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Saturday, 28 January 2012

P is for........

P is for...........

Packing!

The dreaded word again. I've spent today sorting out clothes and tidying the house that we are in. I've come to dread the last few days we spend in an area as it means saying goodbye and making sure that I have packed EVERYTHING!!! Would you believe that the only thing I have lost in the whole trip is a hairbrush! Now out of 4 months travelling that's not bad. 
So today I have gone round the house and cleared all the little things that have been lying around, all of Mollies toys, clothes, books etc This packing session actually has been one of the hardest as not only are we leaving very good friends but also a fantastic city. Melbourne has been fab. I'm also leaving in a manner not quite how I would have liked. Due to some tennis event going on (more about that in a bit) the flights out of Melbourne have doubled for two days. As a result I'm having to leave slightly earlier in order to catch the couple in Perth (another P) who are flying out to Craigellachie in a few days time. The downside is that Mollie and I are leaving before the family of this house return. Very sad. I assumed we would see them to say goodbye. Maybe it's better this way. It doesn't feel like it though. We have had full use of Rick & Cheryls gorgeous house in Cheltenham, Melbourne with pool. In return all we have been asked is to look after the two cats which Mollie has been delighted with. 
(Mollie did turn round to me the other day and whispered how she would like a dog and that she was more than capable as she has looked after her Nintendogz very well for quite a while!!!!!) 
Cheryls brother & sister in law have also been so good to us with meals at theirs, gatherings on the beach and childminding for me. I couldn't have hoped for a nicer family. So to leave without saying goodbye feels very wrong but they understand. 
Leaving Melbourne is also a wrench. I can't believe we have been here nearly the whole month but we have had such a fab time. So what have we been up to? 
Well cast your mind back to the beginning and we had our lovely few nights in The Langham with drinks and meals on South Bank before we headed out to Cheltenham which has been more laid back with days beside the pool and the joy of watching Mollie swimming and diving like a fish. We have also enjoyed 
evenings on the beach with temperatures still up in the high 20s watching the sun set. Magic. A horse trip round the city was on Mollies to do list so we did! The highlight of this part of the trip has to be going to the tennis. When we first arrived there was the hype and the build up to it. I remember sitting in Federation Square with Mollie at the start of the competition and watching the huge screen they havemup showing the games. The Aussie players did take up most ofnthe air time. Hewitt had the locals beside them selves at one point.  Anyway, people just turn up, pick up a (sponsored) deckchair and sit and watch it. The evening matches can get really busy. You can't fail to notice the atmosphere and social interaction that goes on during this time. It's magic. Seeing as I had come all of this way I desperately wanted to go and see Andy Murray in one of his matches. I had to quickly get to grips with the ticket system. It is fairly easy - once you understand who is playing where and what time and of course prices which increase the nearer the final it gets.

Andy Murray sailed through the first round and so before ticket prices increased too much i thought it best to get in at the early stage. Cheryl's sister in law had agreed to take mollie giving me a child free, tennis packed day! Yippeeeee!  So 2nd round and Murray has drawn Edouard Roger-Vasellin. Some French dude. Unseeded shouldn't be a problem and it wasn't. He won in straight sets. But I had the chance to watch Tsonga play as well as a ladies singles match: Petra something or other who just got put out in semis i think. She was a good player. Anyway, I had the chance for the day to soak up the atmosphere, have a glass of wine in the Jacobs Creek area (and get a wine glass!) and watch some great tennis. It was fab. I will never forget.

I did think that that would be my only chance to see Andy Murray butnwhen I found myself at a loose end on Wednesday AND Andy Murray was playing I thought well..........why not? I took Mollie this time to show her what it was all about. The only tickets available were actually in the sun and with a 4 year old and temperatures in the high 20s you can't do it. When you see the people looking cooked on the television in these seats they are! They aren't that comfortable because the sun on them is so intense and you aren't allowed to move out of them that often. The officials are quite strict about when you can and can't move. My seat in the Hisense arena was in the shade and I found it quite cold. Towards the end of the match, 3 set I think, I managed to do a hot seat swap with another lady for a few games  and boy I was toast by the time  a game had been played. So definitely not with a 4 year old. So instead I got ground passes which allow you to wander round the area, visit some of the outer courts and watch the less profile games. Except on this day Rafael Nadal was warming up!!!! Cooooooooool. He is even fitter in real life. He was attracting quite a crowd but he continued to do some practice shots and get some feedback from his coach for some time. He is quite something to watch. Mollie and I had a fantastic time going round the stalls. There are loads of freebies. Most of the sponsors have a tent with some sort of giveaway. Mollie spotted a face painting tent with a MASSIVE queue! I explained to her that it could be a while but no she was dead set - she wanted her face painted. 45 mins later after standing in the heat, it was our turn. Mollie asked for a flower and she got one. "what would mummy like?" I was asked. Eh?!  Ok, Scottish flag please. Hehe well Andy was playing and I wanted to support him. Melbourne Park where the tennis is staged has huge tv screens all over the place with lots of grassy areas. So we found a shady spot and settle in. We had a fab afternoon watching the tennis and getting involved in all the tennis frolics.

Our return walk to the city after the match was along the Yarra with a gorgeous evening sun. Federation Square was becoming busy with people turning up for the match between Djocovic and Ferrer. Funnily enough i had forgotten about the war paint on my face but the number of people that stopped me to speak to me about the tennis was unbelievable. Anyway, I wished I could have stayed but no I had a little person to get fed and returned to bed. We have had sooooooo many late nights it's unbelievable. Mollie sleeps longer than I do!! 

P is for PANTS! I watched Andy Murray being beat last night when the game should have been his. My cousins girlfriend, Karen, was handed two tickets to the final from her boss (a perk of the job she is in!!!)  and we both hoped that it might have been Andy Murray in it. He played really well though so maybe next year.

Parking ticket!!!!! Don't ask but I was given a parking ticket on Australia Day!!! I will be appealing. 

P is for Perth which is where we are heading for next. I have had A swift look at things to do but beaches and surfing might feature!!! Wait and see. I am well aware thou that the weather is not high 20s but high 30s so how we will cope I don't know.

I am very sad to be  leaving Melbourne. We have had such a great time and made so many friends. The vibe from the city and the events that happen here make it such an easy place to slot into. I'm hoping we will be back at some point. In fact Promise. We will be back. 

P is for plane which is what I'm boarding in.............6 hours time. Pants! It was 35 today and it felt it. By 7.30 this evening it was still 30. Now it is 27 so it is cooling down but it is still very sticky. How will the couple from Perth, WA cope with our 5 degrees?! I might put them off Scotland forever?! At least it's not snowing though I think they would quite like that mind you so would I right now. Eurgh

Night night 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Langham

Friday 6th January and Mollie and I are hugging, crying and waving goodbye to my friend Janet and her family. I actually didn't want to leave Mypolonga. There isn't very much going on but life seems to be very simple or maybe it's as complicated as we make it. I don't know but Janet and Hans work hard, they have two fabulous girls and with the exception of wanting the house finished, which as the 40 degree days increase the time span for the house will also increase. Anyway, they are very happy and I'm somewhat envious of what they have but so grateful that we had the opportunity to live it.

I had booked a flight with Virgin Australia this time from Adelaide to Melbourne. I had had enough of JetStars antics and 20kg strict weight limit. So Virgin has a new customer. I was checked in on time, no stress; lots of lovely ladies at the desk, bags were fine, I was even asked if I wanted Mollies back pack / car seat checked in (no cost!!) The flight actually left early and arrived early at Melbourne yippee! As a result my cousin hadn't quite made it to meet us (I'm not one for big greetings in airports anyway!!) Anyway, Virgin flight was fab!

Mollie and I stayed with my cousin for the night in St Kilda, Melbourne. Mollie loves Greig and Karen his girlfriend. She thought this was ace and to be honest it gave me a bit of respite. Greig did offer if I wanted to go for a run round Albert Park (F1 circuit) in the morning then I could. Sadly towards the end of my stay at Janets I pulled some muscles in my back again so a run is out of the question but it's still on my to do list.

Saturday was Greigs last day off and as we were only there for the night we headed away as a group for the day. There is a lovely area in Victoria called Mornington Peninsula. Many Brits settle there. It has beaches, all amenities you could ask for, it's very green with lots of open spaces and it's also a short journey to Melbourne CBD if you want to head in for anything. So we headed there for a drive out. It was lovely and would have been even better had the sun shone. We sat at a picnic table, shivering trying to eat a picnic with around 20 seagulls watching our every move!! Its the only downfall with Melbourne, the weather. It can change so rapidly and can get very hot but also very cold. It must have one of the most varied temperatures of any major city!! A wander and a chat and then back to St Kilda.

For the next three nights I had booked Mollie and I into a hotel on melbournes South Bank. I booked it for personal reasons but the more people I speak to the more of an attitude I get from others about the place!! Four years ago when Graham and I first visited Australia and did our own mini tour with Mollie a mere 8months old, Graham booked The Langham as a surprise for me because that's what he did. Surprises. Back then I remember just being gobsmacked at the place but also the look on Grahams face when we stopped there. We had such a fab time in the two nights we were there. We had lots of walks along the river, we watched the street entertainers with great delight and we had a lovely meal out together as the hotel has a baby sitting service. When I walked in to the hotel again it was like literally yesterday that we were there. Except it wasn't and so much has changed. It hurt as soon as I walked in the door. I did think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. nevertheless, I checked in to discover that yet again - guess what? A free room upgrade. A grand river view room. Our room had a view of the pool area below, the Yarra river and the Melbourne skyline which I have many pictures of.

Mollie had been very excited about reaching the hotel. Not because Justin Beiber was here last month or because the Indian cricket team stayed during their latest test. Nope, it was because it had a pool!! My memories of the pool area were somewhat different to how I found it. I thought the pool was on the rooftop overlooking Melbourne but in fact it was on the 9th floor with sliding doors which open up and allow you to look out over the Melbourne CBD. There is a large outdoor seating area where you can sunbathe or just sit out and read. Far from peaceful with Flinders Street station in the background but again you can watch the world go by You can imagine where our first stop was anyway. So a quick dip and then changed to head out or a bite to eat. I had arranged with my cousins girlfriend, Karen and her sister Claire to meet up which we did. I completely failed to notice the time and we were actually heading out at 8pm. This wouldn't be a problem normally but with a four year old some of the resteraunts can get quite aggitated about having a child after 9pm. However we managed to find a place that we were in before called Leftbank. It had big comfy seats in a lounge area through the back of the main bar. It was lovely. So there we sat and chatted and ate and laughed until........11.15. Hmm maybe it was a bit later. I nursed a large glass of wine and a cocktail for three and a half hours. It wasn't a night for drinking, it was a night for laughing and talking and although I didn't realise it I actually needed it after arriving at The Langham. Mollie was still up and in good form at that time although funnily enough when I put her in bed and said I would be through to tuck her in in 5 she was already asleep. I headed to bed thinking surely social services would be tracking us down in the morning. Thankfully they weren't.

I was recently asked by someone quite close why I'm visiting places that hurt me so much and I don't know. I don't know if I'm looking for good memories or for Graham or even if it's just my way of saying goodbye. But it's nice to chat to Mollie about these places where her daddy was and how he fed her chocolate for breakfast on Easter Sunday at the Langham much to mums disapproval all those years ago. Or how I sat in the very same bar area after she woke up one night with a sore tummy. So, yes a very nice hotel but the memories from the place are worth way more.

Breakfast is a feast in itself at this place. They have every concievale item for breakfast - except porridge!! I made a comment about porridge or the lack of it to a young Portugese chef( I quite like porridge when I'm away) anyway he muttered something about not knowingvwhat it was and then 10 minutes later returned with a HUGE bowl of it. I had just eaten muesli and toast!!! The young waitress at the table started to laugh as she saw my dilemma. Refuse the bowl and hurt the guys feelings or eat it after already having eaten way more than I normally would for brekkie. So I ate it but didn't finish it. The next morning the waiter spotted us arriving and promptly arrived at my table with a bowl of porridge. Smaller than the previous days I hasten to add. Mollie spotted the chocolate fountain the first morning. There were bowls of strawberries, kiwi, marshmallow and other bits at the bottom. You could have anything cooked as well as Chinese or Japanese selection of noodles, rice, soup etc etc.you don't leave hungry from this breakfast that's for sure.

This part of the trip wasn't meant to be action packed. I just wanted to linger and take in where we were so we spent the days walking up the river, a bit of shopping, coffees out, swimming in the hotel pool and watching the street entertainers which Mollie loved. I saw a couple of good singers which I hope get a break at some point. There was the incredible irish escape artist with terrible jokes and the man on the unicycle who also had terrible jokes and that's how they earn their money?!!

So nothing exciting. Mollie did want to do the horse carriage round Melbourne so on the day we went to find them they weren't there so I have promised her a ride in the next few days. She still has gifts from people back home which will more than cover the trip.

My only wish for this part is to see Andy Murray at the Australian Open so watch this space. I'm on the case.

We are back in Cheltenham, Melbourne which is funnily enough where we first started our trip. We have seen and done loads since we were last here and also changed alot. I remember when I first arrived and hanging out the clothes looking at every cobweb and spider thinking 'are you poisonous?' but today it wasn't a thought at all.

He weather here for the last week since we arrived has been cool to say the least but tomorrow that hopefully changes. It's due to get to around 28 tomorrow. I gave had trousers on for the last few days. Looking forward to getting some shorts or a dress on tomorrow. This house has a pool so I know what Mollie will be doing.

I have had a few comments from people about reading this blog and I'm surprised with how many of you are following us. Thank you 

I hope the mild weather continues with you guys and that there isn't even the hint of the 's' word.

X

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mypolonga Happy New Year x

New year

Happy New Year from a very hot, very dry Mypolonga, Murray Bridge. 

Stunning That's how I would sum up our current destination. Mollie and I are staying with an old friend of mine from Balwearie, Janet  and her husband in their gorgeous home an hour north of Adelaide. It is well off the beaten track, nothing else around them and is almost self sufficient. It is amazing.
Janet and Hans actually built it themselves and it is by no means finished but you can see what they are trying to achieve and they are doing it themselves.

About 2 years ago Janet and Hans were running there own Rose business. They were running it from their 20acre plot they had purchased in order to get the business going. However, as I'm discovering water is a major focal point out here. Us scots we like to discuss the weather. Aussies in south Adelaide like to discuss the water levels which is fair enough. Janet and Hans had been running the business for a few years when the government then changed their water allowance for the business. They had been running it on 20% but the government or water authorities were playing with their figures each year until finally 18 months ago they cut it to 7%, of what I don't know but it wasn't enough to run a Rose business!! so stress levels dictated that they gave up. Hans returned to uni to do studying in water management and works in a water recycling plant and Janet does Rose budding or grafting I think it's called. Anyway, the pair of them work blooming hard to achieve what they have here.

Mollie and I have thoroughly enjoyed touring round their garden (there are no roses now!) Janet grows; cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes, pomegranates, peaches, onions, garlic, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, figs and countless other things that I can't remember. Mollie loves going into the garden and picking things with Janet's two girls Amber and Isla. Then they see it before them on the table that day.
Mollie has thoroughly enjoyed playing with the two girls and I'm glad we made this stop. She has had the chance to have fun instead of being dragged round the country with me. It has taken a bit of the pressure off of myself a bit too. 

So what have we been up to? Well the weather does dictate what you can and can't do sadly. When we first arrived the temperatures were lovely. High 20s during the day and clear skies at night so the heat disappeared. However this didn't last long and since Hogmanay we have had 40+ degrees which is not nice. It's too hot outside by mid morning. The best part of the day is first thing in the morning and then by 11am it is way too hot to do anything though the girls have been jumping in and out of the pool in the garden. By 3pm the heat has drained the girls (and us) and so it really is time to sit and do very little. Either DVD or craft stuff. Everyone gets pretty cranky when it heats up. One day we experienced not only the heat from the sun but a hairdryer effect wind too! That was bad. Every time I walked out the door to see to the chucks or help with washing it was like opening the door to a hairdryer blowing in. 

We have travelled to a couple of places around the area including Murray Bridge which is the equivalent to Elgin (on a much smaller scale though!) The other big thing in this area is the Murray River which has loads of activity in/on it. Janet took us there for a day last week when the temperatures were just beginning to lift. It gave the girls a chance to jump in and out of it. Whilst there we saw loads of activities; jet skies, boats, water skiing, wake boarding, big inflatable things! Lots of families had made it a day trip bringing down BBQs tables and chairs! Brill.

Hogmanay was a worry for a wee while as I wasn't sure if we would make the bells as with the heat and using so much energy in the heat it fairly pants you! However we did make it and Hans, Janet and myself sat and talked into the night only to hear the fireworks going off in the distance which indicated a new year had started - for Australia at least. It was quite weird to be one of the first to be starting the year. Normally I'm at home watching the Aussie celebrations on the tv. Not this year though! Not quite at Sydney harbour though but nevertheless equally as good if not better. Good wine, good company. Bliss. Hans did state his own new years resolutions and so did Janet. I was asked and said I don't normally make them but on this occasion I will settle for just looking forward - not back.

Today, Tuesday 3rd we headed to a place called Mannum which is further down the river. The girls had a fab time playing in the play park, playing with the bubble wands that we bought them and gymnastics stuff which is my input lol. Lots of cartwheels, handstands and round offs. Three happy girls. Mollies cartwheels have improved no end! When we got back in the car I read 42degrees on the car dashboard. Ouch!! 

This evening Hans took Mollie and I about 15mins further inland to a vast open bushland area where we saw kangaroos in the wild. Yayyyyyy! First a couple jumped across our path and then we saw around three poking their heads up in the long grass before we spotted one under the tree. He watched us for ages before hopping off. Mollie was delighted. 

This part of our trip has been inspirational as well as a chance to take stock. I have enjoyed many a night chatting outside with Janet and Hans (witha nice glass of Marlborough) talking well into the night. Have I watched any television in the week we have been here? Nope. Not one bit. Mollie has eaten all of her food including the fruit and veg on her plate. At least half of it has come from the garden which I suspect has helped. We have also enjoyed many a day out and about in the area whilst the girls play, run and laugh. When it was too hot yesterday we headed to the tenpin bowling place at Murray Bridge which was ace. Guess who won? Not me! Mollie won. Seriously! She was delighted. There is one downside to living in the country in this area and it is of course those things with 8 legs. Believe it or not the main one in this area which is dangerous butnyou nevr see is the red back. However, as I said you never see it but you do see other kinds. Big hairy ones which look way more frightening than they are and millipedes and earwigs. I can handle them. But the things with 8 legs - never. Janet is getting used to my screams! 
 
I'm not sure there is anything else I can say about this part of our trip. It has been fantastic to catch up with Janet. In some ways she hasn't changed a bit but in others she has changed so much. I am in awe of what she and Hans have got here and so glad we have had a chance to be part of it. There isn't one night I have not fallen in to my bed and gone to sleep within minutes of hitting it. That's why it has taken me so long to get this bit written lol.  

I have already booked our flights on for the next part of our journey. On Friday 6th  catch a plane back to Melbourne. I'm hoping to get tickets for the Australian open whilst we are there. Oooooh Andy Murray watch out. I just might be there with the old face paint on. Or then again I just might be there cheering him on! That would be good. Right, I'm exhausted. You know where I'm off to!