Wednesday, April 25, 2018

And the beach

My sister and her two boys came over from Auckland to visit us when we got back from Sydney which has been lovely. We've shown them the good Canberra things (Questacon, the arboretum, IKEA) and we dragged them down to the coast to show them our particular piece of Australian coastline.



The weather has been glorious for their visit; not too hot, just best sparkling autumn.  We all went for swims because the weather was so lovely ... but it was a bit deceptive. The water was clear and pretty and very very cold. I was OK in a wetsuit but nobody stayed in for very long, not even the seven year old.



My sister and I dragged them on various walks which they reacted to with the kind of special enthusiasm shown by teenage boys for walks with their mothers. And seven year old boys too. The older three have been plugged into various devices for as much of the time as we let them. The youngest one still likes playgrounds but there's not much common ground .... except for ice-creams and chocolate biscuits. That gets them all interested.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And Sydney

The boys and I had a lovely few days in Sydney being tourists. We stayed a suburb or two out of town - about a twenty minute bus ride to the CBD - which meant we could have a decent two bedroom apartment with a kitchen instead of all being crammed into one hotel room. One room is not good for family happiness.  And a bus is tolerable when it's a different city and there's no work (or school) at the other end.



This is the sun setting over Darling Harbour. The first evening we were there we took a bus down to Circular Quay, then a ferry round to Darling Harbour. It's a good ferry ride because it's just public transport (so not too expensive) but it goes out past the Opera House, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then over to Luna Park and a couple of other stops before Darling Harbour. Quite coincidentally it was a beautiful evening with lovely orange western light on all the tall buildings. Very very tall buildings. We felt very small town people.

Number one son has an eye for engineering and kept noticing things like glass lifts and peculiar balconies and odd features forty stories up. We spent a bit of time standing in the street like country folk staring up at the amazing sights. I think it's good for them to practice being uncool for when they're older.



This is the hill outside the observatory - we enjoyed that and the Museum of Sydney that had the history from the first Fleet and how Sydney grew. I don't know any of this stuff of course so we could be well informed and then stop for chocolate brownies when we got tired. I think we all find historical things quite fascinating because the built environment of Canberra is so recent.



The highlight of the Botanic Gardens was the pond with eels in it. Lots of native eels - apparently they wiggle over the grass to get there when the pond periodically gets drained. I found this revolting, the boys thought it was fascinating, so I read the botanical labels on the trees and shrubs while they watched the eels in the hope that one of them would eat a duckling. Which apparently happens ... but not when we were there. Boys.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hobart and Perth

As predicted, Hobart was cold and rainy ... but still very pretty.  This is the obligatory shot of Salamanca Place - overcast but still great. I snuck out for an excellent bacon and egg pie at lunchtime.


We did a day's work in Hobart on Thursday then flew on to Perth (3000km, six hours, two flights) which was long but reasonably uneventful except for an undignified dash through Melbourne airport to catch the connecting flight. Luckily the two members of Parliament with me were reasonably athletic and wearing flat shoes. This is not always the case. The hosties brought us extra wine.


Perth was glorious as always - one day I will get back for more than twenty four hours - the weather was just lovely. Clear and warm and the city sparkled. Because of the time zone change I woke up super early on Saturday morning so had time to have a wander around before the flight back to Canberra. I went up to Kings Park and looked back at the city - it is actually quite a bland city with nothing really to go "wow" about - but I could see how you could find it very easy to live here. A bit like Canberra I think.  That is the river, it is wide and flat and full of sharks.


I did a quick trip into the WA Art Gallery which was highly enjoyable. I was the only person in the historical section (in an older building attached to the main Art Gallery) - five rooms full of their 18th and 19th century stuff (yes, that is historical in Australia) and just me to peer at it as closely as I wanted for as long as I wanted. I could literally put my nose up the arse of a Rodin (Adam) and see how it was done.

The picture above is the setting up of a Thai cultural festival - it hadn't really kicked off yet but the cooking smells were AMAZING. The kids are playing in a square fountain that shoots up random jets to make walls of water that can trap you or let you through. Or just get you completely soaked....not a problem on such a lovely day. It was hard to jam myself back into the metal tube for another four hours to Canberra.

School holidays started today so I have re-packed my bag and am about to hop in the car to take the boys up to Sydney for a couple of days. We have never been proper tourists in Sydney so we will have a poke around and do anything that does not require Boats or Heights.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Groundhog day

Every day is 30 degrees and sunny - it hasn't rained in weeks - and here I am again in an airport. Same old, same old. The weather is just freaky. We should be getting cool and autumnal about now but it is just endless endless summer.



This is the walk around the golf course we did on Sunday morning. I should be starting to run again now my toe is healed but it's just too hot. I know that other people run even in extreme heat but they don't have three inches of subcutaneous fat. It's like running in a fur coat, except heavy.



On the plus side, this is the time of year we bought the house and I always remember why. Just for a month the sun buckets into the living room. Very pleasant, although it would be better if it wasn't still 30 degrees. Never mind, off to Hobart today where it is 17 degrees and rainy! I probably won't get time to go outside but I have a cardie just in case.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A season ticket

This was the year I became a fully fledged folkie and bought a season ticket to the National Folk Festival. Four glorious days of folk music (technically five, but I didn't go on Thursday afternoon, I had to work). I bought the ticket back in September last year in the early bird special deal, and I was nervous ... what if I can't handle every day? What if I get bored? What if it's all a big waste of money? In the end, it was awesome. Just awesome. Four days of folk music is barely enough... especially when it's the National's definition of folk music. It is a fairly broad church.



My husband took number two son and a friend down the beach, and my Dad stayed at home and looked after number one son, who is the middle of his first set of exams (two year continuous assessment to get a university entrance score, good god). So I was there when it opened at ten and left again at dinner time as the sun went down and the bars started to heat up ... which was fine. In my next life I will be the kind of person who props up the session bar until sunrise, but I don't think it's going to happen this time round.



I really wanted to stay till 9 on Sunday night and see All Our Exes Live in Texas (awesome, but the pressure of seeing a favourite band! I wanted everyone in the room to like them too) so I went in after lunch so I wasn't neglecting my Dad too badly. We went to the arboretum and admired the bonsai and of course the view. I hadn't realised Dad hadn't been there before - it's still clearly got a long way to go but the trees are starting to grow. And it's a great concept.



All weekend was beautiful late summer weather - high twenties during the day and cooler in the evenings. And, to top it off, I managed to persuade my husband to come with me on Monday when he came back from the beach. It appears that our taste in folk music does not overlap at all (he did not like the Western Flyers, who play Texan swing, and I did not like the finals of the David Bowie cover competition) but we could meet regularly for a debrief, some curry puffs, and a beer. I don't know if I'll persuade him into the season ticket but I am completely sold! Can't wait for next year.







Friday, March 30, 2018

Two photos of the sky

So much going on, and none of it interesting. Just work, and trying to keep track of whatever the boys are up to. Number one is enrolled in an undergraduate university course! He's still got a couple of years at school, but the Australian National University run courses for secondary school students, which actually count as credits apparently. We will see how it goes. We were very encouraging (it's free).



My Dad and I went down the beach for the weekend and it was wonderful! He couldn't swim because of a bad cut on his leg, but I leapt in both days; there was a fairly solid swell and some good surf. It's always nice to be by the sea...



And here is another photo of the sky taken when I was leaving work. I was all frazzled and cranky and stomped up from the underground car park (I had to park in the overflow carpark down the hill because I was in late) to see this lovely sky. It was calm and clear and by the time I reached the car I felt much better.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

You're turning violet, Violet

Remember "Free Man on Sunday" when I said I had a better idea for scraps and solids halfway through? It was less solids and more scraps, and it is finally finished.



It is quilted with swirls through the blocks and smaller swirls on the border. Nothing very surprising, but I like it more than the earlier quilt, with its bigger purple blocks.

I called it "You're turning violet, Violet" which should be self-explanatory! And what else could you possibly call a purple quilt?


And the back is even MORE uglies from the stash! Will they ever stop? I didn't think I had that much fabric compared to some committed hoarders out there, but it is never-ending. I haven't bought anything for over a year, and still I could probably make about another fifty quilts without running out.