Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back to Earth

After the excitement of the weekend it was a bit of a comedown going back to work this morning.
Things had started to take a downward turn late last night when I was following the progress of Tottenham's game V Blackburn on the net. Having lost in Europe midweek and fired the manager because of the poor start to the season that has seen Spurs win just one game from 10, they then went and conceded a goal in the 93rd minute to lose 2-1!!!
Ironically, a few miles away, the New York Giants (my NFL team) were beating the MIami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in the first NFL game ever played outside the US.
You win some you lose some!

The Heir slept a long time today, part jet lag, part party lag I suspect. Favourite Daughter has been relegated to the sofa now that he's back. She has a bed and a home to live in in Dunsborough but is preferring the company of the family at the moment. It's the first time we've all been together for a long time and it's good to have everyone together. Sport Boy is loving it.

Tonight I initiated The Heir into the joys of junk mail folding! The best way to do it is in front of the TV so at least your brain has something to focus on. We watched 4 Corners who had a damning report about the Federal govts suspect decision to replace the very dependable F1-11 fleet with some very expensive and seemingly inferior Hornets. It didn't sound very good and was probably not the best news for the govt as it moves into the third week of the election campaign and is still trailing in the polls.
And as Molly Meldrum once famously said, "Not that there's anything wrong with that"!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Extended Holt Press Family

Last night was a very special event for the Holt Press family, it was my big brother Alan's 50th Birthday Surprise party and family and friends had gathered from across Australia to celebrate this milestone. The Heir timed his return from overseas to coincide with the party so it was the biggest gathering we'd had in quite a while. The guest of honour is in the light green T-shirt toward the right of the picture.

You can see more pictures and read more about the big event over at HoltiesHouse, my Dad's blog.
Posted by Picasa

Big Brother and Pop popping the biggest Surprise

One of the highlight's of the night was when Alan received a tap on the shoulder and turned around to discover Dad standing there.
Pop had flown in from Queensland for the party, along with our sister Vicki who'd come from Wudinna via Adelaide.
This was something of a good-natured "Birthday pay-back" as the three of us had flown over to Queensland to surprise Dad for his 70th birthday last year.
It was a great night of fun and celebration as Alan was surrounded by all his family and friends.
The Powerpoint I'd been working on was a tribute to my Big Brother. Fashion Boy managed to finally get the music attached to it, a soundtrack of Beatles songs, and it went very well until it reached a certain slide onto which I'd downloaded a picture of John Forrest High School from Google Earth and the Powerpoint froze and refused to budge no matter what format or hardware we tried it on.
FB had also set a collection of photos of his Uncle Alan sent down by Jenna to music and that looked great when we played it on the TV.
There were presents, cake and a couple of short speeches and a great deal of fun was had by all.

We continued to party this afternoon when all the family re-assembled at Alan and Lyn's and spent the next few hours laughing at a succession of stories and anecdotes from our collective childhoods. It was one of the best family gatherings I can remember, even though many of the stories told were at my expense!.On the way home to Busselton Sport Boy said to me, "So, Dad, sounds like you were the rebel of the family!"

I solemnly reminded him that what's said in the family stays in the family! and that nothing that he'd heard in the previous few hours was to be repeated for "News" at school, or anywhere else!!
Posted by Picasa

Alan's 50th Surprise Party

Top left: Alan's eldest daughter Jenna and husband Craig who were the hosts and major organisers of the party.

Top right: Mr and Mrs Holt Press, dressed to impress as the invitation said semi-formal.

Bottom left: Alan, aka BB the Accountant, and his old school friend from John Forrest, Les Marley who he hadn't seen in 32 years!
Mum tracked him down and he and his wife Denise were a very special, and big surprise.

Bottom right: Big Brother and little Brother, dressed formally and in full celebratory mood.
Posted by Picasa

The Guests

A sampling of the many special guests at the social event of the season, Big Brother's 50th Birthday Party
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 27, 2007

He's Back

The Heir has returned, looking surprisingly slim and not too scruffy. Favourite Daughter and I were there to meet and greet him off the plane, a lazy 20 hour flight from Heathrow with a 2 hour stop in Singapore. He seems happy and healthy and not too jet-lagged.
Hopefully there won't be a huge period of readjustment for him. He did the decent thing by not corrupting his Aussie accent while he was away.

We called in to Carine to drop off some picture files for the camp then I had a late lunch at HJ's before the kids dropped me off at Sally and Warren's. They are staying at the Robinsons tonight and we'll catch up again tomorrow.

Carolyn and the boys are coming up to Mandurah in the morning for the Beach Mission training day, I'll get a ride down with the Van Wollies.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Help needed

Does anyone know how to put music on a powerpoint presentation?

If I knew how to do stuff like that and a few other shortcuts I'd have been in bed by now instead of just having finished a big Powerpoint!! (And still without music!)

To Perth tomorrow, the return of The Heir is imminent!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Holt Pulse

As a follow up to yesterday's lung test at the Busselton Health Study I went back today for an ultrasound on my Carotid arteries (the ones in my neck, and yours too probably) and was given a clean bill of cardio-vascular health.

To celebrate I went round to the Kent St Bakery and had a pie for lunch, and followed that with a piece of chocolate hedgehog for good measure!!

Camp prep, junk mail, painting and an aborted trip to the park to play with Sport Boy took care of the rest of my day. The abrupt halt was due to the rapid descending of the mozzies! It's the beginning of Bug season in Busselton and they are out in force.
Riding my bike is hazardous, especially if I happen to open my mouth!

On the family front the big news is that sometime tomorrow The Heir will board a plane and head for home after nearly two years in England.

He arrives on Friday afternoon. Favourite Daughter and I are going up to Perth to meet him off the plane.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Breathe Out!

I did a follow-up survey at the Busselton Health Study today. The BHS is one of the longest-running and most significant health studies of a single continuous population in the world, os so the blurb goes when they call you to say your number has come up and invite you to participate.
I did the initial survey last year.
Today was a specific survey on lungs, my lungs, as representative of the lungs of Busselton generally.
It involved various breathing monitoring apparatus.
The most arduous of which required the participant, me, to take the biggest breath I could then expel it with the most force I could and continue to do so for 6 seconds.
This is not as easy as it sounds, and it doesn't even sound that easy!
They need 3 readings within an average range for the sake of the study. The problem comes when you get an extra burst of strength, or in this case capacity, and blow more than they expected, thus requiring two more breaths of equal volume and velocity to match!
"Just one more" said the assessor for the 14th time!!!
Yeah right!
That's easy for you to say!
In the end he settled for what he had, probably because of the imminent risk of my permanent expiration!

Then he asked me about the results of the sleep apnoea test I did last time.
It was a loaded question!
He had already looked at the results and he and I both new that the report had come back saying I was in the severe sleep apnoea range!

Was I going to die?
Not there and then certainly, but down the track a little? Who knows?

He patiently explained the impact and possibilities of sleep apnoea and even showed me all the brightly coloured graphs on the computer showing the times when I stopped breathing, in blue, and the times when I imitated a corpse, with no visiblie signs of life for up to 20 seconds, in suitably dramatic black!!

I admit it got my attention.

So what are my options Doc?

See your Dr and discuss it with him.
See a sleep specialist and be properly monitored, in Bunbury. (Over night I presume!)
Use a mouth splint to keep my jaw pushed forward and my airways open. (Sounds positively irresistable doesn't it?)
Use a Sepat machine to provide a continuous flow of air as I sleep. I can just see the romantic benefits of that little bedroom accessory! Want a "cuddle darling?" Yeah, just let me take off my gas mask first!

There are positive benefits to be had from treatment apparently.
And, Busselton has an abnormally high percentage of male sleep apnoeants, 10% above the norm or thereabouts.
Maybe it's something in the air!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Imaginitively Titled "Green Triangles"


A name suggested by the quick-witted Stu, aka The Gardener, meant to stir me, but in the end, quite appropriate! I did this one last night and didn't finish tioll nearly 4am, the details taking longer than I'd anticipated!! But I spent the first couple of hours talking to Graham who played guitar while I painted. See post below for setting and context.
I gave this one to Ron, a pastor from Churchlands who came down with a team of people to speak and lead worship on the church camp.
He was great, his message really speaking to where I'm at and how I feel but the real impact when he interrupted his message to ask a young girl sitting at the back who she was and who she belonged to?
Without turning around and before she could answer I knew it was Favouite Daughter and I started to cry! It's been happening a bit recently, mostly in a good way!
At the end of the service he called us both out to the front and he and the whole church prayed for us and it was wonderful, to be totally surrounded by people expressing love and support and encouragement and I cried a lot, even more when a man I didn't know spoke to me and began to speak words to me from God that were so accurate and significant to my journey and state of mind that I was overwhelmed. It was like a gentle touch from God that just washed over me, bringing both cleansing and healing at the same time. I hadn't expected it and wasn't prepared for it but the whole experience was both powerful and reassuring and a reminder of his love for me.

The follow-up came this morning when I shared the story of my ticket to the Grand Final and how much it had blessed me and confirmed to me that God knows me intimately and just like the scripture says, gave me the desire of my heart as a sign of his love and kindness, in spite of the distance I felt in my relationship with him and the dark and difficult road I've been on spiritually mentally and emotionally for the last year or thereabouts.
Of course there were more tears, and not just mine, and many people said afterwards how much they'd appreciated hearing my story and sharing in my joy and blessing.
(I haven't fully blogged the details of my Grand Final ticket yet but trust me when I tell you there were unexpected twists and turns and miracles personally given to me!!)
It was the trigger for a renewal of my faith and the start of a change in my heart and feelings towards God which have been dry and barren for quite a while.

I hope Ronand Melissa like the paintings, they had already returned to Perth before I'd finished them; one of the team is delivering the paintings to both of them on my behalf.
I really like both pictures but can also say that I received far more than them in this exchange of gifts, these are just small tokens of my gratitude.
Posted by Picasa

Melissa's Painting

Graham, a mate from church and occasional card playing buddy, with whom I had a really good talk last night after we'd kicked out the musos and everyone else had gone to bed at the church camp where we've just spent the weekend; holding a painting I finished while I was there and subsequently gave to Melissa, one of the speakers at the camp who was fantastic. She has a gift of prophecy but delivers her messages from God in a low-key, friendly and totally engaging way. Her emphasis is on dispelling the misconception that God is angry with us and just waiting to pounce, instead, giving story after story from her personal experience and scripture that he is kind and loving and wants us to have good things (not necessarily material things). She was great and I was very encouraged by her and the things she said, as was everyone else at the camp. So I decided to give her this painting, which has on it, amongst many symbols and patterns and colours and shapes, several of the fruits of the Spirit, ie. Peace, Mercy, Forgiveness, Joy, Love and Kindness. Astute reders will observe that it is quite similar to an earlier painting I did for Tina just before we went away. Lots of people commented on it and said how much they liked it so I suspect I'll be doing more in a similar style.
One interesting difference was in the reaction of the girls who saw it to the boys. I was working on it in the main hall during the free time at camp so it attracted a bit of attention. Typical girl's comment (all ages of females) "Gee I really like that etc"
Typical boy's comment (mostly young boys) "What's that?/What are you making?/What are you doing?"
Clearly a different perspective on art appreciation between the sexes!!!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy Birthday to You

Jordan's, aka Fashion Boy, only disappointment with his birthday cake was that he couldn't get his Zippo lighter to work to light the candles.
Why has he got a Zippo lighter I hear all the reasonably minded adults ask?
Does he smoke?
No
Is he a pyromaniac?
No, he's a 16 year old boy.
Oh, now I understand.
ie. There doesn't need to be a sound or sane reason for a 16 year old boy to have a Zippo lighter or any other odd and unnecessary gadget or piece of equipment, the only issue to be considered is, is it cool?
If so, it's worth having!
Apparently.

He has just returned home from a weekend in Perth where he went to a concert on Friday night called Taste of Chaos.
Sounds encouraging!
Lots of Emo bands apparently, although as Fashion Boy is quick to point out, he's not emo, no way.
But he did get his ear pierced for his birthday, a fact which when discovered by his conservative Christian school, resulted in them saying that according to school policy, which can't discriminate between boys and girls, that if a student has a piercing, it must be duplicated on each ear!
Imagine FB's delight on hearing this!
He insisted the deputy principal ring us to break the news on the grounds that we would never believe it if he told us himself.
Probably right!

The concert, and the weekend in Perth, sound like they went well, fun was had, no-one died, or set fire to anything, and he has a burgeoning CD case full of freshly pirated music courtesy of Amy, having stayed at the Robbo's place while in Perth, and having been transported there and back by Amy's boyfriend Greg, with whom he seems to have gotten along very well.

The test now will be whether he gets to school on time in the morning, following this morning's 3am bedtime!
Taste of Chaos or Taste of Freedom leading to Chaos?!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jordan's 16th Birthday family dinner

Mum and Walter came over from Bridgetown tonight for dinner to celebrate Jordan's birthday. He'll be 16 tomorrow. I know all parents say it but it is hard to believe he is that old and growing up so fast.
We had a good night, lots of fun and laughter and catching up on stories from our trip away.
Walter always makes us all laugh with his accent and his funny comments and behaviour.
They've stayed the night which is always nice, we have more time and they don't need to drive home in the dark and run the Kangaroolette gauntlet.

I was able to work on a painting while we talked and it's nearly finished.

It has certainly been a better day for which I'm thankful.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday

Today is not a good day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Day of Term

The kids came back to school today but it wasn't too traumatic.

Had lots of people congratulate me for the Cats Premiership, recognising the important contribution I made to their success no doubt!!

Worked my way through three months backlog of emails which took me most of the day!!

A few phone calls and a visit to the kid's art display rounded off the day.

Slept for a couple of hours when I got home which explains why I'm still not tired or in bed, but am heading there shortly, just had to catch up on the Ben Cousins saga on Big Footy. What a sad situation and a waste of such talent. Drugs are insidious and no-one is immune to their subtle grip. For his sake I hope he gets through this although I'm sure this will be the end of his football career.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sport Boy "in training" at Kardinia Park

Sport Boy had a great time running around kicking a footy at Kardinia Park after the Cats had finished their training.
One bloke who watched him for a while encouraged him and said he had good skills and ability and perhaps he'd see him playing for the Cats one day!!
It's his first day back at school tomorrow and I'm going to give him permission to wear his Geelong jumper to school!! He's taken plenty of stick from all the West Coast supporters there over the last couple of years so it's only fair that he gets to celebrate a little and make some hay while the sun is shining!!

I went back to work today but it was a fairly gentle re-intergration, the students don't start back until tomorrow. I managed to create some work for myself by suggesting at the Student Services meeting that we run a camp for the year 8's early in term 1 next year, using year 11's as mentors, echoing a similar model we had at Carine. There was good support for the idea so the year coordinator (Jeff Holt would you believe?!) and I will start planning for it this term. I already have two Cool School Race Camps to organise for this term, one for Busso and another for Carine, so it is going to be a very busy 9 weeks!! Just as well I had the last 10 weeks off to recharge my batteries!!

I just finished watching a "reality" show I recorded last night, "The Abbey" a series on Compass, and it was fantastic, following the paths of 5 Australian women who have joined a Benedictine Monastery to live with the Nuns for 5 weeks. Having just spent three days at the Benedictine Monastery at New Norcia, though in a far more gentle way, it was fascinating watching each of the women coping with the discipline and challenge of monastic life. I can't wait for next week's episode.

I hadn't intended staying up this late tonight but I was folding a mammoth batch of junk mail while I watched TV. I didn't finish it but I got most of it done which means less for Carolyn to do in the morning.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Superman Ride at Movie World

video

Sadly Sport Boy didn't meet the height requirement to go on the Superman roller coaster but he did manage to get some video of it and I think in the end he was relieved he was too small!
We went and found some other rides instead but later in the day he graciously suggested I could have a go on it without him.

Police Academy @ Movie World

Sport Boy and I had a good day at Movie World and both particularly enjoyed the Police Academy Stunt Show with it's mix of impressive stunts and slapstick humour. The finale with the exploding helicopter was great, the ball of flame sending an impressive heat wave rolling over the crowd.
Posted by Picasa

Biggera Waters

The view from our apartment at Biggera Waters on the Gold Coast. In the foreground you can see Carolyn and Sport Boy returning from their morning walk. In the background you can see the ferris wheel and roller coaster at Sea World. The location was great but the apartment was significantly smaller than we anticipated, or than it looked on the internet!!! It was a little narrow making passing anyone between the "living room" and the "kitchen" a tricky manouevre.
Posted by Picasa

Pigeon Pie

On the way down to the Gold Coast with Dad we stopped for lunch at a shop modestly calling itself "Famous Yatala Pies". The pies were good but the most memorable part of the visit was our departure. A pigeon landed on the roof of the car and decided to hitch a ride. We could hear it hopping around on top of the car but even as we began to pull out of the car park it didn't fly off. Dad attempted to persuade it by stopping suddenly but this just produced a scratchy metallic sound as it slid across the roof but maintained it's slippery grip. A quick take off had the same effect in reverse but our pigeon passenger refused to budge. A second, more violent stop resulted in it sliding all the way to the windscreen and we all saw it's wings appear through the front window but it would not be deterred. By this time we were all laughing our heads off and speculating on our feathered hitch-hiker accompanying us all the way to Surfers Paradise. I stuck the camera out the window and managed to get a picture of the culprit. As you can see, there were no stray pies or other food stuffs lying around to keep it's attention, it must have just been into joy-riding for thrills! Giving up on our deliberate attempts to dislodge it we eventually drove out of the car park and headed south, and presumably Mr Pigeon did the same because he wasn't on top of the car when we arrived at our destination.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Phone Call at Surfer's Paradise

We went down to the Gold Coast for three days and on the first night went for a walk along the beachfront at Surfers. As we were about to take a picture my phone rang and an Indian sounding voice asked if I was Marcus Holt. Suspecting a tele-marketer from the sub-continent I warily confirmed my identity and began looking for a way to politely end the call.
But the next thing he said took me by complete surprise.
"Are you the Marcus Holt who has paintings in a gallery in Busselton?"

Yes!

"I've just become manager of a restaurant at The Ship Hotel and I'd like to hang your paintings in the restaurant"

Fair Dinkum?

"Yes. I'm not offering to buy them you understand, but if you let us hang them we'll put tags next to them saying who painted them and what price they are. "

I was pretty stunned but in a pleasant way. It certainly gave my ego a nice stroke! Imagine someone wanting to hang my art in their restaurant!!

The timing wasn't very good. They were opening in 2 weeks and I wouldn't be back in WA for a month so I didn't know if he'd still be looking for art works for the restaurant by the time we got back to Busso but it was pretty cool being considered.
I'll go and see him tomorrow or Monday and see if he's still interested.

NB. I received a cheque in the post this week for the sale of one of my paitings at Art Geo for $350, less their 20% commission.
I was pretty stoked about that too.
Posted by Picasa

The Duke at Duke St

The Duke took a few knocks and scratches in transit before finally making it to Pop's place on the appropriately named Duke St.
I took it on the plane as hand luggage and security were concerned when it went through the x-ray machine and revealed two long metal bars. These must form the skeletal structure up through his legs that keep him upright. They took a look at him and decided he didn't pose a threat to anyone's safety. I wonder how the Duke would have liked that assessment!! Sadly, despite being wrapped and padded in bubble wrap he lost a chunk out of his cowboy hat somewhere between Melbourne and Gympie. Some decent glue should do the trick in fixing it. When we left he was proudly standing atop the tv cabinet, king of the lounge room.Pop, who if you haven't guessed, is a big John Wayne fan, was quite pleased with him.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Noosa Nutter?

I vaguely recall threats being made over the publication of this picture but based on that big grin I'm gonna take a punt on them being made in jest. The hat was purchased in Noosa by Fashion Boy in his brief Reggae phase, the delightful purple bag accessory belongs to Carolyn and came from an op-shop I think, and the lime green shirt is of the owner's choosing, vintage unknown.
Posted by Picasa

Go Cat 1

Just one of many Cats flavoured number plates parked outside the MCG during the finals.
Posted by Picasa

Cats Training

Geelong coming off the ground after their final training session before the first final against the Kangaroos. They were all business, despite their being a crowd of over 1000 people there, and it showed in the game when they won by 106 points, a portent of things to come.
Posted by Picasa

Home Again

I'm Home.

But I'm tired so I'll blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Departure Day

We are nearly packed and ready to leave for the airport. In a few hours we'll take off for Perth after nearly 6 weeks on the road.
We've been to Melbourne, Geelong, Gympie, the Gold Coast, Leongatha, Doreen, Mansfield, Mt Buller, Shepparton, Mildura and finally Adelaide.
We've been to an AFL preliminary Final, the Grand Final, Movie World, Wet and Wild World, AFL World, and a succession of "Relly Worlds" as we visited aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, cousins and friends in 4 different states.
We've flown in planes, driven borrowed and hired cars, taken a ferry across the heads of Port Phillip Bay, ridden on buses and trains and walked plenty of KM over the last month and a half.
It's been a great trip, one of the best holidays I can remember and a satisfying way to use the second half of my long service leave.
Returning home will be good but returning to work for me, and to school for the kids, will be a shock to the system. I have two BIG projects to organise and execute as soon as I get back to work so I'll need to hit the ground running if I'm going to get them done on time.

I've had a great time but there's no competition as to what the highlight of the trip has been.
Seeing my beloved football team Geelong finally break their 44 year premiership drought and win the Grand Final at the MCG will live with me forever as one of the greatest days of my life.
I've waited my whole life to see it and can now die happy!!

Carolyn and the kids have had a great time too but I sense they are keen to return home to their own beds. They'll sleep in them tonight.
I have another few days to wait for that particular pleasure because when I get back to Perth I'll be going straight up to New Norcia for a chaplains retreat until Friday.
I always enjoy the retreats but I'm not sure if any of my close friends in chaplaincy will be there this time. I'll have to wait and see. Whether they are or not I'm sure it will be a good time of rest and reflection within the Benedictine community and amongst my colleagues.

I'm grateful to all the family and friends who have hosted us over the last 6 weeks, it's been great to see so many people and get to spend some time with them.

I know Favourite Daughter is hanging out for us to get home, she's been a bit lonely without her family around. And the next big event on the horizon will be the return of The Heir after nearly two years away in Tasmania and the UK. It will be special to have the whole family together again for the first time in a couple of years and to have a family Christmas back in Busselton and Bridgetown.

Blogging opportunities in New Norcia will be very limited so this will probably be my last post for a few days.

Bon Voyage

The Rising Sun Inn

We had a fantastic meal tonight at The Rising Sun Inn, the restaurant where Carolyn's brother Ray is head chef. It was the boy's first experience of fine dining and they were suitably impressed. Fashion Boy had kangaroo, Carolyn had Salmon and I had chicken and we were all very impressed but the piece d'resistance came at dessert time; there was chocoalte pie and raspbaerry panacotta and Bailey's ice cream and much savouring and satisfaction!
The extra bonus was that Ray was able to come out and join us for most of the time we were there. It was the first time the boys have met him and vice-versa and provided a really good finishing note to our holiday.

And so this is our last sleep before heading home tomorrow. We've had a great time, been to lots of fun places, visited many family and friends and enjoyed many good days and activities, been to 4 states, spent a day at the snow and saw geelong win a premiership. It doesn't get any better than that!

Now we're homeward bound.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Adelaide

Our holiday is winding down, one more sleep before we fly home.
It's a bit of a veg-out day in suburban Adelaide. Sport Boy is eating ice cream, I'm blogging and Carolyn has taken Fashion Boy to get his ear pierced. I offered to do it for him but his mother insists on things like hygiene and safe practice! A block of ice and a large needle did the trick for me when I was in year 11!

We went into town yesterday and Vicki, one of the world's great shoppers, took Carolyn on an expedition round Adelaide while I renewed acquaintences with one of the coolest shops in the universe, Raw Space. This time I resisted the urge to buy aything, though as I confided to my sister later, I could spend thousands there! The restrictions of suitcases and bank balances had a sobering effect on me and I just contented myslf with browsing. No Airzookas to liven up family weddings this time!

We went out for dinner at The Hampstead last ight where I enjoyed a very nice filet mignon.
Tonight will be another culinary treat, we're going for dinner at the restaurant where Carolyn's brother Ray is the head chef. Woohoo!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Adelaide

We arrived safely in the South Australian capital about 7.00 o'clock last night, which was actually only 6.30 because having crossed the border we were given the free gift of an extra half an hour to add to our lives.
We used it watching Thank God You're Here which seems vaguely appropriate, and awaiting the arrival of Vicki and Rex, who had some unforseen delays mainly due to Rex leaving home without his American Express Card, and the wallet he keeps it in!

We did have one minor emergency on the way involving Sport Boy, his urgent need to go to the toilet, not for number ones!, and the fact we were 33km from Waikerie when this occurred. It was an anxious and painful wait before we finally made it to the sanctity of a dunny at the Waikerie Bakery. There's a song in this, or at the very least a limerick but time does not permit me to compose it now.
We've got a hire car to return.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

On the Road Again

Some of our wonderful hosts and hostesses on the trip:

Auntie Merle in Shepparton, my Dad's sister.


Auntie Ev (my Mum's sister) and Uncle Ken in Leongatha.


Dad, Grampa Peter, who we stayed with in Gympie.

We'll be leaving Mildura in an hour or so for our last stop before home, Adelaide, capital of South Australia. We've had a lovely stay with Julie and have really enjoyed the river town of Mildura.

It's been relaxing, the weather perfect and there's been a good mix of activities, hanging out and catching up.

Ahead of us is a 5 hour drive then a rendezvouz with Vicki and Rex at their unit in Adelaide.

We fly home on Wed 10th.

We've had a great trip and it's sad that it's nearly over but on the bright side, Favourite Daughter says she is missing us terribly and it will be good to see her and be home in our own home. And as Sport Boy just said, The Heir will be home in two weeks as well from his long trip overseas.

Drat

Rats!!!!

The Wallabies have just been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by the Poms!!!!

Despite being hot favourites, Australia was outplayed and always looked likely to lose.

Johnny Wilkinson was the villain again, scoring all of England's points.

They beat us in the Final in 2003 and now they've done it again in the quarter finals in 2007 in France.

Cam and his family didn't choose a good day to fly to England!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Movie World

About to take the plunge on the water flume ride at the Gold Coast. This was one of Sport Boy's favourite rides!

Flinders Peak

From the summit of the You Yangs. I know the picture suggests otherwise but we had a really good day!! Believe me!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mildura

We arrived in Mildura about 8.30 last night after an uneventful drive through the mallee to Sunraysia and the oasis town of Mildura on the Murray River in the far north-west of Victoria.

It was wonderful to see my step-mum Julie, Grandma Julie to the kids, for the first time in about 6 years. She had just returned from a month long trip to Canada the day before so the timing couldn't have been tighter.

We caught up on news and she and the kids got to know one another over pizza for tea. Sport Boy was at his most "Hammy"! It's a bit of a bonus discovering you have an extra Grandmother at age 10!

Today, Friday, we slept in then enjoyed watching the Grand Final replay on DVD, Julie is a Geelong fan and hadn't seen the game because she was overseas so it was more celebrations! I still cried at the end!!!!!

Sport Boy got a treat then because Julie works for the company that owns the waterslide in town so we went there for a couple of hours this afternoon.
We went to the park later to kick the footy then it was home to cook the tea on the BBQ.

Carolyn and Julie took about three trips into town to go to the Quilting Shop, which is closing down apparently. I don't know if that's a good thing or not!! Julie runs a quilting business so they were thick as thieves over quilts and materials and quilting techniques all day!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mt Buller, Shepparton, Yarrawonga and Nathalia

We found snow. Sort of. It was cold and white and wet but it was more like ice than snow, but that didn't matter, especially not to Sport Boy who later descibed it as the best day of his life! Imagine if there'd been fresh falls of powdery snow instead of months old and rapidly melting pack ice!! I hired a plastic toboggan from the Merrijig Motor Inn and the boys spent a couple of hours sliding down the hill on it then clambering back up again. They both took a few spills but eventually got the hang of it and could get all the way to the bottom without mishap.
It was good fun and we all had a good day except when a couple of unfriendly ladies had a real go at Fashion Boy for using their toboggan, which had been lying unused on the snow for some time. Sport Boy was soaking wet by the time we left and the legs of my trousers were pretty wet so the dry warm car and a change of clothes were welcome.

We arrived at Shepparton by about 7.30 and managed to find Auntie Merle's place at about the third attempt. She was glad to see us and to meet the kids and we had a lovely couple of days there. She made a fuss of Sport Boy who lapped up the attention but he was polite and well behaved which won him some points. Fashion Boy was just glad to find a computer he could use and managed to sort out the problems associated with buying his ticket to the State of Chaos concert, his birthday present.

On Wednesday we took a drive to Nathalia, the small town about 35km from Shepparton where my Nanny used to live. "Nanny 'falia"(Little kid speak for Nathalia) as we always knew her died 30 years ago but I still have vivid memories of our trips to stay with her during school holidays when we were kids. Auntie Merle and the Gallagher cousins lived next door so our visits were always full of fun and adventures.
I knocked on the door of Nanny's old house and was delighted to be invited in, whereupon I found Norma who has lived there with her husband for over 20 years and knows Merle. She was happy for us to come in and allowed me to show Carolyn and the kids around the house that held so many special memories from my childhood. It had changed a little due to some renovations and alterations, but was still essentially the same house I knew and loved.
(Pictures will follow.)

We visited the cemetery where Nan is buried, the first time I've been to her gravesite. She was a wonderful Nan whom I loved very much and it was both special and sad to go to her grave.

From there we drove on up to Yarrawonga to visit Gary's Mum Jan who retired there with Allan many years ago. Allan died three years ago but Jan has picked herself up and is making the most of her life. her family are often there, as they were when we arrived, Joanne and Colin having come up for the school holidays. Carolyn had never met Jan before but they hit it off and we enjoyed a lovely visit, albeit a brief one as we had to head back to Shepparton where Merle had a yummy roast meal waiting for us for dinner. It got the seal of approval from both boys, quite an achievement!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mansfield

We went looking for snow at Lake Mountain but there was none to be found despite sport Boy's constant implorings, "There has to be snow".

It was a beautiful drive through the hills and valleys on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, through the lovely little villages of Husrtbridge, Yarra Glen and Healsville. I wanted to take a detour via Dixon's Creek where my Mum grew up but we were a little pressed for time.
Sport Boy slept for a while but when he awoke he had a terrible headache and was pretty distressed. We gave him a Panadol then looked for a place to stop for some food but we nearly didn't make it. As we rounded a tight bend on the narrow windy road through the hills and cement mixer going way too fast in the opposite direction came all the way across the middle line and would have wiped us out but for Carolyn's calm reactions and good driving as she headed for the shoulder and thankfully kept us all out of harm's way!! A head-on with a cement mixer would have been catastrophic and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when we got past without impact. Why he was driving such a big heavy vehicle at such dangerous speed on such a narrow windy road I'll never know but hopefully he slowed down before he did any serious damage.

We found a little road house for some food, a veritable shrine to motorbikes, and Sport Boy began to recover once he had some food in his tummy.

With no snow at Lake Mountain we headed for mansfield to find a place to stay for the night and hope that we may find some snow the next day.
We booked into a chalet in a lovely little caravan park in the old town of Mansfield for the night and cooked spaghetti bolognese for dinner.
Sport Boy insisted that I inflict pain on him in a game of Stinger before tea!

Tuesday morning has dawned bright and sunny, which is nice but probably not conducive to finding snow! We'll drive up to Mount Buller and see what we can find, then it's on to Shepparton for the night.

Monday, October 01, 2007

On The Road Again

We're just about to leave Melbourne, in the afterglow of the premiership.
We're headed for Lake Mountain in search of snow!!!
Then either Alexandria, or Yea for the night then onto Shepparton tomorrow to stay with Auntie Merle.

We've had a fantastic time and Gary and Christine and family have been wonderful hosts.
Sport Boy and Nathan have had a ball together, the third generation of a life-long friendship that started with gary's dad Alan and my Dad Peter.
Long may it continue.