17 April 2016

Port Macquarie

I should say in passing, Ollie did a sailing course in January. I'm pleased as anything. Even when he is mad, you can get him to start talking about how to sail, and he's excited enough to talk about that instead. He can rig a boat, I believe, but him and Tom, his sailing buddy and school friend, spend their time filling water balloons and faffing around while the adults did that. I thought they were joking when they said they would sail backwards, but hey, there they were with the stern making progress in reverse. Odd to see!

We went up to Port Macquarie 11th Feb for 4 days of the weekend. We went to the pool in the place on the first day for the morning, the afternoon, then same again the following day. We did get down to the beach once. Kind of silly given we'd driven all the way up, when you could just stay nearby if you just stay around the pool. Kinds loved it though. The water was warm. On the last day we went to the local pub on the way home.

The photos above - 16 April we had Jean Claude and Ellen over for lunch. I cooked a Cassoulet de Castelnaudary my stylie- with chicken not duck, local water, and poked the crust in only 3 times, but otherwise it was pretty genuine. It tasted as good as it looks it the pictures. Jean Claude even asked for seconds.

Nicole and Marko had a little baby; Maddison Storm, Storm Maddison, or maybe no Storm in the name at all.

The boys both did a swimming course. Ollie is strong now. Louis can make some distance, not convincingly, enough to have a go on those slides they put in the Olympic pools anyway.

In April, Baka moved into a retirement home. It is semi care. There are prayer meetings, everyone speaks Croatian, and there are regular outings, so she decided to stay immediately, with no thinking about it.

Adam and Elkie's Mila turned one.

We went to Vince and Kathy's for Easter. Many chocolate eggs were eaten. Marie smashed up a heap and put them in the freezer.

We've been making some friends with the other parents at school, mostly through the boys school friends. It's nice to be able to understand the language, unlike when we were in France.

I even had a pub night with Andy and Duls. Things are not too bad as a parent now the kids are a wee bit older, and much more independent. They're pretty easy to look after. As I write, they're at Charlie, Holly and Lola's for two nights running. We were going to go to a movie, but Marie was just too tired, so we're watching the box. What a boring pair of oldies.


Gee, it's been a while. I need to blog it up a bit more often.

Christmas - ate too much, kids got too many gifts again. This year was at Tony and Evonne's house. Their kids had chicken pox, so many people stayed away just in case. We were planning on having my family around, but they all cancelled due to contagious risk. Maryanne gave me the must be segregated isolated spiel. Anyway, we've still got a 3kg roast in the freezer 4 months later. Would be a shame to poison many people if we get them all around now.

I took a couple of weeks for Christmas, and just stayed around here. The boys went to skate camp at Olympic Park. They have some awesome ramps. The boys did very well on the scooters. Ollie managed to get down the ramps on the skateboard. Lou had a stack that I didn't see - some of the older kids aren't so careful with the little ones, and the little ones don't keep a line very well either.

Me and Marie had a few date nights. One was at the new development near Central - Central Park. What a great collection of little restaurants in a fake street alley. The pub was real, historic, and had some great whiskeys.

Part of the pre-haul at home - Ollie's Star Wars light sabre

Star Wars lego, always a hit.

Marie and ma Lou. Me and the boys picked up this jar.

Mark cracking them up again.

01 October 2015

Magnetic Island also known as Yunbenun

One out of three are listening to our requests for the photo.
 On Saturday, we packed up, cleaned up, and taxid it down to the ferry terminal for the ride to Magnetic Island, so called because Captain Cook's compass went off when passing it. That must thrill the Wulgurukaba people who were forceably removed from their home by the Queensland government. For thousands of years prior to this it was known as Yunbenun.

We camped for the last 4 nights. The kids got into the pool straight away.

On the fort walk, looking for koalas.

On Sunday we walked to the  Forts on the hill constructed for WW2. Townsville for bombed a bit, so these outposts would have given some forewarning.

We saw four koalas, two mums and their little ones. Very cool. Once again, the boys were excited!
The koalas for the fort walk.

Monday, we got a boat tour out to the reef. After popping some sea sickness pills, the boys handled it so well. Louis was a bit scared to go in but bravely swam over to have a look at the reef. Water was crystal clear so he could see the depth. The corals sitting up like tower blocks, and all the tropical fish were terrific.

The koalas for the fort walk.
3 of the 5 crew were French, so the boys spoke a little bit. I chatted to the great captain on the return. He's a retired developer, who then had a flying school business. He home schooled his children sailing around Australia. His kids learned Australian history, saw so many places first hand, and wrote essays with gusto! What an experience.

The koalas for the fort walk.
We saw some rock Wallabies hopping around one of the points of the port of Nelly Bay, and got them to eat some apple. They love carrot as well. Super cute.

On the fort walk: you can see bays, and the other islands.
Tuesday was at Geoffrey Bay for a bit of snorkelling, some sun burn, lunch and then back home for a family swim in the pool. We played Marco Polo, plus chasings. Our final dinner was Mexican at Noodies, which looks just like Noodles.

Wednesday, we got the 8am bus, 8.25 ferry, the 11.25 plane, another plane from Brisbane, and finally a train ride home at around 5pm.

All this holidaying just gives us grand plans for our weekends. Fingers crossed we can remember all these plans and do them all.

Over Bungalow Bay, near our camp ground.

At the Mexican restaurant.

Tropical museum Townsville, Paluma Range National Park

Diving helmets and the changes with time.
The trip to the museum was pretty good. They had dinosaur things, some crazy deep sea fish displays, and Ollie got to help fire a canon. The canon had all the actions, and some noise, but no real canon balls.

Ollie in the canon firing. He supplied gunpowder and stuff.

Paul and Louis at the canon firing.

Walking in Paluma Range National Park.

On Thursday, we went to Paluma. It was about 18 degrees up on the mountain. We all had tshirt and shorts on, so it was on the too chilly side for the little ones. The first walk near the bridge, and the last one in the rainforest were comfortable. But out to McClellands lookout was exposed to the elements on top of the mountain, and a bit windy, so there were some complaints.

The bridge built in 1937. Could be in Provence.
Lunch was at Balgal beach, were we failed to find somewhere nice for a swim. The local cafe people were great though. The boys played with the owners son of the same age.

Had dinner at the Royal Hotel, since it is such a nice old Qld pub. It was ok.

On Friday, we had a lazy day on the beach, an ice cream. At night we went to Cutheringa Bowling Club, where Marie chatted to a captive audience of old men, while me and the boys played barefoot bowls. Ollie scraped the boxes on the green and Louis launched a lego helicopter thing, so not super relaxing, but still a great intro to the game for everyone.

Rainforest near Paluma.

The rainforest walk near Paluma.

Meeting the potty locals.


The sea water pool on the Strand - stingers filtered.
Day 2: the bus takes us everywhere which is a nice way to see the place. There are appartment blocks going up here and there. They are 1,2 and 3 bedrooms: probably for visiting uni students? An overnight train into here with a bike wagon.

Transport is pretty good. There are a lot of Prius hybrid taxis. You can map your bus trip on www.sunbus.com.au. The nextThere app on the phone lists all the buses at the nearest bus stop.

The boys been wating for the bus all day.
The Strand is a wide shared path, popular with walkers, bikers and swimmers. BBQs, kids playgrounds, trees with vines to swing on, a water park and a sea water pool are all inviting. The place has been done very well.

Shame the skyline was deflowered by appartment blocks. These block the view to the mountain, a natural object that adds beauty to the place. Not sure how to fight developers by saying that it's a nice view.

Tip for the wise: Molly Malones for a good value lunch, and you can teach the kids how to play pool. The servings are big.
Molly Malone's pub for lunch.
The mountain dominates the city. To get to town, you must go around it using a couple of main roads.

A spot of pool before lunch

Ollie the pool shark

Molly Malone's Irish pub - a pretty building.


Not sure what zizi is in Italian, but in French it's impolite.
We have no idea, so the following day we walk into town, a 4km feat that the kids manage, with a big milk shake at half way. There is the old Central Station, a marvellously handsome building, with the old tracks turned into a pedestrian trail. How good would it be to follow a path here into town? The station is well preserved with some info panels. 

Who knew that Townsville got bombed during WW2? The Coral Sea touches here. It is the turning point of the war. The Anzac Park lists all the American ships that went down during that battle. Without yank involvement, we would have all been in very big trouble.
The best use for a parking spot.

The old architecture is so beautiful you could cry. The Event cinema makes me cry.

We find the water park on the Strand. It's a hit. Ollie cries "This is awesome!"

The water park on the Strand - awesome!!

School holidays - Townville, Queensland.

Where we stayed - 34 Estate Street, West End, Qld. Lovely.
We went to Townsville for the school holidays.

Our Canadian exchange student Paul is happy to leave behind the Sydney funnel web, but less happy with deadly stingers, and salt water crocs. (He's still alive).

On arrival, my first task is to find some takeaway dinner at 8pm. Luckily there is a spare bike where we're staying. Setting off towards a few dots on Google maps that say restaurant. I find one but it's shut. After asking directions, shortly I'm approaching the golden arches. These are so big they could be seen at 100kmh, let alone 60k. A second stroke of luck puts a great Asian restaurant just prior to those arches ("tastes like happy": what?).
The verandah out the front - Paul's preferred place for reading .
The home we're staying in is a large 3 bedroom home. A Queenslander raised off the ground for flooding, a big verandah to keep things cool, and nice breezy ventilation.

The boys are excited.

The living room - great collection of books.

Francis Street - this way for Cutheringa Bowls Club and the bus stop.

Ollie birthday

Roundhouse kick
We enrolled the boys in karate. They love it. It's great to see the roundhouse kicks, pizza slice karate chops etc. It seems like no time at all, but they have been getting better, and are now black tip- - advanced as Ollie says with pride.
Louis power

Holly, Lola, Paul, Ollie, Charlie, Evonne, Marie
So what to do for the celebration with all his class buddies? Ninja dressups of course. We had about 20 kids + parents+ siblings to Brennan Park. We bunged on some pizza, a few other bits and pieces, beer and wine, almost too easy.

The cousins, Paul celebrate Ollie's birthday.

Much excitement for blowing out the candles.

The girls make a wish.

The taste test.

Testing the ninja masks - they work well!

Mystery ninja helps Louis assemble the straw.

05 August 2015

In the city and the walk from Bondi to Tamarama

Walking to the next bus in the city
On Sunday 2nd August, we went to Bondi to walk along the clifftops. It is definitely one of the best walks in Sydney. Some beach, some sandcastle building, a bit of walking on the rocks, and great views over the sea. A great part of the city.

The Govt Post Office in Martin Place

On the bus to the beach.

Bondi beach, maybe the most visited beach.

Exploring the rocks nearby

Bronte beach, looking towards Coogee.