19 January 2017

Wednesday - walk downtown

We started the day before 10am, which is not bad at all for us. Unfortunately, we jumped on the subway going in the wrong direction. A kind woman explained the letters on each station, and that the N is an express, which we used to get downtown (near the action - uptown is the Bronx, as in nothing soft comes out of the Bronx).
We got out near the Woolworth building and Town Hall, so we wandered around there, going to Westfield shopping centre at the old twin towers site. The form is like the metal structure that was poking up after the towers went down.
The two big holes in the ground at the memorial are sobering, along with all the names of the people who died. There must have been around 400 firefighters, cops, and other service people in the list, which was a surprise. They put flowers in the names of people on their birthdays.
We got down to Battery Park on the waterfront, very nice views. Walked along until the boys got hungry and ended up at Lox cafe inside the Jewish Museum for some egg sandwich, a Borsch soup and a herring dish, all very good in my opinion, although we had to threaten the boys to eat it.
Walked along further to the ferry but decided not to go on, and trained it to Brooklyn, so we could walk back over the bridge. The boys enjoyed that a lot. The bike riders must go totally mad while the tourists walk back and forth over their bike lane, generally unaware. We didn't realise until a guy was ringing his bell and did not move out of his lane, so we did.
Finished with a pit stop on the way home at Union Square. Tonight Marie is out for a girls night with Alicia.
Note; I have many many photos, so decided to blog one day per post to put up as many as I could.

18 January 2017

Tuesday - clothes washing, Maths museum.

Tuesday - it's rainy. We do a load of washing, which is incredibly fast, at the laundromat. Go to Star bucks for week coffee and a place to sit, for lack of options. Lunch is a ham sandwich at the hotel room - very economical. Mate the bread here tastes like cake - 10g in the hundred is sugar.
The afternoon is at the moderately boring Maths Museum - a Mobius strip with a car/camera on it, a rolling platform sitting on acorn type shapes is sort of interesting. The room with the wood 3D puzzles is frustrating as always. The kids had a good time with the cart/flexy track setup, and the platform where you physically had to move to move the circle on the screen in a computer game of putting it through the gates. Dinner is a salad at the Belgian Beer Cafe, nice beers.

Monday in Joisey

Monday - meet up with Alicia. The guy at the ticket office at the Port Authority Bus Terminal does not know where Morganville is, so we get tickets to Lord knows where. The bus ride is like a ride through a Terminator movie, between the 14 lanes freeway, the massive Newark airport, the massive chemical manufacture complex, the power plant etc. Eventually we arrive in suburbia, drive through banks, medium box/mass parking type shops etc.  We miss our stop and get out at Irvine St to be picked up by Alicia.
At her place, the boys happily play on their playstation thing. Lunch is huge pizza, and after we go for a walk in the forest in their back yard. Ollie, after we tell him not to cross on that log repeatedly, goes straight in the drink up to his shins. I suppose you have to learn. He borrows some shoes from Hugh. In the evening we go to Harold's New York deli for the biggest ribs, and pastrami/roast beef sandwich, in the universe, with Alicia's family.

Sunday - ice skating

Sunday - got out late enough, went ice skating at 11am on Trump's rink - very pleasant! A perfect winter's day, mild, sunny, comfortable as. Lunch is at about 4pm at a sandwich place, slightly dodgy, a bit greasy on the floor, and dark. Then more TV before sleeping. Don't want to rush around much.

Saturday - New York

Saturday - fly to Yankeeland. Up at 5.30am, the others bleary eyed but also up, then rolling at 6.20am. Returning the car is quick except for finding the desk. The check in lady asks questions and is taking forever. Then we need to swap some weight out of one bag. We get through security late. Marie goes champagne shopping while I realise, panicked, that the board is showing Final Call for our flight. I tell Marie I'm taking the boys to the gate! She arrives empty handed as she thought I had the boarding passes, needed for duty free purchases, as they start to page us.
The in flight entertainment is some TVs hanging from the roof like in a country coach. Dealing with the flight attendants is like a slap in the face after the politesse of France. One lady is incredibly rude: "You got your seat belts on? Keep them on!", while the others tend to be nicer but don't say much - weird a bit sad. No probs in customs, after eventually finding the ATM getting tickets to the airtrain for cash, and two weekly subway tickets (boys are free) is easy. We get dinner fast, and everyone's asleep by about 7 or 8pm local time.

Friday - √Čtampes

Friday - lazy day today. Kids watch TV, while we pack up a bit, then go for lunch at nearby Etampes. It's quite a pretty town in the centre, typical homes, a church, the Mairie etc. I send off the bank stuff at last. The night we eat Raclette and drink champagne. Am gaining too much weight.

Thursday - gay

Thursday - go to gay Paris on the RER C train, after some time of getting out of bed etc, and finding the commuter train station at Bouray near Lardy.
Get out at the Eiffel tower stop, have tourist lunch with 20% tax - no tip! The tower area now has a security fence around it. You have your bags searched, and a metal detector wand to check for weapons. Me and Ollie wait in the cold while Louis and Marie parade up the tower, and wander around for a good while.
We roll up the Trocadero gardens for a drink stop. The waitress is from Ohio. Then a stop at the bank where an upfriendly lady informs us we can't close the account without a forwarding account to send the balance.
For dinner, we have the lentils from Le Puy en Velay that we brought along with duck sausage from a farm near Rodez down south - excellent, really meaty. abit

Wednesday - Museum of Compagnonage, Mesnil-Racoin

Wednesday - a bit rainy. Me and Louis go on the ferris wheel. This town has a bigger historic centre than you'd guess. Go tot he excellent Compagnonage museum. The Compagnonage is like an apprenticeship. They tour the country for two years learning then do a master work. The museum has a collection of miniatures - each model is about a metre cubed. The highlights include a stone bridge made of real stones, several wooden domes complete with staircases, and a steel gate that was made over a 14 year period. Impressive!
Lunch was in a restaurant that has a dog. He was very nice, popular with the boys.
En route we stopped at Orleans exactly at 5pm - which is when the bank shuts, so no money today. This town is beautiful, but needs more sapce for pedestrians.
Wednesday night - arrived at Stephane's place. The GPS put us somewhere. Stephane asked if there was a lake next door, but it was too dark to see! This village is a beautiful collection of town homes side by side build up to the street, with back yards. No shops. We drive through the gates in the wall, along the cobbled driveway. Catherine comes out to check we're in the right spot. Says we don't need to take our shoes off, but this time the mud is everywhere due to rain or frost. We have our own room, with the boys on a mezzaninine, so they're stoked.
For dinner, we start with an apero of excellent whiskey, some champagne, and charcrute - sausage, ham, charcuterie and some sour crout.

Tuesday - Montsoreau

Tuesday - rolled along the river, saw a nuclear power plant, homes that we build into the rock along the river bank. Stopped at the mushroom caves but they weren't open. Walked in town there, Montsoreau, along beautiful wiggly alley rolling up so there was a view over the river, and past a chateau - closed for winter. Lunch was at a ratty little bar that looked great from the outside. Mind you, it is always welcome to find somewhere to eat when so many places are closed for winter. Rolled back to Tours and had a walk around.

Monday - 9th Jan - Azay de Rideau

Monday - 9th Jan
Azay de Rideau - impressive place next to a river, with a moat. They are currently redoing the whole place
One room had a video of the work that goes into the edging of the curtains, the lace edging of the cushions - really amazing, all done by hand. Also the straw woven matting that went on the floor and all over the walls to create a real warmth in the room. It was a bed chamber of some famous bird.
Nice town! Lunch at a great restaurant. Waitress seemed a bit flustered. Crepe machine was not working for a bit.
Afternoon back in Tours. Did some washing. Saw the cathedral. In the laundromat, some dodgy dude was sitting there, but there was no other washing. So I stayed with our things that were drying, he glanced at me, then left.

Sunday- St Aignan, Chateau de Chenonceau, Tours

Booked a hotel in Tours this morning.
Lunch at St Aignan - some local told us to walk through the chateau, which did have a magnificent view over the river and the town. Some of the defence wall is still intact. All of the road stumps had knitted wool on them. We think this place might be famous for that. It is a very pretty town in good condition. There is a snow man with plastic cups.
Chateau de Chenonceau in the afternoon - just in time to catch the animals in the yard, some donkeys, a pony. The boys have an awesome time in the hedge labyrinthe. Louis is disappointed to leave that! The castle itself is an old fortified mill going across a river. More recently it was owned by some industrialist, and used as a hospital during WW1. Impressive place. Ollie had a headset with a kids explanation in it, so he was happy. Lou had the map with numbers, so he and Marie could go in the right order.
Arrived in Tours. Had dinner at some Irish pub, with no Irish ppl. Soccer was on TV.

Saturday - Chateauroux

Saturday - rolling North! Martel is great but cold. Stopped at a market to get saucisse and a bit of cheese to eat in the car en route. The lady at the tourist office advises us to visit some horse stud of a rich personnage, but we want to make some distance.
Saint Junien I think this place is famous for gloves, but we couldn't find any. Also, there was a sign for a master Emaileur, whatever that is. Couldn't find that either. The 12th century church is interesting. We left my backpack with the passports in a cafe, but the owner races out with it when he sees us passing by again.
night - we stayed at the Ibis is some small town, Chateauroux. The boys would not let us go past the Sushi place. Louis v v happy!

Friday - head out to St Cirq Lapopie

Friday - head out to St Cirq Lapopie via Calvignac - spectacular and high on a hill overlooking the river. V cold, nothing open, wandered around, then hiked back to the car as its time for lunch.
Cahors - seems identical to Nimes with its circular road around the town centre. Had an Andouillette again, nice but slightly wrong somehow due to mushy zuchini and creamy odd sauce. Lots of medieval homes overhanging the road. Tried on some hats but no success. Sensational bridge over the river in perfect condition with medieval defenses, murder slots, gates. Rolled home for some warmth and cartoons in our awesome hotel room.
This is the birthplace of Gambetta. The boys school in Cagnes sur Mer is named after him, so we should look him up in Google one time.

Thursday Cordes sur Ciel, Najac, Figeac

Thursday - Started the day taking snaps of the castle next to where we stayed, then went into town - Cordes sur Ciel. It's a steep uphill walk, then the old town is pretty flat, high up there, with a spectacular view. Ollie complained, until Louis picked up a map with a numbered walk. Then they led the way around town trying to find the numbers.
Lunch was a relaxing cheese sandwich in the car, with a bit of fruit
Stopped at Najac, which is a great little medieval German type town with a 13C castle on the hill adjacent. Spectacular.
found a great place to stay at Figeac in an old building. The room has a loft level, which the kids love, and makes us feel safe, while giving a bit of privacy. This town is quite beautiful, medieval, winding narrow streets, homes over hanging the street.
This is the birthplace of the guy who cracked Hieroglyphics.

Wednesday - Olargues

Wednesday - got the hell out of Gignac earlyish after breakfast, then got detoured near some lake, and on a road winding up a mountain road that is about one car wide. Stopped at a semi abandoned village high up, then rolled back down onto a nearby red B road that is fast but still scenic.
Stopped at Olargues because of a bright red bridge that turns out to be part of a rail trail. A very nice town with character, but no place to eat. Made it to Premian for lunch next to the road.
Keep rolling to hit Cordes sur Ciel. Bit of a long driving day today.

Tuesday la rentree

Tuesday - the school rentree, coffee with everyone, go to the bank, go to Cap 3000, lunch with Gabriella and Hugues. Drove until tired. Got to Gignan, which was not that exciting a place. Had tapas for dinner.

Monday - tourist train to Entrevaux.

Monday - tourist train to Entrevaux, all good.

Sunday at Jean Louis and Sylvie's

Sunday - New Years Day with Jean Louis and Sylvie, hang around house, late lunch. Then to the school to meet everyone for a kick of soccer and a chat. And to get the latest drama about broken dolls, and a defaced diary.

Saturday - Cagnes sur Mer

Saturday - cooked a bit, went to Vaugrenier to meet up with Jean Louis and Romain. Ollie slipped off a wood log fence and head planted into the wood platform. He had the grill imprinted in his head, so we thought we'd take him to hospital. A kind lady drove in front to show us the way. After someone beat us to a car parking space, I told the lady at reception he'd smacked his head, but she just wanted to know if I'd filled in the entry form. Luckily I'd done that. After 10 minutes wait, we got in to see the nurse then the doctor straight after. Luckily there was nothing major, so we went home taking care to keep an eye on the patient.

Day 11 -

Day 11 - out of home fairly late, go for a bush walk to see some wood art in the forest. Go to La Colle sur Loup for lunch, beautiful village. Went to Vaugrenier after. Ollie face planted off a fence and stamped the wood pattern into his forehead. The people gathered around and it was decided to go to hospital. One lady drove in front of me to show the way, so nice. Got to car park, oldies stole mt parking spot. Had to fill in form before getting any kind of help, then sit down and wait. After being seen by the nurse, we got to see a doctor, who checked his eyes and breathing, gave him the all clear, then we paid up 83 euro, and all good again.

Day 10

Day 10 - visit Alina and her new beautiful little girl, who is just the spitting image of her father. She's just started to walk. She's a cutie. Lunch and we meet up with Solange our old Nounou. She's studying English and will teach secondary school or Uni. I drop in on work to see a couple of old work buddies.

Day 9 Sisteron

Day 9 plan - wander around Sisteron.
Drive via Castellane to Cagnes Sur Mer. Staying at Gabriella's and Hugue's place.
Jean Louis is having a get together at 6pm.
We'll be spending a week odd back home in Cagnes sur Mer.

Day 8

Day 8 - after getting some nougat at the 3 Abeilles, and a fact filled enlightening trip to the Arnaud Soubeyran factory, picking up more nougat, chocolate, red wine and marshmellow, we drive onto Grignan for lunch. The serveuse is Canadian. She having trouble translating the ingredients into English. The castle is closed, but the church has a hell of a great automated creche/nativity scene.
We drive on to Sisteron, past some beautiful stone villages. There's no way in hell we will remember all these different villages!
Sisteron has an amazing fortress above the village. The village is a classic Provencale collection of winding alleys, tiny arcades of stairs cutting up/down through buildings. Marie picks up 2 more belts. Dinner is way too much pizza. They've boxed the leftovers. There is more left over than got eaten. The hotel is cold inside, which is a nice change from the Ibis in Montelimar where we cooked so much it was hard to sleep.

27 December 2016

From Les Estables driving to Cagnes Sur Mer

Day 7 - after some serious pool playing, it's goodbye Les Estables. You've been great. We're packed and away. Louis feels car sick. Stop in Aubenas - nice lunch; the kitchen ventilation fan is not working though. The castle in town looks awesome, has some nice art. We drive on to Montelimar, wander around, and get some nougat in the morning.

Les Estables

A couple of signatures later and we're off. Driving on the wrong side of the road in rain and snow is stressful, but no real problem. A quick stop at St Etienne for lunch, which is a hamburger Savoye at the Christmas market stalls in sleet, then crepes in a cafe for a toilet stop. Stopping at the bank is too easy to withdraw a heap of e-bucks from our local account.
Just as we get up on the mountain at the accomodation place, the snow is falling so much that it's snow-crunchy to turn the wheels of the car. We've really arrived just in time to not need chains. The car is going nowhere for a few days.
Overnight we've had about a foot of snow. The green hills have turned white. The trees, hills, and stone buildings all look like magic.
The accomodation is a 3 storey building of appartments. There is a big cafeteria. We've got half board. Having breakfast and dinner covered makes it too easy - a great way to wind down.
There's a swimming pool and Ollie's off for a swim with Romain.
Day 1 - me, Hugues and Jean Louis hire some snow shoes a la American Indian style and go on a group tour up the mountain. The guy explains how they've planted trees to stop erosion, and help with flooding problems. There are many mountain peaks, all formed by volcanoes. The word puy means peak in general, not just those with volcanic craters. The girls are getting in touch with their zen side at some gym/omm type thing. The kids are in kids club building snowmen, and having snow fights.
Lunch today is bread and cheese. We get the kids out of kids club, and go up the hill a bit for some tobogganing. The snow is a wee bit slushy, so the sliding down is not going great. The view over the village is magic, with old stone homes, and a layer of mist down there.
The kids go to the pool. I'm watching Louis. Turns out you're not supposed to wear shoes into the pool area, so I get told off, then get the oh la la from Jean Louis. The mistake of the day.
Day 2 = the kids are in kids club again today. It goes until 10pm, which is hilarious since we'd always get the kids to sleep at 8.30. Swapping my boots for bigger ones stops the pain, and makes snow shoeing magically comfortable. After walking out, the guy at the desk chases me out the door since I didn't advise him of the swap, and he assumed I'd kind of pinched them. It results in an annoyed discussion with him and the dude who swapped them. It's my mistake of the day. Everyone snow shoes it up the hill to the auberge for a sensational lunch of roast pork, some kind of bready sausage - like stuffing, and 3 veg, with a desert of creme caramel with chestnut sauce (chartagne?). The guys climb the Croix de Merenc. The view over the snowy peaks, village, trees, and to far off mointain chains is magical, even with a bed of brown air pollution in parts. When the kids get home around 10.15, they're still full of energy and excited, but doesn't take long to get to sleep after arguing about who gets which bunk bed.
Day 3 - we're up early enough that the kids are playing devices. No worries, we're on holidays.
The boys have all decided that they want to go toboganing. It's easy here, you pick up whatever gear, and put it on your room number. They bill you at the end. We get 2 sleds and a pair of snow proofed boots for me.
Ollie insists on flying down at the maximum speed nearing and nearly smacking into people, the cabin, posts etc. Louis has really gotten the swing of steering with the brake levers. He's walking the toboggan up the hill himself.
Lunch is an incredible array of cheeses, salamis and a couple of lettuce leaves with bread in our room. A quick snooze.
The afternoon we go to the local farm of the Pereil(spelling) brothers. It's a 17th century room for the beasts, with a room on the upper level for people to sleep. The ceiling is vaulted stones to guard against fire, as the roof is made of straw from rye. The farmers do these rooves themselves. There's sections of slate, but this must be carted over 15kms of goat track, plus paying the specialist who cuts the slate from the mine, plus the specialist who installs it on the roof. They added other sections on over a 5 year period.
People used to sleep upright for fear of tuberculosis. Inside the rooms there is a wooden box to keep the heat in during the night. Innovations include a steel cage to stop the box of embers setting fire to the bed linen.
Ollie plays in the wash basin in the shape of a horses drinking trough with ice carrying the ice with his bare hands. Louis plays above this trough while he threw snow into it and the snow turned into...   ice!
Day 4 - we're rushing to get ready for breakfast. With the times, seems like we're always rushing. After brekky, I'm the first in the shop to hire some boots. We're going to do Nordic walking, which uses ski poles. As you go, you put the poles behind you to help move you forward. Turns out I've got the wrong boots, so they swap me for some go faster shoes. It's my mistake of the day which requires some group discussion with friends and experts. Me Hugues Gabriella and Jean Louis hike it up another hill with another magnificent view, while our guide asks about visiting Australia. There's some discussion along the lines that we're not kangaroos. I think they're saying that hopping is not efficient: not quite sure!
In the arvo, me Marie, Sylvie, Hugues and Gabriella wander around the village picking up beer, honey lollies, cheeses lentils. The lentils here are famous for some reason, so we've got a small pack to give away. Wandering around is my favourite thing on holidays. I suppose I'm pretty lazy.
Day 5 - the kids are in kids club, then Jean Louis and Sylvie have kindly offered to look after them all, while me Marie Hugues and Gabriella have a nice day driving out to see the famous town of Le Puy En Velay. It's a beautiful town build on the side of a hill, with a big cathedral on top, a monastery perched on a narrow vertical chunk of rock. I pick up a man bag, Marie a belt. There's a couple of huge public squares for dumping cars. The kids exchange some Christmas things. I get a tall can of Kronenbourg red beer. We give Jean Louis kanga testicle coin pouch. He seems pleased.
Day 6 - Christmas day, and the kids got some more stuff. We pop into Hugues and Gabriella's room for a simple breakfast. In the arvo, me and Hugues go for a walk to a nearby hill.

School holidays end of 2016

We're off for the summer school holidays to visit family friends in France and other places. The queue for the plane is huge. Luckily Marie checked with the attendants and we can go ahead of everyone. The plane is huge (A380) double decker, with good leg room. Boys are straight onto the console and the games - no help needed from us. Heaps of movies and TV, but they're old or boring. Categories are Hollywood, Bollywood, or World movies. Fall asleep watching a Silk Road doco and wake up for dinner. Slumdog Millionaire was very good. The kids went to sleep around midnight Sydney time, and awake again at 5am. Lucky they are troopers, and the stopover at Doha is no probs with smartphone games.
The next flight goes quickly. It is great and weird to see Danilo again, to pick us up. Once we arrive to see Jelena, Jossipa and Ana Maria, it's like we never left. I can't understand anything. We sit at home munching away, then go to Agri Brianza to get Christmas stuff. In the afternoon, we walk around Sulbiate a bit to top up credit on a phone, then play mini soccer in the cafe. All are sleep at around 6.30pm local time, and are up at 6am, feeling great.
Day 2 is hanging out at home, a trip to the local shopping centre (Globo Centro Comerciale), back at home. At 6pm we're on the train into Milan central. Our appartment is on Corso Como, a pedestrian mall, just beautiful - Christmas lights, cafes, people wandering around.
Day 3 - Everyone is awake around 4am today for the 6am fast train. People have been partying in the corso all night long, and walking through, there are drunk people singing and girls with short skirts and nothing but a beer coat on their legs in the sub zero temperatures.
We love the French TGV train with 4 facing seats, a table and a power point - drawing, tic tac toe, finger twister and devices make it too easy.
The car hire place is just across the street from the train station.

14 November 2016

Construction craziness

Across the road and diagonally, new buildings now.
Everyone is high fiving getting in on the real estate action, except for those who can't get in. People's parents are the fastest growing lender in the country, since without them, it is becoming impossible to get into the market. People keep warning of a property bubble. They're building apartments just all over the place. If there is a slight glitch in the economy, or rates go up a bit, everything is going to crash! Let's see.

For now, we have about at least 10 different projects going up, all at the same time, within 100m of our home. There's going to be a train station in our street. We don't expect to keep living here, as the owners will sell out if offered a good price. Then the construction craziness will continue.

This makes 3 new buildings in Albany St.

Corner of Albany St and the Highway, 2 more mega towers.

One block off, on the Highway, another one.

A bit further up on the highway.

Nearby on the highway.

On Albany St another about 20m down.

At the end of our block, Albany St and Willoughby, BIG one here.

Atchison, one over from Albany, the whole street is going up.

Atchison on the right. The super fresh will be last to go.

General fun

Roll your own Japanese pizza - sushi.
Both our boys love sushi. What could be more fun than rolling it yourself? Even if it's probably 40% less tasty.

There's a shot here of Aus Tag. This is to get kids into Rugby League. Lou is just starting. We haven't tagged too many etc. Last week was a practice run. One of the other parents got on the field too. It was better than a real game, as we could try to get them in line, run up, tag each other etc.

This piggy went to market.

Ollie has been doing basketball. I've only had the chance of glimpsing a game while picking up Lou for his sport. Ollie looks like he is doing really well, dribbling while looking out for his team mates. He told us he scored a few. Marie is working, I have to get there after work and drive Lou to his thing, so only the nannies Margaux and Celine have seen the game. Marie has seen a practice. Am looking forward to catching the action.

Lou getting close to the action - AusTag like League.

Ollie partying on in the Lego box.

Ollie takes over our bed, Lou takes over Ollie's other book.

More birthdays...

Lawrence's birthday
Lawrence turned an unspecified age. I suppose it is not polite to ask, so it will stay a mystery. His boys Kevin and Michael are in Ollie's year at school. David is one year above. Anka put together a picnic at the park. The weather was cold so we went back to theirs. Pizza was ordered for dinner. Maybe we overstayed our welcome! So did Justin on the right of the shot here.

Me and the boys went to learn archery Lou Robin Hood.
Me and the boys went to Olympic Park to do some archery for something new. Ollie was putting arrows right on the target. Lou may need a year or two before he takes it seriously enough to stop having fun, and start trying a bit. But they did enjoy it all. Lou gets bonus points for wearing the correct attire complete with hood.

The shot here of Lou under the bright lights was after a dinner out. Ollie was at Charlies place I think, for a sleepover.

Louis hits the lights near Gillroys pub

Finally, Sandy had her 70th at the sailing club at Milson's Point, a very ritzy and old place. She's done an impressive amount of entrepreneuring. Lets see what happens next! Seems like she has one customer locked in in any case, so most likely will get a few more.

Dan, Charlie, Chris, Marie.

Sandy's 70th bday

Weekends, cousins staying over

Funny front wheel.
On my way in to town to volunteer for the council election, and some guy turning left failed to give way on the Kent St cycleway. My bike kinda went under the front of his car, while I stepped off and had to run to keep upright. After $200 repairs, a new wheel, all good no worries, and the guy paid up. He seemed very apologetic.

Glebe foreshore.
Me and the boys went for a walk in town, as I'd wanted to do the new Glebe foreshore walk. An example of the mayor of Sydney doing stuff for people, not major corporations and donors. A great great walk, nice park, the Anzac bridge needs a sound barrier for the stinky cars.

We've been doing a bit of rock climbing at the indoor centre. The boys really like it. There's a little cave thing in the middle which requires a torch to see. Lou does a few rounds there. Ollie's more into doing the harder vertical ones.

Lou tells another tale.
We've had a few sleep overs with the Charlie Holly and Lola. Everyone gets on very well which is so nice.

ANytime is a good time to climb.

A sleep over with the cousins.

Charlie buried in the sand.

Lola buried while Holly giggles away.

Ollie's birthday!

If they're sleepy still, they're not showing it.
For Ollie's birthday this year he wanted to have some people over for a sleepover. Besides driving us completely nuts trying to get them to go to sleep, it all went pretty well. We played loud music, everyone danced, we wandered up the street to get hamburgers for everyone, play some Terraria where they all joined in the same game, then on the following day they all did some Laser tag, plus played the pinnies / spacies / coin slot games. A great time had by all.

Still pumped after the laser tag session, St Leonards station.

Marie's ice cream cake. Terraria bosses; Skeletron, Eye of Kathulu.

Weekend away

Ollie getting into it at the park near the Woy Woy Bowling Club.
I really love weekends away. It's like a mini holiday. Plus this one was for free, since we just swapped our homes. Shame we don't get out there more!

Umina beach.
We went up to Umina beach. The place was close to the shops, and a short walk to the beach. The boys burned out too fast. We should have let them spend more time goofing around on the sand rather than marching them around to see more stuff.

We went to a distillery and picked up some awesome vodka and liquor gifts for our buddies in France/US. We spent a morning at the tree tops flying fox place. The boys really enjoyed it, as you can see in the pics. Ollie did a run while another kid was still on the line, but no harm done.
Ollie and Marie Umina Beach.

Lou on the  platform.

Hang on Ollie!

Wandering around Woy Woy

A thank you note from our house guests!

Do not get your hair cut on the Central Coast...

Blah te blah

Just a collection of shots here. One from when the cousins stayed over, one from a birthday party where the hosts made some amazing cakes in the shapes of Minecraft computer game, and one from when we had my family over for no special reason. I cooked a Cassoulet, which is the southern French casserole; meat and beans basically. Hard to go wrong with it - it just needs a few different things, salt peper, and crust it up in the oven, too easy.

I scream, you scream, we all scream in general.

Minecraft cake- top effort.

My cassoulet comme les anciens - nailed it IMHO.

Volunteering for Clover

Clover speaks to the vollies with her impressive team.
You know I'm a bike nut, and part of a political party etc, so when Clover Moore mayor for Sydney called for volunteers, I felt duty bound to give some time. She put the bike lanes into the centre of Sydney's CBD while the papers, the state politicians, and commentators in general lambasted her as some crazy hippy lady. Despite what they say, she keeps on getting re-elected by listening to what people want. Sounds like something they should all be doing, rather than attending dinners with doners and allowing Packer to build the biggest casino/phallus on prime public land.

Me Marie, and the (still) Mayor of Sydney fundraiser dinner.

At the volunteer information night we nibbled on cheese and crackers, drank wine and wandered around meeting like minded people and the lady herself. I volunteered for voting booth info person.
This involves standing at the entrance during polling days (2 weeks of prepolling), handing out leaflets on how to vote, and answering odd questions. I met the sister of Tony Abbott (recent former prime minister of Oz), most of the other candidates and Ian Roberts a footballer famous when I was younger (Rugby League), really nice guy. A couple of guys explained that I couldn't possibly be gay since my shoes were too ugly and spattered with paint. Fair point.

She got about 60% of the primary vote, while the nearest competitor got about 15%. Listening to people, making decisions on principles and evidence, and making the decisions into concrete, got her an overwhelming vote. All in all great fun, and a great experience.

On a side note, my school mate Sean tells me our year 3 teacher Mrs Collins was Clover's mother. She was very strict and proper!

15 July 2016

Melbourne trip - pt 2

Parliament House of Victoria, Spring St, Melbourne.
Day 3 - Wednesday - got a tram along the street to Prahran, then took a tram to the left, which ended up Spring St. So we dropped in on Parliament.

Free hugs always.
A short walk on, went to Melbourne Museum with the dinosaurs. This is from the film Jurassic Park. Full scale animated dinosaurs make the noises, and moved around - pretty amazing.

Animated dinosaur staring me down. Pretty realistic!

Day 4 - Thursday, Phillip Island fairy penguins. It was a bit freezing in the rain, sitting on the wooden benches waiting for them to come out. A wave rolled in, then a black bunch tumbled around, then stood up. The wave receded, and voila, there around 10 of them standing together. They swam back, swam in, swam out, then eventually waddled up the sand to the nesting spots.

From the walkway, you could see these penguins quite close up. It's been done well so as not to interfere with them. I hope all these humans aren't having an impact on them. Very cute and amazing.
Melbourne looks very old world European.

Day 5, Friday - We got a tram along Chapel Street, walked around Prahran, had lunch at the markets - a shed like the one in Cagnes sur Mer. Another tram trip, a walk along Botanic Gardens, a skate park stop, Southbank then saw a movie!

Sometimes we were a bit slow getting out of the house.

At the skate park near the city centre, Friday.

Lib, Cam, Marie, Hugh, Angus, Ollie, Ben, Charlie, Rowie, Louis

On Saturday we packed up and left, heading up to Yackandandah. We stopped at a winery where the boys ran around, and we tasted wines, and got a couple of cases. Got to Lib and Hughs where they have a huge swing, a cubby house very high up and a mini hockey field. Cam, Row, Ben, Angus and Mollie the dog kept the boys entertained.

Sunday we played hockey, packed up, and drove drove all the way home, stopping at Vonnie's for dinner, and to meet up with Charlie's family once more.

Can't wait to do it all again!