Six weeks in and I have just about caught up on a decade worth of sleep and discovered even more of an appreciation for wine. Turns out I wasn’t a lawyer with a drinking problem – I was a wine fan with a lawyer problem. Oh, and we saw dolphins. Up close. (And just as I was typing this – camped on a cliff at the bottom of South Australia, a furry face (not the hubby) peered over my shoulder and I got head butted by a kangaroo. Scared me half to death – but, ah…nature).
Sleeping 9 to 5*. Slowing down in Rapid Bay.
(*Well, more like 10 or 11 til 6 or 7…but that doesn’t fit so well with my dodgy pun)
After our whirlwind wine extravaganza in the McLaren Vale, we ventured further down the Fleurieu Peninsula (which, according to locals, is pronounced Fluro. Just like the highlighter you know?) to Rapid Bay, the last town before Kangaroo Island. Rapid Bay is an old mining town that time forgot, and everyone else seems to have forgotten, except for some keen squid fisherfolk. It was a nice (free) spot to slow down for a few days, catch some squid, eat some squid. And sleep. Even more.
When I was a graduate lawyer starting out in mergers and acquisitions, one of the partners I worked for told me she had a “four hour rule”. So long as she got four hours’ sleep, she could get through the next day and power on working. I thought she was crazy – until I started doing M&A hours and realised sometimes (a lot of the time) that was just what happened. Fast forward a decade and I was a junior partner with three small kids and my “rule” became 2 and half hours sleep. Sometimes for days on end.
When I had my first baby, everyone (other than M&A lawyers) warned me about the sleep deprivation. But private equity clients had prepared me nicely for the sleeping habits of a newborn. Maternity leave was sleep nirvana. I often got five or six hours sleep a night!
So it seems I was the crazy one. Before we decided to pack it all in, I had
[begged] suggested to the hubby that we should have another baby. So I could have a few months of work and get some sleep. He [s creamed HELL no ] politely declined and asked whether there was possibly any other way to work less and sleep more. And so the packing it in and hitting the road scheme was hatched.
We now fall asleep whenever we want, and get up whenever we want. 8 or 9 hours most nights. My energy comes from rest and being outside and active, rather than from frenzied adrenalin and loads of caffeine. Our days are full, and active, but not busy and frantic. A little bit of school work, some fishing, walk down the beach, swim, cook, eat, wine.
I recently “met”** a fellow recovering lawyer who is now travelling and generally having lots more fun than being a lawyer. Yet, he said that his friends had thought he was crazy to quit law. I don’t know if my friends think I’m crazy (if they do, they haven’t said so to my face). They probably thought I was pretty nuts before and I am marginally more sane now. What I do know is that when I wake up at the beach after a great night’s sleep, and then get to go for a swim in the morning and wine tasting in the afternoon – on a Wednesday – all I think to myself is…freakin genius. (And we didn’t have to have baby no.4 to get here – hubby gets some genius credit too).
And then some wine tasting for a change from beaches, turquoise water and 4WDing
Well rested, we headed north to the Clare Valley. This town is all about wine. That’s pretty much it. If you’re not into wine, there’s really not all that much else to do. Luckily we are totally into wine. It wasn’t the most picturesque of accomodation. We stayed at a caravan park on the side of a highway (the only camping option in the area) and we may have been kept awake all night by the passing trucks if it weren’t for the newly acquired sparkling riesling that lulled us to slumber.
But we had a marvellous time winery-hopping and stocking up for the next few, vineyard-less, legs of our trip.
I have noticed a strange thing about my wine consumption on this trip. We are on a winery tour of the whole country … but we are drinking less. [Petersham crew, stop laughing – it’s true!]
Back in Sydney we had a fully stocked cellar (spot under the stairs) which I had divided into very specific categories – special occasion crackers; nice occasion lovelies (but not for bringing to friends houses because then we would have to share them); nice enough to bring to friends house, but not nice enough that we minded sharing; mass consumption wines for our messy, messy BBQs; wines for watching Game of Thrones; wines for watching Survivor and Walking Dead (not quite as nice as the GOT wines), weeknight wines – other (but that the hubby could NOT drink unless I was there); and wines the hubby was free to drink without me if I was stuck at work (so long as he left something…anything for when I did finally make it home).
If I managed to get home while the hubby was still awake then that was definitely an occasion deserving wine. If I got home after everyone was asleep, then I needed wine to de-stress and have a break between work and sleep. If I wasn’t working on the weekend (which did happen on the odd occasion) then it was a wine extravaganza. I was sleep deprived and time deprived, and wine was a fast track way to temporarily obliterate work thoughts before they piled back in the next day. Basically I needed wine on good days, and I really needed wine on bad days. We got through a lot of wine but despite my OCD categorisation, I didn’t really pay all that much attention to what we were drinking – as long as it gave me a breather from thinking about work.
On this trip we have been visiting wineries, finding out about what goes into the wine, how they are made, who makes them. The story behind the wine adds so much more pleasure when it comes to drinking it. And without the stresses of a work day to wash away I can sit back and actually savour what I am drinking. I LOVE wine, and I love enjoying wine – but the funny thing is, these days I don’t need that much to enjoy it. A few glasses while chatting by the campfire, or watching the sunset, or eating squid we [not me] caught that day – and loving every sip. A few times we have actually (previously UN-heard of) – put the cap back on a bottle (!!!). Far less mindless guzzling. Well, that is except when very evil friends from Sydney visit McLaren Vale for the weekend bearing rose, reds, sparkling reds and prosecco and totally blow this wholesome cover.
And here I was wondering if wine was affecting my lawyering. When all this time lawyering was affecting the wine. Priorities restored. Let’s see how long we can stretch out our Clare Valley stash.
Whyalla – no more due diligence, but loads of dolphins and other unexpected delights.
Last year my team at work acted on a colossal deal involving a steel company in Whyalla. I was “lucky” enough to be spared because I was suffering through my own deal hell, but most of the lawyers I worked with got sucked into the steel deal vortex. They barely slept for weeks, and all I heard from the zombie-like poor souls were mutterings of “F*#in Whyalla” and moaning about slag*** contracts, and Iron Knob Mine (which of course was the subject of much lawyer nerd humour).
So I thought it would be really funny to stop in Whyalla on our way down the Eyre Peninsula and take a few photos to send back to the team of me in front of the slag hell hole. That was the main purpose of our stop, but it also broke up the seven hour drive from Clare to Port Lincoln.
I had pictured spending the night in an industrial wasteland, as a belated connection to the long suffering steel deal team and their due diligence hell. We had not expected camping right on the beach, clear turquoise water, a spectacular sunrise and dolphins coming up to say hello at the jetty. It was utterly, utterly delightful. Whyalla – I stand corrected. Wow. Just….Wow.
So, sorry team. I truly did want to display some empathy and my plans of showing you “I have been to hell too” were well intentioned. But then I ended up once again sending back pics of how glorious it is to not be in the office anymore. My bad.
So now we are down in Port Lincoln, free camping in the national park. This morning we woke up to this…
I predict a week of fishing, oysters, prosecco and avoiding roo headbutts ahead. See? Freakin genius
**As in, I came across them on instagram and stalked and generally hung around until they took notice of me – how I achieve many things in life
***Not the type of slag you might otherwise associate with an Iron Knob (see how hiLARious we lawyers can be). Slag is the glass-like by-product left over after a metal has been smelted from its raw ore