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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas

Christmas

Where were we? Oh yes. Remember that little thing about catching a plane to Adelaide? Well we nearly never made it! it's probably the only time I have been stressed as such on this whole trip so far. 
Despite being up in plenty of time, making it to the airport  initially with plenty of time I was still borderline for making the plane. A quick explanation. Car hire drop off point was a pain to find. Brisbane airport is undergoing major revamp, no doubt in time for some games or other they have just been awarded!!!! Then I realised tank wasn't full so a U turn to find the nearest garage. BIG mistake. It was 10 mins away. Right back to the car hire, dropped the car off, loaded myself with three bags (I have acquired another bag since Surfers!) a buggy a 4 year old and a shoulder bag. Then Mollie proceeds to cry. No, not cry - howl! Says she wants carried!!!!! It is 5.40 am, we have been up since 3am and check in closes in 5 minutes!!!!  I really didn't need it. I did think of lying on the ground and joining in but we would defo have missed our flight so I decided against it. Quick flutter of eyelashes to man behind car hire desk and we are sorted. He is carrying a bag, I have Mollie on a hip and I'm heading for check in. The old man directing people to check in desks who looks a bit like mr Burns in the Simpsons scowls at me when I say I'm on the Adelaide flight. We made it just. There was a man just behind me giving abuse to 'Mr Burns' That could have been me. It was like a scene from that Airport programme! Anyway, we made it and 3 and a half hours later we are landing in a very sunny Adelaide. 
Over the next few days we decorate my aunts Christmas trees which mollie thoroughly enjoys, we visit various coffee establishment to try the local brand of coffee. All are good! I try and fit some Christmas shopping in. My aunt drops me at a shopping mall called Westfield which is open till midnight on Thursday before Christmas and open ALL NIGHT the Friday before Christmas!!!!! Eh?! I am there on the Wednesday which is only open til 9pm though and it is already 7pm. I then have a full 2 hours of child free shopping. I last one hour. Forget it. I can't find anything and it is very warm. I  get a taxi back to the house. Never mind my aunt assures me that Rundle Mall will have everything and she should be able to arrange that for me by the end of the week. Cool. I'm waiting on a parcel arriving from the UK so even if it doesn't arrive I still have time to nip to the big toys r us in Rundle Mall to get the much sought after Sylvanian Family stuff that were nearly the only thing on Mollies Christmas list.

The parcel doesn't arrive and I find myself jumping on a tram on Friday afternoon at 1.30pm in 27 degrees to go in to Adelaide CBD to get the much wanted Sylvanian family stuff. Stress! The Toys R Us is closing down and it's chaos inside. I walk in and promptly walk out - it's way too nice to be doing Christmas shopping!!! Focus! I do eventually find some in a huge department store and I'm able to sort Mollie and other family members out. Good! Coffee then tram home. As I was going round the shops I could almost see people foaming at the mouth whilst shopping inside. And it was getting warmer. Does it feel like Christmas with all the decorations and Christmas music? Nope and I would have to be here a VERY long time before it ever did. When you are brought up with cold Christmases, that's how it is!! It does feel mighty weird - but I'm not complaining.

Saturday reaches 39 degrees which as I quickly discover is not good for doing much. Mollie starts to whine and get really tired so she is inside the cool lounge on the settee with a DVD and I try and brave it outside with my aunt but it is so warm that seats and tables become too hot to sit on or touch. Eeeeek! It could be too hot for Christmas. Anyway, what do Aussies do when it's too hot? Head for the beach. My cousin Greig arrived mid afternoon and so he took us down.  It was fab. The beach was soooo busy and there were so many people swimming. Lush

Christmas day; I can't believe it is here and we are spending it in Australia. Santa has been and found Mollie!! Tony (family friend) had arranged for santa to deliver a letter to mollie in australia saying he knew where she was and that she was at the top of his nice list as she has behaved so well. She   was delighted at this letter. She has asked me to read it a few times. We both had a lovely time with family. Mollie knows we are travelling  and she understands that money is going on other things at the moment but I do wish I could have given her more on Christmas morning. She did really well though. A couple of dresses, lots of girly pretty  things, a mini laptop oh and of course the Sylvanian Family stuff which lit her face up no end on Christmas morning. Well worth the stress. 

After breakfast the routine is (as long as it's dry & warm) down to the beach for a swim  so off we went. On Christmas morning we were on Glenelg beach swimming and the water was warm. Mollie had great fun with my cousin Greig jumping the waves and crashing into them by clinging on to his back. It was so nice to do and to see so many other people doing it too. There were many families coming down to the beach set for the day. Santa must have been busy on the cricket front as there were loads of  sets being played by the young and old. 

Back to my aunts for Christmas dinner which was a typical christmas dinner (except for the prawns on the barbie) with my cousin, his girlfriend and her family who are all out at the moment. It was a fab day and Mollie had loads of people to keep her entertained. I gave Mollie a dress as part of her pressy. It was white with red cherries over it and she decided to wear it for the day. She looked lovely. Very grown up. She is changing so fast.

Sadly Greig and Karen had to leave on Boxing Day so we waved them off (with a bag and buggy of mine) before heading out to a place called Henley for coffee. A very up and coming area. Beach of course! But it has a French Connection, Nine West and a couple of Australian designer shops. I managed to squeeze a run in later on in the day which felt good up until the return journey back to the house and the heat suddenly hit me. It must have still been around 24 degrees. Hmm lovely to walk in but blooming hard to run in. But nevertheless, a big part of the feel good factor. 

My aunt is heading to Melbourne for New Year to see Greig  and Karen so on the 27th Mollie and I are heading on again. We have had a very relaxing time in Somerton Park and I'm thrilled that we were able to spend Christmas with family. It makes a big difference. But time to hit the road again. though we get lots of down time in between it is very tiring unpacking and repacking a bag or two. I have tried to off load a few things and I have successfully but I seem to have acquired more!! 

Next destination couldn't be more different to Glenelg. Mollie and I are heading to a place called Mypolonga out by Murray Bridge. It's rural so can expect to be at least  2degrees hotter than Adelaide. Oh boy. 





 

Christmas

Christmas

Where were we? Oh yes. Remember that little thing about catching a plane to Adelaide? Well we nearly never made it! it's probably the only time I have been stressed as such on this whole trip so far. 
Despite being up in plenty of time, making it to the airport  initially with plenty of time I was still borderline for making the plane. A quick explanation. Car hire drop off point was a pain to find. Brisbane airport is undergoing major revamp, no doubt in time for some games or other they have just been awarded!!!! Then I realised tank wasn't full so a U turn to find the nearest garage. BIG mistake. It was 10 mins away. Right back to the car hire, dropped the car off, loaded myself with three bags (I have acquired another bag since Surfers!) a buggy a 4 year old and a shoulder bag. Then Mollie proceeds to cry. No, not cry - howl! Says she wants carried!!!!! It is 5.40 am, we have been up since 3am and check in closes in 5 minutes!!!!  I really didn't need it. I did think of lying on the ground and joining in but we would defo have missed our flight so I decided against it. Quick flutter of eyelashes to man behind car hire desk and we are sorted. He is carrying a bag, I have Mollie on a hip and I'm heading for check in. The old man directing people to check in desks who looks a bit like mr Burns in the Simpsons scowls at me when I say I'm on the Adelaide flight. We made it just. There was a man just behind me giving abuse to 'Mr Burns' That could have been me. It was like a scene from that Airport programme! Anyway, we made it and 3 and a half hours later we are landing in a very sunny Adelaide. 
Over the next few days we decorate my aunts Christmas trees which mollie thoroughly enjoys, we visit various coffee establishment to try the local brand of coffee. All are good! I try and fit some Christmas shopping in. My aunt drops me at a shopping mall called Westfield which is open till midnight on Thursday before Christmas and open ALL NIGHT the Friday before Christmas!!!!! Eh?! I am there on the Wednesday which is only open til 9pm though and it is already 7pm. I then have a full 2 hours of child free shopping. I last one hour. Forget it. I can't find anything and it is very warm. I  get a taxi back to the house. Never mind my aunt assures me that Rundle Mall will have everything and she should be able to arrange that for me by the end of the week. Cool. I'm waiting on a parcel arriving from the UK so even if it doesn't arrive I still have time to nip to the big toys r us in Rundle Mall to get the much sought after Sylvanian Family stuff that were nearly the only thing on Mollies Christmas list.

The parcel doesn't arrive and I find myself jumping on a tram on Friday afternoon at 1.30pm in 27 degrees to go in to Adelaide CBD to get the much wanted Sylvanian family stuff. Stress! The Toys R Us is closing down and it's chaos inside. I walk in and promptly walk out - it's way too nice to be doing Christmas shopping!!! Focus! I do eventually find some in a huge department store and I'm able to sort Mollie and other family members out. Good! Coffee then tram home. As I was going round the shops I could almost see people foaming at the mouth whilst shopping inside. And it was getting warmer. Does it feel like Christmas with all the decorations and Christmas music? Nope and I would have to be here a VERY long time before it ever did. When you are brought up with cold Christmases, that's how it is!! It does feel mighty weird - but I'm not complaining.

Saturday reaches 39 degrees which as I quickly discover is not good for doing much. Mollie starts to whine and get really tired so she is inside the cool lounge on the settee with a DVD and I try and brave it outside with my aunt but it is so warm that seats and tables become too hot to sit on or touch. Eeeeek! It could be too hot for Christmas. Anyway, what do Aussies do when it's too hot? Head for the beach. My cousin Greig arrived mid afternoon and so he took us down.  It was fab. The beach was soooo busy and there were so many people swimming. Lush

Christmas day; I can't believe it is here and we are spending it in Australia. Santa has been and found Mollie!! Tony (family friend) had arranged for santa to deliver a letter to mollie in australia saying he knew where she was and that she was at the top of his nice list as she has behaved so well. She   was delighted at this letter. She has asked me to read it a few times. We both had a lovely time with family. Mollie knows we are travelling  and she understands that money is going on other things at the moment but I do wish I could have given her more on Christmas morning. She did really well though. A couple of dresses, lots of girly pretty  things, a mini laptop oh and of course the Sylvanian Family stuff which lit her face up no end on Christmas morning. Well worth the stress. 

After breakfast the routine is (as long as it's dry & warm) down to the beach for a swim  so off we went. On Christmas morning we were on Glenelg beach swimming and the water was warm. Mollie had great fun with my cousin Greig jumping the waves and crashing into them by clinging on to his back. It was so nice to do and to see so many other people doing it too. There were many families coming down to the beach set for the day. Santa must have been busy on the cricket front as there were loads of  sets being played by the young and old. 

Back to my aunts for Christmas dinner which was a typical christmas dinner (except for the prawns on the barbie) with my cousin, his girlfriend and her family who are all out at the moment. It was a fab day and Mollie had loads of people to keep her entertained. I gave Mollie a dress as part of her pressy. It was white with red cherries over it and she decided to wear it for the day. She looked lovely. Very grown up. She is changing so fast.

Sadly Greig and Karen had to leave on Boxing Day so we waved them off (with a bag and buggy of mine) before heading out to a place called Henley for coffee. A very up and coming area. Beach of course! But it has a French Connection, Nine West and a couple of Australian designer shops. I managed to squeeze a run in later on in the day which felt good up until the return journey back to the house and the heat suddenly hit me. It must have still been around 24 degrees. Hmm lovely to walk in but blooming hard to run in. But nevertheless, a big part of the feel good factor. 

My aunt is heading to Melbourne for New Year to see Greig  and Karen so on the 27th Mollie and I are heading on again. We have had a very relaxing time in Somerton Park and I'm thrilled that we were able to spend Christmas with family. It makes a big difference. But time to hit the road again. though we get lots of down time in between it is very tiring unpacking and repacking a bag or two. I have tried to off load a few things and I have successfully but I seem to have acquired more!! 

Next destination couldn't be more different to Glenelg. Mollie and I are heading to a place called Mypolonga out by Murray Bridge. It's rural so can expect to be at least  2degrees hotter than Adelaide. Oh boy. 





 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

No Armbands Required - EVER!

I wrote this a few days ago whilst Mollie and I were in Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise but only now getting a chance to post it.
I just had to write today because it was one of those magical days that I don't want to forget but funnily enough also at the same point we normally are when I write - the bags are packed and we are ready to move on again :-(
On Wednesday we packed up and headed to Cleveland which is just outside of Brisbane to pick up a hire car. I booked a category C car which would be a Hyundai something or other but when I arrived I was given a category F car! A purple, Ford Falcon, 2 litres, dark purple with a wing on the back! Great! Just what I need for heading down to Surfers Paradise.
(In all fairness I'm not doing too badly with all of these upgrades)
I had decided to return to Montego Sands which we just loved before. I made the right decision. The days have been filled with a bit of Christmas shopping (my first Christmas shopping experience this year and it was relatively painless) walks along the beach, a trip to Sea World which was thanks to many friends who gave us gifts before we left. We also had lots of time playing in the many parks along the beach area and having fun.
Today we were meant to pack up and head to the airport but Brian our charming and kind manager told me about the Christmas concert being held tonight down at the park. There was to be singing, face painting and and fireworks. It was the face painting that swung it so quick call to car hire company and and we were sorted for another night. I am so glad we did.
We started off at the beach this morning but it was too windy and the sand was getting everywhere so back to the motel. Mollie was in the pool like a shot. She started out with one armband but quickly found the confidence again to throw it to the side. For the last wee while she has been doing 5 or 6 strokes and then stopping. Today was the day that she didn't stop. She started at one end of the pool and didn't stop until she reached the other. Yippeeeeeeee. I don't think my heart could have gotten any bigger. She is thrilled with herself  today and I am delighted for her and so so proud. I suspect had we been at home I wouldn't have seen this for probably another year, maybe more. She has been so determined and any opportunity she has had whether it was the sea or pool Mollie has been in it trying to swim. She is now like a wee fish and there will be no stopping her. By the end of the afternoon she was jumping in and swimming to the end of the pool. That's my girl :-)
The Christmas concert down at Kurrawa Surf Club yesterday was amazing. There was sooo much going on and it was all free. Mollie had her face painted as a butterfly, there was a clown wandering around cracking jokes and doing balloon shapes and the concert was magic. There were also girls from the local gymnastics club performing in a steel ring suspended about 9 feet off the ground. We didn't make the fireworks as sadly they were running late and by 8.30pm they still hadn't commenced and I still had a room to pack up and of course get to bed for the  drive up to the airport tomorrow morning *groan* But staying here for another night has all been worth it. Fantastic hosts and new friends,  a fab few days by the beach and of course that all important swimming achievement which I will forever remember and will be able to tell her in future years where exactly she learnt to swim :-)
This has been another area that I am sooo sad to leave BUT I definitely couldn't afford to live here - I checked lol! Apartments here go for anything from $600'000 upwards. Most of them are in the $1m range. Not on a teachers wage anyway!
I need my beauty sleep if we are to catch this plane tomorrow. Next stop, Adelaide. Oh and Christmas in the sun! How weird will that be? Hmm I wonder how that snow in the UK is doing lol
x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Macleay Island

Macleay Island

Well, it's that time again. The bags are packed (sort of) the house has been cleaned and we are ready for the off again. We are off tomorrow morning on the 11.15 boat and we  will be very sad to leave here. Mollie and I have had a fantastic time. The only thing we have grumbled about are the sand flies and we won't miss them!!!

Let's see, what have we been up to? Well Macleay is a small island off of the coast of Brisbane. I think it comes under the Stradbroke Islands. There are around 3000 folk on this one and accessible via a car and passenger ferry. There is nothing really to do on the island leisure wise or work.  Most of the people on the island work on the mainland and get this - they leave at 5.30am!!! There is no daylight saving in Queensland so the sun comes up at 4.30. Most of the locals prefer to get work done in the morning and are home by 3pm. BUT they are the most laid back people I have met and I can understand why now. Mollie and I are certainly very chilled. 

Anyway, back on track. The house we are staying in is basic but in a lovely location. The beach is at the bottom of the garden with gum trees and palm trees at the side. What are in the trees? Lorikeets, Kookaburras and Minor birds which also wake up at 4.30am! I had an alarm call from them for the first couple of mornings and then that was it "phew" The weather was actually really nice when we arrived on 30/11 but turned wet and cool a few days later (I'll refrain from saying cold as I'm aware that Scotland is currently in single figures and snow!!) 

When Mollie and I arrived on the island our first stop was the chemist for midge repellant and then to the Spar for fresh fruit, veg and shopping. On both occasions I bumped in to a young lady Claire with a wee boy and both times we started to chat and have a laugh. She invited Mollie and I to the "mums and bubs" group at the local cafe, The Blue Parrot on Monday. That meeting has been the crux to the success of this part of the trip. From Claire I have met the other mums on the island who are just lovely, been over to the mainland shopping with her and been introduced to the way of life here. I actually feel as if Mollie and I have been living here for years! Claire runs her own name jigsaw business. She cuts out the letters, decorates them and then makes them into jigsaws. On the Wednesday after the mums and bubs group Claire was a bit stressed. She had something to the tune of 75 orders to get out that week. Not too many you may think but when you are a stay at home mum with two kids and a husband working away it's stress. So the girls all mucked in and we spent a great day making jigsaws up (it's ok she didn't let us near the sharp tools!!) I was going a bit round the bend by the end of the afternoon. But at the end of it we had helped Claire out hugely and had a great laugh in the process. One I will remember for a while.
Mollie and I have had the chance to spend some quality time together which has Ben fab. Having the beach at the bottom of the garden has made this trip. We have spent mornings and afternoons in the water playing on wee paddle boats that the owner has in his shed, swimming in it and of course Mollie can now officially swim. That was such a fantastic moment. She was so determined to do it. She has now taken to throwing the arm band in the water and then swimming to it. She originally started out just doing two or three strokes but now it is nearer 7or 8 strokes. Such a proud moment but sad all rolled in to one.........
The last few afternoons the tide has been out and well out at that so Mollie and I have been down on the sand investigating. We have chased crabs, poked them, played with sand eels, found a jelly fish, watched ibis birds getting the eels out the sand, been spat at by crabs and so much more. I don't dispute that we would probably find all of this on Lossie beach or Cullen beach but this has been OUR beach to explore together and it has been so much fun. This morning we had a kookaburra sitting on the verandah. The owner told me two weeks ago that the previous people were giving it meat and so Mollie threw some cooked chicken to it. Well it took it, shook it off the floor to break it even smaller and then swallowed it. This continued for around 10minutes before it decided it had had enough and flew off! He will get a shock if he pitches up tomorrow morning. In fact he is probably miffed that we hadn't spotted him before. I will leave a note to the next people and make sure they leave him some tasty bites.

The main social area on the island seems to centre around a cafe which is located down in the main shopping area. It is called the Blue Parrot Cafe and is run by Dave. It is where the mums meet up, the local old dears meet for their weekly gossip and I even witnessed some business meetings going on so it is a pretty cool place. The food is fab too. Well Dave decided to host a 7course sweet dinner on Friday evening which Mollie and I both went to. What an evening!!! I took pictures of all 7 courses but didn't eat all 7. Mollie did help me out on quite a few. It was a fantastic evening and of course I had the chance of chatting to more locals. 
Well the weather in the last few days has been a good indicator as to what it can do over here. The temperature has been hitting 30 since Saturday. It is too hot to stay out in and so you do have to seek shelter or air con (Blue Parrot has good air con) Mostly people hit the beach and the sea which is exactly what Mollie and I did.

So Macleay hasn't been about running around booking excursions or trying to see things, it has been about Mollie and I and what we can do together (that's way too philosophical for me at this time lol) We have had a bundle of fun.

So what is next? Well we have three days spare before heading to Adelaide for Christmas. I had these days free in case we hadn't managed to do the Whitsundays or the Australian Zoo but we have so I had the chance of picking somewhere new or going back to somewhere that we have been and I have chosen Surfers Paradise which of course we were in a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I pick up a car and head down there. It is school holidays so I don't expect it to be quiet!!!

Pen xxx

Friday, 9 December 2011

Wanted Down Under

Right, let's bring this blog up to speed as alot has happened and I'm missing a few important bits.

Where were we? Oh yes, on my way to Airlie Beach airport which I may add consists of 2 check in desks and 2 very chilled check in ladies.  Thankfully she didn't seem too bothered about the 7extra kilos I had in my bag. Oops!  The departure lounge not to unlike that of Inverness. In fact I think Inverness is way bigger but the departure lounge and the runway are right next to each other. You get the idea though. 
I still hadn't organised accommodation by the time we reached the airport so after a couple of frantic calls I eventually sorted out a super duper deal by playing a couple of hotels off of one another. We ended up at The Ibis in the centre of Brisbane. It was a good location and the hotel was comfortable. Sadly no pool. Mollie quite miffed at this but Brisbane does have a lagoon in the centre which I said we would try and get to. (we never made it )

We literally had one and a half days in Brisbane and soooo much to see and do. The hotel lobby was full of ideas of things to do but the main one has to be Australia Zoo. Crocs Rule!!! So I booked us in for the following day. ANOTHER early start. Down in reception for 8am on Tuesday 29th November Mollie and I head to the zoo which is a good hours journey north of Brisbane. 

In order to get into the festive spirit because I can assure you it feels NOTHING like Christmas over here, I decided to keep Mollie up later on the Monday in order to see the Christmas lights in Brisbane centre. We headed into the town from the hotel which was 10 minutes walk. As we hit the central square there in front was a huge Christmas tree covered in lights - ahhh! That's more like it. It was stunning. It kept flicking on and off however. Apparently they were testing it. The official turning on wasn't for another few days. Never mind. Mollie was chuffed to see it. We then wandered into town to get something to eat and luckily fell upon an outside area but upstairs which overlooked Brisbane with live entertainment AND families!!! . It was fab. Very cost effective. Let me explain how they keep costs down. You get seated and you are directed to the board and the menu. When you want to place your order you go to the desk. Check. Pick up your cutlery check. Pickup your very own pager which beeps and vibrates when your meal is ready. Check!!! What?!! I was presented with a handheld pager which summoned me back to the order desk when my order was ready. You can do it for drinks as well. It cuts down on the need for staff. The place was jam packed so it was obviously good. Mollie and I sat out under the stars and ate fish and chips and sang along to the music. A really good evening but a late one. Alarm!!! I need to be up at 7.00 for tomorrow so I set my iPhone and alarm clock just in case..........

01.40 Quack, quack, quack, quack......eh? My alarm on my phone is going. Nope hold on, it's the phone. Hmmmmm who the beep is calling? 
Me: Hello? 
Caller: Hi, is this Pennie Stewart? 
Me: (gggggrrrrr if this is O2 I will shout at someone) yes! 
Caller: Hi Pennie, my name is Jesse from the Wanted Down Under programme. Im one of the researchers on the show. We really liked your application and wanted to discuss interviewing you to see if we could get you through to the next stage.......

Eeeeeeeeeeek! Haha well that was a turn up for the books. I actually wrote a letter to them last year which got me the official application. I then completed the application back at the start of the year and submitted it not thinking anything of it. It has taken them nearly a year to respond. The conversation didn't actually last very long as I had to explain why I was sounding a bit groggy at 15.40 GMT Sadly because I am in Oz already they aren't allowed to take people who have been there within  the last year so we have been ruled out. Could I get back to sleep after this call? No! I kept going over it in my head and feeling like I had missed out but thinking carefully about it and the person that I am, could I have gone through with it had I gotten to that stage? I suspect not. It's taken me a long time to get to where I am in my time and to have things raked up again and even other people knowing my business? I suspect not.......maybe I have  had a close shave. Besides, I think 6 months is way better than one week!!!! 

Anyway, we made 7.00 am for showers and breakfast and we were both ready and waiting in the reception for the bus at 8.00am.
We are duly picked up at the hotel for 8.10. Mollie and I had already been out and about and at 7.30 it was 18 degrees. It was going to be TOAST! the bus was heading to a wee place called Beerwah that has actually grown in size because of the reputation of Australia Zoo
We arrived at the zoo after an hours bus journey. It was quite nice to be sitting and taking things in instead of concentrating on traffic and roads and which turn off to take. Brisbane is a city on the back foot of Sydney and Melbourne. It's a lot more laid back but I get the feeling that it is expanding and growing in popularity. The road network was undergoing huge expansion when we were there but there wasn't alot being worked on I may add! 
Back to the zoo! The zoo just sort of creeps up on you. The bus took us out on to the freeway for a bit and then turns off onto the Steve Irwin road which I think is cool. All along this road and indeed the freeway there are big boards of Steve up with crocs and the word 'Crikey' across them advertising Australia Zoo. When we pulled off of the road the bus took us into a small track road and then up to the front of the zoo. It is a very underwhelming entrance for something so famous but as it was pointed out when Steve's parents had it, it was a fraction of the size it is now. So, anyway not to gloss over Australia Zoo too much but we did have a fantastic day. As soon as you enter it the people and zoo tries to educate you in everything from crocs to snakes to elephants. It is a fantastic experience. Not cheap! But fantastic. We were given a couple of badges when we entered with 'CrocsRule' on them. Mollie put several holes in herself trying to put hers on! The first show started at 11am and was a Croc show in the 'crocoseum' I was an avid watcher of Steve Irwin and it was quite surreal to be sat there waiting for the croc show. In alot of his later shows he uses his crocoseum and other parts of the zoo to talk about the crocs. Anyway, the show commenced and to say the least it was pretty cool. I got the feeling the staff try their hardest to carry on Steve's beliefs and they do a really good job but the energy that Steve had isn't there. It's hard to explain but the enthusiasm and 'oomph' wasn't there. But it was still a really good show. I watched Mollies face as she focused on the crocs and the elephants and the black parrots that they brought out. 

The day was non stop in temperatures hitting 27/28 degrees! We saw loads of animals and had a chance to take in lots of shows. Mollie had the chance to stroke more koalas, feed more kangaroos and chase bearded lizards round the zoo. Theres loads of wildlife which just wanders round the zoo. Its brill! We ended the day up at the new addition to the zoo, a Safari section. It was whilst we were walking back down that I spotted Terri & Bindi making a new advert for the zoo. The tv crews had been wandering around the whole day taking pictures and videos before filming up at the back of the zoo. It looked like they were trying to promote the new section of the zoo. 

We returned to the bus for 4.30pm which had air con. Bliss! Mollie fell asleep 5 minutes down the road from the zoo. Peace!! It was a cracking day and highly recommended to anyone out this way. 

Tuesday night was pretty quiet. Mollie was exhausted as I was and we also had to get ready for making our way to Macleay Island.  Bags packed and ready to go...........

Two whole weeks in one place. Can't wait. 

Pen x

Monday, 5 December 2011

Whitsundays

Whitsundays

Well Sunday morning ( 27/11) it was. 7am outside reception for our pick up to for the trip.I was shattered. I put my key in to reception and we departed. 
I won't bore you with the boring boat bits (I wasn't too ill this time but I did spend the journey outside)  Mollie and I met more friends. A young couple called Evelyn and Ricardo. They currently stay and work in Brisbane though he is Portuguese and Evelyn is from Belgium. A lovely couple and more friends to add to the Oz list. 
The trip we were on entailed a drop off on Hamilton island for a couple of hours. This island is very exclusive. It does have accommodation which any Joe Bloggs can book but it also has a 6* resort which is literally for the very wealthy and possibly even famous!! Well with my tv near miss that could have been me!!! Lol more about that later. 
People get around the island with wee golf buggies  its such a cool idea  i wanted to hire one but sadly i didn't have credit card or driving licence with me.  Bummer. Evelyn and Ricardo very graciously allowed us to tag along. It was brill. We stopped at a beach which I think was called Catseye Beach. You must google it, it's stunning. Anyway, there was no one in the water as it's stinger time! Such a shame having a gorgeous beach and not being able to get in without a stinger suit. But then these things are nasty. They could seriously impair your holiday. There was still a lagoon type area behind the pool which kids and adults were free to use. Mollie was in it in a flash. It was lovely and warm. Mollie is almost there with the swimming. She has already been told that the arm bands are not coming back to Scotland. 
Anyway, more touring of the island and lots of lovely pictures. It really is a stunning place. The water is crystal blue, the scenery is like nothing you could imagine with little islands off in the distance. One of those "pinch me" moments. I would love to think that I would return in a more independent manner in the future. 
Back to the harbour for 11.30 and the boat picks us up for our onward journey to Whitehaven Beach. This beach is one of the most photographed in Australia. The guy on the boat, as we were approaching the beach  gave us all the statistics about it but I can't remember any of them. I was busy looking for sharks in the water!! No seriously it's pretty stunning. Anyway, we boarded the tin tray (seriously it was a tin tray) to get us from the boat to the beach. We are then literally left to our own devices. I wanted to do some snorkelling so Evelyn & Ricardo were appointed chief sandcastle builders. Me and my smurf outfit headed into the water. Did I see any fishes? Not one smurfing fish! Hmm is that because there is something larger in the water?!!!! My mind doesn't half wander when in these Aussie shores.
Anyway, Mollie and I had a great afternoon on the beach. Lots of hilarity about what was lurking beneath (and smurf outfits)  A wee baby black tipped shark did make an appearance which was nice. Anyway, the return trip came round too quickly. I couldn't believe where we were and yet it had all come to an end so quickly. Another visit is definitely on the cards. 
Dropped off at the hotel just before 6pm. I had had less than 4hours sleep so i was struggling  As I entered the hotel I was approached by the young receptionist from Glasgow with a new room key!! A suite overlooking  the harbour with a jacuzzi bath! Why do people keep giving us these gorgeous rooms that we can hardly use?!!! I was informed that due to the trouble I had experienced the previous night they hoped that this would make up for it! 
The room was lovely. A stunning view and a jacuzzi bath. Mollie wanted to try the bath so I let her. We had a quick change into dresses and then downstairs for dinner. I had arranged to meet Ricardo and Evelyn downstairs in the resteraunt for a drink as it was our last night. They live in Brisbane and so were full of good ideas for accommodation and things to do. I had yet to book accommodation but that's not a problem. There is bound to be somewhere to stay!!!! 
Mollie and I had booked transport to the airport however we didn't expect the limousine that pulled up at the front the following day. Mollie was non plussed I may add. 
Before we knew it we were at the airport ready to head south.  We had been as far north as I was going to go on this trip and seen some spectacular sights. I am very relieved not to be driving back down. Funnily enough the Avis guy wasn't surprised when he heard about my change of heart. In fact he laughed and said "we get that alot up here!!" but I am quite sad to be leaving this part of Australia. Graham and I made it to Cairns and Port Douglas 4years ago and part of me wishes that I had organised that into this trip but maybe some places should just be left for memories? 
Anyway, I can't recommend north Queensland enough! It's been fab! 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Well the bags are packed again and it's time to run the gauntlet of transfer to the airport, bags checked in (see if I can sneak any more in to baggage allowance otherwise I'll need to start offloading some of my clothes!) 
Well I'm quite sad to be leaving this area. Mollie and I have had a fantastic time and had the opportunity of seeing some of the best sights in the world. 
When we arrived on the Wednesday after driving from Tannum Sands I was really tired so Thursday  was literally a wee wander round Airlie Beach & then back to the pool. Airlie Beach itself is just a beach side town with loads of shops and lots of streets with accommodation. The accommodation range from YHA backpackers type stuff to 5* Peppers resort. We were lucky and got a room in 4* Coral Sea Hotel which is lovely. Last minute.com or late rooms is proving invaluable. Originally we  were only going to stay for 2 nights but that has extended into 5. This  area really calls for a decent stop in order to take everything in. And there is no way I was driving back down.
From here you can book all your trips so a look in the hotel foyer reveals about 20 different excursions you can do. 
The main ones are out to the Great Barrier Reef and round the Whitsundays. so the Reef was booked for the Friday and then Whitehaven beach and Hamilton Island for the Sunday.  I booked with a company called Fanta Sea. They were the most popular and good reputation (they also offered a kids activity club on the boat which I hate to say swung the decision!) 
The trip out to the Great Barrier Reef is a very long one. Made even longer when one is focusing on the horizon and trying not to think about the boat moving sideways and up and down all at the same time. I did spend the middle section of the journey with my head round the side of the boat getting the breeze in my face. Mollie on the other hand wanted to go inside to watch the films about the Great Barrier Reef. A quick chat with one of the staff (whilst focusing on the horizon AND getting a breeze on my face) and Mollie had her wish. I must admit if I could sit and watch the DVDs about all the life in the GBR I would have too but that wasn't going to happen without consequences. The last half hour or so was alot calmer. Then before you knew it the pontoon we were docking beside came into view. 
This pontoon thing was brill. It had a wee semi submersible submarine so you went down into it and you could see through the glass bottom as it moved through the water. It also had a large glass viewing area at the end of the boat which meant you could watch the fishes and snorkelers and see if there was anything large coming their way. There was a slide at the end of the boat which was certainly not for the faint  hearted. It went almost straight down but dropped you at least 20feet from the water, a sun deck on the top of the pontoon for sun bathers and a paddling bit at the side which kids could happily sit in and watch the fishes swim underneath them. It was cool. We did everything (but not the slide! I was scared in case I lost some items of clothing!!) 
I decided to spend time with Mollie first doing things together and talking about the fishes. So we started with the submarine. Her wee face was like "wow"! It was cool. The submarine took us along the edge of the reef before it drops off so we saw lots of fishes, clams and different types of coral. The man driving it and giving us commentary, Cameron was a marine biologist who was employed by Fanta Sea. What a cool job! 
Once we had had a lovely BBQ lunch on the boat I put Mollie into the kids club, put my stinger suit on and jumped into the GBR. The water was really clear. You could see the effects of sun bleaching and the warmer temperatures. A lot of the coral on the top has died but you can see new stuff growing. There are loads of different kinds too. Whilst I'm snorkelling around I'm aware of a wee speed boat zooming around. It's one of the Fanta Sea staff just checking on each of us. Funnily enough the next thing that comes into my mind is a scene from jaws and I find it hard to get out of my head! I'm on a time limit so I have to come out after 45 minutes to give myself time to shower off and change. As I'm walking back to the top deck with Mollie I hear the news that two reef sharks and a sting ray had just passed through. I'm not sure if to be happy or sad that I missed them. Funnily enough when I was diving last year we saw black tipped sharks all the time and there was no concern. Here in Oz, there is constant hype about sharks. From the life guards and helicopter patrols on the beach you can't help but have that 'fear'. Maybe it's because there are more attacks here. I don't know.
The afternoon passed too quickly and before we knew it we were packing up stuff and on our return journey back to Shute Harbour. Mollie wanted to sit inside and colour in so I did think it would be fine. Nope, I lasted 10mins of reaching open water and then I was outside. It got fairly choppy for a while. Anyway, we ended up outside with Mollie sat on my knee and falling asleep for the remainder of the journey which was fine. I had a chance to watch the ocean turn into islands and then eventually mainland. It was gorgeous and certainly a moment to remember.  The transport was waiting for us when we came off so it was a quick 15mins back to the resort. It had been a stunning day. Upon reaching the hotel mollie wanted a swim in the hotel pool which i was more than happy to do also. The salt doesnt half dry your skin out. Thankfully Saturday was a rest day! 
Disaster!!! Saturday I woke and I couldn't move. I had pulled all the muscles in my lower back. I'm not sure if it was from the boat journey or from the jumping into the sea or more than likely carrying Mollie round a boat, lifting her so she could see over the edge of the boat and then having her asleep on my knee for nearly 2hours! Yep that would just about do it. Painkillers and ibuprofen did the trick. I did have an offer of a massage from one of the male guests but I declined! I wasn't sure how I was going to fair on the boat journey on Sunday. I didn't want to cancel but I also didn't want to end up in agony. Just needed to get a good nights sleep. Hmmm. 
There was a wedding on at the hotel on the Saturday which Mollie and I watched. The location is truly stunning. The ocean, the palm trees, the wee jetty where they had their reception. Many similarities to my wedding. I remember watching the wedding in Antigua on the beach and getting upset. This was no different. I don't know why I do it to myself. Mollie wanted to see it I suppose. It was a lovely wedding. I would give anything to go back to that time but I know it won't happen, ever. Will I ever marry again? Do I want to go through it again? At the moment I would say a resounding no.
The party went on into the night which was fair enough but by 1am most guests had disappeared. However, one guest had booked in for the night - directly across from myself. 2am she was continuing to sing and swear so a couple of trips to the night porter and by 2.20 it was quiet at last. Eeek we were up in 4hours.

I'm going to give it a break there! 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The end of the road trip....

Airlie Beach!
Well I have done it. We set off at 7.30 am this morning and arrived just before 5pm. It took a further 15 minutes to get a room in a hotel. I checked Tripadviser and after finding a couple and going in I must admit I did panic a bit wondering if 'schoolies  were going to have everything booked up. I needn't have worried. 'schoolies may have everything booked up but they can't get quality at 16 years old lol! We found a lovely hotel at the top of the hill, just out of Airlie beach for a couple of nights though I suspect it will turn I to 4 nights. This is why........
After spending a frantic couple of hours on the Internet last night I couldn't find any accommodation in Mackay which was the next feasible stop just up the road. So after a vey serious discussion with Mollie about the time involved and the distance the decision was made - Airlie it was. It was 6 hours 40 minutes without stops and road works!!!! What on earth was it going to be with? We said bye bye to the manager and his wife. Another lovely couple running a family motel business. We left Tannum Sands and headed North. It was about an hour and a half til Rockhampton and I started to get cold feet. Could I do this? The oversize lorries were out in force. How many more could there be?!!!!! We did see three houses being moved on the backs of some trucks. That was quite funny. A brainstorm - we could drop the car at Rockhampton and fly to Airlie beach. A quick call to a friend scuppers that idea. No flights. Right, Airlie beach and it's 686km here we come. It better be worth it that's what I say!!!!
This journey although the longest was by far one of the easier ones. Once we got through Rockhampton the roads were straight, long and largely empty! I did start to worry that I was the only one going north - apart from the oversized lorries of course! We managed to make good time on the road and Mollie with my iPad and several films was fine. I did make sure I stopped at particular points so she wasn't sitting for too long. She was a  star.She didn't once say "are we there yet?" 
The surrounding countryside changed so much in those hours. When we headed through Rockhampton for Mackay you can see the evidence of the mining. Big piles of stuff! And loads of machinery. Oh a train passed alongside us with containers which Mollie tried to count. She got to 25 and it was disappearing in the opposite direction but it was still pulling many more. The ground is very dry and dusty. Goodness knows how anything grows. I could see for miles and miles either side of me. It was so flat and nothing really to look at but it was still very nice to see.
We had some sandwiches in the car that we had picked up in Rockie so just after 12noon, time for a stop. All the trucks and lorries i had passed now sped passed,  never mind. I was also desperate for a wee at this point but with all the different hisses and squeaks and chirps I could hear in the wee shrubs and bushes, there was no way I was going into the undergrowth! I could wait! In the time I've been driving I must admit I have had little moments where I think I feel things on my feet or legs as I'm driving and do try to brush things off. There is of course nothing there but your mind can play tricks on you especially when you have been reading about the various insects and reptiles in the area the night before! 
The landscape itself was very dry and dusty for this part of the road. Lots and lots of road kills of kangaroos. Looking at the size of the lorries though they wouldn't stand a chance. I didn't see one live wild 'roo' on our trip. Mollie was desperately looking. At every sign at the side of the road which would indicate kangaroos or koalas for the next 30kms she would get excited and say she was looking. But of course we never saw any. 
We hit Mackay just about mid afternoon. (yippeeee) it was only another 2 hours from here  It actually looked a really nice place. Very tropical, lovely houses and even more being built. The mining trade is obviously doing well. There were even adverts at the side of the road for steel fitters, skilled miners, drivers and other jobs at the side of the road. 
Once through Mackay the scenery does turn alot more tropical. I could see hills looming in the distance covered with greenery. That's where we were heading.
 Airlie Beach is right beside the ocean but there was no hint of that yet. It really isn't until the last 4kms that the sea starts to make inroads to the landscape. 
I could actually feel myself getting quite excited and emotional! I had done it. Tannum Sands to Airlie. In fact no, Wollongong to Airlie. I'll work out the kms later! We left just after 8 and hit Airlie just before 5pm! I will never moan about Craigellachie to Elgin again.
Right, last challenge was to find accommodation. I went into one right down at the water, Airlie Beach Hotel I think it was called, a snotty girl acknowledged me - just! ggggrrrrr. I did fight to keep my cool with her. She informed me that they had no rooms and that I would be hard pressed to find anything. If I tried the backpackers info desk round the corner then I might get some information on what was available. I know I had just been driving for close to 9hours but excuse me! If I ever look as if I need a backpackers hostel please tell me!!!!! The centre of the town was full of schoolies again. So my thinking was to head out of town which I did. Just down the hill coming into the town I had spotted a sign for a hotel. Success! And the receptionist is from Glasgow. Even better. Double room with an ocean view and balcony. Gorgeous.
Well we have settled in. Mollie has found the pool so she is delighted, I am away to find a glass of wine. I was planning on taking the car back down to Brisbane but I'm shattered. Enough is enough. The hire car is being handed in to Avis tomorrow. I think I've blown my super deal with them lol. I got the car cheap as it was to be returned to Brisbane. Well I over shot Brissie by a few hundred kms! I'll still save loads. $129 for a 1 hour flight to Brisbane or 3 nights motel, food and fuel and hours of driving!!! Hmm, show me the airport.
Well the next few days will be just as awesome as anywhere else we have been. We have the Great Barrier Reef trip to do, a trip to the Whitsundays and a Rainforest excursion. But for the moment I need sleep and tomorrow I am doing nothing! 
I have been thinking would I do it this way again given half the chance and the answer is a resounding no! But at least I can say I have done it. We also spent time in areas that maybe we ordinarily wouldn't have met but what we got out of it most of all was the people we met. Every single person we met through staying in their accommodation wanted to hear about Scotland or our journey and where we were going. A few even went above and beyond the call of duty in their help and assistance. I won't forget that. So maybe it isn't about what you see and the places you go. Maybe it is about who you meet and the friends you make along the way..........

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Noosa to Tannum Sands

Well I packed up the car from Montego Sands in Surfers Paradise. I was quite sad to leave Brian & Kaye. A lovely couple and so nice. But we had to get on. I must write a report on Tripadviser! Anyway, I was aiming for Noosa which I made with lots of time to spare. The road trip wasn't that exciting except as you drive up the Bruce Highway you see loads and loads of blackened trees and vast areas of nothing. I've since learnt that the trees were burnt during the huge bush fires that swept that area a few years ago. You can clearly see that there is new growth and things do seem to return fairly quickly but lots of wildlife suffered and lost their homes or lives. This was a great concern to Mollie. We did see Koalas at the koala hospital that had been burned and lots big patches of fur through fire. One had even had his wee face and paws badly burned :-( The treeline anyway is on the mend but even today as we were driving we saw smoke up in the hills from bush fires. It has been very warm and very dry over the last few days. All the signs at the side of the road are on a medium-high risk for bush fires.
There are road works on our main highway, the Bruce Highway (original!!) and it does slow us down quite a bit. However, what slows us down even more are the huge lorries carrying dumper trucks that are wider than the road. It's even more interesting when you get another oversize lorry coming the other way.
We made good time to Noosa and found another gem of a place. Noosa Head Motel. As I'm discovering over here many of the motels are in better condition than hotels. Just enough time to drop the bags, find the cozzy and find the pool. Check! Mollie was in in seconds. She loves the pool. I even purchased a wee pair of goggles for her and she swims under water, or she thinks she does. Her head goes under but her bum stays on the top of the water and then she bobs up and down like a duck. She is still doing really well with the swimming and I'm very proud of her. I was watching her in the pool and thinking how much she had grown over these last few weeks. Her legs are definately longer and her face is changing again; a lot more like Graham again I think.
Noosa is a lovely place but can get very busy.it has a lovely beach area and harbour/jetty type bit none of which we saw as we were only there for the night but maybe on the return leg we might stop in and see more.

Tannum Sands
This morning we left at 7.30 having been up since 6am. I had Rockhampton in my sights. It was going to be tough but I was going to try it. Poor Mollie. She knew it was going to be a long trip but she was well armed - iPod, vtech Storio, books and as a last resort iPad filled with movies and games!
We didn't have breakfast before we left. I wasn't fussed for it and Mollie said she wanted something later. Ok! Off we set. What's striking here is the number of roadside fast food chains. McDonalds, Hungry jacks (our Burger King I think) the coffee club, pizza hut, subway and the list goes on. So you're never short of anything. However, we have been on the road for just over a week and with the exception of Coffs Harbour, eating has become bland and yeuch. I'm looking forward to getting back to cooking (I never thought I would say that) and eating fresh stuff.
So, anyway, Mollie and I toddle on along the Bruce Highway. More roadworks and more oversize lorries. We eventually stop in a place called Gin Gin because Mollie saw a play park! Fair enough as she had again sat patiently in the back without moaning. As soon as we get out of our air conditioned car you can feel how hot the sun is. It burns you within 30seconds. RUN!!!!! Luckily all of the play parks have covers over them. Right, 20mins later Mollie is exhausted and it's time to go. Here's the funny part. Gin Gin was the last fuel stop for 200km!! I of course didn't realise this so as I'm driving along I notice that the needle has dropped significantly but yet there were no petrol stations. Hmm, there will be one soon...............nope! My needle hits E. Not the place you want to be caught out with no fuel. I feel like Fred Flinstone and I'm going to have to start running with the car soon. AT LAST! I reach a shell station with a queue at it. Glad to see I wasn't the only one!!
I never made Rockhampton. Mollie was just about done in and after 8 hours off and on behind the wheel so was I. So a lovely picture popped up at the side of the road; Tannum Sands. It's a big mining place. Lots of guys come here for the week and then return home at the weekend which means no accommodation. I was very lucky to get the last available room in another motel room is fine but more importantly it has a gorgeous pool 10 steps from the patio doors. Mollie was in it within 5 mins of getting in the room. I didn't even have to say find your cozzie.
Tomorrow I should have been hitting Airlie Bech but the distance is too much so we I'm aiming for a place called Makay and then Airlie beach on Thursday. Great Barrier Reef hopefully Friday/ Saturday. I can't believe I've got to come all the way back down again. Anyone fancy driving us down? I'll sleep and Mollie provides great in car entertainment! Let me know ASAP :-) xxx

surfers Paradise

I'm trying to write the blogs as I go but it's not always possible for me to connect to wifi in order to post them. So a few may appear at the same time. 

Well the Kookaburras did wake us and it was a lovely sound to hear even at 6am. Mollie I may add slept through it and east to west across the bed! I quite often lie and listen to the sounds wherever we are. First thing in the morning and last thing at night (with a glass of wine) you can hear the best things. The latest sounds have been crickets, lorikeets, parrots, cockatoos and frogs. That's not too bad! The other thing that strikes you as you travel this way are the trees that grow and what's on them. I've taken great delight in showing Mollie trees growing in gardens and what's in them. For example in Melbourne we saw lemon and fig trees. In Fiona's garden in Coffs Harbour she had banana trees, mango trees and something else that hadn't developed enough for me to identify!!! But this brought on a conversation with Mollie about why things grow over here and not in the UK. We also tried to catch a lizard or a skink but no luck! 
We only spent three days in Coffs but it was fab. Fiona has a wee labradoodle called Tilly and Mollie loved running along the beach with her on her afternoon walks. The beach was always busy. Whether it was runners, dog walkers, families, swimmers, life guard training the list is endless. The beach and parks which we have found many are always busy and full of activity. It's been brill to see. We have met many people and made friends in these areas. Usually the Aussies ask which part of Ireland I'm from?!! But it starts up a conversation.
Coffs was just lovely. The beaches, the sights and sounds were fab. The first day Mollie and I headed out into the town to have a nosey. Heaps of shops and coffees bars. I even had a chat with one of the owners  of the coffee shops about Glenfiddich whisky. That was funny! People have been very friendly and sooo nice and so laid back.
Whilst in Coffs I had the chance to get my hair returned to the natural blonde it is. Mollie had to sit in the hairdressers with me during this time but she was sooo good. She spent most of the time laughing at me  and the sheets of tin foil in my hair. She in return got lots of attention and her hair in braids! Hers was most definitely a cheaper thrill. I might have to be brunette by the time I get back to Scotland. Oh and I've had my hair chopped even further. I have short hair and it feels good. 
So, let's sum Coffs up. Lots of shopping, gorgeous beaches, great people, heaps of nature type stuff and the highlight has to be the trip to the porpoise and dolphin pool. Here Mollie and I were pulled in to the show which was lovely. I got to feed the dolphin Ziggy some fish whilst Mollie got to tickle their tummies and received kisses from a seal and a dolphin. Kodak moment? Most certainly. 
Well Friday 18th brought the return to the road trip. Where are we going? Not the foggiest. I was aiming for a place called Byron Bay. A very popular resort. However, as I discovered from Fiona, this weekend signalled the start of 'schoolies' week. This is when the seniors all finish their HSC (high school certificate) exams and literally flood Surfers Paradise and other beach areas. Byron Bay was only 2.5 hours up from Coffs and from looking in the car mirror Mollie looked quite happy singing along to The Saturdays so onwards we went. Hmm where's next on the map? Aaahh Surfers Paradise!that looks good. Let's aim for there. The drive was long but quite scenic. The names of the creeks we passed over kept me laughing. Big James creek, lemon tree creek, big shark creek, bald knob creek! Seriously! I'll stop there though.
We eventually hit surfers paradise and to say the least it was choc a bloc. Teenagers walking around with rucksacks and crates of beer (oh gawd!) I tried a few apartment type accommodations but no luck. Going by the size of the buildings (MASSIVE!) and the numbers of kids going in I'm not sure I wanted to be in there with them. I eventually stumbled across a Best Western. The owner couldn't help but he very kindly called someone in an apartment block round the corner called Montego Sands. Result! They had a room.  We got directions and off we set. This place is a wee hidden gem. It's a family run resort, the owner refuses to take any 'schoolies' so it's mainly couples. Our apartment isn't huge but it has a lounge/diner, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and a wee patio area which goes onto the minuscule pool. Fab. Oh and it's 60m to the beach!!!! Even better. Three nights it is.
So for the past two days Mollie and I have parked ourselves on the beach and built sandcastles, dug tunnels, chased crabs,  (but not in the grass as we might get a nasty surprise?!!) jumped waves and watched kite surfers in the sea. Ok, so it was more of a one sided interest in the kite surfers but oh me they are good. I even got chatting to a couple. Hmm they workout alot!!!!  Mollie was more interested in the wee white crabs and how fast they could run when she chased them. It has been really hot so lots of sun cream on and hat for Mollie. I'm still looking for a quality Aussie hat before I buy one :-) 
Tonight has been our last night here. There is so much we could have done including movie world, wet n wild, sea world and another couple but most of them are suited to children older than Mollie and I think we got alot more out of playing on the beach and on the many parks that surround the beach area. We went out for dinner tonight and it took us nearly 40 mins to get there due to Mollie wanting to stop and play at every playground. Seeing as it was such a lovely night and I was quite happy to soak up the atmosphere Mollie had loads of play park action. The parks here by the way (sorry if I'm repeating myself) are awesome! Not just a slide a swing and a climbing frame. Nope, these are super parks with swings on a roundabout, cargo nets up a 4foot pole with a trampoline thing in the middle of the net. Twisty turny slides. I have lost count how many she has been on but they are geared up so that kids WANT to play on them. One of the parks today even has a wee mini bike tram where the kids have to cycle it round the park. It's brill. As we walked past them I noticed that lots of families had turned up with chairs, tables, food and BBQ. Yep, there were a few BBQs going on this afternoon with lots of people at each one. A good family / friend affair. We also watched many surfers heading back to apartments/homes with their boards. Nothing strange there except we saw them on skateboards carrying a board, a bike carrying a board, rollerblades carrying a board and even on a moped with the surf board tucked under the arm! 
Well tomorrow Mollie and I are back on the road. I was going to do Beerwah over the next couple of days as that's where the Australian Zoo is but I'm on a race to get up to Whitsunday islands and back down again to Brisbane by 1st December (DECEMBER??? you are joking. Where is the snow?!) a challenge anyway.  oh one last thing. Blooming time zones. For one day I was wandering around an hour out of sync. When you cross the Queensland border you gain an hour. I thought it was 9am on saturday as Mollie and I wandered round this huge shopping mall place called Pacific Fair. Nope 8am! Ggrrrr.
Right, yet again I have to pack the suitcase and make sure everything has been tidied up but that's ok as I know we are heading onto another stunning part of the world. Hmm fantastic 
Pen x

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Kookaburra Life Saving Mission

I know I only blogged the other day about arriving in Coffs Harbour but today has been so funny that I had to mention it.
Mollie and I headed out and about this morning. Temperatures were quite quickly rising so after lunch time we decided to return to our accommodation and head for the pool. Once changed and when just about to jump into the pool I spotted a kookaburra bird in the corner of the pool on the steps. I was scared to look incase it wasn't still with us if you know what I mean. However, Mollie quickly informed me its eyes were still moving - phew! A towel in hand I managed to cover it and get it out of the pool. It did squawk at me. Eeeek now what do I do? It was soaked so we stuck it to the side to dry out. Just then two men, garden types were passing by so I coaxed them into coming to deal with it. Well did it notary out completely and make a full recovery and then disappear off into the skies a couple of hours later. Bliss.he was looking alot more teddy bear like when it disappeared so it must have been better.

I also had the opportunity of going for a run thi evening. Fiona watched Mollie for me whilst I did a quick jaunt down the hill and back up! I could smell all the flowers as I ran and hear all the birds. It was lovely and a very nice feeling. I tried to get back into running a couple of times back home but never had the same feeling I did tonight.

Night night
X

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Road Trip Begins

A Drive & A Half
11th - 15th November 2011

Well after having a fantastic time in Sydney we headed south to Wollongong to catch up with a friend for a couple of nights. She has a wee girl similar ages to Mollie so that gave Mollie a chance to play with another wee girl for a bit. 
Lots of memories here too as Graham and I stopped in Wollongong for a few nights. Some quite strong which got me upset but it was to be expected.

It was in Wollongong that I had to sort car hire out anyway. I managed to get a bit of a bargain. A car with Queensland plates had been left in NSW and was needing returned and so I was happy to oblige of course. It's a Toyota Corolla (AUTOMATIC!!!) 1.8 so it will make good time on some of the roads we travel on.

Well Sunday morning and we all headed to Symbio wildlife park which has an enclosure where you can feed the kangaroos. It's a bit north of Wollongong so at least Mollie and I were a bit into our journey before actually leaving. I got lots of photos of Mollie feeding the 'roos' They are sooooo cute.
We stayed at the park until lunch time and then said our goodbyes. I was heading for a place called Newcastle which is an old industrial type town but seemed like a natural stopping point as it was around 3hours drive.
The drive, if I'm honest was scaring the hell out me! I had to manoeuvre our way round/through/over Sydney (ahhhhh I would have stopped here forever if I could have) and then get on to some highway and avoid Roos, Koalas, snakes and OH really important - stick to the speed limit of 90-110kmh.
Well I managed Sydney ok. I got forced into taking one wrong turn but then I was in the wrong lane. That was easily sorted though - through the housing area and back onto the highway. Done! Easy peasy. The big trucks scared the life out of me going over roundabouts and when they overtook me. We aren't talking UK sized trucks. We are talking Megastructures!  Wheels bigger than the car. Thankfully there weren't too many of them. There were, however loads of police on the roads. Patrol cars up and down the highway, police cars in central reservations with speed guns. It is very noticeable that no one speeds, well not outrageously so. As I was travelling ALL cars were within the speed limit which changes constantly on the roads. It can be 80kmh to 110 kmh but you have to know otherwise you could get a serious fine and points taken away. Here you start with 12points and then you have them deducted after each offence. The courts can increase the deduction if you have been caught before etc once all 12 have gone you licence is gone. 

Well we made good time and no sarcastic comments from Mollie. We did a quick stop just before Newcastle and at 4pm I thought we could do Port Macquarie by tea time ish. By getting there it meant we could do 2 nights instead of one. Quick chat with Mollie. Agreed. In all fairness she did really well in the car. She has her nintendo, her VTech Storio, my old iPod and her own pair of earphones which mean she can listen to music without disturbing me. She had me in stitches as she was singing along to Hapiness' "gotta hurry, hurry hurry, be quick quick quick, just step on the gas......"it was funny! 
We arrived in Port Macquarie just after 7pm. A quick bit of bargaining with the receptionist about rates for two nights and breakfast included, Mollie is free of course because she is under 4!!!!  - sorted! We stayed in a Rydges hotel in PM. It's probably one of the better ones. It looks out on to the harbour area which is teaming with life. On the Monday we took a walk along the front and saw pelicans, fisherman, little boat tours taking trips out to see whales, dolphins and such like. There was a wee sea plane taking off and landing. Oh and the joggers! Up and down they went. Mind you I've begun to feel like I could join them. 
We sat down by the pier for a good hour or two and watched the fisherman. We watched a beginner fisherman land A puffer fish (well he cut his line because he didn't want to handle it) then an octopus. Mollie watched as another fisherman quickly killed it and took it for bait. We have chatted a bit about this and I wondered if she should have seen it as she quite likes octopus especially in the aquariums we go to. But it's called the food chain and the octopus became food for the bigger fishes. She seems to be ok with it and accepts it. We promptly left after this thinking we had had enough life discussions for the day. 
The afternoon brought a visit to a Koala hospital (aaaah) Up on the outer edges of PM there is a koala hospital which takes in injured and sick koalas. They get no funding and rely solely on donations and volunteers. It is a fantastic place. We had a lovely time going round and meeting all of the koalas. I think Mollie was expecting some in bandages! Anyway, the website is www.koalahospital.org.au Worth a wee look. 
Today is Tuesday and we have left Port Macquarie and headed up the coast to Coffs Harbour. Only 168 km today instead of the 400km I  did on Sunday. I took a road called the Pacific Highway which is undergoing some upgrade but it made the drive north so easy and pleasant. It was noticeably green and tropical the further north we came. There were a few road kills on the way and we aren't talking deer and bunnies -  kangaroos and koalas. There are things in place to try and prevent the deaths such as huge nets going across the trees up above the road so that the koalas can cross the road but occasionally they lose there grip and fall. It's not nice to see.
We are now in a house belonging to my aunts friend, Fiona. It's a stunning house set at the top of Coffs Harbour overlooking the rest of the town. I've been able to sit and watch the sun disappearing and also to listen to the many sounds of the wildlife outside. Kookaburras I've been informed will probably wake me tomorrow. Bliss, can't wait. 

Friday, 11 November 2011

Sydney part 2

As soon as we arrived in Sydney I was immediately hit with memories of when I  was last here which was 4 years ago and with Graham. I looked out on to the Harbour Bridge on Tuesday evening remembering when I climbed the bridge and the walks round Sydney Opera House we did as a family. Good memories. 
I suspect it was because of the memories and partly because of the stunning views I found myself awake before 6 on Wednesday morning. I watched the sun coming up and shining over Sydney. Not a hint of the previous nights storm. I watched the roads getting busier and the traffic on the bridge increase and eventually grind to a halt. I suppose if you needed to do rush hour and sit in traffic for an hour or so there is no other place I would rather do it! 
I took in the views which were stunning. Even though there are numerous high rise buildings, it is extremely flat and full of water ways all mixed in with big boats and high end businesses. I can see why this place  attracts so many of the rich and famous. Everything is here; business, shops (drool, drool.......) beaches, surfing, views to die for. The lot, but it is soooo expensive. more about that later. 
I wanted to make the most of our visit here so I got Mollie up early for breakfast ( she was not impressed!) Our room was on level 33, we had to go down to level 30 for breakfast. The whole side of the hotel was an intimate dining area with views, naturally, out over the harbour. Breakfast was lush. Mollie got quite a bit of attention from the two attendants which she just loved. Anyway, breakfast done let's go!
I won't bore you with details but this is where we went. A walk down to the harbour naturally, along past circular quay, up to the opera house, round the opera house (24 degrees and rising) Onto the Choochoo train which took us round the botanical gardens. Saw the fruit bats and lots of lovely flowers and trees. Right, Mollie asking about Sydney aquarium so headed there. Thought it was a good idea to walk! (27 degrees and still rising) Stopped for lunch at a lovely indoor boutique type place $32 (ham sandwhich & a bagel!) later we are off to the aquarium. At this point I will give you a tip if you decide to come out this way. If your child is anywhere near 4years of age quickly agree a plan with your child that he/she is NOT YET 4! it will save you loads. Most prices seem to start at 4. There was one instance when I thought Mollie was going to insist that she was 4 but a few choccy buttons and the stubbornness was quashed. 
Aquarium was brill but I really didn't fancy walking all the back so we took a water taxi back which was brill. Once back at the hotel it was up to level 30 for soft drinks and cakes which they lay on every day. After 6 it becomes alcoholic beverages and canap├ęs. Fab. Curse JetStar for making me miss this on Tuesday!! Oh quick dip in the hotel pool then showered and changed ready to go our for something to eat. In the evening time we headed back to Darling Harbour for something to eat. Everyone recommended it and I would go along with that. It's a buzzing type of place. Lots of atmosphere, loads of resteraunts, bars, ice cream...... We ended up at a pizza place (Mollie loves pizza!) They were delicious. However everything does seem to be a bit slower. Mollie did really well. It was well after 8 before she got her pizza. Taxi back to hotel around 10 in bed for just after whilst I sat on the window ledge again taking in the sights. Sydney all lit up is gorgeous. No other way to describe it. 
Thursday! Right let's go...........well maybe in a bit. Lol thought we would take things a bit slower. Headed down to the quay and happened to see the boat for Manly being advertised. Hmm that looks good. Let's do that! So we did. One return ticket (remember Mollie IS NOT 4 YET......)  to Manly. Gorgeous place with a superb beach on the ocean side (but it is a bit cold!) be prepared to pay through the nose for stuff. Lunch set me back 37 dollars! I couldn't do this everyday. We had fun though. Mollie was delighted to have some time on the beach. We haven't picked up a bucket & spade yet so that is on the cards before we head north. Back on the boat late afternoon just in time for.....drinks on level 30 :-) Drinks on level 30 turned out to be a wee bit longer due to the lovely people we met; Louise & Matt. She is from.......scottish borders. Her & husband now live in Perth WA. 
Too many late nights meant I wanted, nay needed an early night so we decided to eat in the hotel. Sadly this was a disappointment. My steak (yes steak!) was under cooked and so gad to wait longer. Meanwhile Mollie loved her(posh)  Fish & Chips and was eyeing up the puddings being dished out on the next table. By the time we finished it was well after 9 so a later than normal night. I sat and watched another night overlooking Sydney. 
This morning mollies comments as she woke up and came through to the lounge "you're not there AGAIN mummy. Ok at 4 years old it's a bit much to ask that she appreciates the scenery of the harbour but at least she will remember mummy being perched on the window ledge looking at two big structures.  

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sydney

Before I write the next bit of this blog about Sydney I need to let you know where I am whilst I type this as I don't want to forget this moment ever! I am sat on the window seat in the lounge overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. For the last two hours I have watched the sun get higher ink the sky and the traffic build up ovr the bridge. I've watched the wee boats at circular quay come and go as they bring their commuters in from the outer districts of Sydney. The fitness fanatics are always on the go here. From the early morning cyclists to the runners - my goodness people run EVERYWHERE here! Sydney is constantly on the go. I am in awe of it's energy! But I am transfixed by the bridge and opera house and I don't know why but I could look at this view all day.

Wow!What can I say? Sydney has been absolutely spectacular and made even more so by the people we have met whilst here. Melbourne leg of our journey had gone well. I w due to meet a friend in Sydney and we were staying at a lovely hotel for a couple of nights, I was all set and looking forward to the next leg of our adventure. Hmm, not all went smoothly!

Sydney didn't get off to a great start. Mollie and I were booked to leave on the JetStar early afternoon flight which would have got us into Sydney for around 3pm and probably at hotel by 4pm. At 6pm the plane due to take us to Sydney landed in Melbourne. This was due to a culmination of JetStar not being able to crew the plane and horrific storms in Sydney that prevented them getting the plane to Melbourne. However, we had to tour Melbourne airport for 5 and a half hours! JetStar gave us 2 $10 meal tickets!!!! That's the equivalent of £15 to get a snack! A baguette as I discoved cost $11. one was not amused. Mollie did so well but she was just about at the end when JetStar eventually called us to the gate. We had a further 30mins befor they explained they were waiting on the plane arriving!!! This was not the end - were not landing anytime soon! Our pilot informed us that due to backlog of flights we would have to circle for 30minutes!!!! It was now 8pm. We had arrived at the airport at 11.30, wandered around for 6 hours, had minimal to eat (food really wasn't that great) and we were both tired. I just wanted to get to the hotel. I had text my friend several times during our meanderings in Melbourne airport but it was looking like we would miss each other as I would arrive too late before they flew out again :-( Grrrrr.9pm we were on the ground, bags in hand ready to grab a........what the??! The queue for the taxi rank stretched for miles. The storms in Sydney had knocked out the trains and buses wre running behind schedule so everyone had the same thought - taxi. The thing is the queue w made up of one and two persons who were heading to the same area but it would be too sensible to suggest doubling up or anything. Mollie and I had a nice chat with a doctor in the queue while we waited. She was back in Melbourne for exams to be a radiologist. Her bag was made up of 20books and 4 items of clothing but seeing as she was on limited time she laughed and said she could have fitted more books in instead of the clothes!
Eventually we got a taxi and got to the hotel. A very nice hotel which I had managed to hold out on late rooms and get a discount on lol! Anyway as we were waiting to be checked in Mollie decided it was a good time to play up and have a meltdown! In my eyes this was the worst time. Airport - yes, plane - yes, 5* hotel - NO! someone must have been looking after us as the very nice lady at the desk explained she had just upgraded us to a suite and she hoped we liked the room!!! Room?! It's a house!! There is no doubt that this place is just stunning. I tried to remain calm as the bell boy dropped our bags off. But to be honest 2bathrooms in the suite is pretty cool! I'll give you a quick tour. There is a hallway with lamp and table which is dutifully turned on by the tuck down service each night (note to self -don't leave underwear lying on floor in 5* establishments!) The hall leads into the lounge which has those to die for views. The harbour and opera house. The lounge with the plasma tv and DVD system leads on to the bedroom with the two double beds and more stunning views which have a double aspect. The suite is on the corner of the building hence the views. Then we have the bathroom with the double shower and bath which looks out over Sydney. The windows are floor to ceiling and allow you to watch Sydney with it's hustle and bustle as you relax in the bath. Lush! The other bathroom is back off the hallway. This place is stunning and I have enjoyed every minute.
Mollie is awake and so I need to get moving. There is still so much to say but it will have to wait for the moment.
X

Sunday, 6 November 2011

That was some journey!

For the last 10 days Mollie and I have been in Melbourne. In 2 days we will leave our stunning accommodation and head to the even brighter lights of Sydney. Melbourne has been a mini adventure in itself. Let me see, what have we been up to.......
After arriving back on the 27th October (that seems like sooo long ago) we were made so welcome by our hosts. I quickly found myself left with a gorgeous house with pool, a car and two cats, one defo a psycho cat. If you are part of FB then that will make sense! Anyway, almost to lull us in to a false sense of security the Thursday, Friday and Saturday were gorgeous encouraging Mollie and I to head in an Aussie styleeeee to the beach. It didn't get any better! We strolled along the Mentone beach complete with Life saving huts but thankfully no David Haselhoff or Pammie! However by Sunday it quickly cooled down. In fact I think Scotland might actually have been warmer! I found myself rushing out to the shops in search of long sleeved tops or at least something resembling warmth. Nope! Not possible. Summer stock was well and truly in and shops did not possess such items. I was informed the reason Melbournians layer up is so that they can derobe or increase clothing according to the weather. I was loaned some items by the family of our hosts and Mollie was given a fleece which might actually still come in use for the time we (possibly) return to Scotland. Anyway, much to mollies disappointment she wasn't getting near the pool any time soon!
I have also navigated the train system into the centre of Melbourne which went smoothly. I will never forget the feeling of stepping out of Flinders Street station and looking up! The buildings are just awesome. And then you look down to see trams, horse drawn carriages as well as cars. It's a complete mix. I had an appointment to make at the bank but that wasn't till later so I had time to kill.......where were the shops?! SHOPS to die for. Louis V, Mont Blanc, Chanel, Tiffany drool drool. My travelling budget sadly does not include these. I still have over 5 months to go! So after Mollies exclamation of 'not more shops' we headed into the lower end of Melbourne only to catch the latter half of the Melbourne Cup Parade. Riders & owners are sat in cars and driven through the CBD. Much to Mollies delight there were acrobatics going on in between each of the cars. So, Mollie on my shoulders we took in the display. Whilst chatting to Mollie a local lady started to speak to me and ask how Mollie was enjoying the parade and where we were from. It was lovely. There was such a good atmosphere. Mind you considering that the majority of folk were off the next day on holiday I'm not surprised!
We also had the opportunity of meeting up with some friends we made in Singapore who stay literally 10mins away (except when I'm driving but more about that in a min) we were invited to a meal and a chance to quiz them about life in Melbourne which I think I did. The evening gave Mollie a chance to play with another child her age instead of shops and adults! I think she was quite relieved. Her wee eyes lit up upon seeing Emma's gorgeous Princess outfits! A good night was had by all.
The end of the week has brought warmer weather to the point where Mollie felt brave enough to get in the pool. Well going by her shallow breaths after leaping in I would say it was still on the cold side.
Friday and Saturday also meant catching up with family and memories - good memories. Just under 4 years ago Graham and I walked along an area called South Bank which is a very trendy bar/dining/socialising area. Graham and I had hired a babysitter within the hotel and had our first romantic meal and it couldn't have been in a nicer spot. This area has a buzz about it. There are street acts and entertainers, people busy on the river, usually rowers or kayakers. There are also flames which light up the place and of course there is that fantastic city backdrop. If you like people watching you would love this place. It didn't disappoint last night. With an aunt, cousins and partners in tow we enjoyed the sights and buzz that was on offer. It also happened to be final race day which means lots of gentlemen with ladies in very high heels, gorgeous dresses, and fascinators pouring into the bars. As we walked along the Yarra River in shorts and strappy tops there was a conversation about not being able to do this back in Scotland at the start of November. Well you could, but you would severely regret it the following day as you recovered from frostbite. A fantastic night.

One of the main things I have had to 'conquer' has been the driving. Now, in theory it should be a dawdle as a) we drive on the same side b) the car is an automatic c) the laws are sort of similar!!!! So why do I break out in a cold sweat heading out on to the Nepean Highway? Is it because I ended up half way to the airport the other day? No. Is it because I regularly get stuck in the middle of the road behind a truck who decides he wants to turn right and leaves me diving for the other side long after the lights have gone red? No. Is it because my daughter, upon reaching our friends address which should have been a mere 10 minutes away and turned out to be a bit longer says to me 'gosh, that was some journey?!!!!' I would say so. What she doesn't know is we are making the journey north after Sydney by car. I hate to think what her comments will be then!!!
I'm sad to be leaving here as it has been a fantastic start to our trip. But we are due to return for the whole of January. Looking forward to it. We might even get use of the pool.
Night night

Friday, 28 October 2011

Melbourne

So much has happened!!!!
Singapore - Woweeeee! What a place. It never sleeps and all the images you see on television with people walking around with gadgets glued to ears/hands/mouth are true! The hotel was stunning and the sights even more so. Mollie had a superb time just as I did. Definitely heading back.
But now we have moved on to Melbourne. I didn't realise there was a three hour time difference although it might well have been 12. Mollie and I were floored. We were met by the family of the house we are staying in, Cheryl & Rick. Lovely people. They put on a dinner last night for Mollie and I and invited some family over. Mollie did really well to stay awake till 8pm but she was nearly falling asleep at the table so she went to bed. I lasted till around 10 but that was a struggle.
Today we awoke to blue skies and 19 degrees (which later climbed to 27) There were so many things I had to get to grips with today - but not until after a lovely, very long stroll along the beach. I stuck Mollie in a stroller, put some sun cream on and stuck some water in a bag and off we went. It was ace! The path stretched the whole length of the beach and the beach only had half a dozen people on it. Quite a few people out running,(I almost felt like a run myself!) a few swimming, though we never went in I knew from the screams coming from a couple of teenagers that it wasn't all that warm! We will maybe wait until Brisbane before jumping in to the sea!! We had a play on the beach and an ice cream. Deeee lish. Mollie looked the wee surfer babe :-)
Challenges for today; (don't laugh :-) getting to grips with money and shopping. Tick! It IS expensive. Noticeably so. Never mind, the neighbours have fig and lemon trees if we get really desperate. Phones. Tick Well not so much the phone but the codes and how to phone different states. And driving. EEEEEEEEEK! an automatic car in a really bust area and not a clue about where we are going. Hmm that might take a bit of work though I am supposed to e driving up to Brisbane so best get more experience in. On Monday Mollie and I are going to try and get the train into Melbourne and then have a wander round before (hopefully) heading back out the same way. Hmm, I may or may not find my way out. But it will be an adventure. Oh! Next week marks the start of some little event on the horse calendar called the Melbourne Cup :-) The whole of Melbourne grinds to a halt for a horse race AND it's a holiday. School kids, workers the lot - offski.
Well it is currently chucking with rain outside after an all mighty thunder storm. It could be Scotland - but it's not.
Feel free to get in touch. Thinking about you all
Pennie & Mollie
Xxx

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Better than snow

After nearly 24 hours of travelling we have arrived in Singapore. It's hot, muggy and really humid but it's better than snow! We arrived through he Singapore airport which was soooo easy. By the time we collected bags our driver was outside with a big card saying Mrs P Stewart/ Miss Mollie Stewart.
Upon leaving the airport the first thing that struck me were the huge buildings! Mollie did try and count the floors but we were travelling too fast. They are just enormous.
Our hotel is on an island called Sentosa. To get to it you have to drive over a bridge and past a HUGE freight shipping place. Enormous. When you reach this place its quite surreal to have the stunning grounds of the hotel and beach and then to see the water littered with huge freight ships.
Mollie and I were pretty much out for the count by 8.30pm on Saturday night but by 4am Sunday morning we were wide awake. I discovered that so were most of the other British travellers after speaking to some of them by the pool later on. How freaky is this; I met a guy & his family who had relocated to Mumbai from KIRKCALDY!! For those of you who don't know it's where I'm from.
I had a city tour booked for Sunday morning which seemed a really good idea at the time but once we had fallen back to sleep after our 4am wake up 7am was really hard to get up for but we did.
The city tour was really good. It took us round the best parts of Singapore and the tour guide explained the history of Singapore and why it works. Put it like this; anywhere where you get put to death in 24 hours for being in possession of a gun OR bullets is a place you don't want to muck about in. You can be fined $S10,000 for cutting a tree down! Crime is non existent and everywhere is sooo clean. I would highly recommend this place to anyone. ( dont bring chewing gum, cross the road at the wrong place or drop litter and you will be fine ) I have yet to experience Orchard Road - that's today :-) zoo tomorrow. Mollie doesn't know she is having breakfast with the monkeys! On the monkey side of things I was amused to see a sign on the bedroom door alerting us to keep our balcony door closed. Not for fear of robberies or any such thing. Nope. It was for fear of monkeys raiding your room! Nice to see the criminal laws don't apply to them!
Mollie with her blonde hair and curls has been receiving loads of attention. Lots of Asians want to have photos taken with her!!! It was funny to begin with but is unnerving and annoying so I've tried to prevent it. It will not be an issue when we move on to Melbourne so I just need to bear it for the moment.
Mollie i am beginning to discover is a great travelling companion she often has me in stitches. last night after having dinner out in Singapore (hotel nice but too expensive) said to me "we are lost mummy" After I tried to reassure her that we weren't lost I asked why she said it. She answered "we didn't come in this way or go past these shops!" I explained I had forgotten the quickest way back to our pick up point and wanted to see some of the sights. She wasn't convinced!
Anyway, we have another action packed day today and so I'm going to see if I can catch another hour or so sleep. This time zone thing will be cracked by Wednesday but then we will have to get used to Aussie time.But this is still better than snow!!!! Anyway, night night xxx

Friday, 21 October 2011

OMG!!!

Well here it is; D-Day (departure day) has arrived. In case you didn't know I am going to do something that I partly wished I had done upon leaving Uni but the opportunity didn't present itself. So, 13 years later (13 years since leaving!)and with no1 daughter the opportunity has presented itself for us to do some traveling. It sounded a great idea at the time and it still does except very surreal that after weeks of planning it is finally here. Oh well, let's do it. It' not been easy leaving friends & family behind but at the very least this is giving us 6 months out, at the very most a reccie trip to see if a new life awaits us in Oz.
So pennie and mollies big adventure starts here. See you all soon and thank you for all your best wishes. Watch this space for updates.
Xxx