Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Happy little campers

Hi di hi, ho di ho - Good morning campers!

As it's school hols we have taken off for a few days to explore some of this vast country that we now call home.

I'm 'mobile blogging' this morning and my ipad keeps telling me that I don't have the latest version of this, that and the other so I'll see how it goes...

Anyhow, we did our usual five minute pack and out the driveway with a "shall we turn left or right?" attitude, and we have found ourselves on the coast in central Queensland.

We have seen a glorious sunset over the water in Tin Can Bay, watched the gliders land on the sand at Rainbow Beach, seen dolphins looking for breakfast, Sibs has ridden a camel(!), been to an education Water Park, visited the Bunderburg Ginger Beer factory and today we are on the way to a place called Seventeen Seventy.

We need these kind of holidays. They're a chance to re-charge batteries and re-connect with each other.

These kind of holidays make me realise that we're a good team....

There are no rules (well apart from the fun ones), and the three of us just click. No big discussions about what we're doing or where we're going. Just a tentative plan and the trusty 'Lonely Planet' guide book to give us some suggestions.

I love the fact that we go to bed early, each of us with our noses in a book and we wake up at dawn nose to nose...that's special.

I love the way that we fall into taking on certain jobs. Sibs volunteering to wash up is a real novelty!

I love the casual chats that we have whilst driving and the simple made up games that we play.
(although I have to admit to getting a little bit over 'I spy' after the fiftieth time!

The other two are having a swim in the sea as I type and I'm doing a bit of people watching, then we'll head off for a coffee before hitting the road again.

Go to love school holidays...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A horse ride in the mountains.

I love school holidays...

I delight in the fact that we can slow down a little and get away from the usual routines.

Quite a few months ago I wrote about our "We should" box (here).
In this box we place little notes to remind ourselves of things that we would like to do. One note said that we should go horse riding. I'm ashamed to say that the note was put in there in January!

Anyhow, better late than never so yesterday my girl and I went for a horse ride up in the mountains.

We left the city and travelled up towards the Sunshine Coast, turning off the highway to Maleny. It was a lovely route up through the Glass House Mountains. After a spot of lunch in the town we wound up the mountains a little further to Witta. We had previously stayed with Farmer Ross and his wife Robyn at Wattle Gully and had enjoyed a very relaxing weekend in one of their quaint little cottages. Sibs had been riding there before and was very excited to meet up with the horses again.

We got re-acquainted with the horses  and Sibs remembered each one by name (aren't children amazing with their recollections sometimes? ) Farmer Ross gave me a few tips on how to handle the slightly dreamy Star, who sometimes has a little relapse in concentration! Then after a gentle walk around the paddock we got into the saddle and off we went down the road and into the mountains.

It was so peaceful and relaxing - the only sound was the twittering of the birds and the occasional whoop from Sibs when her horse decided to speed up a little (or maybe that was me!).

How can you not switch off with views like this?

We spotted a couple of wallabies playing, but they moved away too quickly for me to take any photos.

After crossing the river we headed back up the hill and the horses definitely knew that they were on the way home! They sped up and it felt like a race to the end....I was holding on for dear life and I could hear Sibs giggling away behind me!

whooa girl!

The last job was to help Farmer Ross with grooming and feeding and then to lead the horses back.

What a great afternoon.

I love school holidays....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

What month is it again?

Ever since I moved to another hemisphere I get confused about the Seasons.

I  think I have managed to master the Winter/Summer stuff now. I'll never quite get used to Christmas in the heat, but at least I now know that it's Summer in December.

Now when it comes to Spring and Autumn I still struggle...

I get those blank moments when I can't recall what month it is!
I know it's Spring but my brain gets very muddled trying to work out why it's not April!

Signs in the shops tell me what Summer fashions are the must- haves this year....
yet I'm mentally preparing for Autumn as it's September!!

Just when I think I'm getting there - in comes a curved ball in the form of this...

Today we saw Christmas decorations in the shops - in September?

It got me again this year...how can it be Christmas, it's just starting to get warm?
We've just finished with Winter.

Choosing some ballerina decorations for her dancing teachers.

Are we the first customers in this Christmas shop I wonder?

Giggles as this laid back reindeer sang and tapped his foot to "Don't worry, be happy".

Not very Christmassy, but very Australian!

Happy Autumn Spring.

Getting excited about new doors (!)

What's been going on around here lately...

The painter isn't coming until next week,
the new pots haven't been bought yet,
the place is still a bit rough around the edges...
but I am already in love with my new doors and deck!
(Oh dear, do I need a life??)

Do you remember the rather unfortunate incident with my foot and the cane toad? (here)
Well in a rather drastic measure to make sure that it was a never to be repeated incident - the mulch and plants around the spare clothes line had to go! The critter was hiding in that greenery just under the window.

On a slightly more serious note, the window in the guest room has always called out to be a door...
The morning sun streams through and the sub tropical back garden behind was just being quietly ignored.

(I know that I should have an 'after' photo of the doors open...I'll get around to it when it's all finished.)

What started out as just replacing the windows with doors, became a slightly bigger job when we decided to add a small deck rather than just a step. Once the door was in it was obvious that a continuous floor level was what was needed.

Can't wait to finish it off!
Any suggestions on plants/pots/ideas etc gratefully received...

Just to finish off the whole update - another change occurring just off the dining area.

Again, some paintwork to be completed, but already we are getting the full benefit during this week's 30 degree heatwave that has signalled the start of Spring here!

These are not new doors just the old ones recycled.

The plans of the house has them drawn in as windows but the original owners must have changed their mind at some point and decided on doors. However, the doors were sliding ones, with one door only opening about a third of the way.

Our very clever joiner managed to chop a bit off here, add a bit there and produced exactly what we wanted. He then built a huge step out that extends way past the width of the doors that doubles up as a bit of a bench seat.

We had to have them opening in as the door from the laundry is just to the right. I actually quite like them opening in as it makes a picture feature of the outside.

School holidays here, so lots of exciting things planned.

Loving it all!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Gleision Colliery men remembered

I sat in the sun in my garden this morning and read three little words posted on a facebook status...
"He didn't listen"

I immediately knew what this meant - those poor, poor miners who had been trapped underground in a small coal mine in South Wales were not going home...

Last night I read the prayers and thoughts of many who were close to the tragedy and one from an old class mate who was 'calling in a favour from the big man!' He didn't listen...

I'm an optimist by nature and expected to wake up this morning to news of a rescue.
I haven't turned on the TV - I now don't want to know the details.

I didn't personally know anyone involved, but I know the communities and villages around the mine.

Names of places that sing off the tongue - Cilybebyll, Pontardawe, Cwmtwrch, Ystradgynlais....
Places that the school bus chugged through on the trip from home up the valley to Ystalyfera.

That valley will be a sad place today.

"There's a cry in the valleys, tears in the West
Mourning the heroes that wear the pit vest.
Underground grafters always put in a shift
below the hillside in the deep dark drift.

They're not coming home to their children, their wives,
The mine once again takes cherished lives.
The coalfields of Britain all unite and mourn,
We're all the same breed,
We're pit village born."

My thoughts and condolences to all involved.

Mewn cydymdeimlad,

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Camp Story By Sibs!!!

Hello I am  Sibs,
My mum has let me write something and I am going to tell you about my first ever camp that I went on a couple of weeks ago.

The morning walk!
 On the year 4's morning walk we saw lots of interesting stuff like a dance hall where on a Sunday people would go there to dance.       
 I spotted lots of old fashion houses and lots of beautiful things that I knew mum would like as well.

We saw a little shed with a banner saying "the shed" .  

 Then we saw the most exciting bit of all!.................
We saw a 300 year old tree that was still alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I  took pictures of lots of things to show my mum.

      Our last activity was the pottery!!!   It was very interesting .The lady showed us a machine that was called "wheel" ......     she  got some white clay and made it in to a glass or a vase!!!    We each got a turn of making the glass taller, bigger, smaller , thinner or fatter.

On the way back I  saw a little shelter with  a rooster on top with a N S W E  on the rooster.

You have to look closely at the top of the rotunda to see it!!
We also saw what happened to it when the floods wrecked the city!

    We loved making our boomerangs.!!!  I got a boomerang with a crocodile on it. I painted it with my finger! I have got it on my kitchen wall!

I hope you liked my information , goodbye for now.
(All photographs by Sibs.)

FROM SIBS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 12 September 2011

A Rugby World Cup tour and introducing Taffy.

Those that have read here before will know that we are a rugby supporting family and at the moment we are on a Rugby World Cup tour.
It's called the RWC Stay at Home tour...

The Rugby World Cup is currently being held in New Zealand and to cut a long story short - for a variety of reasons the plans to actually get there to watch some of the matches just didn't happen. This was also a case for others that we knew so one person had  the ingenious idea of creating a 'stay at home' tour.

This means that each couple involved will host an Australian match in their home. The hosts  provide food and drink associated with the countries playing and we all gather to watch the game.
Yesterday we 'toured 'to watch Australia v Italy and during the game we snacked on pizza, followed by a delicious meal of lasagna together with some Prosecco sparkling wine and some robust reds.

Our hosts had decorated their place with appropriately coloured balloons and images of Italy and have really set the standard now!

Neil had his England jersey on and Sibs had her New Zealand one and everyone else apart from me had an Australian Wallabies jersey.... I must find a Welsh one quick!

In the absence of a Welsh jersey I have Taffy. Taffy has been around for a while. He was won in a 10 pence raffle when I was a little girl many moons ago. He's done a bit of travelling, even coming away to University with me twice! He moved with me to England and somehow got relegated to a life in the attic for a while..
When Sibs came along he was rescued and given a bit of a clean and became a family member again. He now lives in the playroom and occasionally gets dressed up (when he is affecionately referred to as Taffelina!) and on rugby days when Wales are playing he is allowed downstairs to sit on the sofa to cheer on his home nation!

He sat on the sofa last night and cursed cheered on as Wales almost beat South Africa...and like me he was rather subdued for a little while after the final whistle...

So if we can't get to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the event is definitely coming to us.

Our house is hosting Australia v USA so I'll be thinking up some American style cuisine and decor. Should be fun.

Just on another note, the work outside is almost done and the painter will be here next week to finish off - can't wait. No more dust.... : )

Have a good week,

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Riverfire Fireworks and a photo editing chat.

It's Brisbane Festival month here and it all kicked off on Saturday night with Riverfire.

The Brisbane river came alive with a spectacular firework and light show that followed the meandering waterway. A couple of years ago we were very lucky to have a birds eye view from an office block overlooking the Storey Bridge and saw a similar scene to the one above.
This year however, we watched it from the comfort of home and I cheated and took these photos from the TV (thank you Channel 9).

At one point we watched the telly and turned the volume off so that we could hear the noise of the fireworks.
There was no flyover by the F-111 jets this year - the noise from those jets used to make the windows rattle so I didn't miss them too much.

As I took these photos from the TV,  I  have been playing around with a photo editing package this morning to enhance them a bit, it's called  'picnik'.
Most of it is free but there are premium applications that you can upgrade to. I've used it for a few months now and so far have not seen the need to upgrade. You need to register an account even to use the free version, but this is quite straightforward.
It has all the basics like, crop, exposure, colour enhancer etc and then a whole range of effects. I used the 'boost' effect to bring out the colours of the fireworks in the images above. You can frame your shots and add text and stickers.

It also enables you to do some collages with a limited range of options of number of shots to include. Then you can play around with the spacing, the colour of the background and the make up of the photos.

This collage was a combination of infra-red; duo tone; a little boost and night vision.

Here's the original shot as it looked direct from the camera.

A bit wonky with a black frame, so it was straightened and then cropped and then fixed up a bit.
One of the really useful things I have found with picnik is that it compresses the size of the photo which then makes uploading onto the blog a whole lot faster. You can save it to your hard drive or direct to a picasa web album ( if you use this for your blog), or to twitter, flickr, facebook or photobucket.

I am a bit organised when it comes to saving photos, so I will usually download from my camera and save into a monthly file (sometimes I'll create other files within the months for significant events such as birthdays or holidays).
If I then want to use a photo on my blog I will edit it through picnik and then save it in another file named 'blog' and that is also organised by months. That way I can find things....well, most of the time!
If I use my own photo on the blog I will add a small "a welsh girl" text in the bottom corner.

It sounds a bit cumbersome when I'm writing this, but it's actually really easy.

So this post started out as sharing of the Brisbane Riverfire and moved into photo editing...
As this wasn't planned I may have left out some obvious things...
Just ask if you want to know anything more and I'll try and help.

There's lots of power tool noises and banging and dust going on here this week...some subtle but exciting changes to the back of the house. It should be finished in a few more days, so I'll show you then.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Urgh - I stood on a cane toad!

Warning - this is not a pretty picture post!

Isn't this one of the ugliest things you've ever seen?
Did you hear me scream the other morning when I accidentally trod on him?!
Yes, I'm still here to tell the tale..a bit shaken, but still here!

Let me share -
We had a pretty wet last weekend with lashing rain and not owning a tumble dryer I was getting quite desperate to dry my washing. The next day, having spotted some blue sky I quickly ventured outside to hang things on the clothes line. I had used up all the space on my usual line and decided to use the second one...

Whenever I use this second line I always take a quick glance around. I have spotted a large blue tongue lizard in this part of the garden before and the cats have caught a couple of little snakes there and the rustling of the plants usually gives you a clue that there is something lurking or slithering...
Anyhow, in my rush to dry the clothes I didn't think of checking...and a few minutes later this thing moved by my feet!
I jumped a mile, but in my panic instead of jumping away from the thing, I jumped onto the thing!!

I seemed to be stuck and I just kept on lifting my feet as if I was jogging on the spot! I think the toad was totally confused too as he didn't appear in too much of a rush to get away either. We both just kept on dancing around, narrowly avoiding each other...

So can you picture the scene? -
I'm doing this hopping thing chanting "urgh,urgh,urgh!" over and over again...
I couldn't stop hopping...and chanting!
I have seen these toads before - we had one that got stuck in the base of the netball hoop some months ago (link to post here) and each time I see them I realise how revolting they are.
Their skin is toxic and this can kill a small cat or dog, so they are also pretty dangerous.

I wasn't taking any chances so after disinfecting my feet I found my wellies (gum boots) ready to go and continue with hanging out the clothes!

Oh the joys of sub-tropical Queensland.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

School camp

Off to school camp...

with the biggest suitcase she could find,
a pink handbag,
dark sunglasses
and a water bottle.

What else could she want?

Maybe the cat?!

'Do you think anyone will notice?'

He sneaked in to the suitcase whilst we were in the middle of packing
and decided that he too might want a little adventure!

Watching the children at school this morning in all their excitement was a wonderful thing.
Lots of screaming, hugs and waving goodbyes.
The energy level was incredible and their laughter and smiles infectious.
I wonder what they will be like when they return?
The house is very quiet tonight.
There's just the patter of paws and an occasional whimper as the cat goes searching for his friend.
He really misses Sibs when she's not here....and so do I.
My consolation is that there was a gorgeous note left on my pillow, filled with kisses and hearts.
I'm sure she'll find the little note that I wrote to her that I put in her wash bag...
This is such a time of building memories...