London dazzles

This is the next instalment of my Special Moments, Magic Memories series for the 2022 A to Z Blog Challenge.

For all our gallivanting, we haven’t spent time in London very often as it’s so expensive. The WOW moment I want to share with you occurred only in November 2019. Remember those heady days when travel was relatively straightforward and one could jump on a plane and, passport in hand, head to the other side of the world?

I was attending the RootsTech conference in London, so I scheduled a couple of days ahead to do some more sightseeing. A couple of blogging mates and I had planned to meet up at Kew Gardens where there was a Chihuly glass exhibition on show. The amazing thing about blogging is that you get to know people from far away. It was exciting to know I could meet up again with long-term mates, Sharn from Family History 4U and her hubby, as well as Angela from A Silver Voice from Ireland…. and did we have fun together!

© Pauleen Cass 2019

We were barely in the gates when the amazing Chihuly exhibits captured our attention and excitement. However, as we entered the Waterlily House, I was brought to a standstill with my mouth open, uttering “WOW”! The glassworks of white waterlilies were pure magic and I could have happily stayed looking at them for hours but we did need to share with others.

© Pauleen Cass 2019

The joy continued as we wandered through the gardens, admiring the different trees and discovering glass displays along the way. It was great to have Angela’s northern hemisphere expertise to help us with unfamiliar trees and plants. There are some truly incredible specimens in the gardens.

Eventually, worn out by our adventures, the ladies retreated to the cafe for coffee and more chat.

We had been so inspired by the Chihuly glass that a few of us decided to make the trek from Docklands back to Kew for a night showing. Equally impressive, with a different perspective, we voted round 2 of our adventures a great success. We were grateful for our beds and zzz when we arrived “home” close to midnight.

© Pauleen Cass 2019


I realised that some readers may be mystified by how we managed so much time off work for our gallivanting in Oz or overseas.

Australia does have much better employment conditions than other places. So let me give you some background.


1970-1973 : Leave entitlement was three months every two years and the expectation was it would be taken and someone would relieve in your position. To clarify, you had to wait the two years before you could go on leave. This could feel like a long time between visits with family and friends. We also got airfares for the family from the place of recruitment. That still meant accommodation costs and car hire to pay while away. Hence the appeal of travel overseas often with a detour/transit to see family.

1974-1978: Our conditions changed to six weeks every year, remembering we were a significant distance from “home” base.

Married women were contract employees only 😦


Annual leave conditions are typically four weeks a year for full-time employees. The next 10-12 years were more committed to tag-teaming school holidays and short camping trips.

The other employment bonus is three months long service leave after 10 years with one employer. We reached that goal in 1992 and celebrated with a big trip…of course!

Northern Territory conditions were closer to PNG entitlements, partly because of distance and the NT’s historical association with the Commonwealth. By the time we worked there we were empty nesters, so could benefit from the longer leave although we very rarely took six weeks – too much hassle when you didn’t have an equivalent relief person.

I’m guessing at least some of you will be green with envy by now. 🙂

Have you visited London? What’s your favourite place or activity?

Have you seen a Chihuly exhibition anywhere? What did you think?

Have employment conditions assisted or limited your holiday options?

21 thoughts on “London dazzles

    1. Green with envy seems very understandable. We are so fortunate here and despite our reputation as being pretty laid back we do work hard when at work – well, most do, there’s always some who are lazy.


  1. Wow… those Chihuly exhibits must have been breath taking in person! Vacations in the US vary from employer to employer. Where I worked , I had 5 weeks yearly which is pretty much on the high side. Three months would be awesome. But the problem is… in having to go back to work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the exhibits were breath-taking indeed! And for sure it’s a shock going back to work after any holiday – but so are the long hours ensuring everything is under control before you go. People don’t always/often take all their three months’ long service – mostly they’ll try to keep some in reserve for when they retire or leave, as it gets paid out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I live in Washington state, so Chihuly is everywhere. Glass-blowing a huge, in general, here, and it’s all incredibly expensive.

    I’ve had the opportunity to watch glass-blowers in action — there is a father-son team who create in a studio local to me — and it’s quite mesmerizing to see. I would say it’s “very cool” but it’s actually very hot! The ovens are kept at extremely high temperatures so lookers-on are either consistently in the process of removing layers or else are sweating off a few pounds from the viewing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be such fun to see! Maybe we’ll make it to Washington state some time, who knows. I’d imagine the prices are eye-watering.
      I smiled at the very hot vs very cool. I admire the workers’ confidence when dealing with the glass and heat.


  3. oh wow! My paid time off (leave) is definitely different than yours. At this point, I have 3 weeks (15 work days) of paid vacation (leave) plus I think I have two weeks of sick leave (10 days) which is literally to be taken when sick. Some large companies in the U.S. and some government (state and federal) offices have much more time off than I do. My husband was an officer in his company (Chief Financial Officer) and he had two weeks (10 days) of paid time off plus maybe 5 sick days . . .and he worked there for 35+ years. I had wondered how you travelled so extensively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How ripped off only getting two weeks after 35+ years! Our sick leave entitlements are also ten days and limits about when you must have a doctor’s certificate. Sick days can also be taken as carer’s leave if children or parents are sick and need caring for. No idea how many days sick leave I had still in credit when I left work.
      Of course travel is more accessible when retired, which we’ve been for some time now.
      Glad I solved your wondering 😉


  4. I think the lily pond was one of my favourites although the man yelling out “move on” did nothing for the tranquil atmosphere the glass lilies were trying to achieve. Really enjoying your trips around the globe. I seem to remember when 2 weeks of annual leave plus statutory holidays was the norm in NZ. This is why you carefully placed your precious leave around statutory holidays and weekends to get the most days off in a row though using up a minimum of your 2 weeks allocation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The exhibition sounds absolutley amazing – I would love to have seen it.. I stayed in London last overseas trip and I loved it. I found a boutique hotel with a very modern decor and very compact rooms for about $150pn in Charing Cross Rd right near the West End with theatres and restuarants everywhere and amazing bookshops. My on hold plan is to go back there and spend more time going to the theatre and exploring bookshops, especially since reading 84 Charing Cross Rd and the Duchess of Bloomsbury St. I loved the vibe in London.:)

    We are so very fortunate here with our leave entitlements and that our employers actually expect us to take it. I remember when 3 weeks annual leave was the norm and it changed to 4 in the 1970s. Many don’t appreciate how lucky we are. I am hoping 2023 is going to the year to return to overseas travel for me. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope for your sake that 2023 works as your travel date. Your hotel sounds great – often such variable standards in London. 84 Charing Cross Rd is one of my favourite books ever!!!


  6. The Chihuly glass is amazing. We saw an exhibit in Seattle which was most impressive, especially as we didn’t know what to expect. I dreamed of going to London all my life and finally made it when I was 47 years old. I still remember flying in at dawn, with the Thames outlined in lights and the Houses of Parliament lit up. It was definitely a moment. Holidays…well I was a teacher. Say no more. Then the long service leave started accumulating. I didn’t like to leave my class for too long so saved a lot of it up for when I retired. Once retired we went overseas nearly every year but now of course that has changed. Even holidaying has home has become problematical with all the rain. Much bigger problem for those experiencing floods of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly blew me away Linda. I’m glad you got to London eventually and have that wonderful dawn memory.
      You can’t trick me with that teacher/holiday statement. Our daughter is a teacher and I know that having “so many holidays” is a Furphy…can’t remember one where she wasn’t working except for one overseas trip.
      And how right you are about travelling now. I feel for the people who’ve wanted to be able to travel in retirement and now covid has hit before they’ve got to do any.

      Liked by 1 person

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