Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time for an update.
We spent the weekend in Canberra where Mark's parents live and for some reason my camera didn't realy come out of my bag much.
Except, that is, when Mark took me for a drive to do some 'roo hunting. Not too far from where his parents live, we took a drive down a country road and very soon we started spotting them. My shots of them are not very good as i didn't have my zoom lens with me but it was very fun to see them all. I could quickly tell that there were literally hundreds of kangaroos all around, hiding in the tall grass and under trees in the distance. Can't come to Australia and not see kangaroos.

On the drive back from Canberra we stopped in at Capernwray in Moss Vale, where I spent 6 months 21 years ago. It was really fun to see it again. Lots of good memories there eventhough it was only 6 months of my life. Not too much had changed there. The pub that we used to sneak to across the street was also still there, so Mark, Leni and I stopped in there for a drink before heading back to Sydney.

Leni and I spent a couple days shopping in Sydney city center. I really enjoyed being in the busy-ness of the city. I could sit there and people watch for hours. It's also such a different looking city from Vancouver, as in the age of the buildings. Really pretty, I think.

Tuesday morning, Leni had arranged to meet some of her friends from the pool where she regularly swims for breakfast. That meant we had to leave the house by 5:30. Yikes!
As we got into the city, we realized that there was something happening at the harbour. There were about 6 helicopters in the air and boats everywhere. We learned that 2 of the largest cruise ships were both coming in to dock that morning. The Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary 2. There were people everywhere and it made the harbour a very busy place.

Anyways, we had two busy, successful days of shopping. Today we have decided to take a day to relax at home. We were going to take the bus into a nice bakery she know of to have a coffee this afternoon but it all just seemed to be tooo much work. Oh, the hardships when you are on holiday.

This cockatoo graced us with his presence this morning as we had our tea and coffee.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Five days in Tasmania

Leni and I have returned to Sydney today, after spending five days in Tasmania. I really had no idea what to expect, except maybe for some cold weather as that is what anyone told us when we mentioned we were heading there. The weather is definitely colder than here in Sydney as you can see that I am wearing a sweater in many of the photos. But we had no rain worth mentioning and lots of blue skies.
We landed in Launceston and spent two nights there in the cutest little hotel. It is a waterfront town that sits on an inlet and we had a view of the water and the boats right out our hotel window.

Our first day we were told by all the locals that the place to be was the Festivale (pronounced Festivalee) so that is where we spent the afternoon. It was a big food and wine festival held in the city park with live music on a few stages. I won't go into much detail about this, as Leni and I think you may have had to have been there to have seen the charm, but this day provided many laughs for us that day and for the days to come as we remembered our first day in Tasmania.
The highlight of Launceston though, was definitely a place called the Cataract Gorge. A hidden gem in the town that we stumbled onto totally by accident. After the Festivale was over we decided to go for a walk before finding some dinner. We found the most beautiful pathway that led you along the edge of a gorge with the Tamar River running below. After about 25 minutes we came to the end to find a spot where the river widened and created a sort of swimming hole. The had developed it into a park, complete with grassy areas, two little cafes, and an outdoor swimming pool. We loved this spot so much that we decided to go back there the next day to spend even more time exploring.

After our two nights in Launceston we headed to the northern coastal town of Devonport. The town itself was not too exciting but we explored the areas surrounding in our little rental car which we endearingly named Kermit. We drove through a tiny little beach town named Penguin where we beachcombed for a while. I thought this beach was pretty lovely but Leni didn't seem too impressed. I think living in Auusie for so long has spoiled her.

We then kept driving up to a place called Wynyard, where we were told there was a beautiful lookout. the view from the top was amazing. The town's little slogan is "Where green meets blue" and from up there you could see why. The water though is a blue that doesn't compare to the blue here. It is really more of a teal blue and I coulnd't really get enough of it. The little lookout point was extremeily windy and we felt like we were going to blow right off.

Next morning we were on the road again - this time heading to Cradle Mountain. This is part of a huge natinal park that takes up almost half of Tasmania. We had booked a room in a place called the Cradle Mountain Chateau. It was quite a windy road to get up there but Kermit (and Leni) did a great job getting us there.

The place was lovely, set right in the middle of the forest. The view from our room was what looked like pristine, untouched nature. And to prove that point, we saw a number of wallabies and one shy little echidna right from our room. The echidna was very, very shy and getting a good photo was difficult, but he was oh-so cute.

That first afternoon we did about a two hour walk all the way around Dove Lake. Most of the walk was boardwalk and a really great way to see the landscape. The foliage is so different from home, so there seemed to be something new to see around every bend.

The next day we did another walk - this time along another boardwalk that took us through the forest and along fields of button grasses and tall gum trees.
I especially loved the contrast between the lush green bottom and tall grey sticks that seemed to be dead but had green at the very top.

We were also treated to a sighting of a wombat along that trail. We were both so happy to see him but he was not so happy to see us. I was able to capture this photo before he scurried out of sight.

After our walk it was time to get back into Kermit for the drive back to Launceston as our flight left from there the next morning back to Sydney.
These five days were full of seeing some lovely sights, and experiencing new things, but mostly it was some precious quality time with my sister that I won't soon forget.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blue Mountains

Yesterday Leni and I left early (7:30) to get the train to the Blue Mountains. We first walked 10 minutes or so to the train station by her house to take a train to Central Station and from there took a train to the Blue Mountains. We arrived there around 10:30.

Our first stop was a little town called Leura. We ate breakfast at a very lovely little gourmet food shop with a cafe at the back. I ordered toasted banana bread, served with ricotta cheese, honey and walnuts. This is worth mentioning, as it was soooooo yummy, and I wondered why they don't serve this at home. I am going to bring this idea with me to Canada.
After our breakfast, we spent a couple hours wandering around all the cute little shops. There was lots to buy, but nothing caught our fancy and we left with our wallets no lighter than when we arrived.
From there we got back on the train and headed up one more stop to Katoomba. I loved the little train station here. It was all kept up so nicely, with flowers planted and a nice paint job that would have definitely made me line up my kiddies for a photo shoot had they been with me.

This is where the Three Sisters are and I had seen them when i was here before. It was a very beautiful spot high in the Blue Mountains. There are a lot of paths that you can take all around there, but our time was limited so we just hung out for a while, took photos and then after a while headed back to the station to get our train back to Sydney.

Waiting for our bus at the Three Sisters.
It is so special to be here and spend all this time with Leni. I keep thinking that over and over again. How blessed am I to have been able to take this trip and have the support back home to let it happen.

When we arrived home Mark was home from work and had already been to the shops and got all the makings for a feast.
Mark loves seafood and Leni doesn't so they don't often have it. But now that Mark has me here to enjoy it with him, he definitely spoiled me. We cooked oysters, prawns and some blue-eyed cod.

I have never had oysters before and was not too sure that I would like them. They were delicious and we had no problem polishing off the whole dozen.

Thanks Mark and I know there are some of you out there that might just be a little bit jealous of me. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Australian wildlife

This country has some beautiful birds and lots of them are right here in Mark and Leni's backyard. Today Leni and I just stuck around home and relaxed. So I was able to catch a few shots of the locals.
Cooper this one is for you again. These little skinks run around all over the place and today Mark caught one in his hand and he put it in mine. Yikes, can you believe I held it Coop??

And in Australia, they have really big spiders (yikes)

and really small strawberries. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bondi Beach

Today Leni and I took the train (actually two trains and a bus) to Bondi Beach. There is a beautiful walkway along the coast that goes on forever, past different little beaches. The waves are beautiful and big and the water is beautifully blue. I loved it.

We walked forever because really I couldn't get enough of the view, but eventually we turned back to head back from where we came. We had some lunch at a streetside cafe and then made our trip home. We were both knackered (aussie for pooped).
Cooper - the picture of the sand is for you. It is so soft under your feet - you would love it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I arrived!!

This will be a quick post just to make sure that my blogging will actually work from down under.
I arrived safely on Sunday morning to 33* heat, but I must have packed a little "cool" in my bag as the temperature dropped by about 10* by that afternoon.
I have been having a lovely time relaxing and visiting. Hard to believe I am actually here. Such a lucky ducky am I!
The photo above is my fave so far. Taken at Circular Quay having a mocha with my big sis.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oh my...

Where has January gone? It really feels like it has been a bit of a whirlwind. Blogging has definitely taken a backseat as other things have taken up my time.

Tony turned 40 last weekend.

We celebrated that night at home with a steak dinner and coconut cream pie. The end of a long and busy week meant that not everyone made it to dessert when this photo was taken. Taggart was already tucked tightly into bed and Hudson was at a friends birthday party. It was a tough call for him to decide which he should be at, but his buddy won out.
The next night we had some friends in for a small, low-key evening of appys, drinks, and visiting.

The rest of the past two weeks has been me preparing for my amazing adventure that I set out on tomorrow. Can't believe I am leaving my family for 3 weeks to go visit my big sis in Sydney, Australia. I have tried to stock my freezer with a few meals, cleaned the house, laundry is all caught up and hopefully I have left detailed enough information as to all the events of the next 3 weeks. The Valentine cards for Tag and Reagan's class were even completed and ready for them to take to school that morning.

I know that Tony and Nana will handle everything beautifully and I am so excited for this get-away opportunity. I hope to be able to figure out a way to blog while I'm down-under. If not, look for a lengthy post with lots of photos when I return.