Friday, 29 October 2010

A favourite morning place at home

I have many 'favourite' spots at home depending on the time of day and what it is I'm doing. First thing in the morning this is my favourite spot. The sun streams through the floor to ceiling window and casts a lovely golden glow into the room. This was taken at about 7am. (I hope the neighbours were already awake!)

It's also a great spot for a winter morning coffee in the sun looking out into the side garden. I'll often find either cat having a sly sleepy sunbathe on the arm of the chair.

However.....this is what it's been looking like most evenings these last couple of weeks! 


I have now found a solution for coping with the dust -
                                            Step 1  remove contact lenses
                                            Step 2  do not put on glasses
                                            Step 3  dim the lights and pour a glass of chilled wine...

Happy Friday,
Happy Halloween

(In Welsh, Halloween is referred to as nos galan gaeaf.
This roughly translates to ' night before the first day of Winter',
- maybe not so appropriate down under?)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A magical moment

Today I had one of those magical moments - I surprised my lovely little girl by turning up at school unexpectedly. The story actually started two weeks ago...

School has an edible garden where the children get the opportunity to plant, cultivate, pick and even cook the food that is grown. Two weeks ago her class had planned a market day to sell some of the produce. It was a work day for me with some things that I couldn't change so husband managed to organise to go. Anyway, the rain came, the market day was postponed and that was that. Yesterday, Sibs asked if we could go to school today day was happening. We looked through diaries and patiently explained that it was a work day and we couldn't make it. Oh the challenges of balancing the different demands of life!

Later on last night the (rather dramatic) conversation went something like this -
"this is the worst day of my life!"
"why do you say that?"
"X doesn't want to be my best friend, and we went to my ballet lesson and didn't realise that it had been cancelled and you can't make it to school tomorrow"

My heart broke for her.

Some head scratching planning later and husband said he would try his very best to get to school, but we didn't tell her, just in case.

So I'm at work this morning and an appointment finishes earlier than expected and the next one gets cancelled so I find myself with a spare hour.....quick, I can get to school! Jump in the car, almost run over husband who is on the way to the car at exactly the same moment having left a meeting early. We make it just in time to see a beaming little girl who gives us a hug and grins "you said you couldn't come". Priceless.

Forty five minutes later I'm back at my desk, ready for anything!

Monday, 25 October 2010

We packed so much into our weekend in Sydney

Last Friday Sibs and I escaped the dust storm bathroom renovations and flew down to Sydney. Husband had 'rather conveniently' escaped a few days earlier to a conference, so we went to join him. This is what we got up to...

* we waved good morning to Brisbane from the air

* we got on a double decker train to the city and got a bit confused with left and right and couldn't find our apartment! How was I supposed to know that Wynyard station had more than one exit?!

* we ate a sushi lunch before exploring the streets of Sydney and Sibs learnt to "look up" to appreciate the buildings. We did have to "look down" at times as we began to bump into people and things!

* we got a bit scared at the Hyde Park Barracks where we researched the Welsh convicts and played 'Catch a Convict' - we caught Robert Bantin and got a print out of his story.

* we walked through the gardens and met husband for a bite to eat. (Didn't recognise him in his 'work clothes'...he looked very smart)

* we ordered room service and sat and ate it on the sofa in our robes watching '16 wishes' and we enjoyed it with chocolate and fizzy pop.

* we got up late and wandered some more and had THE BEST hot chocolate and iced chocolate at the Lindt Cafe in Martin's Place

* we bought some street art from a man who only used 25c bic biros to draw with

* we went to the hospital and made a donation and rubbed the hog's nose to make a wish that we kept a secret

* we went to St Mary's Cathedral and our shoes squeaked so much that we ended up on tiptoe! We bought a Christmas decoration in the cathedral shop

* we watched a wedding go past with the princess (bride) in the sparkliest gown we have ever seen

* we spent hours in the Australian Museum touching and learning. Sibs pricked her finger on the spines of an ecchidna and had to get First Aid - all very exciting. We got up close and personal with the dinosaurs and spent a very long time helping to pick out stick insect eggs from stick insect....poo! We had to buy a brolly from the museum shop

* we went to China Town for dinner and did some evening shopping and made eyes at each other when we spotted the high heels and short skirts of the girls out on a Saturday night

* we woke to more rain on Sunday but that didn't stop us going to the Opera House for the Open Day, where we did and saw soooo much; we walked every inch of the place - the stage, the green room, wardrobe, behind stage rehearsal rooms, what a great experience

* we taxied to the airport, relaxed, played charades, had a little rest, and arrived home with a sack full of memories of a truly wonderful weekend.

Good-morning Brisbane

Being a convict lady at The Barracks

One of the many food stops...



there are eggs amongst the poo...somewhere!
first aid needed after this - there was blood!
getting close to the dinosaurs

a touch of evening shopping

The Best hot chocolate ever!

a rainy Sunday at the Opera House

on the Concert Hall stage

behind stage rehearsal room

drumming workshop and performance

nearly home...



Thursday, 21 October 2010

Flowers and food

These photos are especially for my UK friends. Look at these amazing flowers...from the garden. OK not quite from my garden, the rain has drowned the few spectacular flowers I had, but from a friend's place.

Hippeastrums (I had to go and check on Raine and Sage blog to remember the name)

 We looked after two gorgeous little girls last Friday night when our friends went to a wedding in Noosa, and were given these Hippeastrums as a thank you. (I also got some tasty cheeses and yummy choccies but there's not much left to show you. Wait on, just found one lonely little chocolate left (must have missed that one...!)

Talking of food....

It was a bit of an old mother Hubbard's pantry at home this evening. There was very limited resources to make some tea as Sibs and I are flying down to Sydney in the morning to join husband who is working there this week.  I considered eating out and mentioned that I had a few chores to do first. Whilst I was away from the kitchen Sibs took control and decided to make something to eat - and this is what she came up with. Quite inventive? Only problem was - there was only one plate...strategically placed in front of her!

So I'll (hungrily) sign off tonight with a photo of some flowers from my garden. As a complete coincidence I read a blog this morning Raine and Sage about some Hipp...whatever they're called...Hippeastrums and lavender in Raine and Sage's house today, and I have exactly the same....even down to the jam jar vase!

Happy weekend - mine starts early this week. x

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Yes, no, well maybe, maybe not, yes!!

I am SO in awe of you people that have renovated houses, or built from scratch. I have a whole new level of respect for you! Quite major changes were made to one of my two little bathrooms yesterday, just on the spur of the moment, and just by asking the right person the right question.

Bathroom planner said no to the shower in a particular spot, plans came back yes, project manager said maybe, but probably not, and the plumber said yes,no worries mate!! (I think it's really funny that they call me mate!) I'm keeping everything crossed that the plumber is right.

How do you manage all those "where do you want this power switch?" type questions? They may sound like small trivial things, but hey, I don't want to be staring at a double power socket at eye level. By the way, clever electrician is going to locate it in the top drawer of the vanity - ingenious?! So if I wasn't at home yesterday my shower would have been in a different spot, I would have had two light switches almost next to each other and a double power socket slap bang in the middle of nowhere! Scary...

So with my mind buzzing after a day at work, the whole house 'tasting' of dust, a few cracks and bulges in walls (how did that happen?), my 'to-do' list for tomorrow completed, I'm off to bed. 
Nos da x

Monday, 18 October 2010

Chilling after yogalates...

...and another busy Monday.

Junior chef in action

It was a different Monday in our house today. At 7am the builders arrived and by 7.05 it was dust and noise everywhere. Sibs was off school (pupil free day/teacher training) so inspired by Junior Masterchef she wanted to make pancakes for the tradies. We bought a 'pancake pen' a few weeks ago and tried it out this morning. Waw, it was great. Just threw all the ingredients in the 'pen', gave it a shake and hey presto, easy perfectly round pancakes. It was also so easy to clean afterwards. ($20 from Wheel & Barrow)

the pancakes with the 'pen'

The note that Sibs put with her pancakes for the tradies.

Next stop was to pick up some taps, - yes, I eventually decided on the taps....I had to make a decision as the plumber arrives tomorrow. (I'll post another time about the bathroom renovations.) As the pancake breakfast was so early we needed another, so we headed to Milk bar. They do great snacks, coffee and fabulous shakes and juices and the decor is fun. This is definitely the way to spend a day off.

breakfast no 2 at Milk Bar
We felt like some girly retail therapy so headed off to one of the shopping centres . We giggled in the changing rooms where some teenage girls were trying on bras - (it's giggly when you're eight!) and we got carried away with the Christmas displays. Christmas decorations were the last thing on my mind, but I quickly got into the spirit of the season. One of the blogs that I have recently been reading - fauxfuchsia ( so glamorous and so funny) has got super organised and festive, but I'm more of a "It's not December yet" girl. After today, I could be persuaded...

"I'll have one of those"

So another full Monday ends with yogalates. No phone, no TV noise, in fact no noise except the wonderful instructor Lyn calmly giving directions and reminding me to 'keep breathing....'

I think I'll have to hold onto that thought as I sit here ankle deep in dust, well that might be a slight exaggeration, but you could definitely write your name in my dining table tonight!

Friday, 15 October 2010

A parenting conversation during Thursday-itis!

Let me set the scene for this post...
Our family has this "disease" called Thursday-itis! From around 5pm we experience lethargy, irritability, grumpiness, a 'can't be bothered' attitude and no-one wants to eat whatever was on the menu for tea. Most Thursdays we battle through until bed time, but other Thursdays we succumb to the "disease".

Yesterday, we succumbed! Granted, the roasted pumpkin pasta dish didn't sound too appetising so the first hurdle was where to eat for dinner. A few tantrums later and we eventually head off to an Indian restaurant. Daughter not happy as it wasn't her choice, me not happy as daughter is wearing old going out to play clothes and husband not happy...well...husband just really succumbing to Thursday-itis! Get the picture?

We had a lovely meal, Sibs even wrote me a little "sorry for being mean, I love you" note, and all was going as well as could be expected. Once home, it was straight to her bedtime routine and lights out for 7.30pm. Phew, we survived.....
Expecting the "Darling, would you like a cup of tea?" chit chat, I sauntered into the kitchen.Two minutes later, husband and I entered into parenting techniques and strategies conversation - heavy for any night, let alone a Thursday! Needless to say, this wasn't going well. Something along the lines of -

"You're too strict with her",  "You're too lenient", 
"No, I'm not", "Yes, you are" "No, I'm not", "Yes, you are......"

Thursday-itis was really getting a hold! Two grumpy hours later, two grumpy people later, lots of going round in circles, we gave up.

Yes, I expect us to have different opinions sometimes, and I'm sure a lot of families have a slightly stricter parent and a slightly softer one, and if like us - this swaps and changes between us depending on the situation. So why am I battling today with trying to figure out just how to be the best parent I can? How to guide and teach without controlling? How to let her make her decisions, find her way? How to play good cop, bad cop without confusing her and giving her conflicting messages...???

Anyway, Thursday becomes Friday, and the world becomes good again. Husband went out of his way to bring me a morning coffee and some chocolate (always works!)

We have 2 little girls for a sleepover tonight, a grown ups dinner party tomorrow night (not stressed yet...), and something else on Sunday that I can't remember!  Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend. x

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

October reminiscing...

Oct 2006 Skipton Canal
Husband is pretty good at getting all our digital photos organised and labelled in monthly folders so that they are easy to find. One of the things that I love to do is browse through and reminisce about what I was doing during this month some years ago.   

October 2006 - Skipton, North Yorkshire
Oct 2006 Embsay reservoir
 4 years ago we were in North Yorkshire at the beginning of Autumn. One of our favourite Sunday afternoon strolls would be a brisk walk around the reservoir up the road from where we lived.  
 Where were you in October 2006?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Who's a pretty boy then?

This mean looking thing is a cane toad. When I came home from Yogalates last night there were a few of them having a bit of a party in the rain just outside our garage. They were introduced to Australia to get rid of some beetle or other and apparently that didn't work and they just bred like crazy and are now considered a pest. I know people don't like them and are trying to stop the growth in numbers, but I just couldn't bring myself to squish them! They're pretty big...ugly, but big.
This rain is looking like it could be easing off a touch. Husband and I were having a bit of a chuckle the other morning at how incensed we were it was raining in Brisbane in Spring. How the memory has faded of day, after week, after month of cold, wet (did I say cold? I meant freezing) rain in the UK. I think we had started to take the sunshine for granted.

On another note, congratulations to Wales on winning their first Delhi games gold - llongyfarchiadau Dai Greene. Yes I know Australia has 64 gold, but as my little Sibs would say "you don't need to win, but you have to try".

Off now to try and think of a way of drying school uniform without a tumble dryer.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sunday, rainy Sunday

It's rained all day today, and it's grey and miserable. This is a bit unusual for Brisbane, but to be honest I don't really mind. It means that we stayed in our pj's this morning, baked an apple cake and drank coffee and read the papers - bliss. Then this evening we've had a very British roast beef dinner - even made some Yorkshire puddings...oh, ok husband made them...

Sibs went to watch her friend take part in a Highland dancing competition this afternoon, so husband and I decided to go for a walk to take some photos of Spring. Well, did it rain, or did it rain? Half an hour into our walk we admitted defeat and headed home with one shot of a bourganvillia. I think my "Appreciating Springtime" post was a bit premature!

Miss Saigon on Thursday night was a great night out. I had organised a group booking for 11 and arranged to meet everyone in the theatre foyer to hand out the tickets. On the journey there, I had one passenger who was a local girl and Dave my sat nav faithful friend, and we still managed to get lost! We just got to our seats with about 30 seconds to spare - phew! It was worth the run from the car park though.

Tomorrow promises to be another crazy busy Monday - I'm off to order/buy bathroom stuff. This is it, no more pondering, I can make a decision on the taps, I must make a decision on the taps...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Appreciating Springtime - part 1

So, life in sunny Queensland is definitely sunny. Spring has sprung and the temperature is slowly creeping up.

For the first couple of years in Aus I didn't really notice the change in seasons - to me is was either sunny and hot, or sunny and really hot! Now I realise that I am appreciating the slight changes in the landscape and noticing the differences around me. One of the things that I look forward to is the emergence of the jacaranda blooms. I think I read somewhere that these trees were introduced to Australia and are native to tropical South American countries, and they bloom here in Brisbane in October and November. It's wonderful to be walking or driving along and all of a sudden you glimpse a shot of purple amongst the green.There is a funny looking tree on our walk to school that we've nicknamed the witch tree as one branch is just like a witches broom. Come October, this tree transforms itself to a glorious burst of lavender purple colour.

My camera is with husband at the moment and the laptop has been playing funny games, so this is a short post. I'll take some photos of springtime here in Brisbane and post them soon. No Welsh yellow daffodils, but still some pretty amazing colours.

Tonight I'm going to see a production of 'Miss Saigon' by Ignatians Musical Society. Their 'Les Miserables' last year was impressive, so it should be a good night.
 It's coffee time now - yn dymuno bore da i bawb, wishing you all a good morning x

P.S. I actually made this coffee. My cousin was so impressed that he took a photo - good thinking as I've made a heart in a coffee.............once!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Can someone please find me an extra few hours in the day?

Term 4 started today, so morning routine was restored. Up at 7ish, eat breakfast, I prepare packed lunch, then wash, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, put on sunscreen, pick up bag and out. Sounds easy enough...
25 "Come on Sibs" later we were on the way to school when she remembers that she hasn't brought her new Smiggle scissors, pencil and eraser which of course was soooo important!

9am and I made it to the hairdressers to have a couple of indulgent hours (thanks Bossy Hair) with a coffee, chat and the odd gossipy magazine thrown in for good measure. From there off to get bulk cat food  - I stock up when I have my hair done as the pet food shop is close by, and just next door a shop that sells bathroom things so yet another look at taps - I just can't quite decide...

Back in the car and off to the French Corner to see if they had any new mirrors for the bathroom. No mirrors but I got very distracted with some lovely clocks, pretty picture frames etc etc!

Next stop a gift for a newborn little boy, a birthday present for my niece who will be nine, another birthday present for a little boy who has just turned one (thank you facebook for keeping me up to date - I thought his first birthday was next Feb!!). The problem I have with shopping for gifts is that I always think there's going to be something better in the next shop, so I can take way too long to decide. I'm very skilled at browsing, dawdling and pottering.

I eventually got finished and headed home to the list of phone calls I needed to make - call the fence man (again) to follow up on quote, call the bathroom man (again) to confirm start date,call the garage to book car for a service, call gymnastics, call ballet....hey it's 2.50pm, time for school pick up.

 Home, afternoon snack, prepare tea, no homework? OK violin practice. Play outside on the bike and trampoline. Go and pick husband up from work as he ran in this morning and now it's too late to run home to be back in time for me to go to yogalates.....maybe tomorrow will be calmer?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Meet the neighbours

When we first arrived in Australia the various bugs, critters and creatures were a source of fascination, but they were also the things that were threatening to send me screaming back home. Luckily I have managed to contain my fears - well, most of the time.
Look what we nearly stood in last night? This yucky thing was on our drive way. It's called a Red Triangle slug and it's pretty big - the average size is 70mm.
Living quite close to a city I thought that we would be reasonable safe from the too scary and too dangerous, and fortunately we have been spared any major incidents. Although, the first time a cockroach dared venture into the house I was straight on top of the sofa! Here are a few photos of the wildlife that we've seen. I was too scared to get close to some...

koala living in the wild

possum in the back garden

this possum lived in our chimney

gecko's are very common and keep the mosquitoes away

water dragon eyeing up our picnic at Mount Coot-tha

a King Parrot