Thursday, January 26, 2017

The end of January

A week of amazing sunsets looking out to the Brindabellas...........

And our last chance for a special holiday outing with the girls before school starts again next week........

They chose Questacon when it looked like our Bird Aviary visit could be cut short by rain. We spent nearly three happy hours at our favourite Science playground, the highlights being the "Rocket Show" (10 rockets in 30 minutes!) and Madame Scar, the master face painter fresh from the horror movies.

Abi was very pleased with her "Pixie Bite".......
But we all found Ella's eye injury a bit too real - Poor Joshy was really shocked when he first saw it as we hadn't properly warned him it was only face paint!
 ....especially when she got the expression just right too!
Thankfully we've also completed our holiday jigsaw puzzle. We started Santorini about 7 weeks ago - a very difficult 1000 piece jigsaw that EVERYBODY has worked on....but it was mainly Jody's efforts that got us there in the end.
The Australia Day holiday is another marker of the end of the summer holiday season. This year there has been a more mature conversation (IMO) about the date we've chosen (relatively recently) for this "celebration". More people are realising that not all Australians want to "celebrate" a day that commemorates the arrival of the British on the basis of an illegal declaration of Terra Nullius (by Captain James Cook in 1770), in direct contravention of international law at that time........and in blatant disregard of Australia's First Nation peoples. I look forward to that conversation continuing to grow.....

In the meantime, all was calm at Coogee Beach today...lots of happy families and innocent fun; no drunken flag bearers about, no Southern Cross tatts on show, no alcohol and not even any litter - especially welcome after the Christmas Day debacle when 10,000 (mostly backpackers) people descended on Coogee Beach for a day of mayhem and mess. The locals will take long time to get over that one!

Monday, January 23, 2017

High Country Blues Reunion

We packed a lot into our weekend at Thredbo: three days of happy times with friends; walking in perfect Summer high country conditions; hearty food and great German beer (and our own G & T afternoons) and brilliant Blues music courtesy of the annual Thredbo Blues Festival.

Irene got us organised early on Saturday morning for what turned out to be a new (for us) and not too challenging walk from Dead Horse Gap, south of the village along the Thredbo river, through the frost valley, up Bob's Ridge and along the Cascades fire trail until we were hungry enough to stop for an early picnic lunch beside Cascade Creek.

We didn't make it all the way to Cascade Hut as we wanted to keep this a half day walk - but loved what we saw of this part of the 20klm Cascade Walk.

Devastating fires ripped through the National Park (in fact most of this part of NSW and the ACT) in January 2003. The stands of dead eucalypts from these fires give the park quite an ethereal quality when viewed from a distance - even though the forests now have lots of regrowth.

We recovered from our morning's walk on the first of many trips up our fave Thredbo chairlift to Eagles Nest Restaurant (and Bullwheel Bistro), Australia's highest restaurant at 1937m.

There were 12 in our group this year, including James, Fiona and Will who made the drive up from Melbourne to be with us this weekend.

We took it in turns to host drinks each evening before setting out for an evening of wonderful Blues music in the various festival venues throughout the village. Fiona and Judy excelled themselves on Saturday night creating a Mexican themed spread for our "nibbles'' with drinks.

After two late nights and great concerts by Jeff Lang and Phil Manning we took it easy on Sunday morning: another ride up the mountain for a morning coffee at Eagles Nest.....
 ...enjoying the laid back morning Blues program in the Village Square (the Groove Kings are a very polished outfit!)
 .... before settling in for a long lunch at the Black Bear Inn and a wonderful performance by the CJ Raggatt Band - my favourite of the festival.

These guys are performing at the Memphis Blues Challenge (in Memphis!!) in a bit over a week. I would love to catch one of their gigs in Sydney (they are all Avalon Beach (old) boys!).

Sunday afternoon and evening is when the festival really hits its stride with the performers warmed up and the festival crowd at its most appreciative. We enjoyed  Ray Beadle poolside, the Kate Lush Band at the House of Ullr, a blast of the Foreday Riders in the Keller Bar, a taste of (too noisy) Kevin Borich, and too short a view of the Owen Campbell Band before finally calling it quits for the Thredbo Blues Festival for 2017.

The music and the mountains are wonderful attractions but it's the happy times with friends each year in Thredbo that make it the best of all.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Birthday week

Rob's birthday week starts with our wedding anniversary - it's always the 8th January, but this year it's a bit special - being 45 years since that hot summer's day in 1972 when we were married, in Brisbane. In some ways it seems like forever ago - but in other ways it doesn't seem like that long at all! 

We celebrated our wedding anniversary in Sydney: drinks at the crowded Opera House Bar at sunset..

 ....then dinner at Sydney Opera House's beautiful Bennelong restaurant..

 ..where we had the best table in the house and a wonderful meal of Tasmanian octopus, Holmbrae duck with pickled new season cherries and a cherry jam lamington for dessert (a "deconstructed" lamington like I have never eaten before!). We also discovered a lovely new wine - and a Sauvignon Blanc to boot: the Terre a Terre from South Australia - very crisp and flavoursome on a hot Sydney summer night.
Rob's birthday is 3 days after on the 11th. Back in Canberra the girls spoilt him with a cooked breakfast (their idea): handmade (from scratch) waffles with chocolate sauce (and blueberries), then a happy family dinner that night and ten pin bowling with the girls the day after. This was a first for us, with the girls; we had fantastic fun and found it an ideal activity for us on a 37oC day.
Saturday night we celebrated with friends over a Kerala Thali at Daana's in Curtin followed by a celebratory breakfast with J & J and the girls at our fave Hyatt Hotel.

And Rob enjoyed yet more birthday best wishes last night with another group of our friends. It might look like we are in Tuscany - but we're actually sitting in a really lovely courtyard garden in inner south Canberra.
I've made him a cake too, and we're cutting that next weekend...this is the birthday that keeps on giving!

Friday, January 6, 2017


We've had a rather wonderful January so far:

1. Our first attempt at kayaking in Lake Burley Griffin (Thank you Judy and Jurgen and Maggie the wonder dog). We're hoping we can do this again; it's absolutely beautiful out in the lake, despite our lack of skills in paddling straight and, in Rob's case, keeping upright (he fell completely overboard at one stage!).

2. A wonderful New Year's Eve meal starting with Aperol spritzers and then fresh Merimbula lobster served with a superb Grosset Reisling - shared with friends outdoors (a perfect, balmy evening it was too), before catching a late movie - the Canberra premiere of "Lion" starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. 

3. A happy week in Sydney with lots of relaxation, coast walks, using the excuse of a rainy day to revisit old haunts ....... well as discovering new ones like the Pool Cafe on Marine Parade Maroubra, Tim Ho Wan's at Chatswood and the rather glorious Roseville Station Bar (where we shared another great night with Sydney friends last night).

4. A perfect Sydney day today after 3 days of intermittent showers. We walked from Randwick Public School (where the advertised Farmer's Market was a no show) through the pretty suburban streets of Bronte and Tamarama all the way to Bondi Beach.

which looked its spectacular best today.....

Love January, love Sydney!

Family pics

Rob's Mum asked me to get a "family picture" of the three generations of the P family for her collection. I dreaded doing this as this particular group of P family members can be a bit uncooperative about "posing for pics" at the best of times.

Surprisingly, Abi allowed me to do a lighting check for the pic, using her as the subject, early on Boxing Day - and I managed to get these beautiful shots of her in the process ........

But when it came time for the group shot no one had time to move to the desired position - nor did they have time for more than a 10 second long sitting (the young ones were keen to head off for their week long break in Coogee!).... and Abi did her usual photobomb trick of finding something to hide behind - but oh well, I did my best, and they are a beautiful bunch anyway aren't they? I hope Bobbie will be pleased with it despite the rush.

Saint - Germain

Someone in the C5 sales office took pictures in our apartment just before Christmas - to show us progress to date.

The pic below is taken from the living room looking back to the kitchen. It looks different to the "artists impressions" in the brochure but at least there are two extra windows on the back wall that we hadn't counted on.

The pic below shows the view from the living room and "winter garden". It looks very light and spacious which is great. it is very hard for us having no control or input into this phase and not even being able to see it until it is finished. I am sure we will be thrilled with some things and not so thrilled about others - it is hard at this stage to fully imagine just what it will be like. 

One disappointment has been realising that we will see more of the roof of the apartments on level G - 3 than we expected (we are on level 5). This was something we couldn't fully predict at the planning stage but I am sure we will get used to it in the context of the overwhelmingly fabulous north facing views we have towards the Australian War Memorial and Mt Ainslie!

They are still predicting a late March finish date but that would still make it an April - May move in date before all the formalities are completed.