Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006


Thanks for your friendship and sharing a slice of your life with me.

I'm taking it easy at home, watching Carols on TV...been overdoing the catching up with everyone in Sydney.

The weather is poor, very atypical Sydney summer, grey, overcast, raining, for the last week! Its strange to have a wet grey Christmas, but hey, its that kind of year! Its great to be home, with the family and friends. Loving my time home.

Hope to see you all soon, and a very Merry silly season to you!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Brisbane (16-20 December)

The Drive from Sydney to Brisbane is always an enjoyable adventure. This time I planned to travel inland, through Tamworth and Armidale, then travel back down the Pacific coast road with Miranda.

A few reasons for travelling up, firstly, Tom and Ana's wedding, to visit Relatives, especially see baby Zara, and visit Julian and Diana.

I had made the decision to save a few dollars by not hiring a car and took my wee hatchback. The drive out of Sydney was uneventful, the familiar stretch to Singleton was just multilane highway, not dissimilar to the German Autobahns.

Soon after joining the New England highway things got quiet. The lonely road was enjoyable, watching the small fibro shacks past by, small farms giving way to open drab green paddocks populated sparsely with gums. The sky was uncharacteristically grey, with light showers my constant companion.

I arrived at Tamworth, drove past the big guitar and through the main strip. Things were definately country here, but hardly exciting or eye openingly interesting. Am I a jaded traveller? Much the same drab countryside past me by, though the climb through the undulating hills made a great contrast to the flattish expanse which had preceded it. I was coming to High country.

Armidale was my stay. Its a small University town, quiet now in holiday time, but surprisingly well to do suburban feel, leafy in parts and remided me of parts of Leura in the Blue Mountains. For me, is the dissappointment that much of Australia is showered with a sameness that you will find along a coast/hinterland so vast.

The 5 hours left to Brisbane went quickly, though strangely as the amount of Scottish place names was unrelently together with billboards with Bagpipers. Aberdeen, Glencoe, GlenInnes, Inverill, Ben Lomond...obviously central NSW was a successful place of Scottish immigration.

Speaking of billboards, their are four main Billboards on this highway (1) McDonalds (2) KFC (3) Driver Reviver, stop and rest type signage (4) Quit Smoking. Unrelenting. Do all country folk eat american junk, smoke and drink drive?

The Main Range into Brisbane basin makes for a wonderful drive after hours of straight road. It was something unexpected for me and very welcome. There followed fruit plantations, especially cherries before hitting suburbia.

Visiting the relatives was great. The last time I saw them was in Sydney for my sisters wedding. Baby Zara was entertaining, she is lots of fun. Two funny occasions were when she had soiled her nappy and said "Zara poo poo" followed by "Massive - poo poo" and once when I gave her a chinese lantern we were playing with and I asked "What do you say?" (expecting) her to say "Thankyou" but was hit with a cheeky "More?". Very cute.

Julian and Diana are doing great in Brisbane, they seem much more relaxing in the warm surroundings. Their studio is close to city centre. It was great to see them and wander a nearby national park reserve, my first bushwalk in a long time and then up to the top of brisbane to see the rainy view. The Lamington and Tea was good!

Tom and Ana's wedding was highly emotional, and very special. Highlight was Tom's song for Ana, all written and performed by him. Was happy to see all the faces and speak to all the people I knew from the old Sydney days, to catch up and enjoy the night. Stayed at the Radisson gold resort on the Gold Coast with Dan and Cat, and ruminated about going on a golfing holiday one day I getting old?

The next day was back into the maze of Brisbane's CBD to pick up Miranda for the long Coast road drive back to Sydney. Unfortunately the car decided to break down on the highway. The day was taken up with arranging a hire car and haulage for my car home to Sydney - (5 days later the mechanics still dont know what is wrong with it). Thanks to Auntie Grace and Katrina for saving the day and driving me back to Brisbane!

Our drive started later at 5pm and we arrived in Byron Bay at 9pm. Accomodation was hard to come by so Ballina was the next best thing. Early the next morning, with a starving Miranda, I drove into Byron for a big breakfast, and wasnt dissappointed.

Byron is very touristy but very nice. Lots to see and do, and for me my first sunny beach time since last Christmas time. Definately a place I could return to one day. The walk out to the lighthouse was enjoyable, the views outstanding. No dolphins spotted though.

There followed the long 12hour drive to Sydney - getting home at Midnight. What a jouney!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Back in Sydney finally!

Oh the fresh rich air and the slower pace of suburbia is much needed respite from the Hectic city living in London.

its 3am and I have a bad case of jet lag!

Where is Summer? I am sitting at home in my winter Jumper, missing my Ugg boots and drinking cups of tea. I look out the window, at the gloomy day ahead, the grey morning awaking. At least the rainbow lorikeets are in full voice - now where are the Kookaburras and Magpies?

Forecast is for clouds and showers for the next 5 days, all along the coast even up to Brisbane. 16-21C (28C in Brissie). Seems I brought the London weather with me home!

And i left my raincoat and umbrella in London...optimistic wasnt I...

I can't upload photos at the moment due to Evil Adobe's/Canon's inability to read my new format RAW files. evil evil evil.

Will try to take some with the wee Sony camera.

Hope to catch up with some Sydneysiders soon - its the busy period, so most people will be tied up with commitment til after New Year , oh well.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Annual Migration

It is at Christmas time, when the days become short and colder winds blow in the north of the planet, that the Chun Bong makes its long journey South. And it is always through Hong Kong, where festive feasting can begin, on its annual migration to the restful island of Oz.

Yes i have been watching too much Attenburough..."Planet Earth", check it out.

My Grandma put on a wee home cooked feast for me including Sweetcorn and fish soup, her world famous Soya Chicken, Chinese Greens, Cashew Nuts and Chicken livers, and sweet and sour pork! Made the twelve hour flight worthwhile! And first for a long time the pollution was less pronounced, I would dare to say even fresh!

Saturday was an enjoyable day at Burough Markets with the London crew, and funnily enough the TV in HK had a food show devoted to the delights of this market!

Only a day here, then home sweet home to warmer climate of Sydney. Yum Cha with the relos and some Street Congee first though!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rotterdam - 1 Dec 2006

Kaas (Cheese) at the Markets

Erasmus Bridge (The Swan)

The Netherlands Architectural Institute

Cube Houses - Piet Blom (1978-1984)

3am after 3 hours sleep, and I'm out in the dark cold drizzly London night waiting for the bus to take me to Luton.

Some 5 hours later I arrive early morning Amsterdam to be met by Maria - and we take the Snel (Fast) Train to Rotterdam, 30mins away. At a staggering 21 euros may I add!

Its also depressingly grey and raining at Rotterdam, but exciting nonetheless. Trusty umbrella up and a city walk map in our hands we are off to discover the place. The landscape is typically Dutch, flat and expansive. Grey yet neat buildings greet us in a subdued way, not brass or showy, but well kept and reserved. The old harbour once the hub of an Empire sits quietly remembering its past glories.

Meanwhile the new architecture of the world is here, building dreams and creating a new place. The destruction during WW2 is mostly erased and in its place the new and bold.

Nothing too special to note - but a pleasant place to spend the day wandering its quiets streets.

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