebrates most is the period of transition that the last three years have been. It started three years ago with a post about The Adelaide Crows close loss to Hawthorn in the 2012 Prelimanry Final and just a week before its third birthday, The Adelaide Crows had a not so close loss to Hawthorn in another final. Most significantly my blog’s third birthday coincides with completion of my Honours Thesis (due in just a few weeks).

Three years ago I decided that I needed a reason to write as I pursued options to position myself  for What’s Next and a blog seemed a good idea. A reason to write a thousand words a month, a goal that has well and truly been achieved in each and every month since, by way of blog posts, articles for The Adelaide Review and University assignments that will culminate in few weeks time with about 20,000 words in the form of my Thesis.

So my blog’a third birthday is perhaps best described as the first chapter of What’s Next. It has been a place to experiment; writing about different things and recording thoughts about the stages of What’s Next. Importantly for me it has provided a contemporary record of what I was thinking across a significant period of my life. 

Now as my blog enters its fourth year I expect my blog will record events  that occur as I move past What’s Next, exit transition and get on with it. It will be a place to write about our three months in Italy, my progress into academia which hopefully next year will see me commence my PhD, and to continue to write about books I’ve found interesting and of course music.

Happy Third Birthday

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The heat is on!

While I still have three months until my thesis is due, it’s really only two months and then it’s actually only about three weeks. This is because it needs a preread by a non-examiner to make sure I’m on track(hope I am!)m a full read by my supervisor and then submission. So what seemed a long time when I started no longer is.

I’m really feeling like the heat is on! The pressure is building and it’s not like something I’ve experienced since my professional entrance exams because it’s so personal. In the past  the pressure has been to deliver for a client with the backing of a massive infrastructure now it’s just me with the support of a supervisor who has been truly awesome(I’ve been so lucky on that count).

It’s been code data, analyse, write, then  read, write, review, read, write, review and over again. It feels relentless. I’m struggling to find time for my bike and my music choice is either a Spotify Playlist or NZ’s The Sound – no time to think about what to listen too.

In fact there’s no more time for this post either as I need to get on with it!

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