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The Family Bandwagon

Our family is spread out across the country and across the world, and what better way to keep in touch than a collaborative digital journal?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Church St Cruising

Sunday already and we've been back almost a week. I did get some photos up on FB of the cruise.
We had a great time. No problem getting down by train and then to the port (thanks to Clive knowing where to find the 109 tram. )Next time I'll borrow Denise's case again. The one I had was just a bit too big.
Loved being waited on at meal times. We did use the stairs but also indulged in the many yummy temptations so have three or four kilos each to lose. I swam in both pools on the ship as well as in the ocean at five of our stops. Loved Mystery Island and Ile de Pins. Found a top as a souvenir at Lifou that I wore several times and had many compliments on. I plan to make a photo book or a calendar with more photos.
On Mystery Island in my useful top.

In the Atrium at the centre of the ship on our last day.

The Ultimate deck party

Testing the pool. I enjoyed the water..

This week since returning I've watered. The weather here is even warmer than it was on the cruise.Thanks to Lisa and Carolynn watering so my tomatoes plants are looking healthy, I have some lettuce coming up and some pumpkins have appeared with the tomatoes (but not where I planted them.)Today we went to Melbourne to celebrate Arnold's 80th and Allen's 50th. The families have grown up so much since I saw them last.We had a lovely afternoon.
Snorkelling at Vila from the glass bottomed boat.

 Saturday I went to Denise's for lunch and to meet Ryan. He is a beautiful baby and very placid.Just eleven weeks old now.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Bye bye Lemony, hello new car!

We bought a new car today.  It's a 2010 Toyota Camry Altise. The asking price was $18k but we traded in our old 97 Corolla ("Lemony") and talked them down to $17k plus a service and, as Rach insisted, "a full tank of gas".

It's ex-fleet, with low kms (45,000) and has been really well maintained. We got a UV coating on the windows too. I'll be honest - coming from a 97 car (and the Laser before that) I'm just impressed by central locking and a cd player ;)

I reckon we first started thinking about buying a new car not long after Lil was born (possibly just before actually) so it's taken well over 3 years of saving to get there. Of course a move interstate in the middle of that didn't help.

Here's hoping this new one makes it 30 years or so like Lemony has done :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

From the Madhouse

School and work went back on October 6th... My first week was about contacting families to welcome them back, Age 4 group on the 7th so the Age 5 tutors look after the children while their parents do their thing. Training for our last book on Wednesday. Age 5s do 15 books in total, one a fortnight during school terms. I still shop with Tania on Thursdays and have Fridays to myself, usually to attempt housework. That first weekend was a bit of a killer - Iaido at 9.30am, then I took the girls to the Marketplace and bought Daria a skeleton costume from Big W. I actually needed milk so was going to Safeway too, but ended up with 2 bags of groceries as well - that always happens. Around 11.30am I walked to the community centre to meet a friend and help her with her daughter's party. She doesn't have family support so a couple of us stepped in. I was there until 3.30pm, we left the venue tidy :)

Saturday night was a 40th for another friend, Jared babysat for me and Carolynn babysat for the friend I helped earlier. We went to the New China restaurant, it was a great night, even if I had to leave early-ish because we had an early start Sunday morning. Trinity's cali team competed in Melbourne. The comp started at 9.30am but we had to be there 45 minutes earlier. We managed to leave home at 6.15am, Jared drove most of the way but Carolynn took over once we got to Melbourne. The girls performed really well, between our 2 teams of Sub-Juniors they won aggregate with 2 firsts, 1 second and 2 thirds. The competition finished and we headed to Highpoint shopping centre. Damien and Cheryl were there and we met up twice. Once at Toyworld and again in the food court. We left around 4.30pm, everyone was exhausted, Carolynn drove home. Needless to say it was Maccas for tea when we got home after 6pm.

I got to work Monday feeling a bit brain-dead, but only had one home visit anyway. We decided to have one last group meeting before our Age 5s graduate. Tuesday and Wednesday were home visit days for me, leaving me with 2 families to catch up with before we finish. Thursday, shopping, I found a pair of pinstripe pants on the 20c rack at the op shop that I hope to use for Trinity's Jack Skellington costume. Wish me luck! Friday was my job network appointment and I got some info about incentives for employers to put me on for 15 hours a week. I'm working on updating my CV - I might need luck for that as well.

Saturday just gone was another comp, this time in Shepparton. The girls performed well but were up against strong competition and came third over-all. Jared didn't come with us this time, though we didn't need to leave until around 9.30am to get there by 11.45am, it started at 12.30pm. A much better time for making a day trip! We got home around 5.30pm and went to Maccas - a bit of a tradition for calisthenics competitions for us. I took Jared to Jake's Sunday morning and he spent the day with them at Kangaroo Lake speed-boating, until the steering in the boat broke and they headed home. The girls and I went shopping and had chips and gravy - such an unhealthy weekend.

Monday and Tuesday we've been back to school and work. Tomorrow is Multi-cultural day at Speci Hill. Thursday Trinity is going on a "remembering Bendigo" excursion - they're going to White Hills cemetary, the Joss House, the Chinese Museum and the Gold Mine. Friday Daria and Oscar go to Melbourne Zoo with their class. Busy, busy, busy :)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Gordon St Gossip

Hey guys, I thought I'd ask each person to explain what they've done in the last couple of weeks, and transcribe their responses.

I've been to school and went to a birthday party today. I tried to build Lord Business. I like building new things. School is good and bad. Playing with my friends is good, but it's too long which is bad. I like playing with Daria, Zara, Talia, Paw, Zoe and Adam.

I got a lot of new clothes from my friend Sophie. I like the dresses best. I go to the library and sing songs and dance. It's so fun! I planted seeds yesterday. I dug holes and put the seeds in. They will grow into flowers.

I started another Iaido class on Saturdays - a 30 minute test kids class with Daria, Trin and two of their friends (Os didn't want to do it) followed by a 1 hour class for students who can't make the Tuesdays. I'll trial it until the end of the year and decide whether to keep it going next year.
Apart from that I've been working and riding.

I took Os and Lil to a Children's Week Family Day in the mall yesterday. The kids had a great time - Lil hugged someone dressed as a dog :) Lil wanted to get her face painted but we didn't have time.
I'm still doing Pilates every Friday - we recently changed my program. My legs are sore!
I'll be getting my hair cut soon, and donating it to "Beautiful Lengths" through Pantene - they make free wigs for cancer patients.

Meow. Meow meow meow. Mew.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Hop Across the Pond - Toronto

We really should finish talking about our last holiday before we go on our next one..  So I'm writing the final instalment as Bruce drives us to Gatwick airport.

This week is a little shorter than the last, but not by much because my work week started on Sunday! I ran a networking and training session in Swansea for people who want to do chemistry outreach. Stayed the night in Swansea (B joined me after his folks went home) and then headed to Aberystwyth on Monday to help train some new SIAS demonstrators. After the evening session, I drove eastwards, stayed in a random b&b (i think I was the only guest!) and found my way to Gregynog on Tuesday morning for the Mid Wales Top of the Bench chemistry competition. I arrived home just before 7pm Tuesday night and was up early to reform the hire car before my Train the Trainer course yesterday. Phew! I'm really in need of this holiday - even if it's only four days away!
But before that, the final step from our  North American trip...


The flight from Montreal to Toronto was lovely - it was early afternoon, a small plane, friendly staff and they gave us drinks and snacks (I had vodka and chocolate, B had beer and crisps). It took us a while to figure out the transport system (their 'weekly' ticket is only valid from Monday) but eventually we found our apartment. After dinner from the burger place over the road, we popped into the Gyu bar for dessert and a cocktail. All the staff yell greetings when you arrive and farewells when you leave - Japanese-style. Was good fun.

Friday morning we headed to the Steam Whistle Brewery - they do great tours but you can't book before the day. We arrived at 10.30am and easily booked onto the first public tour and had a taste of the fare whilst waiting for it to start. The tour was great - possibly helped by the bottle of pilsner everyone got at the start. We learnt about the history of the company, saw the raw ingredients, watched the machines package everything, and I even got to blow the Steam Whistle (wooot). To top it all off, our tour came with free souvenir pint glasses - which made it back to Cardiff intact!
The rest of the day was similarly relaxing - lunch at a different Brewery (recommended by Steam Whistle staff as somewhere with good ales), wandered along the waterfront, explored the Museum of Enuit Art (once we found it.. It isn't the most obvious of museums!) and eventually we headed over to the CN Tower for dinner in the revolving restaurant.

We'd made our dinner reservations well before the holiday and i'm glad we had - our table was right beside the window and the whole evening was incredible. We ate tasty food whilst watching the sun set over Toronto. And then by the time dessert arrived, a storm had too, complete with lightning! Spectacular! We had had such a good day that we didn't mind getting home in the rain!

We spent all of Saturday at Canada's Wonderland - a Fun Park full of roller coasters, rides, sideshows and children. We had a lot of fun. I think we got on every single coaster that was running! AND we had funnel cake (like a cross between a donut and a waffle.. As big as a plate and doused in icing sugar, strawberries and ice cream!) Yum!!  B & my "first date" was to Drayton Manor and we've been to lots of the Fun Parks in Britain...  But this was the first non-British one we've been to together! :-) We might have to try the  Queensland ones sometime. ;-)

We had tickets to the new Cirque du Soleil show on Sunday afternoon, so we wandered through some of the underground city (yes, just like Montreal.. But apparently bigger and less famous...  also mostly shut on Sundays), and then headed to the Distillery District. Although once home to a huge distillery and associated warehouses, the district is now full of trendy bars, restaurants and boutique shops (I bought a beautiful pair of boots). After lunch at the Oyster Bar (but not oysters!), we walked to the Grand Chapiteau for the show.

Kurios is AMAZING! We both really enjoyed it! It's the best Cirque show we've seen so far. Definitely recommend it! Was also really cool to see Cirque in their home country! We were buzzing all the way back to the apartment.

Since we were heading home to Cardiff on Monday and had a long flight ahead of us, we took it easy - packed, left the apartment and went back to the ale Brewery to relax. We sat overlooking the lake and enjoyed a pre-flight flight (the bar offered four mini beers as a "flight".. It was little more than a pint and you got to taste four of their beers).

And so ends our North American tale.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Happy birthday Glennji

I did this on the day but didn't get around to linking it on here..  But thanks to the beauty of "schedule post", it will look like I did! (once I get to a real computer and can add the link - just spent the last half hour trying to do it on the phone.. Bah!)

Happy birthday Glenn!

Here's a survey for you (that everyone should fill in)..

Hope you had a lovely day!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Hop Across the Pond - Montreal

I missed a post last week, work has been keeping me more than busy! This month is a bit insane for me.. I was working last Saturday (a teacher conference), had an evening event on Monday, drove to Bangor (North Wales) on Tuesday to run a workshop and attend a Local Section meeting, had to be in Brecon (mid-Wales) by 9.15am on Wednesday and then back to North Wales for a Skills event that ran for Wednesday evening and all day Thursday. I finally got home on Thursday night and after three very, very long days, I did very little yesterday!
If I'm lucky, then this map will show you where I've driven this week.

John & Gwen are visiting this weekend (it was Gwen's birthday earlier this week) and I'm working in Swansea tomorrow - but I'll keep that until next week. The bottom line is I'm spending way too much time working and need to find more 'life' balance.... somehow...

Anyway, time for the next installment (as the holiday fades in our memories)...


We didn't really have much of a plan for Montreal - we wanted to catch up with Max & Malika (I knew Max from Canberra) and we had a list of 'recommended activities' to do if we had the time and inclination. After the bustle of New York, it was really good to have a few days to just relax in this laid-back and arty city (check out some of the wall art - it was really cool and it's everywhere!).

Arrived in the afternoon and after finding our apartment, went for a very tasty vegetarian meal with Max & Malika. They gave us a whistle-stop tour of the area and pointed out a few things that we could do.

Monday (Labor Day)
Walked up many, many stairs to the top of the Mount to check out the views (along with everyone else who was visiting Montreal!). We found a new band playing one of the "Pianos publics" (pianos just left around the city for anyone to have a go at). Was pretty good but I've forgotten who they are - I think I have a business card for them somewhere. :-)

Descending the mountain, we wanted to check out the "Underground City" (a bunch of shopping centres joined by tunnels so locals can still shop during winter). Unfortunately, being a public holiday... nothing was open! :-( So we just wandered around downtown for a while. Had dinner with M&M again (they cooked very tasty BBQ salmon).

This was our 'culture' day - we headed down to Old Montreal, wandered around the Old Port for a while and then headed to the Pointe-à-Callière Museum to discover the history of Montreal. It was really interesting - but we spent so long wandering around the museum that we got a little tired... (told you that B could sleep anywhere!). Once we pepped up again, we learnt how to be a pirate, found out a little about Marco Polo and then continued exploring Old Montreal.

The Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica is incredible - the columns, paintings and altars inside are beautiful. But the Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur (Chapel of the Sacred Heart) is even better.. all carved out of wood! Such a lovely and calm place.

Decided to head to the islands - we started on Île Sainte-Hélène and Bruce walked on the Grand Prix track (oooOOOOoooh - it's used as a cycle track when it's 'off-season', so even taking a photo on the track was a little dangerous). We investigated the Biosphere, which was created for the 1967 World Fair Expo, took some photos and then relaxed in the park for the afternoon (I managed to write some postcards whilst B had a nap).

After relaxing, we decided to find Habitat 67, which was also created for the Expo. It looks incredible.. and the crazy box-shaped flats are now just people's homes! Unfortunately, Habitat 67 is on the other island, Île Notre-Dame and we decided to walk from there back to town... it's a LONG way! We got to a main road eventually and managed to get on a bus instead. Phew!

After a relaxed morning, we headed out to the airport for our short hop to Toronto.
Stay tuned for next-time..

p.s. Dee, I had to take this photo for you.. ;-)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Church street cruising

This will be my last post for a couple of weeks. On Tuesday Clive and I are strolling down to the Eaglehawk station to go to Melbourne then to the Docks ready for our Island cruise. Getting excited now that I've finally packed. No internet access but I've given Mum the ship phone number in case of emergency. I hope Lisa and Carolynn will keep the garden watered. I've planted some tomato seedlings.Please pick and eat the snow peas.
All the lawns look tidy. Weathter here lately has been beautiful so I've packed for summer. I hope I'm not disappointed. We've booked a glass bottom boat tour and snorkelling in Vila for Glenn's birthday. We'll celebrate on your behalf Glenn. I'll be sending birthday wishes your way.
Keep fit and well all of you. Love from Mum.

From the Madhouse

And it's a hat trick from the Madhouse. That's definitely a record :)

So, our week. Monday, housework before heading to the indoor heated pool with the Parkers. Belinda, Tahlia, Ella and Josh. Jared came along to meet Jake, they ended up going for a bike ride and Jared stayed at Jake's the night. Both Trinity and Daria went down the water slide - first time for Daria. We ended up taking Tahlia home to get clothes, then she came home with us for a sleepover. We set up the foam mattress in the girls' room on the floor, lucky there was room!

I baked a cake for Damien Monday night and decorated it Tuesday morning. You'll have seen the TMNT cake on Facebook. We dropped over after lunch for cake and coffee, just a quick visit so Damien could get back to work.

Wednesday - October 1st! Carolynn and Jarrad came over and took the girls for a day of playing Disney Infinity 2.0. Now they want one LOL  Of course. While they were gone I got into the girls room and tried to make it tidy. Still things to sort out, but I got a photo. I picked up Daria from calisthenics and we went to Spotlight for a bit before picking Trinity up.

On Thursday we took a drive to Kyabram Fauna Park. Jared drove and we followed the Parkers. It's about an hour and a half, so similar to Ballarat. The kids had an absolute ball! They were a bit afraid of the emus that were wandering around, though Ella was very game and fed one. Since we were pretty close to Tatura we took a drive to visit my friend Natarsha - she's one of Carolynn's God parents, a friend from Uni. Tatura is about 30 minutes from Kyabram and just over an hour from Bendigo. Jared got a few hours up :)

I was going to spend Friday doing housework after taking Jared to catch a train to Melbourne at 8.30am to meet up with Scott. I really need to sort out my craft corner and my bedroom. Instead I got the kitchen tidied up before Julie-Anne asked if I wanted to take a coffee break and meet her at the Marketplace. I needed milk anyway so it sounded like a good plan. We had lunch and met her around 1.30pm. Mitchell and Daria couldn't sit still so we took a walk around Big W... for about 2 hours. By the time we were heading to Safeway for groceries it was after 4pm and Jared was on his way home from Melbourne. I figured I'd wait around instead of heading back in to pick him up (the Marketplace is right next to the train station after all). We had a look at Riot - the art and craft shop, and Jared met us at the car when he got in.

Daria wanted to catch up with her friend Adam so we took chicken, salad and bread rolls over there on Saturday for lunch. We ended up staying the whole afternoon, I'd gone shopping last year after Halloween and picked up heaps of clearance stuff. Danielle and Darren do Halloween, we went last year for a bit of a party and to hand out treats, not that there were many trick-or-treaters last year. So Danielle, with a little help from the kids, decorated the house. It was a gorgeous day! 25º! Of course we tried sending the kids out to play but they also spent time on the computers. In preparation for Halloween we watched Beetlejuice, I love that movie. Daria and Adam were busy outside for most of it, I don't think they saw it at all. Trinity and Connor were on the computer but saw bits of it. The girls were going to stay for a sleepover but Trinity changed her mind. After watching a couple of movies Darren called me and I went and picked her up around 11pm. We picked Daria up this morning (Sunday) and were there when Jared called to say mum had come over with the lawn mower. Jared mowed, mum did the dishes for me then tidied up the bookshelf while the mower cooled down then she went home with it. So - thanks mum :)

Back to school and work for us all tomorrow. It's been a fairly productive and yet fun 2 weeks, I think we've fitted in lots. Now it's back to the boring stuff LOL

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Bye Bye Buick

Today Len Thomas and two friends came to check out the Buick. They loved Les's shed and didn't think it was messy (but I know Les would have thought so).
Not yet sure if Len will buy it or his friends Les and Frank. If Len buys it, he'll pay Les to do the work to get it going. Either way, they said consider it sold for $10000. May be two unhappy wives about the decision especially as Les and his wife are selling their house in Gordon and downsizing.
Since I'm heading off on Tuesday and Len will be away from mid October to early November, it won't be gone for a while yet.
One down and I hope once the space is there, I'll get into the shed for more decluttering.
The Torana is on the market for $10000 as well if there's any interest out there. At least with Clive to drive, the Torana can get an occasional run.
Len took us all out to lunch afterwards so I have had an enjoyable day.
A man here donates his alpaca fleece to the Spinners and Weavers and he had dropped off this year's on Wednesday. bit of networking at the Stadium lunch and I had a visit from a lady interested in purchasing some alpaca. Now have $20 and four fleeces to take. Since we still had some of last years, I think that's good. I didn't have a chance to check with anyone else, so executive decision on the price.
My modelling at the Stadium was fun and I had a phone call to ask me to do more next Saturday for another group. Decided I am too busy at the moment, but would be available another time.
Tonight I dance at Eaglehawk and needed a plate so carrot cake (from a packet) is ready to go. Also made biscuits for my visitors which were well received. They loved Les's diary of working on the Buick as well.
Mowing was on my agenda too but I think that can wait until the weekend. Tomorrow is very full up.