Up the Swan River

I was blobbing out in front of a movie after dinner Tuesday night when Murray decided we were all going down to Burns Beach to watch the sunset. I stood on a rock outcrop and got some cool photos of the sun sinking below the horizon with the waves crashing up in front of me over the rocks.

 

My alarm went off at 5:30am today because the boys had told me we were leaving at 6am. I was up and had read all the papers and at 6:15am decided to wake them up. Finally we took off towing the boat behind and headed south on the freeway. Just a few minutes down the road the trailer tyre stripped it’s tread so we drove round into a Bunnings car park which was conveniently near empty. Duncan & I stayed with the boat while Murray & Donna shot back home for a spare tyre. Got that changed, fuelled up and headed south. By this time the traffic was getting heavier so it took us a while. We put the boat in the water in South Perth and headed up stream. Not too many minutes out the motor came to a halt and Murray discovered the river was very low and we were in only 90cms of water. So he had to lift the outboard a bit and chug very quietly and carefully to find a deeper chanel. We had to idle most of the way up river at 5 and 8 knots. The Swan River Trust has speed restrictions in place and patrol boats to ensure you keep to it. An hour later after meandering up river we stopped off at Woodbridge House for brunch only to find it is shut on Wednesdays – duh! So we turned back and zipped down river to find food.

 

Murray decided to explore a new canal area near East Perth called Claisebrook Cove. It is delightful. Apparently it was the pits, a real dodgy area and the powers that be have bulldozed it and rebuilt it. It is so lovely. We tied up and had a wonderfully decadent lunch at Bradley’s. The deserts were all made on site so I had to try one. A baked dark chocolate, orange and Kahlua cheesecake. With fresh raspberries and strawberries – to die for!!

 

We explored the area and found a really cool shop with some really neat art which we all fell in love with – thankfully it was too heavy to take home so my visa card is safe – I can dream Murray then dropped Duncan & me off at Barracks Wharf near the town centre and we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the city centre. Went up the Swan Bells which has carrillion bells originally from St Martin-in-the-Fields London. (www.swanbells.com.au) They are in a cool tower with sail shapes surrounded by lovely pools and fountains and 10 large mosaics created by the 10 regions of Perth to commemorate the millennium. We found the Australian Geographic shop and then the camera shop where Duncan had bought his SLR digital camera 2 years ago. The staff were still as helpful as ever and we were there for quite some time as they showed us how to get more uses from our cameras. After asking several people I was totally shocked to discover that there are absolutely NO Starbucks in Perth. But I was directed to Gloria Jeans and found a Cappacino Chiller which was a pretty darn good substitute.We then found our way to the train station and caught it back to Joondalup. Wandered up the The Old Bailey pub where Murray & Donna met us for a few drinks.

 

They dropped me off at Jacqui’s and I have had a most enjoyable evening catching up with her. It has been a very long time since we were last together but the years fall away so easily. She dropped me back here at 10pm so we are now making plans for the last few days. – the week is flying.

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Boating and Bush trips

We were chilling out here Sunday night when Murray’s son Raymond turned up to visit. It was so good to see him and Murray was extra delighted to have him come around.

 

Monday began with the guys hollering ‘Everyone up! Outa bed everyone!’ at 7am. I dragged myself through the bathroom and appeared in the kitchen looking I thought wide awake and busy tailed. But judging from the comments from my bros I musta looked a bit sleepy still. We loaded up the boat and headed on down to Mindarie Keys. We stopped off to pick up Raymond but no sign of him. I was blown away at the development at Mindarie. When I was over here 17 years ago it was a new development. It is amazing what has happened in that time. The houses are – well, I hesitate to call them houses – more like mansions, sitting on the edges of the harbour. Absolutely amazing!

 

We steamed off out to Quinns Rocks and Duncan and Murray jumped in to snorkel on the reef. When Murray climbed out I decided I would go in and have a look see. It was really neat, such clear water and the fish life was so cool. I found very quickly though that I am not swim fit. I was trying to get over to the reef to stand on some terra firma where Duncan was, but with the current etc I just couldn’t get there and soon ran outa puff. I could see the distance from the boat and the distance to Duncan and I couldn’t make any headway and started to panic cause I was getting so tired so I made a bee line to the boat. Very glad to hop back on board. I had seen enough for the day and was happy to stay above the water while Duncan careened around like a submerged whale enjoying the caves and crays and fish life. We zipped up the coast to Eglington Rocks and then over to see the Alkimos wreck. An ex WW2 liberty ship. There is not a lot left but enough to see that it was huge. Then back down the coast to Burns Rocks. Finally got back to Mindarie Keys where we tied up beside a coffee shop and bar and sat in the sun over some drinks before trailering the boat and heading home.

 

Hamish & Michelle stayed put as he had to get to work by 4pm. We went and found Raymond – unfortunately he had walked to meet us in the morning and we had missed each other. So he joined Duncan, Murray and myself and we drove down the West Coast Highway. Once again the houses – mansions – along the coast were most impressive. Raymond kept pointing out which ones he had laid carpet in. Got down to Scarborough and had lunch at Plakos while Raymond did a spot of girl watching J

 

On the way back we called in to Craigie to see Amy. The guys had a swim in the pool and Raymond collected some of his gear. Took Raymond home and then came back for a rest. On arriving back Murray was immediately on the phone with some mates and so the rest went out the window and we collected up some snacks and gear, picked up Jason the Pom and headed north. Took ages but we eventually got to Regans Ford on the Moore River. It was a beautiful spot far from the madding crows. The stuff that picture books display as the epitomy of an Australian billabong. We explored the area while waiting for Jeff & Vicky. Donna stayed securely up on the bonnet of the Landcruiser well out of the way of snakes and ants and spiders J

 

Duncan took me for a walk along the river and we crossed at a rocky weir and on the other side there were heaps of ant nests. I have never seen ants like it before. There were millions of them, to cross there road we had to make running leaps to avoid them climbing us. There were also bull ant nests which Duncan had fun invading. Finally Jeff & Vicky arrived and the guys set the marrin traps along the river. I have decided the guys just never grown up. They were like boys as they zipped up and down the river banks setting and pulling the nets. A very large ant climbed Murray’s leg and bit him on the thigh – he wasn’t too amused. The night went on, the 3 of us girls finally hopped in the Landcruiser to keep warm and continue chatting. Finaly the guys pulled all the nets around 11pm and with the grand total of one small marrin we headed off down the highway to home. We were all nodding by the time we got here at midnight and slept soundly till nearly 8am this morning.

 

Midmorning Tuesday we loaded up into Murray & Hamish’s 4WD’s and headed east into the Perth hills. Our destination was the John Forrest National Park. Our maternal grandfather and his sister had called into Perth on their trip by ship to England in 1938/9. Duncan & Murray had found a booklet about their trip to the National Park amongst old papers that Mum had. They had previously been there and re-walked the area they had explored. So today we returned so the 4 of us could walk in their steps. Duncan was able to show us the same trees in the pictures of all those years ago – true to Australian style they had not grown a lot more in all those years. It was quite hot up there but a breeze made it manageable. Duncan had lots of fun running across the ant nests and stirring up all the ants. He then was chased by a hornet – as he is severely allergic to bees he wasn’t hanging around to be polite!! There were also heaps of kangaroos, magpies, pink & white cockatoos and other green parrots hanging around to entertain us.

 

We then took refuge from the heat and had a lovely lunch at the local pub and spent a great hour or two reminiscing about all the antics the boys got up when they were young and talking all about Kiwi war history – a passion of Duncan’s and my Nathan – so therefore I absorb a lot of it too! After lunch we went our separate ways and headed back home. On the way we detoured to a wee shop in Midland called ‘Jack Sue WA Skindivers’. Barry Sue who runs the shop is the son of Jack Sue. He played a big part in Australian was history because of his Asian blood and looks. He was able to infiltrate behind enemy lines in Borneo. Fascinating stories. The two of them have also written a book about the Wreck of the Alkimos which we wanted to read after visiting it yesterday.

 

It was a long trip back home – mind you anywhere is a long trip around here!! We had to get back as the dog washer was coming to bath the Keeshond. The city development and road developments are mind blowing over here. They just don’t stop. Certainly a land of opportunity with work for miles for those that want to. Personally it is way to dry and arid for me. Nice to visit but I prefer to have a bit more greenery around. Living in Perth is like being in a giant sandpit!

Meltdown in Perth!

I spent Friday getting sorted and packed. Nuana arrived with Shahar before lunch. Azzan was so delighted to see her that he wasn’t in the slightest bit worried about me leaving. I waited for the mail boat so I could sort the mail and greet the two new woofers and Christine. Loaded Rob into the Terano and left around 4pm. Spent the night with John & Sally in Nelson.

Saturday morning Clare took me to the airport in the Mercedes! The plane was late leaving so had nearly an hour waiting there. Got to Christchurch and found Brianna & Damaris. We hung out for a while and then we met up with Ella and the twins. Got my seat number and then enjoyed a leisurely lunch before hoping on the plane. 3.5hours later I was in Sydney. Saw the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as we flew in – never been there before so all very exciting. Spent a couple of hours meandering around the terminal and reading my book before embarking on the last leg of my journey to Perth. The flight went well. Had a lovely English lass to chat to, read my book and slept. We arrived about 30mins early which was good. Donna was there to meet me with her daughter Jasmine. Donna had told Murray that she had to go into Perth to pick Jasmine up. We went via Jasmine’s flat and collected her car and arrived at Murray & Donna’s at 11pm. Hamish had just gone to bed. Murray was sitting outside talking to Duncan and never saw me come in. I came up behind him and covered his eyes. He couldn’t guess who it was and when he saw me he just burst into tears and hugged me. He couldn’t believe I was actually here. He was in a state of shock and spent the next few hours trying to convince himself that I was real, he wouldn’t let go of my hand and didn’t want to go to bed in case I was an apparition. It is 17 years since I have been over to visit him so I guess his reaction is understandable. Anyway, we managed to get to bed around 2am – which would’ve been 7am NZ time and I had been up for 24hours.

Woke this morning to a hot day which continued to increase. By the time I had showered the 3 boys had gone to the shops. When they returned Hamish sat outside to read the paper with his morning coffee. I just went out and sat down beside him. Took him a few minutes to actually look up and register it was me. I won’t repeat what he said – but he was very surprised! We had a very chilled out morning. Murray rang Jacqui (my best friend from Renwick and school days whom I also hadn’t seen in 17 years) and suggested she should come visit so he could make her day better. She arrived at 11:30am, walked in the door, saw me, and burst into tears . I seem to have an upsetting effect on people over here J

It was soooooo cool to see her – we are going to catch up during the week as she lives not too far from here. Some friends of Murray’s, and Donna’s daughter Kimberley and 2 grandsons arrived for a BBQ. It got hotter and hotter. It felt like it had hit the 40’c mark to me!! I have been trying to drink heaps of water today but the heat has just been dehydrating me so fast. After lunch I went and had a lie down the heat and the lack of sleep was beginning to make me feel rather headachy.

Hamish arrived back with his friend Michelle so we then all hopped into Murray’s trusty rusty 1986 Toyota Land cruiser. I was told I had to drive – that was interesting. Managed to steer my way down the roads with plenty of help and suggestions from the males and then we got to a sign which said that any vehicles going onto this road would be prosecuted – you got it – that was where I was told to go. Plant boot and head up those sand hills I was told. So I did. Got a bit further on and we stopped so they could let some air out of the tires. Then Murray took the wheel and we careered around the sand tracks and onto the beach. Parked right at the top of the tide and into the surf. Because it was so hot the water felt really cold to me and I was being rather cautious about going beyond my knees when all of a sudden I got caught by a big wave and knocked clean over. That was enough – I was in. It was so fun. Biggish surf, a bit of a tide pull, trying to keep ahead of the waves. Then the lightening and thunder which had been flashing and crashing further north west moved steadily closer. It started to rain and the storm was getting to be overhead. I started walking out of the surf to ask Duncan to take a photo of the light as it was amazing, when I saw him drop to his keens. He had been leaning against the 4WD talking to Donna and the car was hit by lightening and he got hit. Quite incredible. Duncan – the accident prone bro now has another thing to add to his list. By this stage the rain was pelting so we hopped in the Toyota and headed home.

I had been tossed by a wave as I got out so was full of sand – a shower was most enjoyable. After we got back we had a surprise visit from Murray’s son Raymond. It was so cool to see him. The wind has built up and is blowing the outdoor furniture all around the deck – most impressive end to the storm. Hopefully the rain will break this heat wave and I will be able to enjoy tomorrow – boating is on the menu if it is fine enough. I am meling into then seat at the moment with sweat dripping off of me so I think it is time to head outside into the cool breeze….

busy days…..

Had a busy couple of days.
Yesterday the Liz’s went over to help Jesika dung out the shed, clean the Lodge and mow lawns etc. The fridge/freezer in the Cottage broke down so I ended up having to clean out my 2nd fridge and finding room for all the stuff and sending it down for the Cottage folk to use. I also have had mountains of washing to do these past two days. Thankfully the weather has been very conducive to drying it quickly. The guys milled all day, got a log stuck over the bank and spent a looooong time trying to rescue it. Finally cut it in half and retrieved half of it. Rest left for tomorrow.
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Julian & son Jonathan arrived last night. Julian is a Telecommunications expert and came down to suss out how I can get broadband internet. He managed to fit in quite a lot of fishing as well so wasn’t a wasted trip for him and he has eliminated various ways and means and found the easiest way for me to connect. So now it is up to me to follow through and sort out the paperwork and technicalities. So here’s hoping in a few weeks we will be wireless!

Today the Liz’s cleaned the hut and Croft for me and then the left after lunch to go spend a couple of nights with Cat on their way south. She is still house/farm sitting for some neighbours. Tim & Rob loaded all our wool bales on the trailer and took it up to the freight truck this morning.

I finally have a photo that my Mum took at the party of me and Jesika with my cake that she created. It was very luscious, 3 cakes and each cake was about 4 layers with fillings and then on the outside she had piped words about me – most were very appreciative
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The guys had a bit of a spell from milling today, just did some tidying up and taking timber to the top of the hill and clearing the site ready for another go tomorrow. Graham took Julian & Rob out fishing this afternoon, as fishermen do they lost track of time and arrived back about 8pm. While Tim cooked the venison for dinner Seb & Jonathan had smoked all the kahawai they had caught this morning. On these summer days with such long warm evenings we seem to have dinner in relays. We now have Madeline staying so I managed to harness all the younger crew and fed them early in the hopes they would be in bed a bit earlier. Azzan was very sleepy and most happy to be tucked in whereas the two ‘M’s were very chatty and had to be silenced by separating them into two separate beds.

Am still trying to clean up my room so I can pack my bags – oh yes, I forgot – I am off to Perth on Saturday for a week. I am really excited. It is my birthday present from Tim – to go spend the week with my 3 brothers. Two of them don’t know I am coming over and as I haven’t been there for 17 years I am very thrilled to have the chance. Christine’s birthday present to me is to come around to stay and help with the children – isn’t she just lovely?? Nuana will be here too so that will take the load off Tim.

Not too sure how I will manage the 40’C temps they are getting over there at the moment!!

A Very Special book

I wanted to share with you this amazingly wonderful fabulous book that was specially made for my 50th b’day by some special friends in my arty circle from Australia.

I was able to open the parcel containing the book late on Monday night after everyone had gone off to bed and enjoy savouring its contents in the peace and quiet of the evening. As you can imagine I was in tears by the time I had finished.

Thanks so much to my Australian Fan Club
Don’t know what I have done to deserve this but as Judy would say smooches and love to each one of you.
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My Amazing 50th Surprise Party!!

Well, how can I summarise my weekend in just a few words.
Can’t really. So you will just have to put up with lots of words.

Mahalia & I had a good trip to Nelson, 2.5hrs with no sicky stops. Had a yummy breakfast to fortify ourselves for the day and then zipped around doing jobs, dropped off Mahalia at Nuana’s before my 2 hour dentist appointment. That went smoothly, almost went to sleep in the chair! Spent the afternoon sorting out printers and computers. Got a fabulous new printer for 1/2 price. Right place at the right time! Computer has to have a part ordered so picked it up and will take it back next week. Can’t possibly be without it that long

Popped into see Tim’s bro Martin & Sylvia. He had just come out of hosp so I wanted to see how he was doing. Found Seb & Jesika there too. They had come out early – don’t think I was sposed to know they were in town! Mind you, Sylvia was the only one who was acting suspiciously – she’s not too good at keeping secrets!

Stayed the night with John & Sally. Had a very restless sleep and woke feeling blah – not a good start to my birthday. After a shower and a quick breakfast I shot into town for a haircut. While there I was discussing foils with Lucie. She said ‘Want me to put some in now? I have time’ So why not. 1.5hrs later I came out with 3 extra colours streaked through my hair and feeling gorgeous Zipped about and got all the shopping done in record time. Back to motel to change and be ready by 12:30pm. Then hung about waiting for someone to pick me up. Seb finally arrived at 1:20. He was late and traffic had slowed him even more.

Anyway, he careened around the streets and finally ended up hooning up a narrow track and pulled up outside a gorgeous old historic house – Melrose House – stopped and said ‘This is your party – get out and enjoy!’

So, I did.

It was amazng. There were people everywhere. And all afternoon people were coming in the doors. Some I hadn’t seen for over 30 years, some had come from as far north as Auckland and as far south as Invercargill & Stewart Island. Jesika catered for the whole party, food kept on coming out but I was too busy to eat much. I hadn’t had lunch as I had been told I was going to a winery for lunch so by the end of the day I was pretty darn hungry

At 4pm Jesika bought out a 3 tiered birthday cake for me to cut. By 6pm the crowds were beginning to thin out and the crew was cleaning up. It was a fabulous day but I was exhausted at the end of it.

It was very moving to have such a lot of folk who felt they loved me enough to come so far to help me celebrate my 50th birthday. I would also like to pay a huge compliment to Jesika for the fantastic job she did. Apparently she has been planning this for over a year now and managed to keep 99.9% of it a secret from me. A major undertaking some would say

I didn’t take many photos of the day so you will have to wait until I find someone who has. In the mean time here are some I have taken.
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Jesika and her best friend Sasha.

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A huge gum moth Phoebe found outside the house – on Nathan’s hand to give perspective.

Everyone was so generous and the presents filled the back of Seb’s car. I never opened them until Monday night. We had Liza, Edward & the boys around for dinner as they missed out on the party. So I waited till the children and Jesika were all there before opening them. It took me about 3 hours to open them all. Had to send the children to bed in the middle of it as it took so long.
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As you can see the children were really getting into the midst of it all!!!

One of the most special gifts came from 4 wonderful Australian friends of mine. Isn’t this amazing?
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You have to see it close up to really enjoy it.
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made by Judy
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made by Bethel
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made by Rob
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made by Michelle.

I will share more things as I get them photographed and sorted.
I am trying to clean out my study and bedroom over these next few days and get things in a bit more order around here because I am going away on Sat for a week – it’s all very exciting – will share that with you later

Well, how can I summarise my weekend in just a few words.
Can’t really. So you will just have to put up with lots of words.

Mahalia & I had a good trip to Nelson, 2.5hrs with no sicky stops. Had a yummy breakfast to fortify ourselves for the day and then zipped around doing jobs, dropped off Mahalia at Nuana’s before my 2 hour dentist appointment. That went smoothly, almost went to sleep in the chair! Spent the afternoon sorting out printers and computers. Got a fabulous new printer for 1/2 price. Right place at the right time! Computer has to have a part ordered so picked it up and will take it back next week. Can’t possibly be without it that long

Popped into see Tim’s bro Martin & Sylvia. He had just come out of hosp so I wanted to see how he was doing. Found Seb & Jesika there too. They had come out early – don’t think I was sposed to know they were in town! Mind you, Sylvia was the only one who was acting suspiciously – she’s not too good at keeping secrets!

Stayed the night with John & Sally. Had a very restless sleep and woke feeling blah – not a good start to my birthday. After a shower and a quick breakfast I shot into town for a haircut. While there I was discussing foils with Lucie. She said ‘Want me to put some in now? I have time’ So why not. 1.5hrs later I came out with 3 extra colours streaked through my hair and feeling gorgeous Zipped about and got all the shopping done in record time. Back to motel to change and be ready by 12:30pm. Then hung about waiting for someone to pick me up. Seb finally arrived at 1:20. He was late and traffic had slowed him even more.

Anyway, he careened around the streets and finally ended up hooning up a narrow track and pulled up outside a gorgeous old historic house – Melrose House – stopped and said ‘This is your party – get out and enjoy!’

So, I did.

It was amazng. There were people everywhere. And all afternoon people were coming in the doors. Some I hadn’t seen for over 30 years, some had come from as far north as Auckland and as far south as Invercargill & Stewart Island. Jesika catered for the whole party, food kept on coming out but I was too busy to eat much. I hadn’t had lunch as I had been told I was going to a winery for lunch so by the end of the day I was pretty darn hungry

At 4pm Jesika bought out a 3 tiered birthday cake for me to cut. By 6pm the crowds were beginning to thin out and the crew was cleaning up. It was a fabulous day but I was exhausted at the end of it.

It was very moving to have such a lot of folk who felt they loved me enough to come so far to help me celebrate my 50th birthday. I would also like to pay a huge compliment to Jesika for the fantastic job she did. Apparently she has been planning this for over a year now and managed to keep 99.9% of it a secret from me. A major undertaking some would say

I didn’t take many photos of the day so you will have to wait until I find someone who has. In the mean time here are some I have taken.
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Jesika and her best friend Sasha.

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A huge gum moth Phoebe found outside the house – on Nathan’s hand to give perspective.

Everyone was so generous and the presents filled the back of Seb’s car. I never opened them until Monday night. We had Liza, Edward & the boys around for dinner as they missed out on the party. So I waited till the children and Jesika were all there before opening them. It took me about 3 hours to open them all. Had to send the children to bed in the middle of it as it took so long.
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As you can see the children were really getting into the midst of it all!!!

One of the most special gifts came from 4 wonderful Australian friends of mine. Isn’t this amazing?
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You have to see it close up to really enjoy it.
P1220029
made by Judy
P1220028
made by Bethel
P1220027
made by Rob
P1220026
made by Michelle.

I will share more things as I get them photographed and sorted.
I am trying to clean out my study and bedroom over these next few days and get things in a bit more order around here because I am going away on Sat for a week – it’s all very exciting – will share that with you later